The Singapore earnings season is over for another quarter. Some of the outstanding performers included Thai Beverage Company (SGX: Y92), Venture Corp (SGX: V03) and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (SGX: BS3).
But now the attention turns to political and economic matters.
A speech from the Fed chair, Jerome Powell, is expected to draw some attention. In his semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to Congress, he left many questions unanswered, especially his comment that financial markets are now more volatile and that financial conditions are now less supportive of growth.
The contraction in some sectors of the Chinese economy is likely to be closely watched. News of the third straight month of shrinkage in Chinese manufacturing could make it even more important that the Caixin Services PMI indicates expansion.
There are also balance of trade numbers for February from China. In January, exports defied market expectations by registering a rise of 9%, rather than an expected fall of 3%. China is expected to post another positive monthly balance of trade. But it could be lower than the previous month.
The European Central Bank will announce its latest interest-rate decision. It is unlikely that it will announce anything other than a hold at 0% for its benchmark refinancing rate. The Reserve Bank of Australia will also announce its latest decision on rates. That could also remain unchanged at 1.5%. But it is less clear cut.
And finally, the Central Bank of Malaysia could leave its Overnight Policy Rates unchanged at 3.25%. But there is an argument for cutting rates, given that the rate of inflation is subdued. However, Bank Negara has a tough balancing act, namely, to maintain both price stability and currency stability. It might lean towards the latter.
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