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Thai turmoil, India data take spotlight this week

Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 | 8:02 PM ET
Bangkok on the brink of 'shutdown'
Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 | 5:07 PM ET
Thai investors are bracing for more pain as anti-government protesters gather in Bangkok, vowing to shut down the capital until the prime minister steps down. CNBC's Sri Jegarajah reports.

Focus in Asia this week is likely to turn to political turmoil in Thailand and inflation data out of India, with China taking a back seat for the time being.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying delivers a key policy address on Wednesday, while Australia releases employment data for December on Thursday.

The outlook for U.S. monetary policy could also set the tone for trade in regional markets after Friday's key non-farm payrolls report showed the U.S. economy created 74,000 new jobs in December, below expectations of 200,000.

(Read more: Fed could ignore ugly jobs report for now)

A volunteer security guard in Bangkok bracing for anti-government protests on Monday that could shut down the city.
Getty Images
A volunteer security guard in Bangkok bracing for anti-government protests on Monday that could shut down the city.

In Southeast Asia politics dominate, with another rally in Thailand's capital city Bangkok due to take place on Monday.

Protestors are vowing to "shut down" Bangkok in a two-month-old campaign to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thailand's economy has weathered several bouts of political instability over the past decade, but persistent turmoil could damage the country's long-term growth prospects, analysts say.

"Three things could now happen in Thailand," Paul Gambles, managing partner at MBMG International, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box" on Monday. "1) There could be a negotiated settlement, which is unlikely. 2) Either side backs down, which is unlikely or 3) Something kicks off, we get violence and the army steps in."

India inflation watch

India's consumer price index (CPI) is due out later on Monday, followed on Tuesday by the release of the wholesale price index (WPI) – two indicators that could shed some light on whether interest rates in Asia's third biggest economy are likely to rise again.

Economists polled by Reuters forecast a 9.92 percent rise in the December CPI from a year earlier, slowing from an 11.2 percent increase in November.

The WPI, an inflation gauge, closely followed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), is estimated to rise 7.15 percent in December on-year compared with a 7.5 percent increase a month earlier.

"In India, CPI and WPI will be closely watched, with signs of easing food inflation likely to boost rupee gains further," analysts at Mizuho Corporate Bank said in a note. "But, the RBI will probably not find enough consolation in inflation data to capitulate on an underlying tightening bias just yet."

The RBI last month kept its key interest rate unchanged at 7.75, defying expectations for a hike to curb inflation. It lifted rates in September and October.

(Read more: India central bank surprises by keeping rates steady)

China's December foreign direct investment data is due out on Wednesday, but there's little else in the way of big economic news from Asia's largest economy, with focus on fourth quarter economic growth data due next week.

(Read more: China outstrips US as world's biggest trader)

There's also no major economic data from Japan this week, while in Australia local markets await the release of the latest jobs data.

— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; @DharaCNBC

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