LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.
1/ STILL FRAGILE
Sub-forecast growth in the euro zone in the first quarter has only increased the likelihood of the European Central Bank easing monetary policy next month. While the main focus is on inflation rather than growth, flash PMI data for May due in the coming week will be closely watched for signs of life in still fragile parts of the euro zone periphery.
* Global May flash PMIs due May 22
* German May Ifo index May 23
* Euro zone Q1 growth disappoints, puts pressure on ECB to act
2/ LOWER FOR LONGER
The prospect of easier ECB policy comes against the backdrop of the Bank of England and U.S. Federal Reserve making clear they are also in no hurry to tighten. While some see low interest rates as the "new normal", authorities including the International Monetary Fund think lower-rated euro zone government bond yields at record lows are pricing in too much optimism. Whether nerves over, for example, the coming week's European Parliament elections, can derail the peripheral debt rally remains to be seen, but so far most investors seem happy to keep buying.
* Germany sells 10-year Bunds May 21, Spain sells bonds May 22
* Bank of England, FOMC minutes due May 21
* Fed chair Janet Yellen speaks May 21
* European Parliament elections May 22
* Pimco sees an end to bull markets in next 3 to 5 years
* Investors spurn warnings on relentless peripheral bond rally
A key implication of the prospect of extended low rates has been to sink market volatility ever lower. It has also pushed investors back into carry trades which have accelerated another indiscriminate return to emerging markets, despite multiple risks, including presidential elections in Ukraine and Egypt on May 25 and 26 respectively, Turkish political problems and China debt tensions.
* South Africa, Turkey rate decisions on May 23, Israel May 26
* New emerging market rush may spell trouble ahead
* Egypt could tap global bond market after political transition -finmin
4/ DOLLAR ON DEFENSIVE
Apart from the flash euro zone PMIs, currency investors will focus on the coming week's UK inflation data which is likely to reinforce expectations that the Bank of England is in no hurry to raise rates. The U.S. Fed meeting minutes will also grab attention and if the recent slide in U.S. yields is maintained, this will be the main driver for FX. It will continue to undermine the potential for a sustained rally in the dollar, though a drop in global stocks is unlikely to see emerging market currencies win a boost from a greenback on the defensive.
* Moves to cool UK housing market may slow pound's rise, not reverse it
* FX COLUMN-Dollar/yen may be hit by Japan's export drive
* Bank of Japan meets on May 21
5/ TAKING STOCK
With interest rates close to zero, how does an investor call the top of market? When is a PE multiple too expensive if you can borrow for free? Some in markets say the new environment may render redundant the historical benchmarks used by equity investors and could herald a new way of looking at stocks.
* European earnings reports
* Wary of the rally in European stocks, traders look for protection
* European investors turn to options to spot next M&A target
(Compiled by Nigel Stephenson; Editing by Susan Fenton)