A month long rollercoaster ride with the Asian markets, worries over the subprime spillover and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony, have left analysts and investors in desperate need of the light four-day trading week ahead. Not to mention the candy-coated three-day Easter weekend right after.
In Tokyo, the Bank of Japan kicks of the region’s economic calendar with the release of its quarterly Tankan survey on Monday. Analysts expect business sentiment to be little changed, predicting the index will average 24, down just one point from the previous survey in December.
Just across the Sea of Japan in neighboring South Korea, investors will be waiting to see if last week’s discouraging U.S. economic data will continue to weigh on market sentiment. South Korea’s Kospi Index closed 0.4% or five points higher for the week at 1,452. South Korea’s consumer price index for March is also out on Monday.
Tuesday could prove to be the biggest market-moving day of the week with a variety of data and economic decisions keeping participants running about.
Investors of construction firms that are closely linked to the U.S. such as Australia’s Rinker will be keeping an eye on the U.S. pending home sales data for signs of diminishing demand. IDEAglobal expects February pending sales to limp forward by a 0.7%.
And the hum of industrial activity over China is likely to be a little softer on Tuesday as manufacturers wait to hear on news of the World Trade Organization’s mediation with regards to the U.S. – China trade dispute. The U.S. launched a case against China this past February citing unfair government subsidies in several major industries including steel, computers and clothing.
Down Under, the Reserve Bank of Australia will discuss among other things, interest rates during their two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday. There’s a growing market consensus that there will be another interest rate increase to 6.5%, marking the fourth rate hike since March 2006. Results of the RBA meeting are expected on Wednesday.
Standing out on the earnings calendar, China Netcom will post their fourth-quarter earnings for 2006 on Monday. Investors are hoping the strategic decision to add the Google search bar to their broadband website will prove to be a profitable enhancement.
Other major company earnings being released in this shortened work week include:
The following markets will be closed for various holidays:
And that’s the week ahead for Asia. We'll leave you with some special days of note …