Asia this week: Central banks, China trade

The week ahead in Asia

A raft of central bank decisions in Australia, India, Japan and Thailand alongside Chinese trade data are expected to be the key focal points in Asia this week.


The week begins in Australia with the release of June retail sales. Analysts expect to see a 0.3 to 0.4 percent bounce in the reading after dropping 0.5 percent on month in May.

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"Improved consumer confidence has helped discretionary spending recover after softness earlier in the second quarter from the tough federal budget. Low interest rates coupled with wealth effects from higher house prices will lift spending through the second half of 2014," said economists at Moody's Analytics in a note.


Australia will stay in focus on Tuesday. The government will release the country's June trade report. The trade balance is expected to remain mired in a deficit after widening to A$1.9 billion in May with lower commodity prices for iron ore seen weighing on exports.

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Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia is also due to release its monetary policy. All 23 economists polled by Reuters expect the central bank to leave the cash rate unchanged at a record low of 2.5 percent due to contained inflation and a booming housing market. HSBC says markets should focus on a possible change in the policy statement.

"For the past six months, the RBA has been stating that a 'period of stability' in rates was likely; however, with rates now having been stable for almost a year that language may change, simply because there has already been a long period of stable rates," said Paul Bloxham, chief economist for Australia and New Zealand at HSBC.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is also due out with its policy decision. Economists polled by Reuters expect the RBI to leave the key repo rate on hold at 8 percent with most expecting easing only next year amid fears of food inflation.

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Indonesia's second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) caps off the day. In the first three months of the year, Southeast Asia's biggest economy grew 5.2 percent on year, its weakest growth in four years. Moody's Analytics expect a slight improvement to 5.4 percent on year for the April-June period.

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Japan's June current account data is due right before the Tokyo market open on Wednesday and traders will be watching out to see if the economy can sustain its recent trend of surpluses. In May, the country posted its fourth straight month of surplus.

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The Bank of Thailand is also expected to stay on hold when it announces its monetary policy decision around 3.30pm SIN/HK due to the recent political strife.


The Bank of Japan will announce its policy decision Friday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting. While no action is expected, calls for more stimulus this year have been growing louder following a raft of weak economic data such as June industrial output and retail sales.

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"Japanese officials [should] start acting more like the Fed. If you see what happened in the United States over the last 3 or 4 years, every bout of weakness was met with things like quantitative easing and more stimulus measures," Joe Zidle, Portfolio Strategist at Richard Bernstein Advisors, told CNBC on Friday.

China's July trade figures are due in the afternoon. Exports grew by a less-than-expected 7.2 percent on year in June, resulting in a trade surplus of $35 billion. Moody's expects a slight pullback for the month, predicting a surplus of $25 billion due to rising imports.