World Economy

Week ahead: Asia looks to Big Three economies

Two women sell goods on a bridge in Shanghai.
Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images

Events in the world's three biggest economies will hold sway over Asia's financial markets this week.


A slew of data including the manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI), pending home sales and durable goods orders for July are due out of the United States this week, but attention will likely fall on the second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) scheduled for release on Thursday.

Economists at the Bank of America expect the U.S. economy to grow 3.2 percent from the previous quarter, above the advance estimate of 2.3 percent and following a 0.6 percent gain in the first quarter.

Last week, the Federal Reserve sent out mixed signals about the pace of the U.S. recovery in its July meeting minutes, where it noted that economic conditions necessary for a rate hike "were approaching" but "had not yet been achieved" so markets will be scouring the GDP release and other data for signs that a recovery in the world's largest economy is on track.

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2. China

Wary investors are also keeping an eye on China, whose stubborn economic slowdown continues to grip global markets. Beijing's unexpected move to devalue the yuan on August 11 further unnerved an already-frail local stock market, which went on a whirlwind ride last week, reminding investors of the torrid market rout in mid-June.

On Friday, the benchmark Shanghai Composite closed down 4.2 percent, chalking up losses of more than 10 percent since the currency devaluation.

"After the renminbi devaluation, we see a lot of 'buy the rumor, sell the news'," David Zhang, head of E Fund & PM at E Fund Management, told CNBC.

"Overall, we think that markets are nervous so whenever there's news about state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform or when the China Securities Financial Corporation (CSFC) declares something, markets feel that they are going to do less [support measures]."

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3. Japan data dump

Japan's consumer price index (CPI), due on Friday, is projected to slip for the first time in more than two years, according to 23 economists polled by Reuters, underscoring the growing difficulties that the Bank of Japan (BoJ) faces in achieving its inflation target.

Core consumer prices in July are projected to have dropped 0.2 percent from a year ago, after a tepid 0.1 percent rise last month.

"Lower oil prices and lackluster wage pressure are holding inflation down. All in all, the BoJ may need to ease monetary policy further to reach its 2 percent inflation goal by mid-2016," said a note from Moody's Analytics released last Friday.

However, policymakers in Asia's second-largest economy may seek comfort in the other July indicators scheduled for release on the same day. Household spending is seen rising 1.3 percent on-year, rebounding from June's 2.0 percent fall, while retail sales are forecast to have increased for the fourth straight month, up 1.1 percent from a year earlier, the Reuters poll showed.

Meanwhile, the jobs-to-applicants ratio likely stayed at 1.19 in July, unchanged from the previous month.

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Elsewhere in the region, Taiwan is set to announce July industrial production and unemployment figures on Monday. These data points will likely be closely-watched after the government halved its economic growth outlook for this year on the back of faltering exports.

The economy will expand 1.56 percent this year, down half a percentage point from a February projection of 3.28 percent, the statistics bureau said in a statement on August 21. The sharp reduction in GDP forecast crushed Taiwanese stocks last week, which were already reeling from fears of a China-led deceleration in global growth.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines releases second-quarter GDP on Thursday, which is expected to gather pace after growth slowed to a three-year low in the first three months of 2015.

The economy is estimated to expand 6.8 percent year-on-year in the June quarter, according to forecasts from Moody's Analytics, accelerating from the first quarter's 5.2 percent gain.

"Stronger government spending, thanks to delayed stimulus getting underway, likely lifted investment and household consumption. This boost will continue through the second half of 2015. Exports improved modestly with stronger global tech demand," analysts wrote.

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Meanwhile, Singapore's inflation rate is likely to remain mired in negative territory for the ninth consecutive month in July. According to a Reuters poll, the all-items CPI is expected to slip 0.2 percent on-year last month, though slightly better than June's 0.3 percent drop.

Industrial production in July could shrink 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the Reuters poll indicated. However, the forecast is an improvement from the 4.4 percent fall in June, which was caused by a slide in marine offshore engineering output, as well as weakness in electronics and pharmaceuticals production.