London: 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/ SUPER THURSDAY
It’s “Super Thursday” for the Bank of England next week when it decides on interest rates, publishes minutes from its last meeting, and issues its quarterly Inflation Report. No move on rates is expected this time around – that could come in May – so all eyes will be on the inflation and growth outlook.
The global economy is booming, though Britain is the clear laggard among major economies thanks to Brexit. But UK bond yields are being caught up in the global push higher, hitting a pre-Brexit vote peak this week of 1.59 percent.
The one big difference since the last “Super Thursday” in November when the Bank raised rates and even its last meeting in December is sterling. The pound hit $1.43 recently, well up from $1.32 in November and $1.34 in December, and close to its pre-Brexit level of $1.48. How will sterling’s resurgence, as well as oil prices and global growth, factor into the BoE’s outlook?
2/ COOLING OFF DOWN UNDER
Hot housing markets losing steam, inflation below expectations and stronger currencies will provide food for thought to Australian and New Zealand central bankers at policy meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Interest rate hike expectations may be pushed further down the road.
Meanwhile, it’s the monthly China data dump, with the latest consumer and producer price inflation, trade, service sector activity and FX reserves figures all due for release. Inflation is expected to slow, giving the PBOC some breathing space. Given the rise in protectionist rhetoric and indeed, action, coming out of Washington, close attention will be paid to China’s trade surplus with the United States.
3/ WHAM, BAM, THANK YOU UNCLE SAM
The U.S. trade deficit is expected to grow when data for December is released Tuesday. Analysts predict the deficit to widen to $51.7 billion from November’s $50.5 billion.
While the weak dollar would typically help boost U.S. exports, strong domestic demand is delivering record imports. This coincides with increased trade growth and accelerating economic growth elsewhere.
Markets will watch out for U.S. retail sales due later in the month, which have grown every month since July. The positive trend along with rising consumer confidence will likely contribute to the bulging deficit as importers look to stock shelves.
Meanwhile U.S. politics could throw a spanner in the market works. Another government shutdown is looming, with approved funding due to run out on Thursday.
4/ MIND THE GAP
As company results roll in, a gap has opened between earnings growth expectations for European and U.S. equities. While the weak dollar has bruised some European companies with high U.S. exposure, firms across the pond have seen their earnings revised up thanks in part to Washington’s tax overhaul.
A slew of results will keep investors on their toes, with oil majors BP and Total , banks including BNP Paribas and UniCredit as well as drugmakers GSK and Sanofi slated to push out numbers.
The lag in earnings expectations could make European shares more vulnerable to a potential pullback. European stocks just had their worst week in more than a year, though surging U.S. bond yields helped put Wall Street on course for its worst week in two years.
But European sentiment could be bolstered by attractive valuations. Europe’s stocks are 9 percent cheaper than average relative to U.S. peers, according to Morgan Stanley, which has a maximum overweight in European equities.
5/ TAKING A HIKE
It’s a busy week for emerging market central banks with rate-setting meetings from Asia to Latin America and all points in between.
In Russia a small rate cut could be on the cards as annual inflation has slid below the bank’s target of 4 percent. Russia’s central bank governor has already said the bank may cut rates faster than expected.
But other central banks are still keeping a watchful eye on inflation, with Mexico expected to raise rates from the current near nine-year high of 7.25 percent. Romania could also hike again after its January increase – its first in a decade.
Meanwhile the Reserve Bank of India is expected to hold rates at 6 percent for now but India’s expansionary budget, which raises spending for rural areas, could prompt the bank to toughen its tone.