The markets are braced for more volatility as the coronavirus competes with Donald Trump to see who can spread more confusion. Right now, the US president is marginally in front of the virus. But with every off-the-cuff remark at the daily White House briefing sessions, he could pull ahead with a commanding lead.
Staying in America, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits could jump to a record high. The jobless claim had already increased from 210,000 on 8 March to 281,000 in the week ended 14 March. It could breach 1 million next week.
China will report industrial profits for its largest industrial firms. In the year-to-date in January, it dropped 3.3% to 6.20 trillion yuan. It was the first full year decline since 2015. The fall for the year-to-date to February could be as much as 8%.
The Bank of Thailand lowered its policy rate by 0.25% to 1% in February. It cut it by another 0.25% to a record low of 0.75% at a special meeting on 20 March. The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to meet again on 26 March.
Malaysia will report February inflation numbers. They are expected to be largely unchanged at 1.5% from 1.6% in January. The relatively slow rate of price increase could provide Bank Negara with room to lower its Overnight Policy Rate if necessary.
And finally, Singapore’s headline inflation rate could have moderated from 0.8% in January to 0.4% last month. In January, upward pressure that came from food and transport was offset by declines in healthcare and clothing & footwear.
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Disclosure: David Kuo does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.