The summer lull ended with a bang this year. Volatility is increasing due to uncertainty surrounding central bank policy as well as weaker US and Eurozone data.
It doesn’t look as if there’s going to be any respite for traders for the rest of the year. Over the next four weeks, the fiscal calendar is packed with market moving events, which could spook already shaken investors.
Next week, the Bank of Japan will review policy after standing pat for two consecutive meetings. Speculation that the bank may decide to scale back its asset purchase programme has already helped push Japanese government bond yields higher across the board sending jitters through fixed-income markets around the world. Elsewhere in Asia, central banks in Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and New Zealand are meeting, and analysts at HSBC expect monetary easing from all of these countries.
Investors should watch out
Asian economic data has improved slightly over the past few weeks following a deceleration in July. However, it is widely believed that actions by China’s central bank have been supporting this growth. As HSBC’s Asian Economics team writes in a research note sent out to clients the beginning of this week, “it is clear that fiscal stimulus is proving pivotal in supporting growth, and more is needed given subdued external growth. Although some have their doubts about the central bank’s willingness to introduce more stimulus (we still expect 350bp of RRR and 50bp of policy rate cuts), the PBoC has continued to inject liquidity into the local market to support financial conditions.”
Furthermore, recent economic data from Asia has been supported by consumer electronic launches. These launches have boosted industrial production in Taiwan and Korea but the big question is, how much longer will the stimulus effect from these launches last?
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Other Asian nations have been raising infrastructure spending to help stimulate growth, but there are increasing headwinds for various commodity related industries across the region and any weakness in these industries may quickly spread to the rest of the economy.
It is not just weak data from Asia that could throw a spanner in the works. After several months of impressive economic figures from the US and the Eurozone, data from these two regions has started to deteriorate. In the US, August non-farm payrolls and the ISM measures softened, dampening chances for a hike in September (HSBC doesn’t expect any move by the FOMC until 2Q 2017). Across the Atlantic most key Eurozone activity measures have moderated in recent weeks, and it’s generally believed on Wall Street that it is only a matter of time before the ECB extends its QE program.
All in all, after an uneventful summer it would appear that the markets are heading for a turbulent fall and winter. It might be time to get out those tin hats again.