Asia-Pacific: The Week Ahead (Feb 25-Mar 4)

By Steven Levine, Senior Market Analyst

The Asia-Pacific calendar will shift into high gear in the week ahead, with several economic updates due out of South Korea, as well as an interest rate decision from that country’s central bank.

Monday, February 25

  • Consumer Confidence (CCSI) – Feb

The week gets underway Monday with a report on South Korea’s Composite Consumer Sentiment Index (CCSI) for February after the previous month’s gauge rose by 0.6 points month-over-month to 97.5.

The survey’s 2,251 respondents generally waxed optimistic about current and future economic conditions but were more sullen about household income and spending. Consumers were also slightly upbeat about current living standards, with a steady view towards the future.

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Tuesday, February 26

  • Business Confidence (BSI) – Feb

Elsewhere, investors will receive an update on South Korea’s Business Survey Index (BSI) for February, after the reading revealed lower confidence in the country’s manufacturing sector in the prior month.

Business conditions in manufacturing fell four points month-over-month in January to 67, while the outlook for the following month also fell by six points to 65. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the figures were 68 and 67, respectively.

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Overall, the nation’s economy has kept its growth rate in check, as increases in consumption and exports have been sustained, despite continued adjustments in facilities and construction investment. 

Wednesday, February 27

  • Industrial Production (Jan)
  • Retail Sales (Jan)
  • Bank of Korea’s Interest Rate Decision

By mid-week, South Korea will provide fresh industrial production and retail sales data for January, and the Bank of Korea is slated to announce a decision on its Base Rate.

The BoK’s Monetary Policy Board elected at its January meeting to leave the rate unchanged at 1.75% amid a sluggish employment picture (unemployment rate for January 2019 was 4.5%, up 0.8% year-on-year) and slower-than-expected growth. The amount of increase in household lending had also diminished, while housing prices continued to slow.

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