Asia Week Ahead: Look For More Evidence Of Firmer Activity

The usual end- and start-of-the-month activity releases pack the Asian economic calendar in a holiday-shortened week.

Soft data – Purchasing Manager Indices

The typical focus around this time of the month is the manufacturing and service sector PMIs. Released earlier this week, the advance PMIs for March from developed economies (the US, eurozone and Japan) revealed firmer activity in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing areas. We hope to see the same in Asian PMIs next week.

China’s PMIs are the usual standouts and are expected to follow their developed market counterparts higher. If you want a sense of how these could go -- industrial profits data for February due over the weekend (27 March) should be a good guide. As for most other February indicators, the low base effect likely swelled profit growth.

Among other soft indicators coming our way, are Japan’s quarterly Tankan Survey for 1Q21 and Korea’s Business Survey Indices for April, both expected to show some pick-up over the previous periods.

Hard data - Exports and manufacturing

Markets will also be swamped with hard activity releases on trade and manufacturing, which come as guides to the post-Covid recovery.

Korea’s exports for March, the first export data for this month from the region, will be an interesting insight into the semiconductor cycle as the global chip shortage continues to make financial headlines. A 14% year-on-year rise in Korean chip exports in the first 20 days of the month was good news that the full-month data should testify to. Meanwhile, Korean industrial production for February is likely to show some retracement of growth, though that’s clearly a distortion from the Lunar New Year holiday rather than underlying weakness. 

Japan and Thailand are other countries reporting industrial production and Malaysia is going to release its trade data -- all for February, We see nothing particularly exciting in these. 

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Disclosure: This publication has been prepared by the Economic and Financial Analysis Division of ING Bank N.V. (“ING”) solely for information purposes without regard to any ...

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