Asian markets breathed a sigh of relief Friday as the Chinese GDP figures improved, contrary to what some had feared, and eased concerns of a sharper slowdown in the world's second largest economy. The second quarter economic data showed a sequential acceleration and pointed to a pick-up in growth in the second half of the year.
Stock markets in Asia are expected to be traded in ranges next week due to the absence of any major impetus for direction and the extremely light economic calendar. However, financial developments in the euro zone and the U.S. economic data will continue to weigh on the markets.
Fed Chairman Bernanke will deliver his semi-annual monetary policy report to the Senate and House committees Tuesday and Wednesday. The economic reports on retail sales, business inventories, inflation, industrial production and housing starts are due for release during the week.
The prepared remarks will likely note the recent slowdown in economic activity and downside external risks to the outlook from Europe. He will also likely to warn that if the fiscal cliff is not averted next year, the economy would likely fall back into a recession and the Fed would not have sufficient policy levers to avert it, said a note from Credit Agricole.
Meanwhile, a slew of companies, including Intel, General Electric and Microsoft, will report quarterly earnings which will weigh on the markets. The recent profit warning made by a number of companies in the U.S., including chipmakers Applied Materials and Advanced Micro Devices, fueled concern about the earnings outlook.
The regional economic calendar in Asia is going to be extremely light next week. The Bank of Japan will release Thursday its quarterly senior loan officers' opinion survey to investigate the demand for bank loans among firms and is expected to show that the loan demand diffusion index improved from the +6 reported in the previous survey in April.
Singapore's non-oil domestic exports are forecast to remain at 2.4 percent in June on an annual basis and Taiwan's June export orders are expected to decline by 3.6 percent on an annual basis.
The Indian headline inflation data is due for release Monday and is likely to rise by 7.84 percent in June from a year earlier and also a key cue for stock markets ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's policy review July 31.
Market participants are eyeing the Indian presidential election scheduled for July 19 as investors hope the poll will mark the start of policy reforms, including a potential hike in diesel prices and reforms in foreign investment for aviation and retail, according to Reuters.
Investors are also likely to focus on corporate earnings as a slew of companies including the Reliance Industries, Dr. Reddy's Labs, Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Hero MotoCorp and Asian Paints are due to release their quarterly earnings next week.