Asian stock markets ended with gains last week as signs of an improvement in global manufacturing and release of encouraging U.S. economic data buoyed the sentiment. Market confidence was lifted after reports showed an improvement in manufacturing from both China and the euro zone. Preliminary results of HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers’ Index showed that China’s manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in more than a year in November.
The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index, a measure of the nation-wide manufacturing activity, gained to read 50.4 in November, entering an expansionary territory of above 50 for the first time in 13 months, from October’s final reading of 49.5
Reports on the U.S. new home sales, durables goods orders, personal income and spending for the month of October, the second revision on the U.S. Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter, and November consumer confidence will be released in the coming week.
“We look for an upward second revision to Q3 GDP to 2.8 percent from the initial 2.0 percent estimate. Both net exports and inventories have come in much stronger for the quarter than the BEA assumed in its first estimate of GDP,” said a note from Credit Agricole.
Meanwhile, the concerns over the U.S. fiscal fears will continue to weigh on the markets. Fiscal cliff talks involving President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders are set to resume next week. Investors are hoping that there will be some sort of an agreement for averting the impending fiscal cliff, a term used to describe a raft of tax increases and spending cuts that will start next year if nothing is done.
"If the fiscal cliff happens, a lot of major assets will be down on a short-term basis because of the fear factor and the chaos factor. So whatever you are in, you're going to lose some money unless you go long the VIX and short the market. The 'upside risk' there is some kind of grand bargain, and then the market goes crazy," Yu-Dee Chang, chief trader and sole principal of ACE Investments in Virginia, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Investors are also likely to focus on Europe as euro zone finance ministers are set to meet Monday in order to continue the negotiations on Greece’s next tranche of bailout. After nearly 12 hours of talks in Brussels Tuesday, the euro zone finance ministers failed to clinch a deal that would unblock the next tranche of financial aid to debt-laden Greece for technical reasons, but the reality is that the important political hurdles remain.
In Asia, Japanese unemployment rate for the month of October is due be released Thursday and is likely to remain stable at 4.2 percent. Industrial production in Japan is expected to decline to 2.2 percent on a monthly basis for the fourth straight month in October while South Korea’s production is likely to pick up in October on an annual basis.