Asian stock markets ended with gains last week as sentiment was buoyed following the encouraging economic reports from the U.S. and China. Manufacturing activity in the world’s largest economy expanded for the second straight month in October while Chinese manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in three months, indicating some stabilization in the global recovery trend, particularly in the U.S. and China.
Market participants are expected to focus on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election and economic releases in Asia, where heavy data is due for release during the next week. Asian markets are likely to begin the week on a positive note as better-than-expected U.S. non-farm payroll data have suggested that the strength of the economic recovery in the world's largest economy is gaining some traction.
The U.S. Labor Department reported that 171,000 jobs were added in October, far better than the economists' estimate of 125,000 jobs. September payrolls were revised to a gain of 148,000 from an initially reported 114,000. The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September as more people entered the labor force. However, the U.S. stocks pared earlier gains and ended sharply lower as investors turned their attention to the next week’s presidential election.
“The employment data was a good report that was met with some skepticism. This election is still too close to call so it may be tough to make any bets. Between the seesawing job reports, the too-close- to-call election, mounting damage cost from Sandy and our biggest city at 50 percent, markets seem to be at a bewildered and confused point,” Larry Peruzzi, senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets LLC in Boston, wrote in an e-mail, Bloomberg reported.
On the data front, market participants are likely to focus on Asia as economic releases for the U.S. are reasonably light and are unlikely to be strong market-movers. The main focus will be on China as the world's second largest economy is due to release its monthly data pack in the back half of next week.
Reports on monthly retail sales, fixed asset investment, inflation, PPI and Industrial production for the month of October are due to be released Friday. Analysts at Credit Agricole expect the region’s largest economy to show further signs of a gradual improvement in output, demand and sentiment.
Meanwhile, the data released Saturday by the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that China's non-manufacturing activity rose in October compared to that in the previous month, decreasing the concerns over the slowdown in the economic growth of the country. The non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 55.5 in October from 53.7 in September.
In Japan, the current account surplus for the month of September is expected to be narrowed to 176.0 billion yen from 722.3 billion yen in August. September machinery orders are expected to increase 3.5 percent on a monthly basis after plunging 3.3 percent in the previous month.
Among the other data, Malaysian exports and industrial output will come in weak while the Bank of Korea (BOK) should stay put after cutting its key rate at the last meeting.
On the earnings front, a slew of companies, including NVIDIA, News Corp, Walt Disney, Groupon , Sysco, Kraft Foods, J.C. Penney and Qualcomm are scheduled to release the quarterly results during the week.
Of the 378 S&P 500 companies that have reported results so far in this earnings season, 61.9 percent have exceeded the analysts' estimates, in line with typical 62 percent average. But only 38.2 percent of the companies have posted revenue above expectations, well below the 62 percent quarterly average since 2002 and the 55 percent average over the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters data.