Analysts at Nomura noted the key events taking place for the week ahead.
US: Employment report (Friday 13:30), Trade balance (Friday 13:30) 2. Japan: Labor Force Survey (Monday 23:30) 3. China: 2016 GDP growth target (Saturday (3/5/2016)) 4. Central banks: RBA (Tuesday 03:30).
“In the U.S., our economists expect the first round of monthly data for February to reflect an economy that is expanding at a steady pace. While NFP added a net 151k jobs in January, a step down from the Q4 monthly average of 279k workers, it is consistent with the labor market growing near its underlying trend, and our economists believe some of the slowdown in growth was due to temporary factors.
With incoming data suggesting that we should see stronger job growth in February, our economists forecast private payrolls added 205k new workers, with no increase in government workers, implying that total NFP will gain 205k jobs. While we expect the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 4.9%, we forecast average hourly earnings to grow by only +0.20% m-o-m (+2.6% y-o-y).
On the trade balance, container data suggests that both exports and imports declined in January; however, a decline in goods inflows outpaced a moderate decline in goods outflows (our economists forecast the trade deficit narrowed to -$40.9bn in January from -$43.4bn in December. This data could have a material impact and is now especially important for Q1 GDP tracking, given the impact of slower global and other external developments that have weighed on some domestic sectors).
For Japan, given mixed signals on job openings and working hours, we think the unemployment rate in January will be unchanged from December at 3.3%. In Australia, the RBA is scheduled to meet on its cash rate target. We believe developments over the past few months will have shifted a reluctant RBA further toward easing, and expect its statement to read more dovish on balance (we forecast a 25bp rate cut in May, with the market currently pricing 20bp at that meeting).
While AUDUSD has strengthened in recent weeks because of an increase in iron ore prices, rate differentials turning more in favor of AUD, financial inflows and positioning, we believe the increase in iron ore prices could prove unsustainable and susceptible to correction.
On the Fed side, expectations of further policy normalization have fallen significantly, with the market going from pricing in about 55bp of hikes in 2016 to nothing a couple of weeks ago. A repricing is likely if the economic data remain robust, which should prove to be supportive for USD. A repricing of expectations is in line with our views and would be negative for AUD/USD.
China’s fourth annual session for the 12th National Peoples’ Congress will start on 5 March and likely conclude around the mid-month. We expect the government to lower its 2016 GDP growth target to 6.5-7.0%. Furthermore, plans for higher infrastructure spending and more tax cuts could result in the government widening its budgeted deficit to 3.0% of GDP this year.
The government will likely reiterate the need for market reform of the CNY FX system, and we believe authorities will gradually allow CNY to become more market-determined this year amid occasional FX market interventions to dampen speculative positioning. The concern over such interventions stem from the potentially rapid drawdown of FX reserves.”