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Marketmind: Bank On Some Bumps

A worker walks across a construction site in the Central Business District, ahead of the opening of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, February 28, 2023.

A look at the day ahead in Asian markets from Lewis Krauskopf.

Monday could kick off a rocky week in financial markets.

A banking blow-up in the U.S. is sparking fears of global contagion risks, and those fears could emerge in Asian trading as the week begins. Regulators were scrambling over the weekend to contain the fallout from the sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank late last week.

The bank’s failure has already taken its toll on markets. Investors unloaded equity risk, with MSCI’s gauge of world stocks ending the week with its biggest two-day drop in about three months. Banking stocks were hit particularly hard, with the S&P 500’s regional banks index tumbling 18% on the week.

Meanwhile, measures of volatility in the equity and fixed income markets hit their highest levels of 2023.

Even with fresh risks in the banking sector, a critical week of macro data also is likely to continue to drive trading as investors seek to understand how central banks will balance threats to economic growth and still-simmering inflation.

U.S. yields ended the week sharply lower, following Friday’s mixed U.S. jobs report that saw strong employment gains but moderating wage growth. Two-year U.S. Treasury yields, which closely follow Federal Reserve policy expectations, saw the biggest drop since the 2008 financial crisis on Friday.

Critical inflation information comes with Tuesday’s U.S. consumer price index report, among the last key pieces of data before the Fed decides on its next interest rate move later this month. The European Central Bank appears to be poised for a half-point increase to its rate on Thursday.

China’s economy is also in the spotlight. The release of the country’s first retail and factory data of the year is due on Wednesday, after the economy gave one of its weakest performances in decades last year, with GDP up just 3%.

Facing economic challenges, China unexpectedly kept its central bank governor and finance minister in their posts at the annual session of the parliament on Sunday.

Here are three key developments that could provide more direction to markets on Monday:

– India CPI report for February

– Malaysia industrial output for Jan

– End of parliamentary session in China

(By Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Diane Craft)