Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead

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Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com -- Inflation data out of the U.S., the euro zone and Japan will be front and center in the holiday-shortened week ahead. The health of China’s manufacturing sector will also be in the spotlight, while concerns over the demand outlook may continue to weigh on oil prices. Here's your look at what's happening in markets for the week ahead.

  1. U.S. inflation data

The Fed’s favourite inflation gauge - the personal consumption expenditures ( PCE ) price index - due on Friday will be closely watched for clues about the direction of interest rates over the rest of the year.

The data comes as markets are becoming resigned to the higher-for-longer interest rate narrative after last weeks Fed minutes, along with cautious sounding remarks from policymakers who expressed doubt whether inflation is indeed on a reliable downward trajectory.

Investors will also get the chance to hear from several Fed speakers during the week including Governor Michelle Bowman, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, Governor Lisa Cook, New York Fed President John Williams and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic.

The economic calendar also features revised data on first quarter economic growth on Thursday and the Fed’s Beige Book on Wednesday.

  1. Euro zone inflation

The European Central Bank has all but promised to lower interest rates from a record high of 4% in at its upcoming June meeting, but it remains to be seen how quickly it will cut rates after that, particularly if inflation data out on Friday shows price pressures remain volatile.

Economists expect euro zone inflation to tick up 2.5% in May year-on-year, from 2.4% in April, while underlying inflation is seen holding steady at 2.7% .

This alone is unlikely to deter the ECB from cutting in June but some officials are already arguing against the need to ease any further.

The economic calendar for the bloc also features Germany’s Ifo business climate index on Monday, and the ECB’s survey of inflation expectations on Tuesday.

  1. Japan data

Tokyo inflation data due on Friday will be closely watched as markets try to gauge when the Bank of Japan could next raise rates.

The figures come two weeks before the BOJ's next monetary policy meeting, where some are betting the central bank could deliver its second rate rise after March's historic move.

Policymakers are facing mounting pressure to hike rates amid ongoing weakness in the yen which hurts consumption by inflating the cost of raw material imports.

Also Friday, the Ministry of Finance is to release intervention data which covers the recent rounds of suspected intervention and the BOJ's bond buying schedule, where traders will look out for cuts in the amount of central bank purchasing.

  1. China activity

China is to release data on industrial profits for the year to date on Monday with market watchers eager to see whether profits rebounded in April after a sharp decline the prior month slowed the pace of gains for the first three months to 4.3%.

China is to release its official manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs on Friday. Economists are expecting the manufacturing index to remain just above the 50 threshold that separates growth from contraction for a third month in May.

Beijing has set an ambitious economic growth target of around 5% for this year, which many analysts say will be a challenge to meet as prolonged weakness in the property sector and tepid consumer demand remain a drag on the world’s second largest economy.

5. Oil prices

 Oil prices rose about 1% on Friday but posted a weekly loss on worries that strong U.S. economic data would keep interest rates elevated for a longer period, curbing fuel demand.

Brent closed down 2.1% for the week. It declined for four straight sessions last week, its longest losing streak since Jan 2. U.S. crude settled down 2.8% for the week.

Higher interest rates increase the cost of borrowing, which can slow economic activity and dampen demand for oil.

Oil demand is still robust from a broader perspective, analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note, adding they expect total oil liquids consumption to increase by about 1.5 million barrels per day this year.

Soft U.S. gasoline demand has been offset by global demand, which surprised to the upside, especially in the early parts of the year, the analysts said.

--Reuters contributed to this report

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