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Asian markets await data releases

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The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) is likely to take its cue from a positive session on Wall Street after better than expected April jobs data left investors upbeat about the US economic outlook and interest rate environment.

Mr Stephen Innes, SPI Asset Management's head of trading and market strategy said the jobs report suggested that the ''US economic engine continues to fire on all cylinders, with inflation remaining mute''.

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 197.16 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 26,504.95.

The S&P 500 gained 28.12 points, or 0.96 per cent, to 2,945.64, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 127.22 points, or 1.58 per cent, to 8,164.00.

''Following the bullish close in New York, I think we could see some positive knock-on effects in Asia and the local market as equity bears are falling by the wayside,'' Mr Innes added.

With the majority of companies on Wall Street posting earnings for the March quarter, global attention will pivot toward geopolitics this week with the next round of USChina trade talks in Washington on Wednesday.

Market watchers have said that trade negotiations would continue to weigh on market sentiment, following a CNBC report that a trade deal could be announced by May 10.

This has investors ''assessing how the prolonged US-China tensions may have an impact on trade-dependent economies'', FXTM market analyst Han Tan said.

On the local front, a quiet week awaits, with just Monday's Nikkei survey of April purchasing managers' index figures and Friday's retail sales figures for March.

Mr Tan said of the survey: ''A steeper expansion for industry should point to Singapore's resilience in weathering external headwinds, and may translate into gains for the Singapore dollar.

''However, the currency's upside for the week may be limited, should the March retail sales data due on Friday unveil yet another month of contraction, having posted year-onyear declines in three of the four months prior.''

The local earnings season continues with six STI components due to announce their first quarter earnings on Friday.

These include OCBC Bank, the last of the trio of local banks. Results from property players City Developments Limited and UOL Group are also due on Friday, as are those from agri-business firm Wilmar International, casino operator Genting Singapore and ST Engineering.

Over the weekend, Best World International announced that it will release earnings for the three months ended March 31 on May 8.

It has been granted a further extension of a trading halt, to be lifted before the market opens on May 9.

Trading in the shares of the skincare products maker and distributor was halted on April 24 after shares fell 9 per cent, following a report by shortseller Bonitas Research that questioned the accounting behind Best World's profits and its sales practices in China.

Elsewhere in Asia, there are key economic data releases for April in China.

These include the Caixin services PMI today, Wednesday's trade data, and Thursday's inflation rate.

Indonesia will release first quarter gross domestic product data today and Australia its April trade data on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Japan, which returns to trading on Tuesday after a 10-day-long break, sees Q1 GDP out on Friday.

There are a slew of monetary policy decisions to be made by central banks in the Asia-Pacific with Australia and Malaysia on Tuesday, New Zealand and Thailand on Wednesday, and The Philippines on Thursday.

However, UOB economist Alvin Liew noted that all of these above-mentioned central banks are expected to maintain status quo with the exception of The Philippine central bank, which may cut its overnight borrowing rate and deposit facility rate.

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