Homecomings, Xi’s Rare Trip and Tech Harbingers: Sunday Asia Briefing

Welcome to the new week.

(Bloomberg) — There’s no place like home (unless you are on a really nice holiday somewhere) as some will find out this week. Will England’s Lionesses achieve what their male counterparts have been attempting for decades, and will former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra once and for all end his self-imposed exile? Here’s what’s brewing in Asia.

The big game. The Women’s World Cup football final will kick off in a few hours with England playing Spain, two powerhouses of the men’s game. While it may not be the gleaming Jules Rimet, a victory for England surely would ease some of the pain of that 57-year wait for another World Cup trophy. Matthew Brooker explains why we’re all winners after Sunday’s final.

The big trip. On the topic of home soil, Chinese President Xi Jinping is taking a rare journey abroad to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa. The leader has preferred to stay in China this year amid mounting political problems, but will make the trip unlike his Russian counterpart who is sending his foreign minister instead. Here’s what else to watch out for in Johannesburg.

The big data. Rates will dominate Asia’s economic calendar this week. China’s banks are all but certain to reduce their prime rates in line with the  PBOC’s move days earlier. Policy makers in South Korea and Indonesia are likely to stay pat, while Sri Lanka could cut as inflation slows. Consumer prices are also seen cooling in Tokyo, Singapore and Malaysia.

The big earnings. Chinese banks are wrestling with a range of operating challenges as the economy and the property market wobble. China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications and China Merchants Bank may face heavier provision burdens in coming quarters after developer Country Garden failed to pay dollar bonds on time. And with Tencent’s revenue miss seen as a bad omen for the tech industry, earnings from Baidu and NetEase will provide further clarity.

The big beneficiary. How do you hedge for food inflation? Buy agriculture stocks of course. Here’s a global trader’s guide on where your exposure  should be.

The big home-coming. Will he or won’t he? Thaksin is set to be back in Thailand on Tuesday, and it’s the third time this year that the former leader or his family has announced plans for his return since he fled the country in 2008. Just in time for a political party backed by his relatives to face a parliament vote to form a government.

The big blowout. It’s always good to plan for the future, and best to know now if you are going to bust your budget — say by about $90 billion in the next 40 years? A report by the Australian government will give more details on the pressure points, namely spending on its aging population and the cost of servicing debt.

Have a winning week.

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