Marketmind- Tokyo traders to get inflation read and wait for US CPI

By Alden Bentley

(Reuters) – A look at the day ahead in Asian markets.

Tokyo markets will reopen on Tuesday after a long weekend with consumer price and spending data to take in early Tuesday and must decide what to make of the strong tech-led rally on Wall Street after Friday’s directionless trading.

Later in the week the U.S. December CPI report could provide important signals for global investors. For a day at least Nikkei and JGB players will have to get cues from Japan’s December household spending and Tokyo Consumer Price Index.

The Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.27% on Friday and is less than 1% below the 33-year high close from December.

On Monday, South Korea’s benchmark KOSPI fell 0.40% and China’s blue-chip index fell to its lowest level in nearly five years, while Hong Kong stocks shed roughly 2%, amid rising geopolitical tensions before Taiwan’s elections on Saturday and weak confidence in Beijing’s economy.

Things were looking up on Wall Street, where the Nasdaq and S&P 500 surged on the back of megacaps and chip stocks. The main negative was a slide in Boeing which put pressure on the Dow. The U.S. ordered the temporary grounding of some 737 MAX 9 jets fitted with a panel that blew off an Alaska Air Group jet in midair on Friday.

In potential share-moving news, Japan’s Sony is planning to scrap the merger of its Indian unit with Zee Entertainment, more than two years after the deal was announced, over a disagreement on who will lead the $10 billion entity, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.

Dollar/yen fell in U.S. trade and was off 0.35%, with the dollar little changed against most currencies. Investors continued to digest mixed signals from Friday’s U.S. jobs and Service sector data, but focused more on Thursday’s important inflation reading as Federal Reserve policy makers ponder how soon they can pivot to cutting rates.

The Bank of Japan is expected to be an outlier this year by lifting rates out of negative territory, though interest rates in the country are likely to remain below other major economies. Last week’s 7.6 magnitude earthquake could also hinder Japan’s economic recovery and goal to let inflation rise.

“The earthquake aftermath can push back speculation of a BoJ policy tweak later this month,” John Briggs, Global Head of Economics & Markets Strategy at NatWest Markets noted in a report on Monday.

Here are key developments that could provide more direction to markets this week:

– Tokyo CPI Tuesday (December)

– Japan household spending Tuesday (December)

Monday’s Morning Bid Asia incorrectly stated that Japan’s December household spending and Tokyo Consumer Price Index was due on Monday. The reports are scheduled for Tuesday.

(Reporting by Alden Bentley, additional reporting by Karen Brettell)