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Trading cautiously

Steady currency and commodity markets, and modest gains for European and American shares, would normally point to a positive day for Asia Pacific investors. However futures markets are indicating a flat start to share market trading as regional investors look to important data from China.

Anticipated central bank actions remain a primary driver of market action. Reports last week that the People’s Bank of China had “done enough to stabilise the economy” deflated investor enthusiasm. The simultaneous release of weaker Australian inflation data initially supported shares, but that sugar rush evaporated quickly, despite interest rate market indications of a one in three chance of an RBA rate cut next week. Today’s China PMI reads could swing sentiment either way if they diverge from forecasts of manufacturing indices just above 50 and services around 55.

The evident local weakness defies better indications from the US reporting season. At the half way mark both sales and earnings are above forecasts, driving the S&P 500 index to record highs in overnight trading. Global growth concerns remain front and centre, and a trade agreement between China and the US may be required to bring any positive market stance.

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