Rate announcements by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan will loom large this coming week as investors consider the alternate reality of negative interest rates. Meanwhile, key economic indicators for onetime BRIC stars Russia and Brazil will arrive as each suffers from the weight of low oil prices and Brazil deals with domestic political intrigue surrounding the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.
Monday, April 25: The Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation released March GDP data. After two years of recession following the imposition of international sanctions, the Kremlin had pinned hopes on cooperation with the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries to drive oil prices higher only to see the Doha summit fail to result in an agreement. This past Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev grimly announced that his government now is expecting zero growth for 2016 at best.
Tuesday, April 26: Unemployment data slated for release from the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística is expected to show that the number of job seekers in Brazil rose in March. With joblessness trending up sharply since the first quarter of 2015, unrest among youthful voters has been exacerbated by the ongoing Petrobras scandal. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks throughout the country demanding that embattled President Dilma Rousseff step down.
Wednesday, April 27: Private sector lending figures for March from the European Central Bank will provide insight into the state of European credit markets after the central banks move to begin charging large bank depositors. After leaving rates unchanged on Thursday, ECB president Mario Draghi used a press conference as an opportunity to reiterate the banks commitment to stimulus while addressing loud protests from German leaders. Critics argue that negative deposit rates will deprive banks of profitability and pensioners of returns.
Thursday, April 28: Currency markets recalibrated this past week, with the Japanese yen falling versus major currencies. Many investors are now looking to Thursdays Bank of Japan monetary policy statement for further cuts. In an interview on Thursday one former bank deputy governor predicted that rates would eventually dip to 1 percent. Among other stimulus measures Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda and his colleagues are vetting include special negative rate loans to prop up domestic banks balance sheets.
Friday, April 29: The University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for April registered a decline for the fourth consecutive month. Consensus forecasts predict a marginal improvement in the final reading on Friday though not enough to ease concerns over activity at U.S. cash registers. The same day, the U.S. Department of Commerce announces March personal consumption expenditure index levels. With signals that events abroad are causing U.S. shoppers to be more cautious despite improving employment, the implications for the consumer segments of the equity market are ominous.
Saturday, April 30: The Beltane Fire Festival celebrates the pending arrival of summer. Held on the eve of May on Calton Hill, overlooking the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, the event encompasses ancient Pagan traditions surrounding spring and fertility. A colorful procession culminating in the lighting of bonfires is followed by feasting, handfastings a type of romantic unity ceremony that has enjoyed a recent popular revival and clothing-optional dancing.