LONDON (Reuters) - Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.
1/ FED A-HEAD
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s first meeting with new head Jerome Powell at the helm takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday and an interest rate rise - this year’s first - is seen as a done deal.
Against the backdrop of brewing inflationary pressures, mortgage rates and Treasury yields have been rising and risk assets including equities and junk debt prices have been exhibiting signs of stress.
World investors will be paying close attention to the wording of the Fed statement for clues on whether Powell and co think conditions are now strong enough to hike rates beyond the three the financial markets have been forecasting. Oh, and what they think about the risk of a global trade war.
(GRAPHIC: Fed ahead - reut.rs/2FEDs5u)
2/SOMETHING NEW (ZEALAND)
The March 22 meeting at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand should be eventful but not for the normal reasons. For almost no one expects a change in rates. But the RBNZ is having a change of guard. Adrian Orr takes over as governor on March 27 from Grant Spencer.
A new Policy Target Agreement (PTA), which is to be signed between the incoming governor and the country’s finance minister, must also be released before Orr takes over. It could allude to the employment objective that the government wants to include in the RBNZ mandate and is seeking parliamentary approval for.
As for interest rates, markets expect no change until mid-2019. Economic conditions – growth seen slightly above last year’s, below-target inflation, a stable currency and rising share prices – validate those expectations.
New governor Orr has worked for the RBNZ before and is considered a continuity candidate, analysts warn against taking a change of guard for granted though. They cite the example of Philip Lowe at the Reserve Bank of Australia, who surprised markets with his focus on financial stability.
(GRAPHIC: New Zealand GDP, rates, jobs, inflation - reut.rs/2pfJlMe)
3/THE MOODY’S BLUES
Emerging market investors’ love for South Africa and Russia will be severely tested, with Moody’s set to deliver a long-awaited verdict on South Africa’s last remaining investment grade credit rating by March 23, and Russia facing Western condemnation over a nerve agent attack on British soil just as Vladimir Putin limbers up for another presidential election win.
South African assets have rallied hard this year on a turnaround ticket, with new President Cyril Ramaphosa pledging to fight corruption, implement much-need structural reforms and kickstart growth. The country’s bonds are currently international investors’ top “overweight” in portfolios linked to JPMorgan’s GBI-Emerging Markets index so the rating call could be