Major currencies and dollar
FOMC in focus while Russia, Brazil and Sweden may alter rates Reuters

A two-day meeting of the US Federal Open Market Committee that ends on 30 April will be the most watched event of the next week followed by similar policy reviews by the Bank of Japan, Riksbank, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as well as the central banks of Mexico, Israel, Brazil, Russia and Thailand.

The FOMC announcement on Wednesday (29 April) is expected to provide more cues regarding the immediate rate path of the world's largest economy as a section of the market is weighing the probability of a sooner rate hike given the labour market strength while the rest is focusing on disinflation risks.

The BoJ will be watched in the background of increasing speculation that the bank is considering more stimulus measures to bring the country back to the inflation target. Goldman Sachs has predicted something like Operation Twist done by the Fed in the past will be executed by its Japanese counterpart within a few months.

The investment bank said in its view, the most important message of BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda's speech on 19 April was that low inflation momentum is threatening to pull inflation expectations lower, which will then set the stage for additional monetary easing.

"Our Japan chief economist forecasts additional stimulus for July by way of duration extension of JGB purchases (akin to "Operation Twist" in the US)," Goldman Sachs said in a note last week. No change is expected at Thursday's review.

The RBNZ statement on Thursday (30 April) will be watched for the likelihood of any dovish overtones as indicated by the comments of its deputy chief last week.

The central bank remains vigilant over wages and would consider easing monetary policy if these settle at levels lower than the inflation target, assistant governor John McDermott said last week.

In fact, the NZ central bank has been on a rate increase cycle since early last year and has raised the main rate to 3.5% from 2.5% by July. The consensus for the May meeting is for no change.

Likely changes

The Fed decision will be in the news for its systemic impact on the global economy and markets while the central banks in focus for any likely change in the rates are of Sweden, Brazil and Russia. Both the Swedish and Russian banks are likely to see a reduction in the benchmark rates while their Brazilian counterpart is expected to raise the rate.

Riksbank on 18 March cut its key repo rate by 0.15 percentage point to -0.25% and expanded its programme of asset purchases to 30bn krona. Sweden's Inflation rate has slightly inched up in recent months and recorded 0.2% in March, matching the June 2014 number.

Citing higher inflation, the central bank of Brazil raised the rate to a six-year high of 12.75% on 4 March. At Thursday's review, expectations are for a further increase in the rate to 13% as inflation has continued upward and reached a 12-year high of 8.13% in March.

At the 13 March meeting, the Russian central bank lowered its benchmark one-week repo rate by 100 bps to 14%, saying the balance of risks is still shifted towards a more significant cooling of the economy.

The bank had raised the rate by 650 basis points in December last year to 17% and has started cutting by smaller parts since January. Inflation pressures are still in the upward direction in Russia but growth concerns should weigh in the policy meeting on Thursday as the annual GDP rate for the past two quarters was 0%.

Rest seen holding

The Thai central bank on 11 March surprisingly lowered the benchmark rate by 25 bps to 1.75%, exactly a year after the previous cut, citing weaker-than-expected outlook for the economy and slow effects of the government's fiscal stimulus. Expectations are for no change at Wednesday's review.

Mexico has been on a cutting cycle since early 2013 and has taken the benchmark overnight interbank rate down to 3% from 4.5% by the latest reduction in June last year. The central bank is likely to keep the rate at Thursday's review citing current policy is in line with the inflation target.

Israel is expected to keep the benchmark headline rate at 0.1% at the review meeting on Monday as the surprise cut from 0.2% in February might take time to be effective.


Main central bank officials on tape this week include Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens and Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz on Tuesday.