UOB economists said combined data for the first two months of the year suggests a continuing recovery, with shipments to major markets like the U.S. and China improving. Still, analysts flag continued uncertainty surrounding the global economic environment, with headwinds from factors such as high interest rates and geopolitical tensions.

A positive print for March could improve views about the Singapore economy's outlook for the year, after advance estimates for first-quarter growth missed expectations. The central bank has said it will closely monitor domestic economic developments, and upbeat or downbeat activity data could have implications for its policy.

Barclays economists predict that non-oil domestic exports likely fell in March on unfavorable base effects.


In India, the key releases will be trade and inflation, with elections looming. WPI and trade figures are due Monday, followed by CPI on Friday.

"We expect the trade deficit to narrow sequentially in March, driven by a fiscal year-end rise in exports and lower gold imports," Barclays economists said. "We expect WPI-based inflation to remain broadly stable in the month, with sequential decline in food prices offset by rise in international crude oil and coal prices."

The inflation outlook for India is somewhat uncertain, "with recent consumer price inflation rates hovering around 5%, close to the upper end of the Reserve Bank of India's target range of 2% to 6% and without clear evidence of a trend towards slowing price pressures," Moody's Analytics economists said.

India's elections kick off Friday, with about 968 million people eligible to vote, UOB said.


In Malaysia, it is a double bill of trade and growth data on Friday.

Market watchers will be hoping to see an improvement in both prints, after revised estimates confirmed that Malaysia's economy slowed in 2023 as the country grappled with a tough global economic environment that led to prolonged weakness in external demand. Exports are off to a rocky start this year, bouncing in January but retreating in February, though officials have expressed cautious optimism about the outlook for the rest of the year.

Barclays economists expect that exports and imports pulled back sequentially in March, with the trade surplus widening slightly. They expect GDP growth to pick up in the first quarter, as industrial production growth improved visibly in January-February.

There is some cause for optimism longer term, economists said.

Southeast Asia's chipmakers, including Malaysia, should see growth improve later this year, "once global chip demand spreads beyond high-end semiconductors to mid- and lower-tier designs," said Moody's Analytics senior economists Stefan Angrick and Jeemin Bang, associate economist.

(All references to days for Asian events are in local times.)

- Additional reporting by James Glynn, Ronnie Harui, Amanda Lee, Kimberley Kao, Xiao Xiao, Paul Viera and Emese Bartha

Write to Jessica Fleetham at jessica.fleetham@wsj.com and Fabiana Negrin Ochoa at fabiana.negrinochoa@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-12-24 0846ET