A five-day Labor Day holiday that starts Wednesday offers an opportunity to get new clues on the strength of China's domestic consumption, though official data including tourism spending and box office sales for that period might be announced only after the holiday ends.

The Chinese communist party's end-April Politburo meeting will also be in focus, amid speculation about more stimulus in the pipeline.

"Hints at conflicting views on monetary policy have surfaced in the past few days, sparking a discussion in domestic policy circles," said analysts at Pantheon Macroeconomics, referring to a budding debate between China's finance ministry and central bank over an unusual policy tool--treasury bond trading--to boost liquidity.

Remarks from the PBOC indicate it is unlikely to employ this policy option. Signs of division instead of coordination between policymakers could heighten concerns about how effective incoming stimulus will be.


In Australia, a relatively busy week for data is headlined by March retail trade, due on Tuesday. Sales got a boost in February from spending around Taylor Swift's run of concerts in the country, and analysts think retail trade last month will be supported by the timing of Easter as households typically budget more for food.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia forecasts a 0.3% lift in spending in March, the same outcome as February. This would see an improvement of 0.5% in the first quarter.

Other data for March include credit growth, building approvals, lending indicators and the trade balance.

"We expect a modest 0.4% lift in credit growth, a 3% lift in the volatile building approvals series and a flat outcome for lending," said Belinda Allen, senior economist at CBA. "We do also expect the trade balance to widen to A$9.5 billion as imports normalize."


Wednesday* is shaping up to be an important day for investors trying to parse the intentions of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

The RBNZ will release its six-monthly Financial Stability Report, assessing how the economy is adjusting to higher interest rates. ANZ expects the report to highlight similar risks to those discussed in November, and also sees potential confirmation of changes to macroprudential policy settings.

ANZ points out that the consultation period for proposed debt-to-income restrictions and a slight loosening in loan-to-value ratio settings closed on March 12.

"The RBNZ have noted they expect to communicate final decisions in the middle of the year, suggesting the FSR could contain these details," ANZ said.

Wednesday* is also the scheduled release date for first-quarter labor-force data. Westpac forecast the unemployment rate to rise to 4.2%, from 4.0%, with wages growth slowing more.

"Our forecasts are similar to the Reserve Bank's most recent estimates, so we don't expect the results to provide any fresh direction for monetary policy," said Michael Gordon, Westpac's senior economist.


On Tuesday* industrial production figures for March are in focus, followed by trade figures on Wednesday. On Thursday*, eyes turn to inflation data for April and its implication for monetary policy.

More signs of sticky inflation could add to the case for the central bank to extend its policy pause.

South Korea's headline inflation topped 3% for a second consecutive month in March, remaining well above the central bank's 2% target.

The data will also be taken in the context of stronger-than-expected 1Q GDP growth, which is also pushing back rate-cut bets.

The Bank of Korea now seems to have more scope to be patient about easing its policy, ANZ economist Krystal Tan said in a note.

Nomura research analysts have sharply dialed back their expectations of rate cuts, penciling in only one cut this year and only once the BOK sees inflation well anchored to its 2% target. Although the BOK had been concerned about higher borrowing costs dragging on consumption, the 1Q GDP data shows that consumption was more resilient than expected.

Barclays economists suspect that higher oil prices are likely to keep disinflation in the March headline rate slow. Oil prices have been buoyed recently by heightened tensions in the Middle East. The economics team thinks industrial production growth will decelerate from a year earlier, citing slower exports growth in March.


Singapore watchers will be looking at first-quarter labor-market data on Tuesday, April manufacturing PMI on Thursday and March retail sales on Friday. The three releases will shed light on how the city-state's recovery is progressing, after flash estimates for growth in the first quarter were somewhat lackluster.

A continued expansion in the PMI could buoy expectations for recovery, while a solid showing in retail sales will reveal how consumer demand is faring.

Particular focus will be on the electronics sector. How this segment performs will be key to Singapore's manufacturing recovery in 2024, said DBS economist Chua Han Teng.

"The improvement in the global electronics cycle and demand remains intact, which should benefit Singapore's electronics manufacturers," he said. But simmering global uncertainties could keep the city-state's manufacturing improvement fragile.

Economists on the Barclays team expect unemployment to have stayed relatively low and stable during the month, which would continue signaling that the labor market remains moderately tight.

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

- Additional reporting by David Winning, Amanda Lee, Xiao Xiao, Megumi Fujikawa, Kwanwoo Jun, Emese Bartha, Miriam Mukuru and Dominic Chopping

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


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04-28-24 1814ET