European Economics Preview: UK Inflation Data Due

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 Inflation from the UK and economic sentiment from Germany are due on Tuesday, headlining a busy day for the European economic news.

At 2.45 am ET, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs releases Swiss quarterly economic forecast.

At 3.00 am ET, Destatis is slated to issue Germany's producer prices for February. Economists producer prices to rise 2 percent on year, slower than the 2.1 percent increase seen in January.

In the meantime, unemployment from Finland and consumer confidence from Turkey are due.

At 4.00 am ET, Hungary's average gross wages are due. Economists forecast wages to climb 12 percent on year in January, slower than the 13.5 percent rise seen in December.

At 5.30 am ET, the Office for National Statistics releases UK consumer and producer prices for February. Inflation is forecast to ease to 2.8 percent from 3 percent in January.

UK output price inflation is seen at 2.7 percent versus 2.8 percent in January. Likewise, input price inflation is expected to ease to 3.8 percent from 4.7 percent.

At 6.00 am ET, Germany's ZEW economic confidence survey results are due. The economic confidence index is expected to fall to 13 in March from 17.8 in February.

At 11.00 am ET, Eurozone consumer confidence survey results are due. The sentiment index is seen at zero in March versus 0.1 in February.

Australia's Consumer Confidence Improves


Australia's consumer confidence improved during the week ended March 18, a weekly survey compiled by the ANZ bank and Roy Morgan Research showed Tuesday.

The consumer confidence index rose 2.2 percent to 118.5 from 116.0 in the preceding week.

After declining in the previous two weeks, household sentiment towards current and financial conditions strengthened notably during the week.

"The bounce follows last week's report showing business conditions at a new record high and suggests that both the business and household communities remain optimistic about the outlook," ANZ'S senior economist, Felicity Emmett, said.

Sensex, Nifty Marginally Lower In Early Trade

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Indian shares opened a tad lower on Tuesday, tracking weak cues from global markets as worries intensified about a potential U.S.-China trade war and investors looked ahead to the outcome of a key Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The benchmark BSE Sensex was marginally lower at 32,912 in early trade, extending losses for the fourth consecutive session.

The broader Nifty index was also down marginally at 10,090, with Bharti Airtel, NTPC, Aurobindo Pharma and Cipla losing 1-4 percent.

Binani Industries jumped 4 percent. The company moved the National Company Law Tribunal to terminate the insolvency proceedings in relation to Binani Cement after UltraTech Cement agreed to buy the debt-laden company.

BGR Energy Systems rallied 3 percent on securing an order worth Rs 87.68 crore from Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation.

Future Retail advanced 1.5 percent after it received RBI approval to raise FPI limit in the company to 49 percent from 24 percent.

Granules India edged up half a percent after receiving ANDA approval for Metformin tablets.

IFCI gained about 1 percent on receiving favorable verdict in sale of the assets of Blue Coast Hotels for recovery of dues.

Tech Stocks Weigh On Asian Markets

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Asian stock markets, led by Japan, are declining on Tuesday reflecting weakness in technology stocks after Facebook shares tumbled overnight amid allegations political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately obtained and used the social media giant's user data.

Investors also remained cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday, with the central bank widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points.

The Australian market is declining following the negative cues from Wall Street amid lingering concerns about a potential trade war and a plunge in Facebook shares that weighed on technology stocks. In addition, weak commodity prices dragged down resources stocks.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 27.10 points or 0.45 percent to 5,932.30, off a low of 5,915.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 29.20 points or 0.48 percent to 6,035.50.

The major miners are weak after iron ore prices fell overnight to its lowest level since November. BHP Billiton is losing more than 2 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are down more than 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are also lower after crude oil prices declined overnight. Santos is down 0.4 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are lower by almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are higher, aided by an increase in gold prices. Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is rising almost 1 percent, Westpac is adding 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

ANZ Banking said it will consider an IPO for its New Zealand UDC Finance business after an agreement to sell the business to China's HNA was rejected by New Zealand regulators. The bank's shares are edging down less than 0.1 percent.

TPG Telecom reported an 11 percent decrease in first-half profit, but raised its full-year earnings outlook. The internet provider's shares are declining more than 2 percent.

Kathmandu Holdings reported a nearly 23 percent increase in first-half profit and said it has agreed to acquire U.S.-based Oboz Footwear for $60 million, with an earn-out of up to $15 million. The outdoor clothing and equipment retailer's shares are in a trading halt.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that house prices in Australia were up 1.0 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2017. That exceeded expectations for a flat reading following the 0.2 percent decline in the third quarter.

Members of the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy board said that the global economy is continuing to see acceptable overall improvement, minutes from the board's March 6 meeting revealed on Tuesday. They also added that the domestic economy could be hampered by an appreciating exchange rate, the minutes said.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar continued to slide against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local unit was quoted at US$0.7706, down from US$0.7692 on Monday.

The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session, reflecting weakness in technology stocks following a plunge in Facebook shares. Ongoing worries about the political uncertainty in Japan also dragged stocks lower.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 152.13 points or 0.71 percent to 21,328.77, off a low of 21,223.97 in early trades.

The major exporters are weak. Sony is down more than 1 percent, while Panasonic, Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are losing almost 1 percent each.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is down 0.4 percent while Honda is adding 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.4 percent while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down less than 0.1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is losing more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is down 0.5 percent after crude oil prices dipped overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Japan Post Holdings is rising more than 3 percent, while Dowa Holdings and Fukuoka Financial are adding more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Shiseido Co. is losing almost 4 percent, while Sumco Corp., Japan Steel Works and Yaskawa Electric are down more than 3 percent each.

In economic news, Japan will release final January numbers for its leading and coincident indexes today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 106 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong are also lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Monday, reflecting lingering concerns about a potential trade war as well as political uncertainty following recent developments in Washington. A steep drop by social media giant Facebook's shares were a heavy drag on the technology sector.

The Dow tumbled 335.60 points or 1.4 percent at 24,610.91, the Nasdaq plunged 137.74 points or 1.8 percent to 7,344.24 and the S&P 500 plummeted 39.09 points or 2,712.92.

The major European markets have all moved to the downside on Monday. While the French CAC 40 Index has fallen by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 1.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 1.3 percent.

Crude oil futures fell along with U.S. stocks Monday, as traders fretted over a litany of defections and firings from the Trump Administration. WTI crude dipped $0.28 or 0.5 percent to settle at $62.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

New Zealand's Services Sector Growth Slows In February


New Zealand's services sector growth slowed slightly in February, data from BusinessNZ showed Monday.

The BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of services index dropped 0.7 points to 55.0 in February. It was the third consecutive decrease in expansion levels and the lowest since April 2017.

Nonetheless, a reading above 50.0 indicates expansion.

BNZ Senior Economist Craig Ebert, said "the PSI remains encouragingly expansive, although it has slowed to about average, compared to its roaring rate of advance about this time last year".

Squeeze On UK Household Finances Moderate In March

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British households' current financial pressures moderated in March, underpinned by higher workplace incomes and softer inflation, results of a survey by IHS Markit and market research company Ipsos Mori revealed Monday.

The seasonally adjusted Household Finance Index, of HFI, rose to a 3-month high of 43.1 in March from 42.4 in February.

However, any score below 50 suggests pessimism regarding finances among the U.K. households.

UK households remained downbeat about the prospects for their financial well-being over the next 12 months.

The corresponding index came in at 47.6 in March, below the neutral 50.0 no-threshold but broadly unchanged from the levels seen so far in 2018.

The survey indicated positive developments in terms of pay, workplace activity and job insecurity in March.

On the price front, inflation expectations for the year ahead continued to ease in March, with the index falling to a 4-month low of 88.9 from 90.0 in February.

March data also revealed that close to 57 percent of UK households expect a rate rise within the next six months, down from 60.0 percent in February.

London House Prices Decline In March: Rightmove


House prices in London continued to decrease in March, property website Rightmove reported Monday.

Home prices dropped 0.6 percent annually in March to GBP 631,651. Nonetheless, prices climbed 0.6 percent from February.

The annual decline is bound to be a deterrent to some potential sellers, Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said. "Even though fewer properties are coming to market, the slower rate of sales means stocks of unsold property are growing, leading to subsequent downwards price pressure."

In the UK as whole, house prices grew 1.5 percent month-on-month in March, taking the annual growth to 2.1 percent.

Japan Exports Rise More Than Expected In February

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Japan's exports and imports grew more-than-expected in February, preliminary figures from the Ministry of Finance showed Monday.

The value of exports climbed 1.8 percent year-over-year in February, faster than the 1.4 percent rise economists had forecast.

Imports surged 16.5 percent in February from a year ago, just above the expected spike of 16.0 percent.

As a result, the overall trade surplus declined notably to JPY 3.4 billion in February from JPY 804.5 billion in the same month of 2017. The surplus was forecast to drop to JPY 89.1 billion.