Five things to note before the market trades this week, Dec 29-Jan 4

On Wall Street last week - shortened by the Christmas holiday - the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.4 per cent while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.9 per cent - both hitting fresh all-time highs. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
On Wall Street last week - shortened by the Christmas holiday - the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.4 per cent while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.9 per cent - both hitting fresh all-time highs. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The great American televison drama series, The Newsroom, ended last week with the show's finale, titled, "What Kind of a Day Has It Been".

This week, investors around the world will weigh what kind of a year this has been.

Here's 5 things to note as we begin the last week of 2014:

1. Big week for Singapore economy

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will release advance estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter and for the year at 8am on Friday.

Figures out last week showed that Singapore's industrial output fell the most in more than a year in November, damping outlook for growth in Q4. Manufacturing makes up about 19 per cent of Singapore's economy.

Singapore is bracing for slower global growth from last year. Earlier in December, a quarterly survey by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) had economists forecasting GDP to expand by 2.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis in Q4, down from 3.3 per cent in the first three quarters of the year.

They expect full-year growth for 2014 to ease to 3 per cent from 3.9 per cent in 2013.

On Friday also, the Urban Redevelopment Authority releases its flash estimates for Q4 private property index which will also sum up how the private housing market has fared this year.

2. Wall Street expected to close 2014 with a bang

US financial markets begin this week at record highs again, with analysts expecting stocks and bonds to move even higher.

On Wall Street last week - shortened by the Christmas holiday - the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.4 per cent while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.9 per cent - both hitting fresh all-time highs.

With just days to go close 2014, the Dow has advanced 11.5 per cent for the year, while the S&P 500 has added 15.3 per cent, and the Nasdaq has gained 16.5 per cent. US Treasuries, meanwhile, are on track for their best performance since 2011, according to Bloomberg.

The US dollar has also had a great year, as the American economy powers ahead in its recovery while others - notably the eurozone - struggle. The greenback has strengthened 14 per cent this year to 120.31 yen and 13 per cent to US$1.2183 against the euro, the biggest gain since 2005, according to Bloomberg News.

A slew of US economic data is due for release in this holiday-shortened week: Dallas Fed manufacturing survey on Monday, the S&P Case-Shiller home price index and consumer confidence index on Tuesday, Chicago PMI and new home sales on Wednesday, and the ISM manufacturing index on Friday.

3. More Greek drama

In Europe, eyes are on the third and final round of crunch Greek presidential elections on Monday. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras must secure enough support in parliament for his candidate to avoid early general elections and a potential victory of the anti-bailout, radical leftist Syriza party.

Syriza wants to renegotiate the conditions of Greece's bailout and roll back unpopular austerity measures imposed by its creditors.

Greece's dire finances sparked the european debt crisis in 2012 and, despite two bailouts worth €240 billion and most of the debt held by private investors being wiped out, the economy has only just begun to recover after six years of contraction.

4. AirAsia, Airbus shares in focus

Why? Early Sunday, an AirAsia passenger jet with 162 people on board disappeared over the Java Sea on its way to Singapore. Indonesia's AirAsia is 49 per cent-owned by Malaysia-listed AirAsia Bhd. The jet was an Airbus A320-200, manufactured by Airbus Group, primarily listed on Euronext.

5. Russia's problems to carry over into 2015

The Russian government said on Sunday it has pledged 6 billion roubles to help arms exporters service loans from domestic banks, in a further show of state support for companies hit by the country's financial risis. The government has taken steps to support state companies and banks and to stabilise the rouble, but analysts are pessimistic on the outlook for Russia's economy and currency.

Russia has been hit by the halving in the price of oil, its key export, since June and by Western sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis. Although crude oil prices seem to have stabilised in the last week or so, trading back above US$60 for Brent and US$55 for West Texas Intermediate, prices could remain under pressure in 2015. Analysts have estimated that every US$10 fall in crude prices reduces Russia's export revenues by 2 per cent of GDP.

The US Congress, meanwhile, has passed a bill seeking to put more pressure on President Vladimir Putin by authorizing new sanctions on weapons companies and investors in high-tech oil projects. President Barack Obama had not yet said how he will respond to the bill.