Five things to know before the market trades this week, Feb 9-15

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivering his first major speech in Parliament in Athens on Feb 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivering his first major speech in Parliament in Athens on Feb 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

1. Greece headed for a showdown

A defiant Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Sunday that he is sticking to plans to roll back austerity and reject extending the country's "failed" bailout - putting him on a collision course with the rest of Europe.

Mr Tsipras in his maiden speech in parliament told lawmakers he would keep all pre-election pledges, promising to raise the minimum wage, pay a pension bonus and rehire public workers.

He said Greece, unable to service its debt, would instead seek a bridge loan.

Taking direct aim at Greece's biggest creditor and fiercest opponent to renegotiating Greek bailout terms, Tsipras finished off his speech with a symbolic pledge to seek World War Two reparations from Germany.

A showdown now looms.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will take Greece's proposals to an extraordinary meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Wednesday in Brussels.

The following day Tsipras will hold his first face-to-face talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an European Union (EU) summit.

2. G20 meets amid turbulence

But first the week kicks off with a two-day meeting starting Monday of G20 finance ministers and central bankers in Istanbul, Turkey. Greece's fate will be uppermost in policymakers' minds and global turbulence caused by diverging monetary policies and cheap oil playing havoc with inflation coming a close second.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said last week the United States could not be "the sole engine of growth" and a senior U.S. official said Washington's message going into the meetings would again be that Europe is not doing enough.

"There is a lot at stake," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a blog post on Friday. "Without action, we could see the global economic supertanker continuing to be stuck in the shallow waters of sub-par growth and meagre job creation."

3. Get ready for more central bank easing

Barely a month into 2015 and the direction of monetary policy around the world is crystal clear - no fewer than 17 central banks, including Singapore's, have eased policy to some extent to counter the deflationary pressures from the collapse in global oil prices, Reuters notes.

Sweden could be the latest to adopt unconventional policies when its central bank meets. The Riksbank has said it could take new steps as early as its meeting on Thursday. These could include negative rates, offering cheap loans to banks and buying bonds.

The Bank of England in its quarterly inflation report on Thursday is expected to cut its inflation forecasts and implicitly push back the timing of a first UK rate rise.

4. More pressure on Beijing

China's exports posted a surprising drop in January, said figures out on Sunday, showing its factories are still grappling with sluggish demand from abroad as well as at home. Imports also fell sharply during the month, partly due to weak demand from local industry as well as much lower oil and raw material prices,resulting in a record trade surplus for the month.

While the trade data augured badly for an economy that suffered its slowest economic growth in 24 years in 2014, analysts say strong seasonal distortions due to the Chinese New Year holiday make it difficult to interpret the data. Last year the holiday fell in January, and this year it falls in February.

In any case, this will give rise to more calls and expectations for Beijing to do more to stimulate the world's second-largest economy.

5. On the home front

A relatiely quiet data week except for SRX Property's January resale and rental data for the non-landed private property sector on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively and December retail sales out on Friday.

On the corporate front though, this weeks will see the Big Three local banks deliver their latest quarterly earnings, along with a host of heavyweights like Singtel, Wilmar, Olam and Sembcorp Marine.

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