Central bank arsenals in spotlight as headwinds linger

Sat Apr 2, 2016 1:08pm EDT
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By Sarah White

MADRID (Reuters) - At the end of a tough quarter, the fraught debate over how policymakers should tackle the world's economic woes gets another airing in the coming week as central banks on both sides of the Atlantic publish minutes.

Solid growth in U.S. employment and an unexpected manufacturing uptick in China in March will have provided some comfort on Friday, but headwinds -- Japan's factory sector disappointed last month and euro zone inflation was anemic -- invariably lurk nearby.

Cue more rumblings over bankers' ability to respond.

Federal Reserve minutes, released on Wednesday and coming days after chair Janet Yellen set a dovish tone, are likely to provide fodder for those expecting it to remain cautious, though speeches from six more Fed officials, including two ratesetters with hawkish reputations, could shift the tone.

Across the pond, central bank watchers are likely to zone in on the European Central Bank's margin for maneuver after it unveiled further stimulus in March with deeper rate cuts and a boost to its monthly asset buys.

The more detailed account of the ECB's last meeting due on Thursday should send investors scouring for clues over its willingness to go further, after its president Mario Draghi's suggestion interest rates had hit the bottom.

"We see scope for the account to signal a bit more openness to the prospect of rate cuts than indicated in comments (at the March meeting)," economists at BNP Paribas said in a note.

"A key reason would be to avoid adding upward pressure on the currency," they added, referring to a rising euro in recent weeks that has stumped analysts.   Continued...

A worker walks in a container area at a port in Tokyo, Japan January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai