The state of the U.S. labor market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike. Fed Chair Janet Yellen made it clear on Friday that the U.S. central bank is likely to start raising borrowing costs later this year, adding that continued improvement of the labor market would be an important factor in deciding when to move. Labor market data are therefore likely to be the highlight of the economic week, providing a further signal to the Fed on the health of the U.S. economy and its capacity to withstand rate rises. Yellen said a significant pickup in core inflation was not a precondition for the Fed to pull the trigger on rates.
Standard Chartered remains committed to Islamic banking and expects growth in its core markets, a spokesman for the lender said on Sunday, after the head of its Islamic arm departed. Afaq Khan left Standard Chartered Saadiq, the lender's global Islamic banking business, after 12 years with the Asia-focused bank to take a career break, the spokesman said. "Standard Chartered remains committed to our Islamic banking business, and we continue to position ourselves for further growth in the core markets where the largest Islamic banking opportunities exist," the spokesman said. The core markets include Bahrain, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, where Standard Chartered offers personal banking services, the spokesman said.
China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned on Sunday that the country needs to be vigilant for signs of deflation and said policymakers were closely watching slowing global economic growth and declining commodity prices. Zhou's comments are likely to add to concerns that China is in danger of slipping into deflation and underline increasing nervousness among policymakers as the economy continues to lose momentum despite a raft of stimulus measures. "Inflation in China is also declining. Zhou added that the speed with which inflation was slowing was a "little too quick", though this was part of China's ongoing market readjustment and reforms.