Top 5 things to watch in the markets in the week ahead By

© Reuters By Noreen Burke — In the week leading up to the Christmas holidays the economic calendar is quieting down, with the Bank of Japan the last of the major central banks to hold a meeting this year. In the US data on housing and consumer confidence will give fresh insights into the strength of the economy as recession fears weigh. The prospects of a ‘Santa Claus rally’ have dimmed as investors fret that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive policy tightening will hamper growth. Here’s what you need to know to start your week. Bank of Japan The uber-dovish Bank of Japan is widely expected to stick with the negative interest rates that have set it apart from its global peers at its final of the year on Tuesday, despite rising inflation. The annual rate of inflation hit 3.6% in October, which was the biggest increase in over 40 years, driven higher by rising energy and food prices. While high, inflation in Japan is still well below the levels seen in the US and Europe, and the economic recovery remains fragile. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is due to step down in April after a decade at the helm and a major policy shift is seen as unlikely before then. Meanwhile, data for November is due out on Thursday and is expected to show another uptick. US data investors get an update on the health of the US housing market this week with November figures on along with and all due. In October, rising mortgage rates saw US existing home sales fall for a record ninth straight month, while home-building fell sharply with single-family projects hitting the lowest levels in almost two-and-a-half years. The Conference Board is to release its on Wednesday, which is expected to tick higher after plumbing a four-month low in November. Data on and is due for release on Friday and will be closely watched after the last two consumer price index reports indicated that price pressures appear to be cooling, leading to hopes that inflation may have peaked. Stocks US stocks fell for a third straight session and suffered a second straight week of losses on Friday as fears continued to mount that the Fed’s aggressive tightening will tip the economy into a recession. For the week, it dropped 1.66%, the shed 2.09%, and the fell 2.72%. The Fed delivered a smaller 50-basis point rate hike last week but flagged there were more increases to come, projecting that interest rates would top the 5% mark in 2023, a level not seen since 2007. “Central banks delivered a blow to markets that were rebounding in anticipation of policymakers turning dovish on inflation and interest rates,” Sunil Krishnan, head of Multi-Asset funds at Aviva Investors told Reuters. Eurozone After last week’s 50 basis point rate hike by the European Central Bank, the coming week will be quieter in the Eurozone. Germany is to release its December on Monday, which is expected to show a small improvement. The report comes after PMI data last week showing that the downturn in German economic activity moderated for a second straight month, indicating that a likely recession in the bloc will be shallower than previously thought. Elsewhere, ECB Vice President Luis is due to speak on Tuesday. UK The UK is also turning quiet after last week’s 50 basis point rate hike by the Bank of England. Figures on Wednesday and final data on third quarter data on Thursday will be the highlights. There are no scheduled appearances by any BoE officials. Reuters contributed to this report

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