Financial market participants will be pulled in several directions this week as January turns into February. Political developments in North Africa and the Middle East are likely to be top of mind this week and serve as a reminder that geopolitics are never too far removed from the headlines. (Please see this week’s Weekly Market Commentary, “Geopolitical Risks Return,” for more details). Policy — a key theme in markets last week (January 24 – 28) — lingers as a potential market-mover this week, as does Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who will hold a press conference, a very unusual event for a Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Additionally, central banks in Australia, Iceland, India, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, as well as the European Central Bank (ECB) meet to set policy this week. Other than India, none of these central banks are expected to raise rates, although rising inflation in much of the developing world has put renewed focus on the actions of emerging market central banks in response to higher food and fuel prices.
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