China's Growth in Question as PMI Data Loom
The latest snapshot of manufacturing activity in China could be a key focus for Asian markets this week as talk of slowdown in the region's biggest economy grows.
The official Chinese Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for April is released on Wednesday and follows last week's HSBC flash PMI, which fell to a two-month low of 50.5 in April from 51.6 in March and nearing the 50-barrier that divides expansion in the sector from contraction.
"In China, the official manufacturing conditions PMI and the final HSBC PMI are expected to confirm the slight loss of momentum in April already seen in the flash HSBC PMI," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, said in a research note.
(Read More: China's PMI Miss: Is It Downhill From Here?)
Data at the weekend showed profits among China's industrial companies rose about 5 percent in March from a year earlier, down from a 17 percent rise in the first two months of the year.
And any further signs of softness in the world's second biggest economy could add to concerns about the outlook for the world economy, especially in the light of weaker data from the U.S. as well. Friday's first quarter gross domestic product growth numbers for instance, showed the U.S. economy grew by a lower than expected annual rate of 2.5 percent.
"The global rebound has been slow and should remain slow in the months ahead," Sanjeev Sanyal, global strategist at Deutsche Bank said on CNBC's "Asia Squawk Box." "We should see signs of a rebound towards the end of the year."
Against this backdrop, central bank meetings in the U.S. and Europe will be in the market spotlight. The Fed is expected to repeat its dovish message when it concludes its latest monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.
In Europe, expectations are rising for a cut in interest rates when the European Central Bank meets on Thursday given further signs that the region's economy remains in the doldrums.
(Read More: ECB Rate Cut Could Bring Big 'Disappointment')
Back in Asia, the Reserve Bank of India is scheduled to meet on Friday and is widely expected to cut interest rates.
Economists say a slowdown in inflation in India gives the central bank scope to cut rates again and boost a flagging economy. The RBI has lowered rates twice already this year, having resisted pressure from the government last year to ease monetary policy.
India's benchmark interest rate stands at 7.5 percent.
(Read More: India Cuts Rates, Experts Say So What?)
Japan, which has taken centrer stage this year as it embraces a radical monetary policy to end deflation, releases a raft of March data on Tuesday. Household spending data, unemployment numbers, industrial output and retail sales figures are due for release that day.
Market activity in the region this week meanwhile is expected to be subdued amid a slew of public holidays.
Japanese markets are closed on Monday and Friday, Chinese markets are closed for Golden Week and re-open on Thursday, while on Wednesday most of the region is shut for the May 1 public holiday.