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China data, central banks in play for Asia this week

Sunday, 9 Feb 2014 | 6:08 PM ET
Pay attention to Asia this week: StanChart
Sunday, 9 Feb 2014 | 8:08 PM ET
Apart from Janet Yellen's testimony on Tuesday, Clive McDonnell, Head of Equity Strategy at Standard Chartered Bank, says Asian economic data will also impact equity markets this week.

Economic data from China, central bank meetings in Indonesia and South Korea and latest inflation numbers from India: there's a lot going on in Asia this week.

In addition to that, there's focus on the U.S. where data on Friday showed 113,000 new jobs were created in January versus market expectations for a gain of 185,000.

(Read more: Next up for markets—Yellen)

That forms the backdrop to a testimony by new Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen Tuesday.

"There will be a lot of interest in Janet Yellen's first Congressional testimony as Fed Chairman on Tuesday," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, in a note.

"Our expectation is that she will likely signal a continuation of the message [former Fed head] Ben Bernanke has been communicating, i.e. that growth is gradually improving and that as long as this remains the case tapering will continue," he added.

China data drips in

A cyclist rides a bicyle after snowfall on a road in Beijing.
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images
A cyclist rides a bicyle after snowfall on a road in Beijing.

Concerns about weakness in China's economy meanwhile puts the spotlight on January trade data due out on Wednesday and inflation numbers expected later in the week.

China's service sector grew at its slowest pace in almost 2-1/2 years in January, a survey from HSBC showed on Friday.

(Read more: China's services sector activity slows to over 2-year low)

"China data drips in next week, so that will be something to watch and to see what that means for the outlook," said Vishnu Varathan, market economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank in Singapore. "We're also looking at how the Thai political situation evolves."

Thailand has been marred by political unrest for months now, with elections just over a week ago failing to restore stability to the Southeast Asian country.

Central bank time

On Thursday, central banks in both Indonesia and South Korea meet.

Robert Prior-Wandesforde, director for non-Japan Asia economics at Credit Suisse, said he expected no change in monetary policy from either central bank.

(Read more: India and Indonesia: Not so bad after all?)

Still, Bank Indonesia's meeting could attract some attention given recent rate hikes from Indonesia as well as other emerging markets, grappling with an outflow of foreign cash as U.S. monetary stimulus is unwound.

Where to look for value in Indian markets
Sanjeev Prasad, Senior Executive Director & Co-Head, Institutional Equities at Kotak Securities, thinks Indian automakers, techs and telcos offer the most value.

"The latest fall in emerging markets hasn't had much impact on India or Indonesia because quite rightly they are perceived to have made progress in key areas of macro-financial vulnerability such as current account deficits," said Prior-Wandesforde, explaining why he expected Indonesia to keep rates steady this week.

"There is a widespread expectation that inflation in Indonesia has peaked and our view is that inflation will drift lower," he added.

Bank Indonesia has raised rates 175 basis points since last June, taking its key rate to 7.50 percent.

India watch

In the context of emerging market jitters, inflation and trade data from India is also likely to be watched closely.

(Read more: How these two big emerging markets escaped selloff)

India trade data for January is expected early in the week, while the January consumer price index (CPI) is due out Wednesday and the wholesale price index (WPI) is expected on Friday.

The CPI stood at an annual 9.87 percent last month, while the WPI stood at 6.16 percent from a year earlier.

"We expect India's CPI to come in around 9.5 percent," said Prior-Wandesforde. "The India trade data is also very important amid still jittery emerging markets."

In Japan, current account data for December is expected on Monday, while Australia releases January jobs data on Thursday.

— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC

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