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Week ahead in Asia: Eyes on China, Australia

Central bank decisions and a barrage of economic reports in China and Australia will be in focus for Asian markets this week.

Beijing kicked off the data-heavy week on Sunday with its official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) for May. The figure rose to a five-month high of 50.8, beating estimates for 50.6 and higher than April's 50.4 reading.

Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan markets are shut Monday for the Dragon Boat Festival. Tuesday will be a hectic as traders react to Sunday's official PMI, HSBC's final China manufacturing PMI for May and the official services PMI.

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HSBC's preliminary reading for May stood at five-month high of 49.7; analysts from National Australia Bank expect the final figure to be revised to 49.6, which would still mark an improvement from April's 48.1 reading.

The data follow Premier Li Keqiang's comments last week that the government will fine tune economic policies appropriately, which analysts say add to confidence that growth will be supported around 7.5 percent this year.

Central bank Tuesday

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will announce policy decisions on Tuesday.

The RBA is expected to leave interest rates on hold for the ninth month in a row, as it indicated in previous meetings.

"In cricket, playing a 'straight bat' means to firmly but safely hit the ball, avoid getting out and prepare for the next ball. The RBA is likely to play a straight bat in its statement to avoid giving the market much reason to presume rates will be changed for the foreseeable future," said Greg Gibbs, head of Asia Pacific markets strategy at RBS.

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In India, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan is also expected to leave rates on hold. Focus will be on his accompanying statement for clues to whether the new government's mandate for reform has changed his rate outlook.

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Since taking the job in September, Rajan has raised interest rates three times to fight high inflation. Markets don't anticipate an interest rate cut until next year.

Busy week for Australia

A raft of economic reports is on tap for Australia, all of which could trigger sharp reactions in the Australian dollar.

April retail sales figures on Tuesday will be watched as a sign of how successful record-low interest rates have been in boosting the country's non-mining sectors.

"The ABS [Australian Bureau of Statistics] series is forecast to fall 0.5 percent in April, so some pullback after the 11 straight monthly increases that we have seen, and in line with the deteriorating consumer confidence levels this year," said the National Australia Bank report.

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March quarter gross domestic product (GDP) is due Wednesday.

Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP, expects GDP to rise 0.5 percent quarter on quarter and 2.8 percent on year, supported by dwelling construction and consumer spending.

Trade data for April will round out the week. Australia's trade surplus rose to A$731 in March but was well below forecasts. Investors will be watching for another below-view figure as a stronger currency and falling iron ore prices eat into export revenues.

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