Asia focuses on China PMI, Japan data this week

The week ahead in Asia

This week is expected to be relatively quiet for Asian markets, with a gauge of Chinese factory activity and a barrage of Japanese data the likely focal points.

On Monday, HSBC's China flash purchasing manager's index (PMI) for June rose to 50.8, marking the first expansion in six months. The figure was well above Reuters forecasts for 49.7 and the bank's final May reading of 49.4.

The data follows Premier Li Keqiang's optimistic comments last week that the economy would be able to avoid a hard landing without strong stimulus.

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In Japan, a suite of data is expected to confirm that the world's third-largest economy saw weaker activity in the second quarter. On Friday, Tokyo will release employment, consumer price inflation (CPI), household spending and retail sales for the month of May.


Moody's Analytics forecasts a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to 3.7 percent from the previous month's 3.6 percent while consumer prices are expected to remain unchanged from April's 23-year high of 3.2 percent.

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"CPI increases will be elevated for the next 12 months because of the higher sales tax. The Bank of Japan says that underlying inflation is running at around 1.25 percent, but it is difficult to get a read until the tax distortion washes through. Consumer demand remains weak through the second quarter," the group wrote in a note.

Household spending likely remained weak in May for a second straight month because consumers front‐loaded purchases prior to April's tax increase, Moody's said, forecasting a 3.7 percent drop from the previous year.

Retail sales are seen decreasing 4.5 percent on year from April's 4.4 percent decline. After sales surged 11 percent in May ahead of the sales tax rise, analysts expect a weakening trend for months to come.

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Asian investors will also keep a close eye on the U.S., which has a data-heavy week.

Existing home sales are due on Monday, new home sales and consumer confidence Tuesday, and durable goods orders and March quarter gross domestic product (GDP) on Wednesday.

A Reuters survey of economists forecast GDP growth to rebound 3.6 percent in the second quarter, with growth for the first half of the year seen increasing at a 1 percent pace.