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After selloff, China in focus for clues on growth

A raft of economic data from China is likely to be on investors' radar this week as markets try to assess the strength of global economic growth, following the heavy equity selloff last week.

The bulk of the data will be released on Tuesday, including third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), industrial output, fixed asset investment and retail sales for the month of September.

Unexpected weakness in the readings could spark renewed selling as investor sentiment is already jittery over the outlook for the U.S. and European economies and the spread of Ebola.

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A Reuters poll expects GDP growth to come in at 7.2 percent from the year-ago period, compared to the 7.5 percent growth in the preceding quarter. "The sagging housing market has affected the economy more broadly, weighing on investment and on commodity production. A bright spot was the acceleration in exports, but this was not sufficient to keep the economy from growing below potential," analysts from Moody's Analytics wrote in a note.

China's retail sales are expected to rise an annual 11.8 percent versus an 11.9 percent increase in August. September's industrial output is forecasted to rise 7.5 percent on year, compared to 6.9 percent last month.

"The government continues its attempt to shut factories in industries with overcapacity, but the results are mixed so far. Industrial production is likely to be weak as long as the central bank maintains a relatively restrictive monetary policy," Moody's Analytics added.

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On Thursday, HSBC will release its preliminary reading of China's manufacturing activity for the month of October. Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, expects the reading to "remain around the 50 [mark] suggesting relatively stable growth."

Workers labor on a construction site for a residential property in Wuhan, China.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Workers labor on a construction site for a residential property in Wuhan, China.

Meanwhile, Beijing's fourth plenum kicks off on Monday. The three-day meeting of the ruling Communist Party's powerful Central Committee is seen to have "significant impact on the Chinese economy and society in coming years," wrote Ting Lu, chief China economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a research note.

"After a 'lost decade' due to a fragmented leadership in 2003-2013, we believe the new leadership headed by President Xi Jinping offers a real chance for serious reforms in coming years towards rule of law and economic rebalancing," Lu added.

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Rest of Asia

In Japan, trade data for September is due on Wednesday and is expected to reverse last month's decline. A Reuters poll forecast exports to increase 6.8 percent from the year earlier, compared with a decline of 1.3 percent in August. Imports are expected to rise 3.0 percent, versus a 1.5 percent decline last month.

Australia releases its third quarter consumer price index on Wednesday. AMP Capital's Oliver expects headline inflation to come in at 0.4 percent on-quarter and 2.2 percent on-year while underlying inflation is at 0.5 percent on-quarter and 2.6 percent on year.

Markets will also be watching for the Reserve Bank of Australia's meeting minutes on Tuesday and governor Glenn Steven's speech on Thursday, for comments on the outlook for interest rates.

Meanwhile, the Philippines central bank will hold its monetary policy meeting on Thursday.