Asia’s key focus this week: China PMI

A Chinese worker paints unfinished licensed ceramic 'Smurfs' at the Shunmei Group (SMG) ceramics factory in Dehua,Fujian Province, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images
A Chinese worker paints unfinished licensed ceramic 'Smurfs' at the Shunmei Group (SMG) ceramics factory in Dehua,Fujian Province, China.

Asia's economic data calendar is thin for the last week of 2014 and market attention will likely fall on a private survey of the mainland's manufacturing activity.

Due at 0945 SIN/HK on Wednesday, the HSBC/Markit China manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the month of December is expected to remain stable at 49.5, according to economists polled by Reuters. This is compared with a reading of 49.5 in December's flash PMI, which contracted for the first time in seven months. The 50-point level separates growth from contraction.

In November, the official reading for Chinese factory output eased to an eight-month low of 50.3, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, while HSBC's final reading edged down to a six-month low of 50.

The slowdown in the mainland's manufacturing sector indicates that the world's second-largest economy is still seeing signs of fatigue and some analysts believe it will need more stimulus measures to avoid a sharper slowdown.

Read MoreChina's trade growth seen falling short of target in 2014

Rest of Asia

In other parts of the region, a slew of monthly indicators are due from Thailand and South Korea.

The latter will hand in industrial production and retail sales for November on Tuesday, along with inflation and trade figures later in the week.

Moody's Analytics estimates South Korea's factory output fell 2.1 percent on-year in November, a wider drop from a 1.6 percent contraction in the previous month.

Meanwhile, the monthly trade surplus of Asia's fourth-largest economy likely narrowed to $4.7 billion in December, from November's $5.6 billion, according to Moody's. Exports and imports are expected to remain weak, adding to doubts over the pace of South Korea's recovery.

"The export engine faces considerable challenges from weaker Chinese and European demand and the falling yen, which is cutting Korea's competitiveness. The slowdown in trade and factory output as well as falling global oil prices is lowering Korea's import bill," analysts wrote in a note last week.

Read MoreThailand's economic growth view goes under the knife

A mixed report card is expected out of Thailand this week, suggesting the Southeast Asian nation's economy is still struggling to regain momentum after a coup ended months of political unrest five months ago.

Thailand's factory output for November is seen declining for the 20th consecutive month, though the estimated 1.4 percent fall would mark a slower pace of decline from the 2.9 percent drop in the preceding month. Private consumption for the same month - which accounts for half of the Thai economy – could slip a seasonally-adjusted 0.6 percent, double of the 0.3 percent fall in October, compared with September's 1.1 percent increase.

"Consumer confidence remains relatively low [and that] stems from uncertainty around when the ruling junta will deliver additional fiscal stimulus. Monetary easing has been futile in getting Thai consumers to open their wallets. We are unlikely to see an uptick in consumption until further easing is enacted," Moody's Analytics said.