World Economy

China, central banks are key risks this week

It's a big week for China
It's a big week for China

China will likely remain the key focus for Asian markets this week, with the release of a string of economic data and as the annual meeting of China's highest organ of state power continues.

The week-long National People's Congress, which began last Thursday, saw the world's second-largest economy peg its 2015 gross domestic product (GDP) growth target at "around 7 percent." The target, announced by Premier Li Keqiang, was the lowest in 11 years and marks a sharp decline from last year's 7.5 percent target.

Earlier this month, the People's Bank of China unleashed a sooner-than-expected interest rate cut amid the country's ongoing battle with slowing economic growth. The move followed a lending rate reduction on November 21 and a reserve requirement ratio cut (RRR) on February 5.

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How will China fare?

On tap for Tuesday at 0930 SIN/HK, the consumer price index (CPI) for February is seen rising 0.9 percent from a year ago. That would be a tick higher than January's 0.8 percent, which was the weakest reading since November 2009, during the global financial crisis.

Wholesale prices for the same month may put a stop to a 35-month-long decline as economists polled by Reuters expect the producer price index (PPI) to drop an annual 4.3 percent, unchanged from the previous month's reading.

Meanwhile, retail sales, fixed asset investment, industrial production and M2 – the mainland's broadest measure of money supply – for February are also due this week. The raft of data could paint a picture of continued slowdown in China and will likely exert "ongoing pressure for further monetary easing," wrote Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital.

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Central banks: To ease or not

Investors will also keep an eye on central bank meetings in Thailand, New Zealand and South Korea this week following the Reserve Bank of India's unexpected interest rate cut last Wednesday. But, analysts say these central banks are unlikely to join the global easing wave, just yet.

Strong economic conditions in New Zealand and fears of stoking household debt in South Korea are some of the reasons why Moody's Analytics expect central bankers to stand pat on interest rates.

"While disinflation is abundant across New Zealand, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is unlikely to decrease the cash rate after increasing the rate by 100 basis points last year. The Bank of Korea is also waiting to see the boost from monetary easing in mid‐2014," analysts wrote in a note issued last week.

"The Bank of Thailand remains reluctant to cut rates when facing disinflation and poor domestic demand, as it believes the current conditions are sufficiently accommodative to support the economy in the medium term," it added.

Elsewhere in the region, Japan's fourth-quarter GDP grew an annualized 1.5 percent, down from an initial reading of 2.2 percent in February and below expectations of 2.2 percent, revised government figures showed early Monday. Meanwhile, India is slated to announce January industrial production and February trade data later in the week.

— CNBC's Ansuya Harjani contributed to this report.