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Asia data this week may spell more stimulus

Disappointing economic data from some of Asia-Pacific's largest economies this week could intensify calls for more monetary easing, economists warn.

The reports could also further weigh on global equity markets, which were hit by a drop in global risk sentiment last week due to political conflict in Yemen, volatile oil prices, uncertainty over Greece and ongoing speculation over the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike.

Mixed Japan data expected

Japanese industrial output for February is due Monday morning before Tokyo's market open. Manufacturers polled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expect a 0.2 percent monthly gain, which would mark the third straight month of expansion but also a significant slowdown compared to January's revised 3.7 percent increase.

The report follows Friday's mixed bag of economic data, which showed consumer price inflation easing for the seventh straight month.

"It's very clear that the Japanese recovery is struggling. We've seen the weak yen helping to some degree, but there are still structural issues to be dealt with. We still see further easing from the Bank of Japan (BOJ) next year," Dominic Bunning, FX strategist at HSBC, told CNBC on Friday.

The BOJ's closely-watched Tankan business sentiment survey will be released Wednesday and confidence among large manufacturers is expected to hit a one-year high, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Read MoreFormer BOJ economist: Economy on the mend

It's China PMI time

Wednesday also sees the release of China's official March manufacturing purchasing manager's index (PMI), alongside HSBC's final reading. A preliminary reading last week showed PMI sliding to an 11-month low due to shrinking new orders, so expectations for the final readings are low.

"China's March official manufacturing conditions PMI will likely drift a bit lower as foreshadowed by the HSBC flash PMI, providing a further sign that more monetary easing is needed in China," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP, in a note.

The People's Bank of China (PBoC) has injected monetary stimulus into the economy three times since November but expectations for more measures have underpinned recent rallies on the Shanghai Composite. The benchmark is up 14 percent year-to-date, making it one of the world's best performing indices.


Australia in focus

Australia will post February trade figures on Thursday. Moody's Analytics expect the monthly trade deficit to narrow to A$850 million, from January's A$980 million deficit, on the back of lower commodity prices, which would mark the tenth straight month of trade deficits.

"The import bill has been kept small by the sustained slump in global oil prices and soft domestic demand, with the lower Australian dollar only a partial offset. Export volumes have improved but are still relatively soft, particularly for iron ore because of the oversupply of steel in China, " said economists at Moody's Analytics in a report.

Repeated trade deficits were one of the reasons used by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to justify its February rate cut. The central bank said last month that "the decline in the terms of trade is working to reduce income growth," so February's trade deficit could add to growing calls for looser policy. Last week, spread betting firm IG noted that the Australian market was pricing in a 57 percent chance that cash rate would hit 1.75 percent in May, which translates into a 50 basis-point cut.

Fed commentary on tap

Markets will also pay attention to a speech from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen on Thursday for clues on whether an interest rate hike could occur this year. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard are also slated to talk on Friday.