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This week in Asia: Japan's growth to add to world's woes

Pedestrians walk past a sign with Japanese characters that reads 'What to buy? What to eat? What to see?' in the Shimokitazawa district of Tokyo.
Noriko Hayashi | Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past a sign with Japanese characters that reads 'What to buy? What to eat? What to see?' in the Shimokitazawa district of Tokyo.

Second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) from Japan will likely pile on the worry for markets already jumpy about global economic growth after China's abrupt currency devaluation last week.

The People's Bank of China's (PBOC) surprised markets last Tuesday when it implemented what it said was a one-time yuan depreciation of nearly 2 percent. Following the announcement, the yuan chalked up its largest weekly loss ever of nearly 3 percent to end at 6.3908 against the dollar on Friday.

Released before the market open on Monday, Japan's economy shrank at an annualized pace of 1.6 percent in the April-June period, better than a Reuters' estimate of 1.9 percent contraction but well below a revised 4.5 percent expansion in the first three months of 2015.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, growth declined 0.4 percent in the second quarter, versus a 0.5 percent contracted expected by economists.


In China, home prices likely rose for the third straight month on the back of previous efforts by the government to prop up the all-important property sector. Average new home prices, scheduled for release on Tuesday, probably increased 0.54 percent on-month in July, according to a survey done by independent research institute China Index Academy.

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For the week ahead, attention will also turn to Southeast Asia, where financial markets in the region have been battered over the past week due to the yuan's steep slide.

Policymakers from Bank Indonesia (BI) meet on Tuesday and economists surveyed by Reuters expect the central bank to keep its policy rate unchanged at 7.50 percent, on the back of rising inflation and capital outflows due to renewed weakness in the rupiah.

The Indonesian currency last week tumbled to 13,779 against the U.S. dollar – lows not seen since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 – prompting comments from the central bank that the current exchange rate was far below the currency's fundamental value, according to a report by the Jakarta Globe.

"Inflation has continued to climb on the account of higher import prices. The depreciation of the currency is largely to blame. External risks are rising as U.S monetary policy normalization draws closer. This could create a headwind in the coming months as volatility increases. For these reasons, we believe BI will keep interest rates on hold," Moody's analysts said.

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Other data on tap include Thailand's GDP for the June quarter, Indonesia's trade numbers and Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (NODX) for July. Malaysia's main gauge of inflation – the consumer price index (CPI) – for July, due on Wednesday, will likely be closely-watched after the ringgit suffered its steepest one-day drop to breach fresh 17-year lows in Asian trade on Friday.

Meanwhile, Australia remains in the midst of earnings season, with 80 major companies such as insurer QBE, national carrier Qantas and retailer Wesfarmers, due to release second-quarter corporate report cards.

"Profit growth for 2014-15 is likely to be around -1 percent as profits from [the] resource sector slump 28 percent, thanks to the hit from lower commodity prices," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital.

"But the rest of the market see profit growth of around 9 percent, as industrials ex-financials benefit from low interest rates, the lowerAustralian dollar and cost cutting."

Markets in Hong Kong are also bracing for a slew of earnings reports from the likes of airline Cathay Pacific and insurer Ping An Insurance.

On Sunday, China's largest residential real estate developer Vanke said its core profit in the first six months climbed 5.5 percent amid a property market recovery.