World Economy

Four countries will keep Asia markets on guard this week

The week ahead: More China data

In another holiday-shortened trading week for some parts of Asia, investors will likely remain on their toes with a barrage of economic indicators due from the region's top four economies.

Hong Kong and Taiwan celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with public holidays on Monday, while markets in South Korea reopen on Wednesday after a five-day weekend for the Chuseok holiday. Meanwhile, China and Hong Kong will be closed on Thursday and Friday for the Golden Week holiday.


Attention will likely fall squarely on the readings of China's mammoth manufacturing sector, set to be announced on Thursday, after a preliminary figure published last Wednesday painted a worrying picture of the economy. The preliminary Caixin China manufacturing purchasing managers' index touched a six-and-half-year low of 47.0 in September.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) will be unveiled at 9am local time, while the final Caixin/Markit PMI is due 45 minutes later.

"This continued slowdown in China is very much a combination of the downturn in real estate and export weakness. This is [an] extremely subdued period for all the industrial firms in China and to be honest, the [sector] isn't going to see a sharp pick-up soon," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, said.

Meanwhile, investors in Hong Kong may be on edge as Monday marks the first anniversary of the 79-day Occupy Central protests that put the bustling city on a halt last year. According to local media reports, there are plans for a silent rally outside the special administrative region's (SAR) government headquarters in Admiralty.

"It is too early to tell [because] it depends on the scale of protests. If they are going to be short term then there won't be a lasting impact on stock markets," IG market strategist Bernard Aw told CNBC by phone on Friday.

A Chinese flag flies near apartment buildings in Beijing.
Greg Baker | AFP | Getty Images


A flurry of data due out of the world's third-largest economy this week will likely be a mixed bag, analysts at Moody's Analytics wrote in a note issued on Friday.

Industrial production and retail sales for August are slated for Wednesday, while household spending and unemployment figures will be announced on the final trading day of the week.

"Industrial production and manufacturing sentiment are struggling [amid] a challenging external environment. As the temporary lift from bonus payments in June and July dissipate, retail sales growth likely softened in August, and strong household expenditure is driven mostly by a low base. The labor market seems to have stagnated, and underlying problems with youth unemployment are an issue," the note said.

Traders will also be keeping an eye on the Bank of Japan's quarterly tankan survey of business sentiment, which is due before the market opens on Thursday.

"The widely watched tankan survey is expected to show that sentiment among Japan's large manufacturers softened in the third quarter. Financial market volatility, yen appreciation and continued challenges in external demand likely hit manufacturing sentiment," said Moody's, who sees the headline index shedding 2 points to 13 in the September quarter.

In the previous quarter, the key large manufacturers' index came in at 15 – its highest level since March 2014.

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Policymakers in Asia's third-largest economy will meet on Tuesday, with calls for an interest-rate cut increasing amid cooling inflation.

Retail inflation, which the central bank tracks, eased to 3.66 percent in August from 3.69 percent a month ago. The reading is far below the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) 6 percent target for January 2016. The wholesale price index (WPI) for August extended its deflationary trend into the tenth straight month, hitting a historic low of 4.95 percent.

"While August CPI slowed fractionally from the previous month, July's numbers were very low. Besides, there are still many signs of slack in the economy and if we [consider] the extremely weak reading for WPI, I really do think that we'll see another 25-basis-point rate cut at this month's meeting," Capital Economics' India economist Shilan Shah told CNBC on September 16.

Read MoreIndia FinMin: I want an RBI rate cut

South Korea

South Korea's exports, due on Thursday, will likely remain dire due to lackluster demand, particularly from China, according to a Reuters poll.

The survey of 17 analysts expect exports to decline 10 percent in September from a year ago, compared to a 14.9 percent tumble in the preceding month that marked the worst year-on-year fall in six years. Imports are forecast to plunge 18.1 percent on-year in September, slightly below August's 18.3 percent fall, the poll by the newswire found.

Thursday also brings August industrial output, which likely decreased 1.1 percent on-month in August due to fewer working days and poor export performance for the month, economists told Reuters.

Lastly, September inflation, due at 8am local time on Friday, is estimated to have risen 0.9 percent from a 0.7 percent increase in August.