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Week ahead: Central bank decisions, data to keep investors in Asia busy

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Feng Li | Getty Images

A slew of economic data and central bank decisions will keep investors in Asia busy this week.

The most important piece of data on everyone's radar will be the November non-farms payroll number out of the United States on Friday, which will likely dictate whether the Federal Open Market Committee decides to raise interest rates at its December meeting.

In Asia-Pacific, Australia, India, and South Korea will release their Q3 gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, the broadest measure of economic health. Australia and India's central banks are also set to announce their monetary policy decisions. China will release its Purchasing Managers Index, a measure of health for its slowing manufacturing sector; Japan will announce its industrial production and retail sales numbers as its sluggish economy continues to struggle.

Will this be a turnaround for India?

India has bucked the downward trend among emerging markets this year as a result of the government's aggressive push for greater foreign direct investment (FDI), improving infrastructure to make it easier to do business and bring the country back on track for growth.

On Monday, all eyes will be on India's third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) results, the broadest measure of economic health. Moody's Analytics predicted that India's GDP will "likely expand at 7.3 percent year-on-year in the September quarter", with consumption being a key driver to output. Moody's said other factors affecting demand will include the agriculture sector, due to a lower than average monsoon season, weak credit growth, and falling exports.

The next day, the Reserve Bank of India will meet to decide on India's monetary policy. Moody's Analytics said it expects the repo rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks, to be kept unchanged at 6.75 percent. "After 'front-loading' a 50 basis point cut in the previous meeting, the central bank will sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the year."

Earlier in the month, CNBC spoke exclusively with RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, who hinted that any imminent rate cuts were not likely as India's inflation has finally come under control.

"My sense is that the underlying inflation is between 5-5.5 percent right now, that's the sort of run rate, so we probably will get back to that by the end of the year," he said.

Rajan added, "So that doesn't give us a lot of room below the 6 percent [repo rate]. Our sense is that over the course of the next year, because of disinflationary forces and the weak state of the global economy, it will come close to 5 percent which is what we're targeting for March of 2017."

All eyes on China

Investors will be looking closely at the PMI data due out on Tuesday for further indications if reforms introduced by Beijing is working and if there is an impending hard landing of the economy.

Last week, China's industrial profits for October fell 4.6 percent, making investors nervous in anticipation of this week's PMI data.

A Reuters poll of 23 economist showed they expect the number to stay at 49.8 in November, the same as the previous two months. Readings below 50 suggest a contraction in activity.

The market will also remain under pressure as it saw a massive intra-day sell-off on Friday, with the Shanghai Composite down near 5 percent after the securities regulatory body formally launched investigations into several brokerage firms.

On the positive side, the IMF is expected to announce its decision on Monday over the inclusion of the yuan into its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket of currencies, making the yuan an officially recognized reserve currency.

Data avalanche from down under

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will also hold its December policy meeting on Tuesday ahead of the release of Q3 GDP numbers the day after. Most analysts expect RBA to leave its interest rate unchanged in light of a strong October jobs report and improved growth in the previous quarter.

Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, said in a note, "the RBA is likely to reiterate that the benign inflation outlook provides scope to ease if necessary."

Oliver added he doesn't expect any rate cuts on Tuesday but said, "further help for the economy will still be needed in the form of another easing at some point as the boost to growth from the housing sector runs its course and non-mining investment remains poor."

He expects quarter-on-quarter GDP to bounce back to a 0.7 percent increment, driven by "net exports and consumer spending offsetting weak business investment."

Other data expected include the October trade balance on Thursday and retail sales numbers on Friday.

Japan's sluggish economy

Investors will be looking out for the presentation of the fiscal budget for 2016 on Tuesday as Japanese policymakers continue to remain under pressure to take further measures to jump-start growth in the sluggish economy. But it appears to be a long road for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet as last week's data showed the economy was still struggling.

Despite seeing a balance of trade surplus in October, Japan's exports fell. Household spending was also down 2.4 percent for the month, on year, as well as the level of consumer inflation, indicating sluggish sentiment and continued pressure on the Bank of Japan to add further stimulus to the economy.

Japan also fell into technical recession in July-September.

On Monday morning, a new batch of data was released and while it showed some improvements in the economy, it did little to inspire investor confidence. Government data showed that Japan's industrial production for October rose 1.4 percent from the previous month while retail sales rose 1.8 percent for the month, year-on-year. despite anemic domestic spending.

Harumi Taguchi, principal economist at IHS Global Insight, said in a note Monday afternoon that despite an uptick in monthly industrial production, due to increases in machinery and transportation equipment, the overall level will likely remain weak near term, "until demand strengthens, which will encourage companies to invest in machinery and equipment."

She added, "The industrial outlook suggests a growth of only 0.2 percent m/m for November due to downside revisions to the majority of industry groupings, particularly for capital and non-durable consumer goods and a decline of 0.9 percent for December."