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China PPI, consumer inflation unlikely to offer investors cheer

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Just as investors digest disappointing growth data from Japan and trade numbers from China, there may be more hits to come.

Japan's Q4 2015preliminary gross domestic product (GDP), released Monday, contracted an annualized 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter as private consumption weakened and exports to emerging markets failed to pick up enough to cover the fall.

The weak data added to the pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to spur the stagnating Japanese economy, even as global demand weakens.

The country's December machinery orders - a leading indicator for private sector capital investment, due on Wednesday - are expected to reveal further soft patches in the economy.

Moody's expects core machinery orders to fall 8 percent from the previous month. Machinery orders, a notoriously volatile data set, fell the most in 18 months in November after solid gains in prior months.

Moreover, "with the yen rising further, export-oriented manufacturers will likely become pessimistic in the near future," said Moody's Analytics.

Meanwhile, China returned on Monday from Lunar New Year celebrations to release January trade figures.

Exports fell 11.2 percent and imports dropped 18.8 percent year-on-year, with the slide coming in far larger than analysts'estimates.

Markets will watch official January consumer and producer price indexes, due for release on Thursday, for signs of deflation.

Consumer inflation edged up by 1.6 percent on-year in December, while companies' factory-gate prices continued to fall, adding to concerns about growing deflation risks. It was the 46th straight month of declines in the producer produce index.

"Producer prices remain in deep deflation in China. Officially they have declined 5.9 percent year-on-year since August, leading to suspicions of an artificially set floor on the data," wrote Moody's analysts, who added that lower energy prices and a supply glut of raw materials were cutting producers' costs.

BoK set to hold on rates, Taiwan GDP due

Elsewhere in Asia, Bank of Korea kept rates on holiday at 1.5 percent on Tuesday as expected. But some analysts interviewed by Reuters expect a rate cut in March.

Kim Sang-hoon, a fixed income analyst at KB Investment and Securities, said that changes in internal and external conditions, including the Bank of Japan's move into negative interest rates and a delay in the Federal Reserve's expected rate hikes, would force the cut.

"I believe it will not be possible to reach the 3 percent [growth rate target] mark," the analyst said. "China decreased its growth rate views and since we're highly affected by China, it will not be possible for us to go up while they are going down."

On Wednesday, South Korea will release its January producer price index and employment data. Moody's expects that the weak global export picture will have prevented any improvements in hiring, and for the unemployment rate to remain under pressure through the rest of the year.

Taiwan's GDP, also due Wednesday, will likely show a fall of 0.4 percent on-year, softening from the previous quarter as the economy exits a technical recession, Moody's said.

India's disinflation trend almost over


India's January wholesale price index, released on Monday, fell for a 15th straight month in January, declining an annual 0.90 percent, driven down by tumbling oil prices, government data showed.

The pace of fall, however, was slower than a 0.15 percent annual decline forecast by economists in a Reuters poll. In December, the index fell a provisional 0.73 percent. Moody's said it expected India's disinflation trend to end soon due to rising food prices.

Southeast Asia's emerging markets pick up

Thailand's GDP, released Monday, expanded 0.8 percent quarter-on-quarter, and up 2.8 percent on-year.

While Thailand's growth came in in line with market expectations, "its domestic growth is recovering only at a modest pace," Rahul Bajoria, economist at Barclays in Singapore, said in a note on Monday.

"Manufacturing remains weak on lackluster external demand, and we believe underlying risks are still biased to the downside as poor trade and harsh weather conditions weigh on the rural economy," said Bajoria.

Malaysia's fourth-quarter GDP, out Thursday, is expected to slow to 4 percent, down from 4.8 percent in the previous quarter, said Moody's. From a year ago, Malaysia's GDP was 1.8 percent higher.

The export-driven economy has bit hurt by China's slowdown and by the commodity price slump, while domestic demand has been weakened by poor sentiment over the country's political scandals.

Indonesia beat expectations for a third monthly deficit, posting a small trade surplus of $50.6 million on Monday, as imports remained subdued on weak domestic consumption, reported Reuters.

This Thursday, Bank Indonesia will convene to decide if it should cut rates again, after cutting interest rates to 7.25 percent in January.

Societe Generale expects the Indonesian central bank will cut policy rates by another 25 basis points.

"An improving current account deficit, well-contained inflation and accommodative global central banks provides [Bank Indonesia] with more than adequate monetary policy space," said Societe Generale in a weekly note.

- Reuters contributed to this report

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