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Does Asia's PMI Data Signal a Rebound?

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Narinder Nabnu | AFP | Getty Images

Purchasing managers indexes (PMI) for China and India released in the past week, showed that both economies experienced a rebound in the manufacturing and services sectors in December, but according to a number of analysts, it's too premature to call a turning point for the two countries or the broader Asian region.

"It seems premature to view November as the low point," Richard Jerram, Chief Economist, Bank of Singapore told CNBC. "The December PMI data are encouraging as they suggest that growth is not collapsing, but in both cases there is no reason to expect an immediate improvement."

Jerram cites several macroeconomic problems that continue to plague the two Asian economic powerhouses, such as inflation and growth.

Research firm Capital Economics points out that beyond China and India, PMI data for other countries offers a much more mixed picture. Production levels have declined in Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. In the case of Korea, manufacturing activity shrunk by the most in three years.

According to the firm, although the biggest jump in PMI was recorded in India, the positive readings are marred by "a string of disappointments" in other indicators for the country such as industrial production, exports, and auto production.

Yet there are some signs of a silver lining, according to HSBC's Co-head of Asian Economics, Frederic Neumann. He believes the data has "brightened the picture everywhere."

In a note to clients, Neumann said November was a bleak month for Asian economies but in December, "new orders have improved again almost everywhere." He said inventories appear to have dipped and new export orders showed signs of life as well.

Neumann admits that an improvement in the ISM alone won't boost the region's growth. "To turn things around, either Europe will have to wake up (unlikely) or Asia will need to turn the stimulus dial," he said.