Thursday, official data showed that China's quarterly economic growth rate was the lowest in ten years as demand slowed across the globe due to financial crisis. Elsewhere, the Philippine central bank reduced its key interest rate as expected to a 17-year low to boost the economy.

China's gross domestic product expanded 6.1% in the first quarter of 2009, the National Bureau of Statistics said. It was slightly higher than expectations for a 6% increase following the 6.8% gain in the previous quarter.

Separate reports showed that consumer prices in China eased 1.2% year-on-year in March. Forecasts had called for a 1.4% decline after the 1.6% annual fall in February. On-month, inflation was down 0.3%. For the first quarter of 2009, inflation was down 0.6% on-year. Producer prices fell 4.6% in the first quarter.

Industrial production in China was up 5.1% on-year through the first three months of 2009. In March, industrial production added 8.3%, the data showed. Analysts had expected a 6.3% annual increase following the 11% jump in February.

Also, the NBS said that urban fixed asset investment was up 28.6% annually in the first quarter and 30.3% in March. Retail sales were up 15% in the first three months of the year and 14.7% in March.

The Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas lowered the interest rate on the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase facility by a quarter basis points to 4.5% with immediate effect. The interest rate matched economists' expectations and now stands at the lowest level since May 1992.

On the same day, the Philippine government lowered economic growth estimate for 2009 to 3.1%-4.1% from an earlier forecast of 3.7%-4.4%.

Elsewhere, the National Statistics Office said the Philippines' exports plummeted 39.1% year-on-year in February after the 40.6% fall in January. On a monthly basis, exports were down 0.35 following the 6.1% decline in January.

India's inflation for the week ended April 4 eased to 0.18% from 0.26% recorded in the previous week, the Ministry of Commerce Industry said.

In other news, rating agency Fitch downgraded Thailand's long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating or IDR to 'BBB' from 'BBB+', and the long-term local currency IDR to 'A minus' from 'A'. The firm however revised the outlook on the ratings to stable from negative.

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