Stock markets in Asia are expected to begin the week on a positive note after official Chinese data released Saturday showed that manufacturing activity grew for the second straight month in November.
Asian stock markets mostly ended with gains last week as sentiment was buoyed after the euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund struck a deal to release much-needed bailout funds to Greece.
The data released by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed that the official Purchasing Managers' Index rose to a seven-month high of 50.6 in November from 50.2 in October.
A private survey last week showed that China’s manufacturing activity expanded for the first time in more than a year in November. The HSBC Flash PMI, a measure of nationwide manufacturing, surged to 50.4 in November, entering expansionary territory of above 50 for the first time in 13 months, from October’s final reading of 49.5, suggesting that the world’s second-largest economy is reviving its growth momentum.
Investors will be focused on the U.S. and Europe as central bank meetings and the major economic releases are due during the week, but the market mood will be dominated by the U.S. fiscal talks. Several reports, including the manufacturing PMIs and the U.S. non-farm payrolls and unemployment data for the month of November, will be released during the week.
The U.S. Department of Labor's monthly non-farm payrolls report, which is the most closely watched economic statement on the job market and a key gauge of the direction and pace of the economic recovery, is due to be released Friday and is likely to show that the world’s largest economy added 80,000 jobs last month, following a 171,000-gain in October. ISM manufacturing index is likely to edge down to 51.3 in November from October’s reading of 51.7.
“The November payroll figures are expected to show the negative impact of Hurricane Sandy. Our best guess is that the storm-related job losses may have totaled 75K, implying an underlying trend gain of 155K. The November pace of growth in the labor force and employment is expected to come in below the October gains with the mix leading the unemployment rate to edge up to 8.0 percent,” a note from Credit Agricole stated.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will hold their policy meetings Thursday. However, the meetings are unlikely to show any major impact on the market as all the central banks are widely anticipated to remain on hold in December.
Meanwhile, the concerns over the U.S. fiscal fears will continue to weigh on the markets. Both the Democrats and the Republicans remained at odds about how to reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
"We have a week with a lot of economic data, and obviously most of the economic data is going to reflect the effects of Sandy, and that might be a little bit negative for the market next week, but most of that is already expected - the main focus remains the fiscal cliff," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York, told Reuters.