Australia's central bank takes stand in week ahead

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Australia's central bank takes stand in week ahead
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The spotlight in the Asia-Pacific region this week falls on Australia, where the central bank holds its final policy meeting of the year.

A report on China's manufacturing activity could provide some insight into the state of world's second biggest economy, while Thailand and the Philippines release their latest inflation numbers.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) meets on Tuesday and is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 2.5 percent as it assesses how recent monetary easing has impacted the economy.

(Read more: Aussie stocks could rally 10% next year )

"We expect the RBA to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.5 percent following its final board meeting for 2013," analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note. "However, if the non-mining recovery disappoints over the coming months, as we expect, a rate reduction in March is likely."

The RBA has lowered borrowing costs eight times since late 2011 to bolster the economy, especially the non-mining sectors as investment in mining peaks.

In China, the final HSBC purchasing mangers' index (PMI) for November is released later on Monday. A flash HSBC PMI released last month for November stood at 50.4 from October's 50.9,

Data on Sunday showed the official PMI stood at 51.4 in November, unchanged from October and above market expectations for a reading of 51.1.

(Read more: China's Nov factory growth clings to 18-month high )

Thai and Indonesian inflation data are due for release on Monday, while inflation numbers from the Philippines are expected on Thursday.

Events outside Asia are also likely to be in focus for regional markets this week, with the Bank of England and European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

Friday, meanwhile, will see the release of the non-farm payrolls number. The monthly U.S. jobs report is seen as key to shaping market expectations for when the Federal Reserve could start tapering its $85 billion-a-month asset-purchase program.

(Read more: With jobs number on the horizon, some sellers could emerge )

"In the U.S., the main focus will be on the payroll data due Friday as it will likely be important in determining whether the Fed will start to taper at its December meeting," Shane Oliver, chief economist and head of investment strategy at AMP Capital, said in a note.

"The consensus is for 185,000 gain which may not be strong enough to be decisive but if its 200,000 or above expect the probability of a December taper to rise significantly," he added.

-By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC



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