By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian markets were in a hesitant mood on Monday ahead of figures that are expected to show a slight slowdown in regional powerhouse China, while Deutsche Bank soured sentiment by reporting a surprise loss and falling revenues.
In muted early action MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> dipped 0.2 percent, and Australia's market <.AXJO> eased 0.3 percent.
Liquidity was lacking with U.S. markets closed on Monday for a holiday. Neither was there much of a lead from Wall Street where the Dow <.DJI> ended last week with a slim gain of 0.1 percent, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.2 percent for the week.
Investors were nervous ahead of China's fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report, due at 0200 GMT, in case it surprised on the downside.
The median forecast of 24 economists polled by Reuters was for growth of 7.6 percent from a year earlier, down from 7.8 percent in the third quarter.
Analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia were more upbeat, predicting a steady outcome of 7.8 percent.
"The key December indicators, such as new loans and rail transportation point to continued growth momentum in the final quarter of 2013," CBA said in a note.
They were also optimistic on China's retail sales. While the consensus was for a dip in annual growth to 13.6 percent, CBA looked for a pick up to 13.9 percent.
Industrial production is seen rising 9.8 percent in December, from a year earlier, compared with 10 percent the previous month.
China is Australia's single biggest export market so any weakness in the data will likely pile pressure on the Australian dollar, which is already at its lowest since mid-2010.
Early Monday, the Aussie was pinned at $0.8776 having shed 2.4 percent last week.
In contrast the U.S. dollar gained 0.9 percent last week against a basket of major currencies <.DXY> amid expectations the Federal Reserve will stick with plans to scale back its bond buying at a policy meeting later this month.
The dollar was also firm on the euro at $1.3527, after touching a seven-week high on Friday, but flat on the yen at 104.27.
The Bank of Japan holds its policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to maintain its massive asset buying program.
DEUTSCHE HIT BY FINES
Deutsche Bank started the week by reporting a surprise pre-tax loss of 1.15 billion euros for the fourth quarter of 2013 due to heavy costs for litigation, restructuring and balance sheet reduction.
The bank was originally scheduled to report its results on January 29, but the Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that a profit warning was possible.
The unexpected loss is likely to compound the problems that have dogged the bank over the past year, especially a lengthening list of lawsuits and regulatory matters, and redouble pressure on co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen to prove their turnaround plan is on track.
Deutsche Bank's U.S.-listed shares closed down 3 percent at $52.27 on Friday.
The EU's quarterly earnings season goes up a gear this week. STOXX Europe 600 <.STOXX> companies are seen missing consensus by 0.4 percent on revenues and by 0.9 percent on earnings, according to StarMine SmartEstimates, which focuses on the predictions by the most accurate analysts.
In commodity markets, spot gold made an early push to a five-week peak of $1,258.56 an ounce, thanks in part to talk of strong physical demand from Asia.
Brent crude oil for March delivery was off 12 cents at $106.36 a barrel, while U.S. crude was quoted 32 cents lower at $94.05.
(Editing by Richard Pullin)
- Budget, Tax & Economy
- Deutsche Bank
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia