June starts on a nervous note

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By Jamie McGeever

June 1 (Reuters) -A look at the day ahead in Asian markets from Jamie McGeever.

A batch of purchasing managers index reports from across the Asia-Pacific region will offer local markets direction on Thursday, with investors likely to be in a cautious mood following Wednesday's global market moves.

If the PMI data on Thursday from Japan, Australia, India, South Korea and others are as gloomy as China's official PMI figures were on Wednesday, markets are in for a torrid start to the new month.

Official data showed factory activity in China shrank faster than expected in May, at its fastest rate in five months, while service sector activity expanded at the slowest pace in four months.

The Caixin manufacturing PMI report on Thursday is also expected to show manufacturing activity shrank in May, but at the same pace as April. Barring a huge upside surprise, China's economy appears to be sputtering and the pressure on local assets is growing.

The dollar edged up to a fresh six-month high against the yuan on Wednesday, with speculation mounting that locals are joining overseas investors in seeking to get their money out of Chinese markets.

Other Asian markets also start the new month on the defensive - the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index slumped 1.2% on Wednesday for its biggest daily loss in over a month, while the Japanese Nikkei's 1.4% fall was its steepest in almost two months.

Back in China, Tesla and Twitter chief Elon Musk continues his visit, and is expected to travel to the Tesla plant in Shanghai to meet with staff, sources say.

Meanwhile, economic weakness in China is weighing on oil prices. Remarkably, Brent crude oil is now more than 40% cheaper today than it was a year ago, adding to the downward pressure on global inflation.

Figures this week show that euro zone inflation pressures are easing, but this 'good news' is struggling to support risk appetite - until the U.S. debt ceiling deal is approved by both Houses of Congress, nervousness will linger, while worries over the economic impact of the Fed's rate hiking campaign are never too far from the surface.

Dovish remarks from Fed Governor Philip Jefferson and Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker on Wednesday helped lower U.S. bond yields and implied rate expectations. But it is the May employment report on Friday that will be pivotal to whether the Fed raises rates another 25 basis points, as traders mostly expect, or not.

Here are three key developments that could provide more direction to markets on Thursday:

- PMI data - China, Japan, Australia, India (May)

- South Korea trade (May, prelim)

- Euro zone inflation (May, flash estimate)

Brent oil -40% year-on-year https://tmsnrt.rs/42bjJ2Z

Dollar/yuan https://tmsnrt.rs/3N4KJN0

(By Jamie McGeever;)


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