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Marketmind: China PMIs round off bruising month

Employees work at Jingjin filter press factory in Dezhou

By Jamie McGeever

(Reuters) - A look at the day ahead in Asian markets from Jamie McGeever, financial markets columnist.

Investors await a deluge of top-tier Asian economic indicators on Thursday, including the latest official Chinese purchasing managers index reports, which could go a long way to determining how the region's markets will flow next month.

India's second quarter GDP, Japanese retail sales and industrial production, Hong Kong retail sales, Australian credit and South Korean industrial production are on tap too, potentially moving these countries' markets, especially their currencies.

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Markets across the region should open on a positive note on Thursday after another 'risk on' day Wednesday. Downwardly revised U.S. GDP figures reduced U.S. interest rate expectations and futures markets are now no longer anticipating a quarter point hike by the end of the year.

With a lower dollar and softer U.S. Treasury yields helping to ease financial conditions, world stocks rose for a fourth day. They are up 2.5% this week, on course for their best week in seven.

Asian stocks are up six sessions out of the last seven.

But it has been a tough month for Asia, in large part due to the financial and economic troubles afflicting China. Asian stocks ex-Japan are down 6% in August, the biggest monthly loss since February.

China's NBS manufacturing PMI on Thursday is expected to inch up to 49.4 in August from 49.34 in July, but that will still mark the fifth month in a row below the key 50.0 level that separates expansion from contraction.

Services sector activity continues to grow - just - but manufacturing continues to struggle in the face of weak demand.

The series of measures and steps taken by Chinese authorities and firms to boost investor sentiment and support local markets has had an impact. Chinese stocks earlier this week posted back-to-back gains of 1% or more for the first time since January.

But for August as a whole the index is on track for a 5.5% decline, capital outflows have accelerated, the currency has depreciated around 2% and an imploding property sector has prompted widespread downgrades to the broader growth outlook.

China's largest private property developer Country Garden warned on Wednesday of default risks if its financial situation continues to deteriorate and said it "felt deeply remorseful" for its record loss of 48.9 billion yuan ($6.72 billion) in the first half of the year.

Two of China's largest banks on Wednesday reported sluggish profit growth, and in another sign of Beijing trying to boost activity, a top central bank official was quoted as saying banks should increase private sector lending.

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

- China PMIs (August)

- India GDP (Q2)

- Japan retail sales and industrial production (July)

(By Jamie McGeever; Editing by Josie Kao)