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Morning Bid: Treading water ahead of China tariff news, US CPI

FILE PHOTO: Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai

By Jamie McGeever

(Reuters) - A look at the day ahead in Asian markets.

Asian markets on Tuesday will be looking to maintain the positivity with which the week has started, with subdued volatility, stable bond markets and mostly upbeat stocks trumping worries over tariffs and gloomy Chinese data.

For now, at least.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to announce new China tariffs this week, targeting strategic sectors including a major hike in levies on electric vehicles, measures which could elicit a significant response from Beijing.

Sentiment toward China is also being dampened by the mixed macro numbers out of Beijing. The latest were persistent deflationary pressures and the lowest credit growth on record, and on Monday the finance ministry said it will start raising 1 trillion yuan in special treasury bonds to stimulate key sectors of the flagging economy.

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How that is received by investors remains to be seen, but with the government's 5% GDP growth target this year under threat and the possibility of a trade war with the United States growing, it may prove to be largely ineffective.

If Chinese stocks are grinding higher laboriously, the same can't be said for Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, which climbed to a fresh nine-month high on Monday. It has now risen in 13 of the last trading 15 sessions, gaining almost 20% in the process, and is outperforming the S&P 500 year to date.

Asia's economic calendar on Tuesday is extremely light, with wholesale price inflation figures from Japan and India being the main releases, while the corporate spotlight shines on the latest earnings reports from Japan's Sony and China's Tencent.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks in Europe on Tuesday and the main event of the week for world markets will probably be U.S. consumer price inflation on Wednesday. Until then, markets may try and maintain a holding pattern.

Japanese wholesale inflation figures don't often move markets, but they will be watched more closely than usual on Tuesday given the weakness of the yen and how intense speculation is growing around the Bank of Japan's next step.

BOJ officials appear to have turned more hawkish lately, leading some analysts to pencil in an interest rate hike next month. Money markets are fully pricing in a 10-basis point hike in July and another in the fourth quarter.

Economists expect a slight pick up in monthly inflation to 0.3% from 0.2%, and the annual rate to stay at 0.8%. That's probably not enough to move the BOJ's dial, but a reasonably strong out-of-consensus number might.

The annual rate of wholesale inflation in India, meanwhile, is expected to almost double to 1.00% in April from 0.53% in March.

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

- Japan wholesale price inflation (April)

- India wholesale price inflation (April)

- Indonesia retail sales index (March)

(Reporting and Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Josie Kao)