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LOS ANGELES Asian markets' focus Thursday will likely include the preliminary or "flash" reading of HSBC's manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, which will offer the first major look at Chinese factory activity for August. The report is due out at 10:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. U.S. Eastern time), and investors will be watching to see if the headline number can creep above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. HSBC's China PMI for July came in at 49.3, up from 48.2 in June but still in contractionary territory. A separate, government-sponsored July manufacturing PMI printed at 50.1, down from 50.2 the previous month. The flash PMI generally includes the initial 85%-90% of survey responses from Chinese manufacturers.

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