China’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) figure for July was weak, or modest, depending on the source, but certainly no cause for optimism about a sharp slowing of the world’s largest economy.
After adjusting for seasonal factors, the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) — a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing economy — posted an eleven-month low of 47.7 in July, down from 48.2 in June, therefore signalling a deterioration of business conditions for the third consecutive month.
The European Union staged a very modest recovery, and as might be expected, Germany improved while Spain and Greece remained in trouble.
July PMI data signalled a welcome return to growth for the Eurozone manufacturing sector. Production and new orders both increased at the fastest rates since mid-2011, as new export business expanded and a number of domestic markets moved closer to stabilisation. The seasonally adjusted Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI rose to a two-year high of 50.3 in July, up from 48.8 in June and above the neutral 50.0 mark for the first time since July 2011. The PMI was also above the earlier flash estimate of 50.1.
Ireland’s manufacturing PMI signalled growth for the second straight month in July, while PMIs for Germany, Italy and the Netherlands all edged back into expansion territory. The downturns signalled for France, Austria and Greece eased to the weakest for 17, eight and 43 months respectively. Spain was the Eurozone manufacturing production rose for the first time since February 2012, underpinned by the first growth in new order volumes for over two years. New export orders also posted a slight increase following June’s marginal decline.
Despite likely excitement over of the improvements, the only conclusion that can be taken away is that whatever recession continues to rack the world has slowed, ever so slightly, but not enough to say that the improvement is permanent.