U.S. Flash PMI Signals Serious Growth Contraction

The U.S. flash manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was released for April by the group Markit on Tuesday morning. The bad news is that the numbers were lower, but the good news is that growth, even if meager, is still alive in the United States. April’s PMI fell to a 52.0 reading from 54.6 in March, well short of the Bloomberg consensus of 54.2, and it was the lowest reading going back to last October.

We have analyzed the Markit releases in other areas of the globe this morning, and the reports bring some concern. Germany is not yet in recession, but that now looks to be more and more of a risk. We are growing worried that on top of lowering growth estimates for 2013, Germany and others may have to actually start to prepare for 2013 to be another year of contraction rather than expansion.

New orders in the United States fell sharply in April to 51.8 from 55.4 in March, according to Markit. Employment managed to expand at a slower rate, at 52.7 in April versus 54.6 in March.

A serious concern is the so-called Backlogs of Work, which went down to 48.8 in April from 50.2 in March. If backlogs are lower, then hiring and production do not need to increase in the months ahead.

Be advised that PMI readings above 50.0 signal an increase or improvement on the prior month, and readings below 50.0 indicate a decrease from the prior month. The good news is that it is obvious that the United States is holding up better than elsewhere. The bad news is that if Europe teeters further throughout 2013, while China and the emerging markets have slower growth, it is harder and harder to buy into the major growth phase recovery later this year.