Continuing Parade of March Purchasing Managers Surveys

April 3, 2018

While many markets had remained shut for Easter Monday, U.S. equities plunged yesterday, led by technology issues. Today in earlier trading, markets have paused comparatively speaking. Stocks closed down only 0.8% in China, 0.6% in Taiwan, and 0.5% in Japan and Singapore, and the Hang Seng rose 0.8%.

Likewise, stocks in Europe have fallen 0.9% in Germany, 0.6% in Spain, 0.5% in France and a mere 0.2% so far in Italy and the U.K..

The dollar is unchanged from Monday’s close against the euro and sterling. It has risen 0.3% versus the yen, 0.2% vis-a-vis the Swiss franc and 0.1% relative to th4e yuan but has also slipped 0.4% against the New Zealand dollar, 0.3% versus the Canadian and Australian dollars, and 0.2% relative to the peso.

Gold fell 0.4% to $1,341.60 per ounce, while WTI oil moved 0.3% higher to $65.21 per barrel.

The Reserve Bank of Australia as expected left the Official Cash Rate at a record low of 1.5%. It’s been at that level since a 25-basis point cut in August 2016.

German retail sales volume unexpectedly dropped 0.7% on month in February, slicing the 12-month rate of increase roughly in half to 1.3%. A 0.6% drop in January-February on average compared to the 4Q17 level has reversed almost all of last autumn’s rise.

Swiss retail sales volume slid 0.2% in February after a 0.4% decline in the first month of 2018.

Euroland’s factory purchasing managers index printed at an 8-month low in March of 56.6, 2.0 points less than in February. This month-on-month drop was the greatest in nearly 7 years, reflecting the unsustainability of the pace in late 2017, some foul weather conditions, but also the rise of the euro. The PMIs for all reporting members showed slower growth in March than in February, with Germany’s falling 2.4 points to an 8-month low, France’s index dropping 2.2 points to a one-year low, Italy’s sliding 1.7 points to an 8-month low, and Spain’s PMI down 1.2 points to a 6-month low. After hitting a record high of 63.4 in February, the Dutch PMI dropped 1.9 points to a 5-month low, and Ireland’s PMI level of 54.1 was at a 1-year low.

The British manufacturing PMI edged 0.1 point above February’s 7-month low of 55.0.

Switzerland’s manufacturing PMI fell back 5.2 points to an 8-month low in March of 60.3.

Sweden’s manufacturing PMI of 55.9 was at a 7-month low. Norway’s PMI reading of 55.0 highlighted the slowest rate of expansion in five months.

Among Eastern European economies, the Polish manufacturing PMI stayed unchanged at February’s 4-month low of 53.7, and the Czech PMI dropped to a 6-month low of 57.3.

India’s manufacturing purchasing managers index printed 1.1 points lower at 51.0, a 5-month low, with the employment subindex under 50, meaning that jobs contracted, for the first time in eight months.

Australia’s Performance of Manufacturing index, in contrast, leaped 5.6 points to a record high reading of 63.1 for March.

Brazil’s manufacturing PMI edged 0.2 points higher to a 4-month high of 53.4.

Singapore’s factory PMI rose 0.3 points to a 2-month high last month, and the ABSA-compiled South African manufacturing PMI tumbled 3.9 points to a 3-month low of 46.9.

Three reporting Middle Eastern economies had lower non-oil purchasing manager indices. The Saudi score of 52.8 was the lowest ever for that data series. Egypt’s PMI (49.2) stayed below the 50-line that separates expansion from contraction for a fourth straight month. And the PMI of the United Arab Emirates fell another 0.3 points to a 10-month low.

Revised Czech GDP showed quarterly growth of 0.8% and a year-on-year advance of 5.5% in the final quarter of 2017.

Contrasting CPI inflation rates for March were reported for Turkey (10.2%) and Thailand (0.8%). Likewise, producer prices rose 14.3% on year in Turkey but fell 1.4% in Thailand. South Korean consumer prices went up 0.8% on month in March but only 1.4% on year, matching the Thai pace.

The U.S. regional New York PMI (NAPM) index and U.S. motor vehicle sales data will be released today.

Copyright 2018, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.


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