Friday, October 1, 2010

China PMI a worldwide sentiment booster

.... if the numbers are really accurate.

(Reuters) - Chinese manufacturing picked up steam in September after a mid-year lull, easing concerns of a renewed downturn in global growth, although other leading Asian economies showed some signs of softer business activity.

Manufacturing activity slowed in India in September and contracted in South Korea and Australia, surveys showed. Data on Thursday showed Japanese manufacturing contracted for the first time in 15 months and reports later on Friday are expected to show slowdowns in the United States and Europe.

Still, China dominated.

"The PMIs are a very good gauge of the outlook for industrial production in China, and they tell a beautiful story," said Rob Henderson, head market economist at National Australia Bank in Sydney.

"Fears of a substantial downturn have proved unfounded and this should put to rest a lot of the worries about the global outlook."

Indeed, the Asian purchasing managers indexes (PMI) followed signs that activity in the United States had picked up a little in the third quarter, easing worries about a fresh slump in the world's top economy.

New U.S. jobless claims fell last week and manufacturing in the Midwest region grew faster than expected in September.

China's official PMI rose to 53.8 in September from 51.7 in August, well above a median forecast of 52. The data pushed LME copper to a two-year high, lifted the Australian dollar and gave Asian stocks .MIAPJ0000PUS a boost.

India's manufacturing sector expanded for the 18th straight month, but the pace slowed to a 10-month low.

Indian manufacturing had stayed strong earlier this year as Chinese activity had slowed.

"The manufacturing sector shows signs of cooling after a red-hot pace earlier in the year," said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian Economics Research at HSBC.

"Capacity constraints may be partly responsible for this, in addition to the fading fiscal stimulus."

In Australia, among the few developed economies to avoid a recession after the global financial crisis, a strong local currency and soft domestic demand led to the first contraction in manufacturing activity in 2010, a survey showed.

PMIs use indicators such as new orders, employment, exports and order backlogs, to gauge the strength of manufacturing, and are considered a leading indicator of broader economic activity.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, and below that a contraction. Further, a reading above 50 that is higher than the previous month indicates a quickening pace of activity, while a 50-plus reading lower than the previous month shows a slowdown.

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