Monday, 5 August 2013

Mixed picture for the major economies

The latest global economic data showed a mixed picture for the world's major economies.

In the United States, economic data last week showed that the economy accelerated in the second quarter and maintained growth at the start of the third quarter.

The US economy grew at an annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter. This was slow growth by historical standards but was nevertheless an improvement over the 1.1 percent growth rate in the first quarter.

Sluggish growth in the US may have continued at the start of the third quarter. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 162,000 in July, the smallest increase in four months.

However, manufacturing data last week showed improvement for the sector. Factory orders rose 1.5 percent in June. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing PMI jumped to 55.4 in July from 50.9 in June while Markit's US manufacturing PMI rose to 53.7 from 51.9.

In the euro area, economic data last week indicated that the region's recession may be coming to an end.

Markit's manufacturing PMI for the euro area rose to 50.3 in July from 48.8 in June, indicating that the sector is no longer contracting.

Also, the European Commission's economic sentiment indicator for the euro area rose to 92.5 in July, the highest reading in 15 months, from 91.3 in June.

Meanwhile, concerns over a slowdown in China's economic growth were slightly allayed after the latest economic data.

Purchasing managers surveys on China's manufacturing sector showed a mixed picture. The official PMI from the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing rose to 50.3 in July from 50.1 in June. However, the HSBC PMI compiled by Markit fell to an 11-month low of 47.7 from 48.2.

Purchasing managers data for the services sector were somewhat more encouraging. The official PMI rose to 54.1 in July from 53.9 in June while the HSBC/Markit PMI was unchanged at 51.3.

However, Japan's economic recovery is looking shaky after last week's data.

The Markit/JMMA Japan manufacturing PMI fell to 50.7 in July from 52.3 in June. Industrial production had fallen 3.3 percent in June.

Japan's unemployment rate did fall to 3.9 percent in June, the lowest in more than four years, from 4.1 percent in May. Still, household spending also fell 0.4 percent in June from a year earlier.

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