Global PMI Numbers Hit the Brakes in March

After the Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) surged in February to levels not seen in either of the last two calendar years, its March performance hit a wall with declines in many important categories including output and new orders.

The Global PMI, published by Markit in accordance with JPMorgan, fell to 52.4 in March, down from the revised February figure of 53.2. Though the February numbers were bolstered in part by a strong performance out of the United States that continued for the most part in March, it wasn’t enough to offset slower rates of output in expansion in formerly hot nations like Taiwan, India and, most notably, China. The latter showed contraction for the second straight month and at levels not seen since a temporary slowdown in November 2011, Markit analysts noted.

The study noted the US continues to enjoy "robust improvements" in business conditions and employment. Though down from February, the latest reading of 55.5 is still the second best performance in the last 15 months by a sound margin. And, with underlying demand at a strong level, it's only expected to improve from here in 2014, Markit and JP Morgan hinted. Across the Atlantic, the Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI held stable at 53. However, it was a bit more of a mixed bag with multi-year highs in France, Spain and Ireland but a loss of momentum in Germany, the Netherlands and Greece, the only of these nations to have slipped back into contraction territory.

"Although growth is cooling from [some of] the highs reached at the end of last year, the picture remains one of continued expansion, suggesting manufacturing will remain a contributor to both global economic growth and job creation," said David Hensley, director of global economics coordination at JPMorgan.

- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer
For our chart breakdown of about two dozen individual countries' Markit PMI levels and brief analysis, check out this week's eNews at www.nacm.org in the Resources section.

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