Here is the summary from this month’s Global Manufacturing Economic Update:
The global economy has seen some progress since last fall, but growth remains modest at best. There is also a “two steps forward, one step back” feel to some of the latest data. Six of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods expanded in March, according to Markit. This is down from seven last month, but up from four last October. Canada, our largest trading partner, saw its manufacturing activity decline, with weaknesses in new orders, exports and hiring. Softness in the United States and Europe were cited as factors.
The other three markets with contracting sales, output and employment levels were in Europe, with its economic downturn widening. The Markit Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell from 47.9 in February to 46.8 in March. This index has now contracted for 20 straight months, with little hope of improving anytime soon. While many of the recent headlines have surrounded the failure of the banks in Cyprus or the inconclusive Italian elections, the challenges are ones that confront the entire continent. The unemployment rate has risen to 12 percent, with more than one-quarter of the working population in Greece and Spain out of work, and real GDP is expected to contract throughout the year. This morning, we should learn even more about the manufacturing sector in Europe when new data on industrial production will be released. The data are expected to show a slight decline. (continue reading…)