China wasn't the only Asian economic heavyweight to disappoint today

China isn’t the only country to disappoint on the data front today.

Japan, Asia’s second-largest economy, saw manufacturing activity contract in April for the first time since mid-2014.

The Markit-JMMA flash PMI gauge dropped from March’s 50.3 to 49.7 – and the market was expecting an increase to 50.8. That’s also the index’s lowest level since May 2014.

As detailed in the table below, new orders and backlogs contracted at a faster pace, while growth in new export orders slowed. Partially offsetting that weakness were improvements in employment, final prices and stocks of finished goods.

While only fractionally below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction the slowdown, coupled with China’s weak PMI report for April, it suggests that growth momentum in Asia’s largest economies is waning.

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