Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
China, landing. We got slightly divergent readings between the HSBC and official readings for China’s purchasing manager’s index. The former reading, which is skewed toward smaller firms, slipped further into contraction territory at 48 from 48.5. The latter, which is skewed toward larger state-owned firms, edged up 0.1 to 50.3. The conclusion is still pretty much the same: China is slowing. “The final reading of the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI in March confirmed the weakness of domestic demand conditions,” HSBC economist Hongbin Qu said in a press release. “This implies that 1Q GDP growth is likely to have fallen below the annual growth target of 7.5%. We expect Beijing to fine-tune policy sooner rather than later to stabilise growth.”
Another GM recall. The automaker announced late Monday it was recalling an additional 1.3 vehicles, this time over a possible power steering system glitch. That brings its 2014 total recalled vehicles to 6.1 million. Mary Barra will testify before Congress Tuesday. Don’t miss BI’s Alex Davies on why GM’s recalls are unlike any other.
FBI investigating high-frequency traders. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday afternoon that the FBI was investigating whether high-frequency traders are capitalising on material non-public information. The report comes a day after Michael Lewis’ appearance on “60 Minutes” in which the reporter contended HFTs had “rigged” markets. “Among the types of trading under scrutiny is the practice of placing a group of trades and then cancelling them to create the false appearance of market activity. Such activity could be considered potential market manipulation by encouraging others to trade based on false orders.”
Developed world inflation slows. Price growth among the OECD’s 34 members slipped to 1.4% from 1.7% in January, raising fears the global economic recovery is losing momentum. “The continuing decline in the rate of inflation across developed countries will worry central bankers, since many regard annual price rises of 2% as consistent with healthy economic growth,” WSJ’s Paul Hannon wrote. “The decline in the inflation rate was driven by lower energy prices, while the core rate of inflation in the OECD — excluding energy and food — was unchanged at 1.6%.”
Busy day in data. We’ve already been getting global PMI. In the U.S., the day kicks off with auto sales figures. At 9:45 a.m., the U.S. learns its own PMI reading, expected to have climbed slightly. At 10 a.m. we get ISM manufacturing, expected to have declined slightly. Also at 10 a.m. we get construction spending.
Markets. Stocks were up around the world, led by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng at 1.34%. U.S. futures were higher. The euro climbed more than 40 bps against the yen.
Eurozone production gains. Eurozone manufacturing data touched multi-year highs in several recent “basketcase” countries. At 55.5, Ireland PMI is at a 35-month high. At 52.8, Spain is at a 47-month high. And at 52.1, France is at a 33-month high. Greece has backslid to a 3-month low of 49.7.
Europe labour woes. Eurozone unemployment came in at 11.9% in February, still close to record highs. “The social situation in the EU shows little signs of improvement: inequalities have risen and the situation of many households and individuals is not improving, with ever growing numbers suffering from financial distress,” said László Andor, commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion according to the FT. “Divergence in employment and social outcomes remains pronounced between core and periphery countries in the EU, particularly in the eurozone.”
Japanese business confidence stalls. Ahead of a sales tax increase Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has included as part of his Abenomics package, Japanese business confidence climbed for a fifth-straight month to a reading of plus 17 in March but missed expectations for 18.
UK’s lopsided economy. British leaders keep vowing to rebalance the country’s economy to put a greater emphasis on manufacturing and exports. There is yet very little sign this is happening, as UK PMI fell to an eight-month low at 55.3, down from 56.2.
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