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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

PMI, Euro-zone, April 2015:  We had details of the UK PMI figures last week, but because of holidays and the timing of the release, there was little information from other countries.  The euro-zone PMI for April came out at 52.0, only fractionally lower than the 52.2 that was registered in March and very slightly higher than the UK reading of 51.9 - it has now been positive (i.e. above 50) for 22 consecutive months.  Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands all continue to have strong growth and Italy’s reading of 53.8 was their highest for a year;  the German PMI fell slightly by was just above the euro-zone average at 52.1 and, after a run of significantly negatives, Austria recorded an 8-month high of 50.1, just in positive territory.  However, concerns remain about France where the PMI fell to 48.0 and has now been negative for 11 months running.

Elsewhere in Europe, Poland and the Czech Republic continue to have a strong positive PMI reading, although both were down slightly on March, but Russia and Turkey were in negative territory, although up a bit on the previous month.  In Asia, Taiwan moved into positive territory at 51.0, joining India which was also stronger than in March at 52.1;  however, Japan slipped below the 50 level (but only just at 49.9), joining both Korea and China in negative territory.  Like non-euro-zone Europe, the Americas is a story of two halves;  the USA and Mexico both had good positive numbers in April, although the former was down slightly on the March number, while Canada and Brazil were both below 50 - indeed, Brazil had the lowest reading among the countries that we track at 46.0 (worse even than Greece!).

All of the Markit PMI reports for major economies around the world are available from their web-site at http://www.markiteconomics.com/Survey/Page.mvc/PressReleases.

European Commission Economic Sentiment Indicator, April 2015:  Each month, the European Commission takes the results from a range of business surveys (including the CBI Industrial Trends Survey which we reported on last week) and derives an overall index;  in April, the reading for the euro-zone fell marginally, while the EU28 as a whole saw a very small increase, both trends being compared to March.

Within the euro-zone, industrial confidence was down marginally, following a significant increase in March amid some mixed signals from respondents with current orders books higher, but expectations about production weakening;  For the EU28 as a whole, positive signals for the two largest economies (the UK and Poland) mean that there was a small improvement in industrial confidence.

This was one of the quarterly surveys where we also get figures for capacity utilisation;  the readings for the euro-zone and the EU28 as a whole both registered an increase to 81.2% (from 81.0% in the January survey for both areas).  We also have the results of the bi-annual investment survey which shows that capital spending by manufacturing is expected to grow by +4% in the euro-zone in 2015, with 6% growth predicted for the EU28 as a whole - both of these figures represent an improvement on the expectations from the survey last Autumn.

You can get the European Commission reports from their web-site at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/db_indicators/surveys/index_en.htm (scroll down and open the box for 2015 releases) or request it from MTA.