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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

PMI, UK and Euro-zone, November 2015:  The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the UK fell back to 52.7 in November as both output and new orders expanded at a slower rate.  However, it is worth noting that this is only compared to a very high reading of 55.2 in October and the November figure is above the level that we saw over the summer for the UK.  Markit, who publish the PMI’s, report that the expansion seems to be mainly in large companies, but that it is reasonably spread across the sub-sectors with, most importantly for MTA members, solid growth in the investment goods industries.

The Euro-zone reading was 52.8, a small improvement on the October figure for the region as a whole.  Italy, Spain and Germany shared in the overall improvements, but Netherlands, Ireland and Austria had a lower reading than in October;  France was unchanged.  The latest figures for the Euro-zone were underpinned by improving flows of new business and the steepest growth in new export orders since May.

In Asia, Korea, China and Taiwan all had slightly negative PMI readings and that for India was only just over the 50 threshold (at 50.3);  the exception to the regional pattern is Japan where the PMI ticked up to 52.6 (from 52.4) in November.  The Czech Republic continues to have the strongest PMI reading, that for Poland is also reasonably good and with Turkey moving up to 50.9 (from 49.5 in October) and Russia steady at 50.1, the main non-Euro European countries are positive (just!).  In the Americas, positive figures for the USA (52.8) and Mexico (53.0) are top and tailed by negatives in Canada (48.6) and Brazil (43.8), with the latter being, by far, the weakest reading in November.

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.

Profitability of UK Companies, 2nd Quarter 2015:  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released the latest data for profitability in private non-financial companies which shows a net rate of return for manufacturing companies of 6.7%, down on both the previous quarter (7.6%) and a year earlier (14.3%).

This series is very often revised, so it is difficult to make long-term comparisons, but the ONS comments that the downturn in the net rate of return for manufacturing companies in the 2nd quarter was mainly due to lower operating surpluses.  The net rate of return is the ratio of operating surpluses to capital employed.

You can download the ONS Statistical bulletin from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or request it from MTA.

European R&D Expenditure, 2014:  Data from Eurostat shows that spending on Research & Development (R&D) across the European Union (EU) amounted to €283 billion in 2014;  this is an R&D intensity (i.e. share of GDP) of 2.03%, the same as in 2013.

Eurostat quotes rates of 4.15% for South Korea, Japan at 3.47%, China of 2.08% (all in 2013) and 2.81% for the USA (in 2012);  within the EU, the UK has an R&D intensity of 1.72%..  In order to stimulate competitiveness, the EU is targeting an increase in R&D intensity to 3% by 2020 as one of the 5 headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.

You can download the Eurostat News Release from their web-site at http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/news/news-releases or request it from MTA.