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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

PMI, UK and Euro-zone, March 2013:  The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the UK continues to point to a fall in activity, although the index edged higher to reach 48.3, compared to February’s 4 month low figure of 47.9 - it remains below the neutral point of 50.  Manufacturers reported the sharpest fall in output since October 2012, but the rate of contraction for orders slowed compared to February. The weakness was mainly concentrated in the intermediate goods sector, but production also fell for investment goods producers, although they did see a small improvement in orders.

The picture in the Euro-zone remains weak as well with an overall index of 46.8 in March;  this is based on 8 Euro-zone countries, all of which had an index below 50;  the “best” performance was in Germany which registered 49.0, although this is lower than in February.  Only France saw an improvement in the index, but this was to 44.0, the 2nd lowest figure among the 8 countries - only Greece at 42.1 was lower.  March saw orders fall for the 22nd successive month;  although demand continues to rise from North America and South Asia, intra-Euro-zone trade was often reported as a drag on activity levels.

Looking outside Europe, the major economies all have a positive index;  Japan at 50.4 (up from 48.5 in February) is the most marginal with the Markit based index for the USA the strongest at 54.6 (up from 54.3).  The other major Asian economies saw an increase in the index compared to February and all were above the neutral level, as was Brazil.  Closer to home, Russia and Turkey both had an index that was above 50, but lower than in the previous month.

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.

UK Industrial Output, February 2013:  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) that manufacturing output was 0.8% higher than in January 2013, but -1.4% lower than in February 2012.  However, we prefer to focus on the 3-month moving trend as it smooth’s out some of the monthly fluctuations in the data;  on this basis, manufacturing output in the latest 3 months (December 2012, January and February 2013) fell by -0.2% down on the previous 3 months (September, October and November 2012) and -2.1% lower than a year earlier (December 2011, January and February 2012).

Among the 4 major industrial groupings within manufacturing, only Capital Goods is seeing an expansion of output;  the latest period is up by +0.8% compared to the previous 3 months and by +3.2% on the level of the same period a year ago.  At the industry level, there is some growth in the Motor Vehicle and Machinery industries and Aerospace is broadly flat, although at a higher level than a year ago;  output of electrical machinery is falling back and the metal products sector continues to show little sign of improving and output is down slightly on where it was a year ago.

Full details can be found in the ONS Statistical Bulletin and the full dataset, both of which can be downloaded from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or requested from MTA.

Profitability of UK Companies, 4th Quarter 2012:  The latest data from the ONS shows the net rate of return (defined as the ratio of operating surpluses to capital employed) for manufacturing companies was 4.9%;  this is the highest level of the year, but only just and the rate of return for the manufacturing sector has been at this historically low level now for 18 months.

Full details can be found in the ONS Statistical Bulletin which can be downloaded from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or requested from MTA.

USMTO, February 2013:  The US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) programme tracks order intake in the US market;  the running total for the first two months of the year is -11.9% lower than the same period of 2012.  The regional breakdown shows all six regions running behind last year’s total, with the South-Central region down by -31%, while the North-Central-East region is only -3% lower than the same period in 2012.

The USMTO News release can be downloaded from the AMT web-site at www.amtonline.org or requested from MTA.

CECIMO Statistical Toolbox, February 2013:  The latest edition of the CECIMO Toolbox contains the usual round-up of data on the European economy as a whole and continues to track MT-IX - CECIMO’s own index of share prices for publically quoted machine tool manufacturing companies.  The CECIMO Statistical Toolbox can be downloaded from their web-site at www.cecimo.eu or requested from the MTA - if you would like to receive this on a regular basis, please let us know and we will send it to you as it is published each month.