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Economic data this week

PMI, UK and Euro-zone, February 2014:  The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the UK rose marginally in February to 56.9 and has now been in positive territory for 11 consecutive months.  Both production and new business are running well above their long-term trend levels and this led to an increase in employment which was at its fastest rate since May 2011.  Markit, who carry out the research, report that this expansion is spread across consumer, intermediate and investment goods sectors.

In the euro-zone, the PMI reading fell back slightly in February to 53.2 (from 54.0 in January), but this is still well above the 50 mark which divides expansion and contraction of the sector.  Six of the seven countries covered in the report were in positive territory and the one concern remains France, although this reported a 5-month high of 49.7.  Euro-zone output, new orders and new export business all rose for the 8th successive month in February.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey all had strongly positive readings for February, but Russia was one of two major economies to post a figure of 48.5, significantly below the neutral point.  The other major economy at this level was China, while elsewhere in Asia, Korea was fractionally under the 50 mark, but Japan, Taiwan and slightly less strongly, India, were all well into positive territory.  The North American economies were positive, with the USA having a reading of 57.1, its strongest reading for 45 months!  Brazil continues to hover just above the neutral point.

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.

Gardner Research World Machine Tool Output and Consumption Survey 2014:  As usual, our first look at what happened in our sector last year comes from the report compiled by Gardner Research from inputs from Trade associations around the world.  Based on data for 27 countries, converted to US$ (and thereby introducing the issue of exchange rate changes into the comparison), it shows a reduction of -9% in machine tool output compared to 2012 to US$68.65 billion.  It is worth noting that the reduction in values from US$75.46 billion in 2012) is almost entirely accounted for by a fall of -18% in Japanese output that is exacerbated by movements in exchange rates and becomes a fall  of -32% in US$.

One change this year is the treatment of China;  the researchers have adjusted the raw data to take account of the high number of non-CNC machines that are “universally produced and consumed in China”;  the methodology for this has not been given, but it reduces the value of Chinese machine tool production in 2013 from US$24.98 billion to US$8.74 billion and puts them 3rd in the overall list behind Germany (US$14.69 million) and Japan (US$12.33 billion).

The UK ranks as the11th largest machine tool producing nation, sandwiched between Austria and Canada, although the data for the latter is, at best, fragmentary.  In terms of market size, the UK is in 16th place in the list of the same 27 countries, just behind France and Switzerland.

You can get the Report from the Gardner Research web-site at http://www.gardnerweb.com/articles/2014-world-machine-tool-output-and-co....

European GDP, 4th Quarter 2013:  The 2nd estimate from Eurostat shows that GDP in the euro-zone was +0.3% higher than in the previous quarter, while for the EU28 as a whole it increased by +0.4%.  For 2013 as a whole, GDP fell by -0.5% in the euro-zone, but rose by +0.1% for the EU28.

The revised data for the 4th quarter of 2013 shows only Cyprus is still in  recession (defined as two or more consecutive negative growth rates), although the quarter-on-quarter rate is not published for Greece and has not yet been released for Croatia or Malta, both of which could be in this situation.  The other countries whose economies contracted in the final period of last year, but which had a positive trend in the 3rd quarter, were Denmark, Estonia, and Finland

You can get the Eurostat News Release from their web-site at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/ or request it from MTA.

CELIMO Quarterly Trends Survey, 4th Quarter 2013:  CELIMO represents the European Associations for Distributors and Importers of machine tools and tooling; their latest survey results show that business in the final period of 2013 was +5% up on the previous quarter and +12% ahead of the position a year earlier.  The new year is expected to start with a small quarter-on-quarter reduction in business, although the level will still be higher than a year earlier;  the trend is split fairly evenly between countries anticipating an increase, no change and a reduction and most of the latter are seasonal patterns rather than, necessarily, a weakening in the general trend.

If you would like a copy of the survey report, please contact Geoff Noon at MTA (e-mail gnoon@mta.org.uk).