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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

PMI, UK and Euro-zone, September 2017:  The UK manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was a little lower than in August, but at 55.9, it still points to a significant rate of expansion in the sector.  Manufacturing output increased for the 14th consecutive month, although the pace of growth eased from the high point in August;  this was reflected across the sub-sectors.  Growth in new orders was also slower than in August, but remained solid for both UK and export activity.  However, the main driver of the lower PMI was a rise in input prices, reflecting a combination of rising commodity prices, the exchange rate and supply-chain pressures - the PMI is a composite index that looks at output, orders, employment, stocks and input prices.

In the Euro-zone there was another improvement in the PMI to 58.1, its highest level for 79 months;  apart from the blip in July, this upward trend has been running since August 2016.  This has largely been driven by stronger output growth and capacity constraints which have driven job creation.  The Euro-zone PMI readings this month were led by Germany (60.6 - a 77-month high) and the general upturn was broadly spread across the countries;  commentators that point to a 4-month low in Austria would ignore the reading of 59.4 which remains very strong.

Elsewhere, most of the countries that we track saw an improvement in their PMI reading compared to August and, with South Korea moving up to 50.6, all of the 25 countries and two regions (Euro-zone and ASEAN) were above the crucial 50 level.  The fastest risers were Sweden (63.7 from 54.7) and Hungary 59.3 from 56.8), while the most significant fall was in Turkey, although the reading of 53.5 (from 55.3) is still well into positive territory.

The IHS Markit PMI reports for major economies around the world are available from their web-site at http://www.markiteconomics.com/Survey/Page.mvc/PressReleases;  a set of summary charts is available from MTA.

Euro-zone Business Investment and Profitability, 2nd Quarter 2017:  Data published by Eurostat, shows an improvement in the seasonally adjusted business investment rate (gross fixed capital formation divided by gross value added) for the Euro-zone to 23.2%;  this compares with 22.9% in both the 1st period of this year and the 2nd quarter of 2016.  This is the highest rate since the 3rd quarter of 2008, although there is still a little way to go before it is back at the pre-recession level of around 24%.

In the same data release, Eurostat estimates the business profit share of non-financial corporations (gross operating surplus divided by gross value added) in the Euro-zone to have been 40.8%;  this is up on the 40.5% in the previous quarter and matches the rate recorded a year earlier.  This is around the level that we saw for most of 2015 and 2016 and is still some way off the 42% plus that was registered in 2007.

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

UK Business Size and Location 2017:  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published some administrative data based on its register of businesses that they use as the basis for their sampling work.  On the face of it, this is really boring stuff (unless you are a geek like me!), but one useful table shows a breakdown of the number of companies by industry, by company size and by region of the UK.

Therefore, if you were trying to find out how many potential customers were in various parts of the country, this table would give you a starting point for where to target your activity.  For example, it tells us that of the 345 automotive industry companies in the UK employing more than 5,000 people, 30 are in Wales, 10 are in London, 90 are in the West Midlands, etc.

There are a couple of important points to note;  some of the industry classifications are, at best, heroic, especially in the smallest employment size band and this is not a directory, so there are no details of the businesses, only a count of the total number.

You can download the data set and the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or request the files from MTA.

BEAMA Contract Price Adjustment Service:  If you have long-term contracts, either with customers or suppliers, have you thought about incorporating something in the contract that allows you to adjust the price according to changes in input costs?

On behalf of members, MTA subscribe to a service provided by our colleagues at BEAMA which gives a monthly track of key indices on labour and materials costs.  Of course, you need to get the principle and the relevant formulas included in the contract, but this gives you a way of updating the relevant prices independently.

If you would like more details on this, please contact Geoff Noon (gnoon@mta.org.uk) at MTA;  we can send you a copy of the latest report and some typical formulae and can have a discussion about whether or not this would be useful for you.