For the first time since 1Q 2013, both services and manufacturing sectors of the BRIC economies are now in a statistically significant expansion, as shown in the Chart below and summarised in the table that follows:
Composite PMIs as follows:
Brazil remains key underperformed, posting a worsening recession reading of 45.1 in 4Q 2016 compared to 3Q 2016. This was still and improvement on 41.6 reading in 4Q 2015. Despite this, across FY 2016, Composite PMI for the Brazilian economy averaged just 43.1, which is worse than 45.2 reading for the FY 2015 and 49.8 reading for the FY 2014. Brazil’s Composite PMI is now in 11 consecutive quarters of sub-50 readings (12 consecutive quarters of zero or negative growth, if we control for statistical significance).
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Russia has posted a third consecutive quarter of growth, with accelerating positive dynamics. In 4Q 2016, Russian Composite PMI run at a blistering pace of 55.4, up on 53.2 in 3Q 2016 and 52.0 in 2Q 2016. This is the fastest pace of expansion since 2@ 2008. As the result, FY 2016 Composite PMI for the Russian economy came in at 52.6, signalling relatively robust rate of growth – the fastest pace of growth for FY 2016 for any BRIC economy. In 2015, FY reading was 48.8 (second worst in the BRIC group) and in 2014 it was 48.9 (the worst performance in the BRIC group). Based on three consecutive quarters of above 50 (statistically significant) PMIs, we can now call the end of the Russian recession, although risks of a reversal to the downside still remain, primarily due to lags in recovery in manufacturing sector.
Chinese Composite PMI came in at 53.1 in 4Q 2016, up on 51.7 in 3Q 2016 and marking the highest reading for any quarter since 4Q 2010. The expansion has now been sustained over 4 consecutive quarters, albeit once we adjust for statistical significance, growth in Chinese economy as measured by the Composite PMIs is only two quarters deep. FY 2016 reading is now at 51.4 – third fastest in the BRIC grouping, and an improvement on 2015 FY reading of 50.3. FT 2016 result posted higher rate of growth than in 2013-2015.
Indian Composite PMI came in at 50.7 – a sharp slowdown from 53.1 in 3Q 2016. The PMI reading is now statistically indistinguishable from 50.0 – the first time this happened since 2Q 2015. FY 2016 average Composite PMI for the Indian economy came in at 52.1, the second fastest pace of growth in the BRIC economies group and an improvement on 51.7 in 2015. The pace of growth signalled by the Composite PMIs in 2016 was the fastest over the last 4 years.
Chart below illustrates trends in quarterly Composite PMIs
Key take aways:
1) Russian Composite PMI is now signalling rates of growth consistent with pre-2H 2008 data. If trend to the upside is confirmed, Russian economic recovery will be not only sustained, but robust. Last two quarters of Composite PMI readings suggest growth in the range of 2.5-3 percent per annum, which exceeds even the rosier forecasts for 2017 at 1.7 percent. Interestingly, unlike in the case of China, Russian economic recovery is not based on either monetary or fiscal stimuli. Monetary policy in Russia remains fully focused on containing inflation and current interest rates are approximately 2.5-3.5 points too high to support even modest growth in investment. Meanwhile, fiscal policy remains conservative and the Government has been extremely reluctant to ease fiscal purse strings, absent access to normal funding markets, given the levels of geopolitical uncertainty, and having little support for its budget from primary commodities prices.
2) Chinese Composite PMI is also showing signs of a break-away fro the recent trends. However, the reading is still only one quarter in the duration and is clearly anchored to aggressive monetary and fiscal easing. As the result, I am reluctant to call this a structural trend change.
3) India’s one quarter fall in Composite PMIs is a signal to watch. Currently, it is too early to call this a shift in a trend and there are non-structural reasons that might be behind this growth slowdown (e.g. de-monetization policey etc), but over 2Q 2014-1Q 2016 and less so during 2Q-3Q 2016, Indian economy was supportive of stronger growth across BRIC group and contributed positively to BRIC share of Global GDP expansion. The 4Q 2016 reading is putting this into question.
4) Brazil remains in deep economic recession. Over the last 5.5 years, Brazil’s Composite PMI has averaged just 48.3, with the last three years average reading of just 46.0.