BRIC Manufacturing PMIs 1Q 2017: Stalling Momentum

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1Q 2017 PMIs for Manufacturing are painting a mixed picture for the world’s largest emerging economies, the BRIC group.

Brazil’s Manufacturing PMIs averaged 46.8 in 1Q 2017, compared to 45.9 in 4Q 2016 and 46.0 in 1Q 2016. All in, 1Q 2017 marked 12th consecutive quarter of Manufacturing PMIs signalling contraction in activity. Although 1Q 2017 reading was the highest since 1Q 2015, current indicator simply implies that the rate of Brazilian manufacturing sector contraction has abated somewhat, even though the downward momentum remains in place. This means that Brazil remains the worst performing BRIC Manufacturing sector for the eighth consecutive quarter. One relatively brighter spot is that March Manufacturing PMI for Brazil came in at 49.6 – the highest monthly reading since February 2015 and relatively close to zero growth line of 50.0. It is worth watching in months to come if there is a sustained momentum in Manufacturing activity up, and if Brazil finally starts showing signs of an economic recovery from what has proven to be a horrific recession so far.

Russian Manufacturing PMIs averaged 53.2 in 1Q 2017, unchanged in 4Q 2016 and up on 49.1 average for 1Q 2016. This marks the third consecutive quarterly PMI reading for Manufacturing that sits above 50.0 marker. As Russian economy gained significant recovery momentum in 4Q 2016 and into 1Q 2017, Russia now leads BRIC Manufacturing PMIs for the second consecutive quarter, providing solid upward support for global manufacturing growth. Still, despite robust numbers and despite three consecutive quarters of growth, Russian manufacturing sector and the economy at larger remain relatively exposed to the downside risks, including risks relating to energy and commodities prices, as well as to the lack of structural reforms within Russia. We have been awaiting for some time now for the long promised Government plans for achieving sustainable growth in the economy into the early 2020s, and the plan is still lacking.

Indian Manufacturing PMIs averaged 51.2 in 1Q 2017, down from 52.1 in 4Q 2016 and worse than 51.5 reading for 1Q 2016. 1Q 2017 was the weakest of three consecutive quarters, suggesting that the economy is having difficulty recovering from the botched de-monetization experiment by the Indian Government. Few outside India are willing to call the experiment botched, primarily because it involved advice and partial funding from the U.S. agencies, but the process was a disaster for the Indian economy.

Chinese Manufacturing PMIs also came with a disappointing whimper. PMIs averaged 51.3 in 1Q 2017 on par with 4Q 2016, quashing the hopes that the credit stimulus of the 2H 2016 will translate into domestic demand uplift. Current index reading for China is not statistically significantly different from 50.0, implying a general lack of growth momentum in the Chinese manufacturing. So far, Manufacturing PMIs managed to stay above 50.0 marker (nominally, not statistically) for three consecutive quarters, but the total average for these quarters is coming in at only 51.0.

Table and charts below summarise BRIC Manufacturing PMIs dynamics through 1Q 2017:

Overall, BRIC Manufacturing PMI Average (a metric computed by me using Markit data) came in at 51.1 in 1Q 2017, down marginally on 51.2 in 4Q 2016, although up on 49.2 reading for 1Q 2016. As the chart above clearly shows, of all BRIC economies, only Russia is posting Q1 2017 Manufacturing activity in line with Global Manufacturing growth and dynamically, BRIC as a group is exerting downward pressure on global manufacturing sector.

The news, therefore, are not great for the global manufacturing economy (stalled growth momentum in 1Q 2017), and for the BRIC economies.

Stay tuned for analysis of Services and Composite figures.

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