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Economy in Brief

Europe's Manufacturing PMIs Show or Hold Trend Progress
by Robert Brusca  May 4, 2015

The story of the EMU PMIs this month is a bit convoluted. Germany and the EMU had upward revisions to their weak flash estimates, but the two gauges each still declined in April. At a diffusion reading of 52, the EMU gauge is actually stronger than it seems. It is lower only 59% of the time.

Among these EMU reporters, five are weaker month-to-month and three are stronger. Italy, Austria and the Netherlands are stronger on balance.

But Austria and France are still extremely weak, posting queue standings in the lower 30th to 40th percentile range. Even German sits only in the 56th percentile of its historic queue of values.

The leading economies based on the queue standings of their manufacturing sectors are Spain (92nd percentile) and Ireland (84th percentile). Italy and Greece (Greece, of all countries!) have percentile standings in the 60th percentile range. These standings are relative to each country's own history. So while Greece's raw diffusion score is 46, the lowest of this group of nations, it has a corresponding relatively high score compared to its own history (even despite the sharp drop this month).

In terms of momentum, both France and Greece have three-month and six-month averages slipping compared to their respective earlier periods. Only Ireland has a six-month average above its 12-month average and a three-month average above its six-month average, demonstrating gathering momentum. But Germany, Italy, Austria and Ireland show improvement over three months compared to six months.

Outside the EMU, the U.K. and Sweden each show three-month average improvement. Denmark is like Ireland showing sequential strength.

The chart shows that in the big picture despite some minor setbacks to diffusion levels this month the Big four EMU economics are either holding their ground (France and Spain) or making further gains (Germany and Italy). Germany is still in an uptrend with its give-back this month. France and Spain each have sideways momentum; Spain at a high level and France at a low level.

This month China's manufacturing PMI showed a setback to 48.9 from 49.2. The Sentix index of European investor confidence slid. While there are hopes for success for the ECB's stimulus efforts, the impact on manufacturing is still too muted to see. Even the dive in the euro exchanger has not been enough to boost manufacturing in this weak global environment - at least not yet.

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