China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported last week that the official manufacturing PMI for that country rose from 51.6 in October to 51.8 in November. Since ‘analysts’ were expecting 51.4 (Reuters poll of Economists) it was taken as a positive sign. The same was largely true for the official non-manufacturing PMI, rising like its counterpart here from 54.3 the month prior to 54.8 last month.
None of these results, however, are meaningfully different from each other. Rather than indicate any improvement, they actually suggest quite the opposite. According to the PMI’s, China’s economy isn’t falling off but it isn’t accelerating, either. The latter is what really matters, and here in the sentiment data marks the best case for the Chinese.
On the manufacturing side, the headline index is supported almost entirely by the reported experience of China’s biggest firms (many state-owned of one variety or another). The PMI for this size category has been consistently above the overall index, though importantly remaining almost at the same level going back to the latter half of last year.
This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 4, 2017.