China's official manufacting gauge eases in Jan. (by V. Phani Kumar)
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- China's official purchasing managers' index slipped to 52.2 in February from 52.9 in January, suggesting manufacturing activity on the mainland continued to soften, even as inflationary pressures mounted. The data, released by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, marked the 24th straight month that the PMI remained above the all-important level of 50, which separates expansion from contraction, according to a Reuters report. February's reading compared with the median forecast of 52.0 in a Reuters survey. The release also showed that a subindex for input prices rose to 70.1 in February from 69.3 in the previous month, suggesting a continued increase in raw-material prices at factories. A separate, independent version of the February PMI was due from HSBC later in the day.
India's HSBC Feb. PMI rises to 57.9 vs 56.8 (by Nick Godt)
MUMBAI (MarketWatch) -- India's manufacturing activity expanded at a faster pace in February than in the previous month, thanks to output growth and an inflow of new orders, especially from abroad, according to an HSBC survey released Tuesday. Its monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 57.9 in February from 56.8 in January. A figure above 50 indicates an expansion in activity. However, HSBC warned that manufacturers face rising costs due to tight labor markets and the rising price of materials, which will add further upward pressures on output prices. "In turn, this calls for a further tightening of macroeconomic policies to tame the growing inflation pressures," HSBC said.
Euro-zone factory PMI confirmed near 11-year high (by William L. Watts)
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Activity in the euro-zone manufacturing sector accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly 11 years in February, the final reading of the Markit manufacturing purchasing managers index confirmed Tuesday. Manufacturing PMI rose to 59.0 from 57.3 in January, confirming an earlier estimate and marking the highest level since June 2000. A reading of more than 50 indicates expanding activity, while a figure of less than 50 signals contraction. Growth was seen across the region but was led by Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the survey found inflationary pressures continued to build, with input costs and output prices both rising at record rates, according to Markit.
U.K. Feb. manufacturing PMI holds at record level (by William L. Watts)
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- British manufacturing activity in February maintained a record growth rate, according to the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers index for the sector published Tuesday. Manufacturing PMI was unchanged at 61.5, unchanged from January's record high. A reading of more than 50 means activity grew, while a figure of less than 50 signals contraction. At the same time, the survey found inflationary pressures continued to build, as input prices rose at a nearly record rate. Overall, the data "fuels hopes that the economy will see a very decent bounce back in growth in the first quarter after GDP contracted in the fourth quarter, said Howard Archer, chief U.K. economist at IHS Global Insight. He noted, however, that manufacturing, which accounts for 12.8% of British economic output, wasn't a problem in the final quarter of 2010, when it grew by 1.1% quarter-on-quarter.
Australian Feb PMI up 4.4 poiints to 51.1 - survey (by Sarah Turner)
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) -- Australian manufacturing moved back into expansion mode in February, with the Australia Industry Group-PwC Australian performance of manufacturing index up 4.4 points to 51.1, according to data out Monday. A reading of more than 50 index generally indicates expansion. It's the first time the index has climbed over 50 in six months. "The welcome lift in the manufacturing index was largely off the back of a substantial improvement in the new order sub-index and those sub-indexes related to restocking. This suggests a more encouraging immediate outlook for the sector," said Australian Industry Group chief executive, Heather Ridout.