23 April 2013: Asia falls on weaker Chinese PMI

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Asian shares and other riskier assets lost ground on Tuesday after a preliminary reading showed weaker Chinese manufacturing growth in April. HSBC’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, PMI, fell in April and added to concerns about global growth prospects. HSBC’s report is the first economic indicator for the second quarter of 2013. It follows weaker-than-expected first quarter GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth and a contraction in export pointing to fragile global demand.

April PMI-numbers fell to 50,5 from 51.6 in March. The numbers are nevertheless higher than February’s 50,4, and in no way disastrous. The April PMI reinforces, however, market concerns about a stagnating and slowing Chinese economy. Stock market rallies especially in the United States have been based on expectations of a stronger US recovery and Chinese growth. The latest PMI takes some of this belief away and is a strong indication that the stock market rally might be over for now.

Both Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks fell. The Shanghai SSE fell 1,4% and the Japanese Nikkei slipped 0,1% after surging up 2,2 percent on Monday; close to a five-years high. After USD/JPY reached 99,95 on April 11, a breakthrough of the 100 mark has been expected. Instead the USD fell back to 98,60 yen after reaching 99,90 in early trade yesterday. Weak US-housing data weighed in on the strength of the dollar. USD firmed against the Euro trading at 1.3043. Comments from the European Central Bank, ECB, suggest the bank might consider lowering interest rates in light of mass unemployment and low inflation.

Gold has recovered strongly from last week’s tumble trading at USD 1427 an ounce. More gold outflows from exchange-traded funds stress, however, a weakened confidence in the precious metal and possible further drops. While gold is slightly up from Monday, silver is losing ground. Copper prices continue to fall with 0,6% on the London metal exchange. Brent crude stays above USD 100 a barrel, but crude futures are pointing down.

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