Good news from China, as the latest official manufacturing PMI figure has jumped back above the 50-threshold, signaling expansion rather than contraction. The Caixin PMI confirmed the official reading, which it also increased for the fourth month in a row. Then, the People’s Bank of China stated that prudent monetary policy would prevail for longer, possibly not going for bigger cuts. It would also steer clear of any renminbi depreciation. While that feels like ‘steady as she goes’, the neighbouring countries are not that upbeat. In India, GDP growth recently fell from 8.1% to 4.5% in little more than a year, indicating that the next move from the Reserve Bank of India would be another cut. But the central bank knows it has to go carefully, with shadow banking activity lurking and state-owned banks still mired in bad debt. Turning to South Korea, the export barometer in Asia, exports slid one again, the sixth straight month of double-digit declines. Semiconductor exports were even down over 30% year-on-year in November. The upshot is that the Asian economic outlook remains very uncertain as PMIs are still in contraction mode in Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. Meanwhile in Japan, the Nikkei newspaper is speaking of a JPY 10 trillion stimulus plan from the Abe government.
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