The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI declined from 50.5 in March to 50.3 in April, the slowest growth rate since June 2016. Among the largest export destinations, six economies had declining manufacturing activity in April, improving from seven in March. Nonetheless, the data continue to suggest softness in the sector globally.
The Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI expanded for the second straight month, albeit sluggishly, and real GDP held steady at 6.4 percent growth year-over-year in the first quarter of 2019, the same pace as the fourth quarter of 2018.
After rebounding in March (likely on the timing of the Lunar New Year), many of the key economic indicators weakened once again in April. For instance, industrial production grew 5.4 percent year-over-year in April, down from 8.5 percent in March, which appears to be an aberration. Outside of the March figures, industrial production has trended lower, decelerating from 7.0 percent year-over-year growth in April 2018.
The IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing PMI contracted for the first time since February 2016, and manufacturing sales fell 0.2 percent in February, with activity up just 0.9 percent year-over-year. The labor market remains strong, however, as the unemployment rate (5.7 percent) remains not far from the all-time low. With that said, manufacturing hiring remains soft.
After contracting in January for the first time since June 2016, the IHS Markit Emerging Markets Manufacturing PMI has expanded for three straight months, even as the headline index dropped from 51.0 in March to 50.5 in April.
Manufacturers continue to focus on key trade developments at home and overseas, including:
Efforts to finalize a durable and enforceable trade deal between the United States and China while tensions and tariffs undermining U.S. manufacturing activity continue to rise;
Continued work by the administration and manufacturers to promote passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement;
Welcoming the confirmation of three new board members of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and working to press for robust and long-term Ex-Im reauthorization legislation;
U.S. and Japanese efforts to move forward trade negotiations; and
Ongoing efforts by the United Kingdom to exit the European Union.