Christopher Caparelli, CFA
The Purchasing Managers Index (“PMI”) attempts to gauge the health of the manufacturing sector in a given economy. As securities markets around the globe fluctuate wildly trying to predict the future path of global economies, this general economic indicator is flashing warning signs. A reading above 50 signals a manufacturing sector that is generally expanding, while a reading below 50 indicates a contraction in the manufacturing space. In October, the U.S. index reported a reading of 50.8, indicating very slight expansion in the manufacturing sector for the month. However, this number is part of an overall downtrend for the U.S. since a reading of 61.4 was logged in February, 2011. The Eurozone as a whole fell deeper into contraction during the month of October, with an index reading of 47.1 after first dropping below 50 in August of 2011. The picture isn’t much brighter for emerging economies, which are expected by many to drive global growth in the future. Brazil reported a PMI of 46.5 in October, and even China remains only slightly expansionary at 50.4. While the PMI is not the sole factor used to predict economic growth, these recent readings represent another headwind for sputtering economies.
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