While China’s 3Q GDP number was a little lower than expectations at 6.0% y/y the monthly production and activity series for September all improved. Retail sales growth picked up to 7.8% y/y from 7.5% while industrial activity rebounded to 5.8% y/y from 4.4% in August. Investment was perhaps the one area of disappointment, growth slowing to 5.4% y/y despite a further modest pick up on the State Owned side.
US industrial activity disappointed again in September, with output down -0.4% m/m. Although there was some better news in August, with production from then revised upward a little bit, the underlying trend remains weak. Manufacturing is still the focal point with the declines we’ve seen in non-durables spreading to durables this month.
The headline numbers might have missed expectations, with retail sales falling across most measures month to month. But this is really some giveback after better figures over the summer, including upward revisions to the August numbers. This is reflected in the firming of the y/y trend we’ve seen, underlying growth looking far stronger now that it was at the start of the year.
UK employment market continued to soften over the summer, recording another rise in the claimant count. This is unsurprising given the Brexit related uncertainty and generally slower global growth environment. Employment growth slowed, particularly for male workers and the participation rate has dropped back.
China’s trade balance continues to improve, a function of persistent weakness for imports which again outweighed soft, if patchy, export demand. The locus of the export demand problem remains the US which is being offset by ongoing growth from the Eurozone and parts of Asia, the exceptions being Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, which have continued to contract.
Perfect jobs number for the optimists. While the headline rate was a bit below expectations upward revisions took the edge off the weak August and to a lesser extent July numbers. Meanwhile the unemployment rate fell further, from 3.7% to 3.5% while the U6 rate fell to 6.9% from 7.2%. But look a little deeper and things don’t look quite too hot.
Another weak ADP number, both for the current month but notably also the sharp downward revisions to the August release. The private sector survey suggested 135k jobs were added last month from a downwardly revised 157k in August. If we compare Q3 job creating this year to last year the total has slowed from 642k to 434k, t’s quite a drop.
While the headline numbers looked ok versus consensus, they reinforced some of the trends we’ve seen over the last few months. On the inflation side while there doesn’t seem much to worry about looking at the headline, there has been a build in core prices. Core PCE picked up to just under 1.8% y/y, which fits with the (stronger) increase we’ve seen in core CPI.
Eurozone saw a renewed uptick in money supply growth in August, but it was driven by a further increase in M1 rather than broader money. Credit growth seems to be on a firmer footing, with strength being driven by France and Germany while in Italy and Spain we’re still seeing deleveraging, notably on the corporate side. And deposits still growing faster, suggesting some caution. Quite positive from the ECB’s perspective, particularly with the latest easing package yet to factor.
Another weak IFO survey. The manufacturing sector remains particularly soft, offsetting what was a modest bounce on the (resilient) services side of things. The IFO clock moved further towards recession territory. While it might not yet be formally in this quadrant, the scale of the decline over the past year suggests we’re closer to, if not already in, a technical slump.
The spike in repo rates (Figure 1) in the US has drawn quite a bit of attention, sparking some concerns that this might be a sign of some kind of systemic risk. But the reality is somewhat more balanced, with the rise reflecting a number of specific factors and probably a rather sluggish response from the NY Fed, which conducts the open market operations of the Federal Reserve system, rather than any deeper seated problems.
Another positive outcome with price pressure easing across the board, both at a consumer price level and on the producer side. Sharp deceleration in core CPI particularly welcome, particularly when taken alongside rising wage growth which will help real incomes catch up with the losses sustained following the inflation surge that followed the Brexit referendum.
Better than expected bounce in August industrial production, although it doesn’t look so flattering in y/y terms with the growth rate (if you can call it that) slowing further to just 0.36%. And that includes a +0.68 contribution from energy. Manufacturing in other words is contracting, registering a drop of -0.44% y/y.
Solid August retail sales report which build on the improvement we saw during July. Overall retail sales growth has moved up to 4.1% y/y while control group growth hit 5.3% y/y. Much of the monthly lift was due to higher auto sales, stripping that out and the recent growth rate looks more modest. But overall this is not a sign of false confidence with an increase in big ticket expenditure a positive demand sign.
Chinese August money supply and credit data was in line with market expectations. Money supply growth remains stable. Even if M2 was fractionally above estimates the broad money growth rate has been basically static for the past eighteen months. On the credit side loan growth picked up a little from last month, but overall not that different to what we saw this time last year.
Better monthly GDP print which kept y/y growth rate at 1.0%. But this is still the lowest level (bar last month) since Aug 2013. Activity expanded across all sectors m/m. But looks more like respite than turnaround with Brexit uncertainty continuing to drag on sentiment and activity. Surveys continue to reflect this uncertainty amid weak orders and a sharp rise in firms operating below capacity.
Another soft non-farm payrolls report, with July also revised downward. Private sector jobs growth in particular disappointed at just 96k which compares to the +246k private jobs added this time last year. There was some positive movement on the participation rate, which jumped to 63.2%. Hiring continues to be driven by females though.
Although there was a slight upward revision to the June numbers, there isn’t much to cheer in the German July factor orders report. Orders fell a further 2.7% m/m. That takes the current decline to -11.2% from its peak.
While there was a bit of a base effect going on the underlying export story in Singapore remained very weak in June. Indeed, in some sectors – electronics - we’re looking at weakness not seen since the financial crisis, even if this sector is fundamentally a shrinking one as manufacturers continue to relocate offshore.
Another positive surprise on the wages front with a strong pick up in the headline data. The rebound in weekly wage growth was partly due to a more favourable hours worked comparison though. Hourly wage growth has been steadier. Alongside steady inflation means real income growth has improved, continuing the recovery we’ve seen in recent months.