PMI, export figures point to recovery in Asia

PMI, export figures point to recovery in Asia

SINGAPORE - Asia's economic activity appears to be picking up again but any reassurance of a solid growth recovery will have to be tempered by risks of an unresolved fiscal cliff in the US and uncertainty in the eurozone, economists say.

Purchasing managers' indices (PMI) released on Monday added to a few positive production and exports data releases from China, South Korea and Japan, ahead of Singapore's own PMI due this evening.

The HSBC China manufacturing PMI, compiled by Markit Economics, jumped to a 13-month high of 50.5 in November.

This rise above the 50-point threshold from an October reading of 49.5 signalled better operating conditions in Chinese manufacturing, and underlined the improvement in China's official PMI, released over the weekend.

That index, from the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, rose from 50.2 in October to 50.6 in November.

Said HSBC China chief economist Qu Hongbin: "This confirms that the Chinese economy continues to recover gradually. We expect GDP growth to rebound modestly to around 8 per cent in Q4 as the easing measures continue to filter through."

Citi's China economists, too, said that the improved PMIs point to an acceleration in industrial production and better external demand.

Holiday-related spending appears to be bolstering demand from the US, though China's exports are expected to remain constrained by the eurozone recession and a possible technical recession in Japan, they said.

On Monday, South Korea's November PMI rose to a five-month peak of 48.2 from October's 47.4, indicating a slower pace of manufacturing contraction.

This came as the economy reported surprising export growth of 3.9 per cent year-on-year in November, lending support to the view that South Korea has bottomed out.

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