THE LATEST BATCH of monthly purchasing managers’ indices (PMI) can be read anyway you wish. This Bystander’s standing caveat about drawing conclusions from a single month’s data applies.
The official PMI for October came in at a lower-than-expected 50.8, down from the previous month’s 51.1. The revised HSBC version, which is weighted more towards small and medium sized enterprises than the official PMI, came in 50.4, the same number as the preliminary version and up from the 50.2 figure for September.
Readings above 50 indicate that the economy is expanding. Growth in new orders and new export orders in October — proxies for domestic and foreign demand, respectively — slowed to their lowest in four to five months, but remain above that watershed.
These latest numbers confirm the longer view that the economy continues to grow, but slowly by recent standards, and patchily. But then uncertain exports and a cooling of both the property markets and investment growth is what rebalancing the economy towards more sustainable growth is meant to look like.