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LONDON: The latest J.P.Morgan Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) says global manufacturing had its 17th successive month of expansion despite recording a six-month low in April of 51.9.

The PMI indicator could be good news for the air cargo sector that has yet to show growth this year. The latest IATA cargo traffic analysis notes while volumes rebounded to a near three-year high in March they are due to an increase that took place at the end of 2013 that has now "paused".

Dubai airportIATA says continued weakness in Chinese manufacturing remains a downside risk for regional economic performance, "which ultimately would impact trade growth and airfreight demand for local carriers".

The JP Morgan survey notes Japanese manufacturing output and new business has also fallen following a recent increase in sales tax, while conditions in Asia remain "subdued" with growth also slowing in South Korea, Indonesia, India and Taiwan.

In contrast, the PMI suggests the UK and the US remain "bright spots", with output and new order growth accelerating from already elevated rates. In the euro area, output growth reached a three-month high and was only slightly off January's near three-year high.

Commenting on the survey, David Hensley, director of Global Economics Coordination at J.P.Morgan said: "Growth of global manufacturing output and new orders slowed during April. However, this mainly reflected the timing of a change in sales tax in Japan that impacted on the performance of that nation's manufacturing sector. The effects of this should only be temporary and, with rates of expansion tracking slightly higher on average elsewhere, growth of world IP should settle back at its Q1 pace moving towards mid-year."

Echoing the PMI forecast, IATA says air cargo levels still point toward growth, but at a weaker pace than in previous months due to the slowing of world trade. "However, with the US and European economies continuing to show positive momentum, and export orders once again starting to rise, recent developments are likely to be a temporary pause ahead of further growth in coming months," it adds.

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