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Global Economic Health

Posted on April 27, 2014 · Posted in Observation

On March 16, Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia in what seemed a clear violation of Ukraine’s constitution. To most diplomats, it looked merely like a Russian land grab. Russia met with resulting economic sanctions, but still had 40,000 troops amassed on the Ukraine’s borders when March ended, inviting tougher measures against its weak economy. As Russia exports about 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually to the euro area via pipelines through Ukraine, fear of military action (and disruption of natural gas supplies) worried global investors for most of the month. Turning to the regular economic indicators of the eurozone, Markit’s euro area factory PMI came in at 53.0 for March (down 0.2% from February) and the eurozone jobless rate remained at 11.9% in February (though Germany’s jobless rate declined for a fourth consecutive month in March).12,13,14

It seemed that Asian economies were still waiting for renewed demand to spur exports. China’s manufacturing sector was still sputtering: the nation’s “official” factory PMI for March read 50.3, but the respected HSBC PMI hit an 8-month low of 48.0. Other March HSBC manufacturing PMIs came in as follows: India, 51.3; Taiwan, 52.7; South Korea, 50.4; Vietnam, 51.3; Indonesia, a 7-month low of 50.1.15