The Chinese PMI figures, goosed by a type of stimulus that would make Keynes blush [Feb 16 2009: Is China Pulling an Alan Greenspan?] , have been part of the reason the first day of each month in the U.S. has seen strong surges the past year and a half (many of those days had very large premarket gains).  Now with China trying to put the brakes on a highly inflationary environment, the we can have it both ways crowd has switched to the tone of China will perform a perfect soft landing.   While most of China's data should be taken with many grains of salt, the government's Purchasing Managers Index has a parallel private sector report conducted by HSBC, so there is at least some checkpoint for a smell test.  As always any figure over 50 continues to point to expansion... the PMI in China fell near 50 during the summer doldrums but recently popped back to mid 50s.  While the current readings have dropped, some mixed news on the inflation front was also reported.

Via Bloomberg:

  • A purchasing managers’ index fell to 53.9 from 55.2 in November, China’s logistics federation and the statistics bureau said Jan. 1.   Growth slowed for the first time in five months and the reading was less than any of 13 analysts’ estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Their median forecast was 55. 
  • A separate report from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics indicated that manufacturing growth cooled in December and input and output prices rose at a slower pace. 
  • Manufacturers’ input costs rose at a slower pace, the report showed. At the same time, the logistics organization cautioned that inflation is spreading from food to raw materials and energy and could erode the nation’s export competitiveness. 
  • An output index fell to 57.5 last month from 58.5 in November and a measure of new orders dropped to 55.4 from 58.3, while an index of new export orders rose to 53.5 from 53.2. An input-price index dropped 6.8 points to 66.7 after surging in November to the highest level since June 2008.  
  • A survey released by the central bank in December showed consumers more concerned about prices than at any time in the past decade.
  • China’s key stock gauge declined 14 percent last year, the worst performer among the world’s 14 biggest benchmark indexes, because of concern that government curbs to counter inflation will crimp growth and profits. The measure jumped 80 percent in 2009 as a 4 trillion-yuan ($610 billion) stimulus package and record lending helped the economy recover. 

The government-backed PMI, released by the Beijing-based logistics federation and the National Bureau of Statistics, gives an indication of manufacturing activity by surveying more than 820 companies in 20 industries, including energy, metallurgy, textiles, automobiles and electronics.