Manufacturing growth in the eurozone slowed for the first time in five months in February, a closely-watched survey has suggested.
The latest Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dipped to 53.2 from 54.0 in January. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.
However, for the first time in almost three years output rose in the bloc’s four biggest economies.
The Netherlands performed the best.
“The dip in the manufacturing PMI, its first fall for five months, is a disappointment and a reminder of the hesitant nature of the region’s nascent recovery.” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
However, Mr Williamson emphasised that the overall reading was the “second-strongest” that it had seen for almost three years.
The biggest four economies of Germany, France, Spain and Italy all saw output rise.
And three countries – the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland and Spain all reported a faster rate of expansion compared to January.
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Few bright sparks could be found in Asian stock markets on Monday, as mounting tensions over Ukraine and weak official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) figures from China weighed on sentiment. Chinese shares, however, were the sole exception trading in positive territory.
Ukraine mobilized for war on Sunday, calling up its reserves after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Traders also digested China’s latest PMI data. The official PMI, released Saturday, showed activity in the factory sector slowed to an 8-month low in February, reinforcing signs of a modest slowdown in the economy as demand weakens.
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West Texas Intermediate traded near the lowest price in more than a week. An industry report showed stockpiles declined at the delivery point for U.S. crude contracts. Brent was little changed.
Futures swung between gains and losses in New York. Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the biggest oil-storage hub in the U.S., dropped by 1.07 million barrels last week, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Total U.S. crude stockpiles increased by 822,000 barrels in the week ended Feb. 21, the API said in Washington yesterday. A government report on U.S. inventories is due later today.
“‘We need to care more about inventories in Cushing than total crude oil stocks,’’ said Ken Hasegawa, an energy-trading manager at Newedge Group in Tokyo. ‘‘If Cushing inventories decrease, it’s going to be a positive factor for WTI.’’
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The International Monetary Fund is likely to send a technical support team to Ukraine soon in order to assist Kiev after its president was toppled by violent street protests over the weekend, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday.
“We will probably shortly send some technical assistance support to the country,” Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said during an appearance at Stanford University in California. “Because this is our duty to a member if that member asks for that.
Ukraine’s parliament does not plan to vote on the formation of a government until Feb. 27, and the IMF’s rules do not allow it to offer financial support to a country that has not asked for it.
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The dollar held a gain versus the yen before U.S. data forecast to show jobs growth accelerated last month from the slowest pace in almost three years, adding to speculation the Federal Reserve will continue trimming stimulus.
The yen weakened against all 16 major peers yesterday as a U.S. report showed claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, helping drive global stocks to their biggest advance this year and sapping demand for haven currencies. The euro remained higher against the dollar following its biggest advance in two weeks after the European Central Bank refrained from adding stimulus measures.
“I see a good chance markets will recover from disappointment caused by the December jobs data, which I think could be revised upward,” said Noriaki Murao, the New York-based managing director of the marketing group at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. “Dollar-yen is more likely to be bought if the jobs figures turn out to be good.”
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Gold prices headed for the biggest advance in more than a week as declining global equity markets boosted demand for haven assets.
The MSCI All-Country World Index of shares retreated as much as 0.8 percent today. A Bloomberg customized gauge tracking 20 emerging-market currencies dropped 3 percent in January, the worst start to year since 2009. Central banks from Turkey to South Africa have raised interest rates in a bid to defend their currencies. Gold extended gains after a report signaled slower U.S. manufacturing.
Prices “are being boosted by some more safe-haven buying interest amid a still-uncertain market place,” Jim Wyckoff, a senior analyst at Kitco Metals Inc., a research company in Montreal, said in a report. “The past two weeks have seen keener risk aversion in the market.”
Gold futures for April delivery advanced 1.8 percent to $1,261.60 an ounce at 10:15 a.m. on the Comex in New York., heading for the biggest advance since Jan. 23.
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The yen held onto broad gains early on Tuesday, having staged a solid rally against sterling, the U.S. dollar and euro following a selloff on Wall Street and a further drop in Treasury yields.
Investors were forced to unwind stretched short positions in the Japanese currency in the wake of the poor U.S. jobs numbers and as U.S. stocks posted the biggest one-day fall in more than two months.
Sterling bought 168.86 yen, having skidded 1.7 percent, while the U.S. dollar traded at 103.03 yen following a 1.1 percent drop. The euro fetched 140.80 yen after suffering a 0.9 percent slide.
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