Global economic growth lifts higher in March, rounds off best quarter for two years

10 Apr 2017 Chris Williamson

Global economic growth regained some momentum in March, according to PMI survey data, rounding off the best quarter for two years. The JPMorgan Global PMI™, compiled by Markit from its various national surveys, rose from February’s three-month low of 53.4 to reach 53.8 in March – just a shade lower than January’s 22-month high.

The March upturn takes the average PMI reading for the first three months of 2017 up to the highest since the opening quarter of 2015. Historical comparisons with official GDP data indicate that the PMI is consistent with the global economy expanding at an annual rate of just under 2.5% in the first quarter.

Global PMI and economic growth

The Emerging Markit PMI signalled an acceleration of GDP growth to around 6%, but trends were again very varied in the major emerging economies.

Russia continued to record the fastest rate of expansion of the four BRIC nations, with similar growth rates seen in India and China. However, while the Nikkei India PMI surveys saw a further recovery of activity following the disruptions caused by the withdrawal of high-denomination bank notes, the Caixin PMI surveys showed the pace of expansion slowed in China, due mainly to weaker services activity growth.

Brazil meanwhile remained in contraction, but an easing in the rate of decline suggests its worst downturn on record is at least drawing to a close.

For the second successive month, developed world growth was led by the eurozone, where growth hit a near six-year high. Growth meanwhile slowed in the US, UK and Japan, albeit remaining robust in all cases by recent standards to suggest broad-based expansions among the four largest rich-world economies.

Weighted together, the rich-world PMI surveys signalled a slight uptick in the pace of growth. Although still below January’s 14-month high, the March Developed World PMI ended the best quarter since the third quarter of 2015. The recent readings are broadly consistent with GDP expanding at an annual rate of just over 2%, up significantly on the situation this time last year.

Emerging Markets PMI

Developed Markets PMI


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