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U.S.-China trade war takes toll on global manufacturing

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LONDON/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Factory activity weakened across much of Europe and Asia in December as the U.S.-led trade war and a slowdown in demand hit production in many economies, offering little reason for optimism as the new year begins.

FILE PHOTO: Employees work on a drilling machine production line at a factory in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, China November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

A series of purchasing managers’ indexes for December released on Wednesday mostly showed declines or slowdowns in manufacturing activity across the globe.

“We are really seeing a global slowdown into this year, and in Asia, particularly, export-oriented countries are hurting,” said Irene Cheung, Asia strategist at ANZ.

“Our expectation for central banks is that most of them won’t change policy in 2019 and these numbers coming out on the weak side won’t change that outlook.”

Euro zone manufacturing activity barely expanded at the end of 2018, providing disappointing reading for European Central Bank policymakers, just after they ended their 2.6 trillion-euro asset-purchase scheme.

Earlier PMI surveys showed Italy remained in contraction territory and was joined by France, where data showed a first deterioration in operating conditions for 27 months.

Manufacturing growth in both Germany and Spain was modest, easing to the weakest in around two-and-a-half years.

British factories, however, ramped up stockpiling as they prepared for possible border delays when Britain leaves the European Union in less than three months’ time.

The UK manufacturing PMI rose to a six-month high, stronger than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists. [GB/PMIM]

Survey compiler IHS Markit cautioned the improvement did not herald a big change in the outlook for Britain’s stuttering economy — it was caused in large part by manufacturers stockpiling inputs and finished goods.

“Despite the headline index rising to a six-month high in December, the manufacturing PMI still suggests that the sector stagnated in Q4,” said Andrew Wishart at Capital Economics.

Later on Wednesday, surveys are expected to show U.S. activity was a tad slower, but still expanding, in a sign China has suffered more from trade frictions than the United States.

But world shares started 2019 on a downbeat note, oil prices and bond yields slid, and the Japanese yen strengthened on Wednesday as the factory survey data confirmed the picture of a global economic slowdown.

CHINA BRAKES

In China, the Caixin/IHS Markit PMI slipped into contraction territory for the first time in 19 months, broadly tracking an official survey released on Monday.

China’s weakness spilled over to other Asian economies. Malaysian manufacturing slowed to its weakest pace of expansion since the survey began in 2012, and Taiwan fell to its lowest since September 2015.

Meanwhile, official economic data out of Singapore showed its gross domestic product grew more slowly than forecast in the fourth quarter as the city-state’s manufacturing contracted on a quarterly basis.

With growth slowing and inflation below or barely within target in most countries, Asian central banks are unlikely to continue their tightening cycle this year, barring any shocks in currency markets.

Interactive graphic on Asian central bank policy rates: tmsnrt.rs/1U5hc2W

The world’s two largest economies agreed at the start of December to a 90-day truce following tit-for-tat tariffs that have disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods between the two countries.

Tariffs are not the only drag on China’s economy. Beijing’s sustained drive to reduce debt risks in the economy has cooled the property market and curbed credit flows to the private sector. Meanwhile, the government’s intensified crackdown on pollution has dented industrial activity.

In a key annual conference last month, China’s top leaders said they would boost support for the economy in 2019 by cutting taxes and keeping liquidity ample, while promising to continue negotiations with Washington.

China’s economic growth slowed to 6.5 percent in the third quarter of last year, the weakest since the global financial crisis. Reuters reported government advisers had recommended a growth target of 6.0 to 6.5 percent for this year at the annual meeting, though the final figure won’t be made public until parliament’s annual meeting in early March.

A drop in crude-oil prices LCOc1 at the end of last year has helped sentiment in Asia’s oil-importing economies, where trade deficits are a key vulnerability.

Indonesia’s PMI, although still weak historically, rose. India’s declined but capped the strongest quarter for the country’s manufacturing since late 2012. But Malaysia, which relies heavily on oil revenues, saw its weakest reading ever.

Taiwan and South Korea, which are heavily focused on tech production, also saw activity shrink. The U.S.-China trade war affects chip orders and coincides with a slowdown in demand for smart phones globally.

Editing by Sam Holmes, Larry King

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Independent Consultant Beginner – 6 Should Have Pieces Of It Technology And Software

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Prima Wireless Earbuds Reviewhttps://primawirelessearbuds.net/.

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What Make Sure You Really Know Right Anyone Decide To Travel

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When traveling with children advised plan your route in advance. Do a little research and see as relevant and fun places to stop such as parks, museums or other attractions. Once you take breaks every non-chemical hours so everyone maybe even including the children probably get out and stretch their legs.

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Majority of Canadian workers willing to take less pay for a workplace pension plan: survey

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A majority (70 per cent) of Canadians say they’re willing to forgo a higher salary in exchange for a workplace pension plan, according to a new survey for the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan by Abacus Data.

The survey, which polled more than 2,000 Canadian adults in April, signals an opportunity for employers to build back the post-coronavirus pandemic working landscape better by expanding access to good retirement plans — whether they’re defined benefit, defined contribution or group registered retirement savings plans, says Steven McCormick, senior vice-president of plan operations at the HOOPP.

According to the survey, a secure retirement remains of greater concern for Canadians than concerns about their health, debt load and job security. McCormick says this has been a consistent worry the HOOPP has seen in survey results over the past couple of years. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said they’re very concerned about having enough money in retirement, while 31 per cent were highly concerned about their personal debt load and 26 per cent cited their job security. Close to half of respondents expressed high concerns for their physical (43 per cent) and mental (40 per cent) health.

In addition, the pandemic has harmed the finances of more than half (52 per cent) of Canadians’ surveyed and it’s had a particularly disproportionate affect on the finances of younger adults. Adults aged 44 and younger said they’re twice as likely (25 per cent) to have had their finances greatly harmed, compared to those over the age of 60 (12 per cent).

Generally, younger adults tend to work in roles that may have been impacted most by the pandemic, says McCormick, whether in service industries that were shut down or frontline health care that have been busy but don’t always come with access to a pension plan. “Affordability is an issue, so I think their worries increased during this time.”

And while almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they’ve saved more money than they would have since the onset of the pandemic, among these respondents, over half (52 per cent) didn’t put any of their savings toward their retirement. Overall, most (63 per cent) Canadians surveyed haven’t set aside or saved anything for retirement in the past year, a five-point increase since 2019.

McCormick says this may be due to uncertainty or hesitancy about whether people’s immediate needs outweigh longer-term needs. And with 55 per cent of respondents noting they were very concerned about the cost of day-to-day living, he adds that rising prices have fuelled insecurity and worries so people are creating their own emergency funds right now.

While there’s a segment of the population who’ve saved more and, for them, the pandemic has created wealth, he doesn’t see this as a common narrative in the survey data. “If you don’t have access to a workplace pension or the opportunity to have things like automatic enrolment, the uncertainty of the time may have you holding onto money,” says McCormick. “In Ontario, we’re more optimistic about the pandemic than we were maybe a month ago, but there are still people worrying about whether there’ll be a fourth wave.”

In addition, more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents said a retirement crisis is looming and 65 per cent said saving for retirement is prohibitively expensive. It’s a common and shared dream for many people in looking forward to a secure retirement, says McCormick, noting for many, making that dream a reality remains elusive.

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