A geographic disconnect
There is an interesting disconnect between how players in one geography view conditions in another, and how local players see their own market dynamics.
For example, major European chemical companies have a rather optimistic outlook on growth in China and Asia, pinning their hopes on the region to drive earnings growth in 2013 and beyond.
Yet the sentiment is far less sanguine in Asia with some recent chemical price declines being attributed to a slowing rate of manufacturing growth in China.
The HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to a reading of 50.4 for February – down from 52.3 in January and a four-month low. However, the PMI showed China’s manufacturing economy is still in expansion mode as any reading over 50 indicates. But it is a slower pace of growth.
Interestingly, players in Asia are pointing to the US budget “sequestration” as a source of concern. Around $85bn in US government spending cuts kicked in on 1 March when the president and Congress failed to reach an agreement.
Yet in the US, businesses have largely shrugged off the impact with stock prices surging. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high on 5 March and continued higher through mid-week. There was nary a word about the sequester on US chemical company fourth quarter earnings calls.
As the Americas and Europe looks to Asia for growth, Asia looks right back at its largest and troubled export markets.
About Joseph Chang
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