After a few quiet days, today the news headlines point emphatically toward a global slowdown in manufacturing. This Reuters story sums it up best:
China's giant manufacturing industry contracted while British and euro zone growth eased in August, rattling markets and reinforcing expectations interest rates may fall again or stay near zero for longer. . . . "It's all consistent with a global economy which clearly is struggling to make any significant headway," said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank. . . . Other surveys by Markit showed manufacturers struggling across Asia: an 11th successive contraction in Indonesia, a sixth contraction in South Korea and the weakest reading in nearly three years in Taiwan. Activity in India also slowed from July, although it was still expanding. Even China's services sector, which has been one of the few bright spots in the sputtering economy, showed signs of cooling, expanding at its slowest rate in more than a year, Markit said.
A few more details can be found in these earlier Reuters stories:
Activity in China's factory sector shrank at its fastest rate in at least three years in August as domestic and export orders tumbled . . .
Euro zone manufacturing growth eased last month, despite factories barely raising prices . . .
Separately, a U.K. hedge fund group’s China stock trades are being investigated; oil and global stocks fell sharply after the China news; officials were forced to deny reports that Foxconn was pulling out of Indonesia. Oil is down about 3 percent today countering an unexplained run up yesterday, and surely influenced by a huge natural gas discovery in Egypt. Later data from North America will either calm fears of a global slowdown or reinforce them.