Last week, ISM data was released, this is a measure of new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries and inventories; in essence, a measure of productivity. The key number to be cognisant of is 50, above 50 indicates an economy is in expansionary territory, below 50 indicates contraction and potential recession. Data for US and China did not make for happy reading, with German manufacturing data especially worrying, falling to 45.7 from 47.
While contraction has been evident for several months in bond markets, it has taken some time for this to filter through to equity markets, which had a negative week; in Sterling terms, most indices fell sharply midweek, limping back towards positive territory by Friday. In the US, ISM data plumbed the lowest depths in 3-years, heightening expectations of a further interest rate cut of 25bps this month, and a fourth rate cut probability of 50-50 by year-end.
On the tedium that is Brexit, there was little news. The next key date in the Brexit calendar is 19th October, when a deal must be agreed by Parliament; MP’s are expected to agree to a no-deal Brexit, which we believe is highly unlikely and will result in the Benn Act being employed, which will anger hard-Brexiteers. The Benn Act was passed last month and requires the Prime Minister to ask for an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period, which would avoid a no-deal Brexit on 31st October.
Chinese equity markets reopen this week following celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Popular Republic. Investors will be keenly focussed on US-China statements ahead of their meeting on 10th-11th October in Washington, where trade talks will recommence.