After easing in November, rates of expansion improved for both new orders and production in December. Growth of new work received was the fastest in over five-and-a-half years, while the pace of increase in output neared October's 63-month high.
Broadly speaking, growth of both production and new orders was led by the U.S. and emerging Asian manufacturing sectors in December. Growth of new orders hit a five-year high in the U.S. In the emerging Asia markets, the performances of China, India, and Taiwan were especially robust. France and Brazil also recorded marked rates of expansion in output. There were signs that conditions were strengthening in the Japanese manufacturing sector, with rates of increase improving for both new work and production. In the UK, output and new orders rose at the quickest rates for 25 and 29 months respectively.
Growth of production in the euro area again lagged the global trend, despite hitting a 27-month high in December. There also remained marked disparities between the performances of the big-4 Eurozone economies. While the recoveries in Germany, France, and Italy continued, there were signs that the Spanish manufacturing sector remained firmly in recession territory.
December data pointed to an ongoing rebound in international trade volumes, with growth of new export orders the fastest for almost two years. The latest increase came from a broad base, with Australia, Brazil, Greece, Russia, and Spain the only nations for which December data were available to report reductions.
At 50.2 in December, the Global Manufacturing Employment Index signaled a slight increase in staffing levels for the first time since March 2008. The rise in worldwide manufacturing employment was mainly focused on the emerging markets (particularly China, Taiwan, and South Korea) and the U.S. Staffing levels fell in all of the West-European nations covered by the survey, but rates of decline were slower than the previous month.
The Global Manufacturing Input Prices Index rose sharply to a 15-month high of 58.5 in December, mainly as a result of higher commodity prices. Part of the increase in costs also reflected supply-side pressures, as highlighted by the most noticeable deterioration in average vendor performance since August 2006.
The sharpest rates of cost inflation were reported in Taiwan (68- month high), China (17-month high) and the U.S. Purchase prices rose at the fastest pace since September 2008 in the euro area and fell at a markedly reduced rate in Japan.
Commenting on the survey, David Hensley, Director of Global Economics Coordination at JPMorgan, said: "December PMI data indicate that the global manufacturing sector approaches 2010 on a positive footing. The headline PMI rose to a 44-month high, with rates of growth in production and new orders accelerating. Employment also rose slightly for the first time since March 2008. If a rebound in the manufacturing labor market can be maintained, this should aid with sustaining the broader recovery. Price pressures are rising, but mainly as a result of the improving economic climate."