Shaky start to the business year

Editor’s Blog Posted 05/01/16
As China's dismal manufacturing data sends shares tumbling, the UK market hopes for improvement in 2016

There was a general feeling of malaise and post-festive lethargy across social media yesterday, as the #backtowork hashtag went into overdrive.

However, even if many people weren’t looking forward to returning to work, most probably ended up having a better day than the stockbrokers. London’s FTSE 100 reported its second worst opening day on record, losing 2.4%, while Germany’s Dax experienced its weakest first day ever, dropping 4.3%. The Dow Jones also enjoyed its poorest opening day for several years, down 1.6% by the close of play on Monday.

The global sell-off was sparked by the news that China’s manufacturing industry had shrunk for the 10th month running - shares were suspended in that country once the drop reached 7%.

Here in the UK, the latest figures from our manufacturing sector were better than that but still described as “disappointing” by economists. A survey by Markit/CIPS UK revealed that the sector’s PMI had grown at its slowest rate for three months in December, with new orders coming in at its most lacklustre pace for five months. But is this really as gloomy a situation as it sounds? With the pre-Christmas slowdown, staff holidays and the break itself, it is perhaps inevitable that December would be a poor month for manufacturing, as it is for so many other industries.

Do the figures reflect the experience of manufacturers in Kent, Sussex and Surrey? If so, do you feel concerned about prospects for 2016, or optimistic? We’d love to hear your views, so do get in touch to let us know.

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