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Global economy loses steam as factories falter

manufacturingBENGALURU/LONDON--World economic growth lost momentum in September, with China's factory output shrinking again, euro zone manufacturing growth slowing, and U.S. activity steady.
  The latest business surveys across Asia, Europe and the Americas paint a gloomier picture and are likely to prompt more calls for central banks to loosen monetary policy even further.
  "The data probably increases the case for more stimulus in certain parts of the world, especially from the People's Bank of China and the European Central Bank," said Philip Shaw, economist at Investec in London. "Those economies that are at less advanced paths of the recovery cycle -- the key example is the euro zone, where we're looking at more disinflation -- may well find more stimulus is in order."
  Surveys of China's factory and services sectors showed the world's second largest economy may be cooling more rapidly than earlier thought, with deeper job cuts. Taken together with a stock market crash in Shanghai during the summer and a surprise devaluation of the Chinese yuan, the data highlight just how difficult it will be for policymakers to steer China's economy out of the biggest slowdown in decades.
  "Two straight months of manufacturing sector contraction with a depressed equity market suggests China's third-quarter GDP growth is likely to have slowed to 6.4 percent," economists at ANZ said.
  The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) in China inched up to 49.8 in September from 49.7, but was still below the 50 level on the index separating growth from contraction.
  Private data vendor Caixin/Markit reported its China PMI slipped to 47.2 in September though, the lowest reading since March 2009.
  In China's service sector the official PMI stood at 53.4, the same as August, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The Caixin/Markit service sector PMI fell for a second consecutive month to 50.5, its lowest level since July 2014.
  China is a major importer of raw materials, especially from commodity producers such as Australia, Brazil and Canada, so a slowdown in demand is being felt globally. Concerns over China and global market volatility figured high on a list of reasons the U.S. Federal Reserve did not raise interest rates last month.
  In the euro zone, where the central bank is six months into a 1.1 trillion euro asset purchase programme, the PMI survey data showed manufacturing output weakened slightly last month.
Markit's final euro zone manufacturing PMI was 52.0 last month, lower than August's 52.3.
  ECB policymakers, led by President Mario Draghi, have hinted the 60-billion-euro-a-month bond-buying scheme could be enhanced in size or duration if inflation is seen missing its goal of near 2.0 percent even by 2017.

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