Optimism about the U.S. economic outlook that increased at the end of 2016, strengthened even further in the first quarter of 2017. U.S. consumer confidence rose sharply in the first quarter and data from the ISM Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing purchasing manager indices (PMIs) and the MHI Business Activity Index (BAI) was positive. Although there had been downside risks to U.S. GDP growth in the first quarter from a strong dollar and slowing automotive sales, second and third quarter growth have been exposed to the downside from potential U.S. policy disappointment.
While U.S. economic data and fiscal policy have offered surprises in recent months, global growth still is on track to expand. Throughout the first quarter of 2017, the Chinese Caixin manufacturing PMI conveyed growth, supporting a trend of expansion and acceleration in growth, since the Chinese manufacturing recession ended in June 2016. The trend improvements of Chinese growth provided support for industrial metals and oil prices through the second half of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Meanwhile, the Eurozone manufacturing PMI and the German Ifo conveyed expansion and acceleration in the first quarter of 2017. These improved European data presented fundamental upside economic risks to the euro at the beginning of the second quarter of 2017.
By Jason Schenker