Good morning

The headlines:

  1. China’s Purchasing Manufacturer’s Index (PMI) rose to a one-year high of 53.1 for March, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. This is after last week’s freak-out when HSBC and Markit announced forecast a PMI falling below 50. Note: when the index falls below 50, this is seen as a sign of economic downturn – which led everyone back to “soft landing/hard landing” commentary. According to HSBC, the official PMI is “affected by seasonality” – which suggests that the upswing is a result of manufacturers returning to work after the Lunar New Year holiday, rather than it being a sign of real economic upturn. The debate continues. Link: The Chinese Statistical Debate.
  2. As free elections are held for the first time in Myanmar (Burma), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, is declaring a landslide victory. Well. “Landslide” is not really the metaphor that I would use. They are set to win 43 of the 44 seats they contested. But the Myanmar parliament has 664 seats up for grabs. So winning 43 of them is really getting 6% of the voting power. And President Thein Sein’s party will still hold the majority. Many multinationals are hoping to get in on the Myanmar action once US and EU sanctions are lifted (assuming that this first democratic step is appropriately rewarded by the colonial parents). It seems to me that the real winner in all of this is Thein Sein. Who will also probably get a Nobel peace prize. And be very popular in elections with the “I held the Kyi, and now the door is open” tagline. Can you say win-win? Link: The Slight Opening-Up of Myanmar.
  3. MTN’s former CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko, is adamant that no wrong-doing took place in the Iran Licencing process during his tenure as CEO. He can state that “quite categorically”. I’m still not really sure what the phrase is meant to mean. But I agree with him – those Turkcell allegations do sound far-fetched. Link: Nhleko says Iran Bribery Allegations Untrue
  4. According to Pravin Gordhan, the South African fiscal deficit is likely to be 4.5% for the 12 month fiscal period ended 31 March. This is lower than the forecast 4.8%. Gordhan suggested that the improvement is a result of tax collection being R4 billion higher than forecast, and government spending being R4 billion lower than forecast. Sometimes – the numbers all just sound so conveniently symmetrical. Link: SA Deficit – better than expected
  5. And the African Business News in brief. Link: ABN Briefs. The highlights:
    • Diamond output at Rio Tinto’s Zimbabwean operations more than doubled last year. Any bets on who the next Zimplats might be?
    • SA Credit Growth has quickened since January. 
That’s all for now.
Have a good Monday.