|Fears the global economic recovery is losing momentum have intensified after manufacturing in the US and China slowed last month.
The weakening in the world’s two largest economies suggests that hopes for much more robust growth this year may once again be dashed.
An index of Chinese manufacturing fell to 50.6 in April from 50.9 in March, according to the Purchasing Managers Index. In the US, expansion in the manufacturing sector, which has been one of the most resilient parts of the economy since the financial crisis, stumbled too. A widely-watched index from the Institute for Supply Management last month dropped to 50.7, not far above the 50 level that marks contraction, from 51.3 in March.
“The slowdown in global economic growth appears to have hit American manufacturers in April,” said Amna Asaf, an economist at Capital Economics. “While activity in the euro-zone has continued to contract, it is hardly expanding in China either.”
Fresh evidence that manufacturing momentum is fading left stock markets lower on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.5pc weaker at 14,774.60 in early afternoon trading. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 was down 0.4pc at 1,590.95.
The prospect of a twin slowdown in the US and China is particularly troubling as growth in both regions is required to help offset the recession in the Eurozone. The worries over how the US economy will perform in the second half of the year were further deepened after separate reports yesterday showed a fall in construction spending and employment growth easing.