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China releases April PMI data for services and manufacturing

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But the softer reading, especially the slower export orders, adds to concerns about an expected loss of momentum in the world’s second-largest economy, as policymakers navigate debt risks and a heated trade row with the United States.

“The support to the economy from the easing of pollution controls should now largely have run its course,” said Chang Liu, China economist at Capital Economics in a note to clients.

“Slower growth is likely in the months ahead as the drags on economic activity from weaker credit growth and the cooling property market intensify.”

Beijing is in the third year of a broad effort to curb a dangerous build up of debt across the economy, and so far policy makers appear to have successfully steered through the challenge of tempering financial risks without imperiling growth.

The sub-index for output remained flat at 53.1, while total new orders eased to 52.9 from 53.3.

The still-strong tech sector, which burnished China’s solid exports growth in 2017, could come under pressure as rising tensions between China and the United States threaten to hit billions of dollars in cross-border trade.

Signs of softness in the trade sector were already evident in the latest PMI, with the export orders sub-index falling to 50.7 from 51.3.

Speculation is also growing that China is considering shifting its monetary policy to a looser bias, as the threat of an all-out trade war with the United States clouds the outlook for key growth drivers of both China’s “old economy” heavy industries and “new economy” tech firms.

The services industry showed “steady development”, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. The official services PMI rose to 54.8 from 54.6 in March, extending a solid run of activity.

The services sector accounts for over half of China’s economy, with rising wages giving Chinese consumers more spending power.

The composite PMI covering both manufacturing and services activity rose to 54.1 in April, from March’s 54, well above the 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction.

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Birx says someone was giving Trump ‘parallel data’ about Covid pandemic

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Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, speaks after a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the Department of Health and Human Services on June 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Joshua Roberts | Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump White House coronavirus response coordinator, said in a CBS interview released on Sunday that Former President Donald Trump had been reviewing “parallel” data sets on the coronavirus pandemic from someone inside the administration.

“I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made,” Birx told Margaret Brennan on CBS News’ “Face The Nation.” “Someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president.”

Birx, who announced her retirement as President Joe Biden took office last week, said she doesn’t know the identity of the person who gave the president different information. She added that there were Covid-19 deniers within the Trump administration.

“There were people who definitely believed that this was a hoax,” she said. “I think the information was confusing at the beginning. I think because we didn’t talk about the spectrum of the disease, everyone interpreted what they knew.”

More than 25 million people have been infected and at least 417,000 people have died in the U.S. since the pandemic began, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Birx said she had always considered resigning from the White House coronavirus task force and was censored by the Trump administration, but denied ever withholding information on the virus.

“When you have a pandemic where you’re relying on every American to change their behavior, communication is absolutely key,” she said. “Every time a statement was made by a political leader that wasn’t consistent with public health needs, that derailed our response. It is also why I went out on the road, because I wasn’t censored on the road.”

Birx also said she grew increasingly concerned over the Trump administration’s pandemic strategy, especially right before the presidential election. Earlier in the pandemic, Birx had endorsed the administration’s response but later frustrated Trump when she emphasized the severity of the pandemic.

“Colleagues of mine that I’d known for decades — decades — in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever,” Birx said. “I had to ask myself every morning, ‘Is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic?’ And it’s something I asked myself every night.”

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Stocks will fall at least 30% in a drawn-out bear market: David Tice

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Asia markets: Coronavirus, currencies and oil

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SINGAPORE — Stocks in Japan were set to open little changed on Monday as investors continue to monitor the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Futures pointed to a muted open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 28,660 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 28,630. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 28,631.45.

Shares in Australia edged higher in morning trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.24%.

Amid the pandemic, China surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment, according to a report released Sunday from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

China brought in $163 billion in inflows last year, compared to $134 billion attracted by the U.S., according to the report.

Developments around Covid-19 are likely to be watched by investors, as the world races to adapt against the mutating coronavirus which has produced a number of potentially more infectious variants.

Globally, more than 99 million people have been infected by Covid-19 and at least 2,127,206 lives have been taken, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 90.237 after seeing a recent decline from levels above 90.6.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.79 per dollar following levels below 103.5 against the greenback seen last week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7719, off levels above $0.776 seen last week.

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