Manufacturing surveys have shown a marginal growth in China, slowdown in South Korea and Indonesia, and a contraction in activity in Malaysia and Taiwan. Those figures follow weaker-than-expected industrial production data from Japan and South Korea with output in the latter shrinking the most in over 1 to 1/2 years.
Prospects for higher US rates could feed back more market pain for the region’s externally vulnerable economies like India, Indonesia and the Philippines – which have been forces to raise rates to mitigate a sell off in currencies, stocks and bonds.
There is a tightening of monetary conditions around the world, a slowdown in Chinese demand, and financial market turmoil that affects sentiment and investment decisions,” according to Aidan Yao, senior Asia EM economist at AXA Investment Managers. Many orders from abroad are still frontloaded in anticipation of yet more tariffs and the impact is still mostly indirect, through the business confidence channel.
“The real economic shock is yet to come,” he said.
While Chinese manufacturing barely grew last month after stalling in September, Japan has been more resilient with activity picking up, although at a rate slower than previous estimates.
A DBS analysis of Asian supply chains for products bound for the United States shows the biggest exposures in machinery and electrical equipment in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan. South Korea’s minerals and petrochemicals exports were also exposed, as well as Indonesia’s transportation industry, according to the DBS report, which looked at the correlation between China’s imports from Asia and its U.S. exports.
China’s economy is under pressure internally as well. Growth has cooled to its weakest quarterly pace since the financial crisis, at 6.5%, exhibiting lack-lustre domestic demand.