China's manufacturing sector gave the country a glimmer of hope | The Bank of Japan announced that it's playing the opposites game |


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Today's big stories

  1. Data showed that China’s manufacturing sector is slowly getting back on its feet, but the same can’t be said for the economy as a whole
  2. Here’s where four pros would invest a sudden windfall right now – Read Now
  3. The Bank of Japan announced that it’ll keep buying government bonds, even though just about everyone else is selling them

Get Well Soon

Get Well Soon

What’s going on here?

An official gauge of manufacturing activity in China started healing in September, but the country’s recovery is far from guaranteed.

What does this mean?

China's official purchasing managers index (PMI) shows how the country’s manufacturing sector is doing. And last month could’ve been a lot worse: the reading ticked up to 50.2 in September from 49.7 in August, crossing the crucial 50-mark that indicates danger. But a private report from Chinese media group Caixin and financial analytics firm S&P Global cast doubt on the idea that this could be the start of a long-awaited recovery, saying the country’s job and export markets are still far off the mark.

Why should I care?

For markets: It’s party time.

The country’s sluggish state isn’t a result of lack of trying, mind you. China’s been digging into its bag of tricks in a bid to give its economy a giddy up, pulling out aces like cutting interest rates and making it easier for banks to lend cash. And with China celebrating its Golden Week holiday, any hint that folks are splurging on treats and meals would be an encouraging sign for the economy. Either way, though, the country’s battered and bruised property market will need to dust itself off before China can really get back into its groove.

The bigger picture: 99 problems and China sure is one.

China’s slowdown is a problem for the whole of Asia and, in turn, the global economy. Usually a powerhouse, the country’s turning more inward to focus on supporting domestic spending and services. And wary of the potential ripple effects, the World Bank trimmed its expectations for China's growth next year and issued a warning for developing economies in East Asia. Given China’s slump, rising debt, and trade issues with the US, the bank downgraded its prediction for the region’s growth next year to 4.5%, down from the 4.8% it noted in April.

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Analyst Take

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Where To Invest $1 Million (Or Less) Now, According To The Pros

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Opposites Attract

Opposites Attract

What’s going on here?

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) said on Monday that it’s gearing up for a round of government bond buying, essentially the reverse of inflation-fighting rate hikes.

What does this mean?

When a central bank buys its own country’s government bonds, it funnels more cash into the economy and directly brings down interest rates too. So usually, that’s a move reserved for times when an economy is floundering and needs a bit of a kick. It’s surprising, then, that the BoJ went on a shopping trip despite the economy holding firm. And if anything, the country could use higher interest rates, not lower ones, right now.

Why should I care?

For markets: A not-so-forbidden fruit.

The BoJ’s been clinging to its low interest rates, while many of the world’s central banks have got to hiking. That’s because Japan had to tempt prices higher after a long, economy-bruising period of deflation. But the country’s currency has felt the impact, with the yen slipping to an almost 30-year low against the dollar. And sure, that makes Japan’s export products cheaper and more attractive for foreign shoppers. But it also makes it more expensive to import the many commodities that Japan buys from elsewhere. That’s a recipe for het-up inflation, so higher interest rates are about to get a lot harder for the country to resist.

The bigger picture: The American nightmare.

Japan’s inflation is slightly lower than that of some other developed economies at just above 3%, but it’s not far off the US’s 3.7%. It’s interesting, then, that while the Federal Reserve is worried that high inflation may not budge, Japanese central bankers still believe it’s more of a blip. That may explain why Japan’s happy to push the button on inflation-inducing moves like buying bonds, while the US walks on eggshells to avoid pushing prices up any higher.

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