U.S., Canada set to power ahead, while Japan, China in doldrums

Economic indicators released today are pointing to a rebalancing of the world economy, with growth being powered by North America.

Manufacturing index strong in U.S., a signal of export growth in Canada

Gtamping facility floor technician Terri Wellman, works at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo. U.S. factory orders are up amid a strong recovery. (Sam VarnHagen/Ford/Associated Press)

Economic indicators released today are pointing to a rebalancing of the world economy, with growth being powered by North America.

On Monday, a private survey showed U.S. factories were busier in October and a new Conference Board report predicted a rebound in Canada’s export sector.

Meanwhile, China’s manufacturing is slowing and Japan is so worried about deflation it has stepped up its stimulus program.

The IMF sounded a warning last month about the slowing global economy, saying Japan and Europe would find it particularly difficult to regain momentum.

But in the U.S., manufacturing appears to be rebounding despite concern about the world’s economy.

Orders, productivity and hiring all grew faster in October than they did in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers.

"Today's report suggests that the manufacturing sector is expanding and will likely continue at a healthy pace in the coming quarter," Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas, wrote in a research note.

Exports strong in Canada

Only petroleum refining and coal, threatened by new emissions rules, reported a decrease in activity. In other sectors, domestic demand is powering growth.

Last week, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent from July through September.

And that growth just means good news for Canada.

In a new forecast today, the Conference Board of Canada said it estimates GDP growth will hit 2.2 per cent this year and 2.6 per cent in 2015.

That is based on a rapid uptick in trade of 5.1 per cent this year and accelerating growth next year, driven by U.S. demand.

"In recent years the trade sector has been the main source of Canada's economic woes. However, the challenges the trade sector faced over the past several years have largely dissipated," said Matthew Stewart, associate director, for the Conference Board’s national forecast.

"Stronger U.S. economic activity, coupled with a slightly weaker Canadian dollar means the trade sector will be the main driver in the strengthening of our economy,” he said.

Canada’s other major trading partner, China, meanwhile will moderate its demand for our commodities.

China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers' index, a measure of how much managers believe they will buy, dropped in October by 0.3 from September to 50.8. Any number above 50 indicates an expansion of manufacturing.

China's slowing growth

China's GDP growth has declined to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of the year, still well ahead of most countries, but slower than its target rate.

China’s leadership is trying to create a shift in its economy from low-wage, investment-driven growth to a consumer economy driven by domestic demand, but the transition will have ups and downs.

While the U.S. central bank, the Fed, officially ended its program of quantitative easing last week, Japan embarked on an expanded program of stimulus.

Beset by slow growth and falling consumer prices, the Bank of Japan boosted its monthly bond-buying program to 80 trillion yen ($726 billion).