What happened? Investors are still scratching their heads after a tumultuous Q4 that dragged the S&P 500 Index down >13% to finish 2018 in negative territory (-4.4%), its worst yearly return since 2008.
Slew of manufacturing PMI. Markit Manufacturing PMI reports from a dozen countries, including the U.S. and China, showed overall activity remains steady and in expansionary territory across most of Europe, while Asia weakened last month. In a sign that it’s likely faring worse in the trade spat, Chinese data fell into contractionary territory in December for the first time in 19 months. The slowdown comes as gov’t officials are already tapping the brakes on the economy through deleveraging, among other initiatives, and the drop in Chinese activity reverberated around the region as other export-oriented countries posted weaker-than-expected figures as well. With the U.S. remaining firmly in expansionary territory, it bodes well for face-to-face trade negotiations slated to start next week.