Global business growth slowed last month as services firms from Asia to Europe reported waning demand despite little or no inflationary pressures. As David Pollard reports, the surveys highlight a need for more central bank stimulus.
For China watchers, it's political theatre at its most spectacular. The annual People's Party Consultative Conference gathering ahead of a showcase meeting of China's top assembly, the National People's Congress. No surprise at some items on the agenda. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE'S POLITICAL CONSULTATIVE CONFERENCE (CPPCC), YU ZHENGSHENG SAYING: "We should promote the progress of supply-side structural reform, and the major tasks of cutting overcapacity and excess inventory - deleverage, reduce costs, and strengthen points of weakness." PMI readings show China's services slowing in February. Though not only there. Japanese services are at a seven-month low. UK services close to a three-year low ... And euro zone businesses are confirmed to have suffered their worst month in over a year. No surprise there either, says Charles Stanley's Jeremy Batstone-Carr. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHARLES STANLEY CHIEF GLOBAL ECONOMIST, JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, SAYING: "There's the banking sector, there's the Grexit, there's the Ukraine going on, there's weak government or no government in Spain, you've got extremist political parties, there's uncertainty over Angela Merkel's position as chancellor of Germany, and of course there's this debate about the effectiveness of ECB policy as well." That too potentially cause for alarm as markets pin hopes on more easing at next week's meeting. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHARLES STANLEY CHIEF GLOBAL ECONOMIST, JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, SAYING: "The risk for risk assets is that despite elevated expectations, the ECB may be rather limited in what it can do than perhaps the market thinks." More data in coming weeks is expected to show more slowing in China. That likely to pressure Chinese leaders into more support measures. And to pose an unpalatable question: could global recession be looming?