Chart of the day: Asian PMIs finally turning upward

Followers of commodities dependent on the health of Asian manufacturing had something to brighten their spirits on Thursday.

After years of stagnancy, purchasing managers' indices for several Asian economies pointed upward in August.

"While many factories in the Yangtze River areas have been shut down before the G20 summit, the overall manufacturing activities are still elevated, reflecting an improving growth momentum."

Wall Street Journal reports that China's official manufacturing PMI rose to 50.4 in August compared to 49.9 in July. Considered a barometer of economic health, any reading above 50 means expansion in manufacturing, which of course is good news for commodities across the board. Chinese GDP estimates are also rising, with Commerzbank revising an earlier estimate of GDP growth from 6.3% to 6.7%.

“While many factories in the Yangtze River areas have been shut down before the G20 summit, the overall manufacturing activities are still elevated, reflecting an improving growth momentum,” WSJ quotes a senior emerging-market economist for Asia at Commerzbank AG, in a research note. “High-frequency data suggest that the power generation and steel output have picked up significantly in August, and onshore commodity prices are on the rise, led by steel and coal.”

PMI figures from Japan, Taiwan and Vietman are also up. In South Korea, exports rebounded for the first time in almost two years, according to WSJ, although the good news was tempered by a report that Hanjin Shipping, a major container shipping line, had collapsed and vessels seized at Chinese ports.

Asian PMIs in August