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We’re down to the last day of the first quarter, folks! It’s time to regroup and prepare ourselves for the months ahead. For next week, we have a bunch of manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reports heading our way.

Remember, business activity usually represents a sizeable chunk of an economy’s GDP, so traders usually look closely at PMI reports. Note that a reading below 50.0 represents a contracting industry, while a figure above 50.0 usually signals industry expansion and more economic activity.

Wanna practice trading PMI reports? You’re in luck as we have FOUR of them coming our way this week:

1. Chinese manufacturing PMI (April 1, 2:00 am GMT)

The HSBC flash manufacturing PMI triggered a selloff in high-yielding currencies a couple of days ago when it printed at 48.1 for the month of February, down from January’s 49.6 figure. Investors were quick to cry “contraction!” since China had just announced its lowest GDP forecast since 2004 a few days before the report was released. Duhn duhn duhn.

The official manufacturing PMI numbers is due tomorrow at 2 am GMT. The data has been rising steadily since December, and another improvement from the previous 51.0 reading could be positive for risk. Will the official data stay in expansionary territory?

2. UK manufacturing PMI (April 2, 9:30 am GMT)

After the downward revision in the U.K.’s GDP, the pound bulls could sure use an upside surprise on this one. The index just barely made it out of the contractionary territory in January when it printed at 52.1, but the numbers slipped in February when it clocked in at 51.2 Talk about being on the edge!

Will manufacturing head back to its contractionary state in March? Traders could take advantage of a potential strong movement in pound pairs especially if the report significantly misses expectations.

3. U.S. ISM Manufacturing PMI (April 2, 3:00 pm GMT)

A quick glance at past data would reveal that the U.S. ISM manufacturing index has been missing expectations for the past couple of months, even though the reading has stayed safely above the 50.0 level signaling industry expansion.

Bear in mind, however, that we saw a dip from 54.1 to 52.4 last month which means that growth in the manufacturing industry slowed down in March. With the possible return to fundamentals that we witnessed after Bernanke’s recent speech, another weak ISM manufacturing PMI could trigger a dollar selloff while a strong figure could spur dollar-buying.

4. Canadian Ivey PMI (April 5, 1:30 pm GMT)

Last but not least, Canada is set to release its own version of its manufacturing PMI towards the end of the week. The Ivey PMI has been on a strong climb since October last year, and this momentum could be sustained until March.

Another thing to take note of is that the rise in black crack prices could have a positive impact on businesses that have to do with fuel and crude oil. Higher levels of production and deliveries among these companies could result in another improvement in Canada’s Ivey PMI, which could give the Loonie a strong boost.

With PMIs acting as gauges for business conditions and as leading indicators for economic growth, these upcoming releases present good opportunities for trading the news. But before you decide which direction to take, always remember that it helps to do your homework and research first. Make sure you’ve also mastered the School of Pipsology‘s Trading the News lesson and stay in the loop regarding forecasts and revisions with Pip Diddy’s Daily Forex Fundamentals. Good luck!