Good Friday 2013

March 29, 2013

Today saw an abundance of released Japanese data but also numerous market closures.

The yen ticked 0.1% higher, and Japan’s Nikkei closed up 0.5%.  The 10-year JGB yield is four basis points higher at 0.55%.  Chinese stocks fell 0.2%.

Good Friday market closures affect the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines among other places.  Only January 1 and December 25 have more closures.

The dollar is unchanged against the euro, Swiss franc, sterling and kiwi.  The greenback has ticked 0.1% lower against the yen, yuan, and Aussie dollar but is 0.1% firmer relative to Canada’s money.  The won is somewhat softer.  North Korea was put on high alert after U.S. stealth bombers did a flyby as a show of force.

The yen shows a 0.5% rise against the dollar compared to last Friday’s close.  The yen also rose by 0.9% in the week to March 15 and 0.8% in the week to March 22.  This upturn contrasts with the steep depreciation of Japan’s currency in December-February.  It is not surprising to see such a consolidation near a big, round psychological barrier like the 100 per dollar level.

Oil is hovering just south of $100 at $97.23 per barrel, while gold is marginally below $1600 at $1595.70 per ounce.

Among released Japanese data,

  • Industrial production, which had been expected to rise about 2.5%, instead slipped 0.1% in February.  Such followed a solid 2.4% advance in December but only a 0.3% uptick in January.  METI officials kept the assessment that output has bottomed out and shows some signs of picking up.  The inventory-to-shipments ratio fell by 1.0% on month.
  • The jobless rate rose 0.1 percentage point to a 7-month high of 4.3%.  The job offers ratio failed to rise further as analysts had predicted, instead remaining at 0.85%.  Employment on-year growth remained low at 0.3%.
  • The manufacturing purchasing managers index rose 1.9 points to a ten-month high of 50.4 in March.  December had seen a 44-month low of 45.0.
  • CPI deflation deepened in February.  Headline consumer prices were 0.7% lower than in February 2012 after a 0.3% on-year drop in January.  A 0.3% on-year decline in the CPI excluding seasonal food was the largest drop since October, and the core-core measure (which excludes seasonal food and energy) posted a 0.9% decline from February 2012.
  • In Tokyo, however, smaller core and core-core CPI deflation rates were recorded in March than February.  Tokyo data provide a good leading indication of the next month’s national trends.
  • A 3.0% on-year rise in housing starts in February beat analyst expectations of a slight decline.  Starts had risen 5.0% in the year to January.
  • Construction orders also improved with a 12-month jump of 16.3% after a 3.7% on-year drop in January.
  • Real household spending climbed 2.0% on month in February, similar to January’s 2.1% seasonally adjusted sequential increase.  Spending was 0.8% higher than in February 2012 in spite of a 1.7% 12-month decline in real disposable incomes.

Real consumer spending in France dipped 0.2% on month in February and recorded a 12-month 2.9% rate of decline.  Weak growth caused the French fiscal deficit to drop only 0.5 percentage points as a share of GDP to 4.8% last year.  That ratio surpassed the target of 4.5%.

French producer prices increased 0.4% in February and accelerated to an on-year 1.9% pace from 1.4% in January and 1.6% in December.  Italian producer prices were merely 0.3% higher than a year before in February, receding from a 0.7% pace in January.  Dutch PPI inflation was also at 0.3% in February.  Greek PPI inflation amounted to 0.8%, and the pace in Hungary was 0.8%.  Italian consumer prices climbed 0.3% on month and 1.7% on year in March.  Italy’s statistical agency said GDP is likely to contract more than 1.3% this year.

Greek retail sales were 16.4% smaller in January than a year before.

Turkey’s $6.96 billion trade deficit in February was 15.2% wider than a year earlier.  A $570 million Thai trade surplus in February followed a string of deficits.

The MNI’s index of Chinese business sentiment printed in March at 58.2, 2.8 points lower than February’s reading.

The U.S. has scheduled data releases today of personal income and spending plus the Reuters/U. Michigan final monthly estimate of consumer confidence.  U.S. stock and Treasury markets are closed, however.

Copyright 2013, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.

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