Month-End Data Deluge

April 30, 2013

The dollar hasn’t reacted much to a ton of data released on the final day of April.  The greenback fell 0.4% against the yen and 0.1% versus the Swiss franc but is up by 0.2% relative to the euro and 0.1% vis-a-vis the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand dollars.  Sterling and the yuan are unchanged against the U.S. dollar.

Stocks in the Pacific Rim rose 1.2% in South Korea, 1.3% in Australia, 0.8% in Taiwan, and 0.7% in New Zealand, India and Hong Kong but dipped 0.2% in Singapore and Japan and by 0.8% in China.  The German Dax is 0.4% higher, but share prices are down 0.5% in Spain, 0.4% in Italy, 0.3% in France and 0.1% in Britain.

Ten-year sovereign bond yields are mixed, with no change in German bunds, a 1-basis point uptick in Japanese JGBs and an 1-bp downtick in British gilts.

Gold edged up 0.3% to $1471.50 per ounce. Oil slid 0.1% to $94.43 per barrel.

Attention is fixed on the FOMC meeting that starts today and will have a press conference and announced decision tomorrow followed by the ECB meeting and press conference on Thursday.  Markets are positioned for a 25-bp ECB rate cut in spite of some Governing Council members who remain hawkish.  A planned parliamentary vote today in Cyprus on the agreed bailout is also commanding interest.  As for the data….

Japanese industrial production grew by a smaller-than-expected 0.2% in March but by a decent 1.9% in the first quarter.  Japan also reported

  • A 0.2 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate to 4.1% in March, lowest since September 2011.
  • A 1.4% month-on-month drop in total retail sales and an unadjusted 0.3% on-year decline.  Large store sales were 2.4% higher than a year before, however.
  • A 2.0% on-month rise in inflation-adjusted household spending, which was also 5.2% greater than in March 2012.  Workers’ real incomes were 1.8% above a year earlier.
  • A 7.3% on-year advance in housing starts following 12-month rises of 10.0% in November, 10.3% in December, 5.0% in January and 3.0% in February.
  • A 3.4% on-year drop in construction orders.  Such had soared 16.3% in the year to February.
  • A 16.4% plunge in motor vehicle output between March 2012 and March 013.
  • An improved manufacturing purchasing managers index reading of 51.1 in April after 50.4 in March, 48.5 in February, 47.7 in January and a 44-month low of 45.0 in December.

Euroland released March unemployment and April consumer prices, both of which would support a decision by the ECB to ease policy this week.

  • The Ezone jobless rate edged up 0.1 percentage points to an all-time high of 12.1% in March.  That’s up from 11.0% in March 2012.
  • Harmonized CPI inflation dropped 0.5 percentage points to 1.2% in April.  That’s down from 2.6% a year earlier and the lowest since February 2010.  Core consumer price inflation also declined by half a percentage point to a mere 1.0% in April.

There were additional Ezone data releases from individual members.

  • German unemployment increased by 4K in April.  The 6.9% jobless rate has been at that level since October.  Job vacancies contracted 10K.
  • German retail sales volume fell 0.3% in March, falling short of expectations for a marginal increase, and were 2.8% lower than in March 2012.
  • German consumer confidence hit a new high of 6.2 in May after a 6.0 reading in April.  A score of 5.9 had been predicted.
  • French producer prices were unchanged on month and up by a greater-than-forecast 1.9% on year in March.
  • French consumer spending rebounded 1.3% in March but were just 1.2% higher than a year earlier.
  • Spain recorded its seventh consecutive quarterly contraction of real GDP, which fell 0.5% from 4Q12 and by 2.0% from the first quarter of 2012.
  • Spain also reported a EUR 1.3 billion current account deficit for February.
  • Greek retail sales volume was 14.4% lower than a year earlier in February after posting a 16.8% drop in the year to January.
  • Italy had an unchanged 11.5% unemployment rate in March.  January saw a 20-month peak of 11.7%.
  • Producer prices in Cyprus dipped 0.1% on month and slowed to a 12-month increase of 1.6% from 2.5% in February.
  • Portugal reported an on-year decline of 6.0% in retail sales and an increase of 0.8% in industrial production for March.

Consumer confidence in Britain fell a point to a reading of negative 27 in April.  M4 money was just 0.3% higher than a year before in March.  The Bank of England reported higher mortgage approvals of 53.5K in March after 51.9K in February, but consumer credit was unchanged at GBP 0.5 billion.

New Zealand building permits fell 9.1% on month in March, more than reversing February’s rise of 4.4%.  Business sentiment in New Zealand fell to a reading of 32.3% in April from 34.6% in March.  New Zealand M3 money growth accelerated to a 12-month pace of 7.0% in March from 6.6% in February.  Australian private credit grew 0.2% in March and was 3.2% higher than a year earlier. 

Danish unemployment dipped to a seasonally adjusted 5.8% last month from 5.9% in February.  Norwegian unemployment averaged 3.5% in the three months to February, down from 3.6% in November-January.  Norwegian retail sales volume on a core basis was 4.2% weaker than a year before in March.

The Russian purchasing managers index in manufacturing dipped to a 4-month low of 50.6 in April from 50.8 in March and 52.0 in February and January.  It’s barely in expansion territory but has dipped below the 50 threshold just once in the last 19 months.

South Korean industrial production fell 2.6% on month and 3.0% on year in March.  Sentiment among South Korean manufacturers rose a point to a 10-month high of 81 in May.

South African M3 money growth accelerated to a 12-month 8.5% increase in March.  Domestic credit was 7.8% higher than a year before.

The U.S. will be releasing consumer confidence, the employment cost index, the Case Shiller house price index, the Chicago and Milwaukee PMIs, and weekly chain store sales. Canada reports monthly GDP and producer prices.

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


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