Diving Chinese Trade Surplus Steals the Spotlight

April 13, 2015

China’s $3.08 billion trade surplus last month was 95% smaller than the average of $60.4 billion over the six prior months and the weakest monthly result since February 2014.  Exports recorded a 15% on-year drop instead of rising 10% as analysts were assuming.  Imports fell by 12.7% from the year-earlier level.

There were also several bits of news out of Japan overnight.

  • Minutes from the Bank of Japan’s March 16-17 Board meeting express optimism in a continuing economic recovery and declare that even as current inflation has eased, expected inflation is rising.
  • The central bank’s quarterly branch managers survey upgraded its assessment for a third of Japan’s nine geographical regions. All are recovering, but the strength of the upturn continues to be blunted by softer personal consumption.
  • Core private machinery orders slid 0.4% in February, only about a fourth as much as anticipated.  The January-February average level was 3.8% greater than in the fourth quarter of 2014, and February’s level was 5.9% higher on year.  Public sector orders fell back 21.9% after jumping 25.8% in the previous month, and foreign orders were 8.0% greater in February than January and 20.5% higher in January-February than the average 4Q14 level. 
  • M2 money posted a 3.6% on-year advance in March, the largest gain since December but only 0.1 percentage point above the first-quarter increase.  Broad liquidity decelerated to a 3.3% 12-month rate of climb.
  • Domestic corporate goods prices increased 0.3% in March, most since last July, and the on-year pace of 0.7% was the highest since December.  Export prices fell 4.8% on year, while import prices plunged by 17.1%.

Greek markets are closed in observance of the Orthodox Easter Monday holiday.

The dollar is up on balance by 0.7% against the euro and Swissie overnight, having touched a low of $1.0520 relative to the common European currency.  Even greater U.S. dollar gains have been made vis-a-vis the Australian and New Zealand dollars of 1.4% and 1.3%, and the loonie has lost 0.6%.  The dollar is also up 0.4% relative to the yen, 0.2% versus sterling and 0.1% against the yuan.

West Texas Intermediate oil rose 1.6% to $52.47 per barrel.  Comex gold is 0.5% lower at $1,199.10 per ounce.

Share prices advanced 2.7% in Hong Kong and 1.8% in China but slid 0.2% in Japan and thus far are unchanged in France and Germany.

Ireland’s construction-sector purchasing managers index rebounded 0.9 points in March to 52.9 following a 5.1-point slide in February to 52.0.

Italian industrial production reversed a 0.7% slide in January with a 0.6% rebound in February, but the 12-month comparison stayed in the red at minus 0.2%.

The French current account deficit grew six-fold to EUR 1.8 billion in February compared to January’s size.  The Czech current account surplus of CZK 33 billion in February was about a third larger than forecast.

Consumer prices in Portugal were 0.3% higher in March than a year before, a shift from a 0.2% on-year decline in February.  Finnish wages in December-January were 1.2% greater than a year earlier.

Copyright 2015, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.

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