Cornucopia of Data and Central Bank Announcements as April Draws to an End

April 30, 2015

Japan’s Nikkei slumped 2.7% following yesterday’s very weak U.S. GDP followed by an FOMC statement that kept the possibility of a June rate hike alive.  Share prices also fell in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea, India, and Indonesia.  In Europe, where Moody’s cut Greece’s credit rating further, equities are narrowly mixed.

The dollar advanced by 1.4% against the Australian dollar, 1.0% versus the kiwi, 0.2% against thelLoonie, and 0.1% relative to sterling but has lost 0.6% against the euro, 0.4% versus the Swissie, and 0.1% vis-a-vis the yen.

The ten-year British gilt yield eased two basis points.  The 10-year JGB firmed three bps, and the German bund is unchanged.

Gold (down 0.6% to $1,201.20 per ounce) and oil (up 0.8% to $59.04 per barrel) moved in opposite directions overnight.

The Bank of Japan Board left the size of its quantitative stimulus unchanged and released its semi-annual Outlook for Economic Activity and Prices.  The report reduced forecasts for both economic growth and inflation, but Governor Kuroda’s upbeat press conference defended the decision, maintaining that while it is taking longer than assumed initially to secure 2% inflation is a sustainable manner, trend inflation is improving and likely to continue doing so.  He said there had been no weakening of the central bank’s resolve to fight for achieving 2% inflation.

The Central Bank of Brazil’s policy-making committee (Copom) raised the Selic interest rate by another 50 basis points, the third such advance in 2015.  The Selic rate of 13.25% is only 50 bps below its 1Q09 peak.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept its Official Cash Rate at 3.5% and reiterated a belief and desire for the kiwi to fall further.

CPI inflation in the eurozone edged up to zero in April according to preliminary data.  This was the first non-negative on-year change since 0.3% in November.  Core inflation stayed level at 0.6%.  It’s been 0.6% or 0.7% for the past half year. 

Eurozone unemployment stayed at 11.3% in March.  Youth unemployment held at 22.7%.

Japanese industrial production fell only 0.3% in March, an eighth as much as expected.  The on-year change in output  was negative 1.2% in March and -1.9% in the first quarter.  For a fourth straight month, METI officials said industrial production shows signs of an increase at a moderate pace.

Japanese housing starts recorded a 0.7% on-year increase in March, the first rise since February 2014.  Construction orders posted their sixth straight on-year rise, this time of 8.2%.  There was an on-year increase of about 12% in the first quarter.

French consumer spending rose 1.6% in the first quarter.  For March, such dipped 0.5% but posted a 12-month 2.1% increase.  French producer prices ticked up 0.1% in March, trimming their 12-month decline to 2.2%.

German retail sales volume fell 2.3% in March but rose 0.8% in the first quarter.  Year-over-year advances were 3.5% in March and 3.6% last quarter.  German unemployment held steady at 6.4% in April.  The number of unemployed workers fell by 8K versus drops of 14K in February and 19K in January.  Employment expanded 0.7% in the year between 1Q14 and 1Q15.

Italian consumer prices were unchanged on year in April.  Producer prices in Italy fell 2.4% from March 2014 to last month.  The Italian jobless rate in March was 13.0%, up from 12.7% the month before.

Spanish consumer prices posted a smaller 0.6% on-year decline in April according to preliminary data. 

British consumer confidence held steady at a twelve-year high of +4 this month according to the GFK-compiled index.

The Swiss index of leading economic indicators weakened 1.5% in April to a reading of 89.5 from 90.9.

Greek retail sales and producer prices respectively fell by 1.8% in the year to February and 4.4% in the year to March.

Portuguese retail sales and industrial production respectively rose 3.4% and 1.7% in the year to March.

Australian export prices sank 0.8% on quarter and 12.2% on year in the first quarter.  The import price index edged 0.2% versus 4Q14 and fell 3.0% on year.  Aussie M3 money and private credit were 7.8% and 6.2% higher in March than a year before.

New Zealand building permits shot up 11.0% on month in March and were 14% greater than a year before.  New Zealand M3 money accelerated from on-year growth of 4.3% in March 2014 to 8.3% in March 2015.

South Korean industrial production and retail sales each posted a monthly decline of 0.6% in March.  Malaysian producer prices fell 6.1% in the year to March.  On-year Taiwanese growth of 3.5% in 1Q15 was similar to the pace in the prior quarter, but quarterly GDP growth slowed considerably to just 1% at an annualized rate.

South African producer price inflation accelerated to 3.1% in March from 2.6% in February.

Scheduled U.S. data releases today are the monthly Chicago and Milwaukee manufacturing purchasing managers surveys, the quarterly employee cost index, personal income and spending, and weekly jobless insurance claims.  Monthly Canadian GDP arrives, too.

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

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