First Quarter Ends with a Holiday and Released Japanese Data

March 30, 2018

Numerous markets around the world are closed for Good Friday/Easter, and many of these will not open again until Tuesday. The Jewish celebration of Passover begins tonight as well.

The Japanese Nikkei ended the quarter with a 1.4% advance but still lost 5.8% for the quarter. Share price gains in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam increased 0.3-0.7% today. The 10-year Japanese JGB rose a basis point to 0.04%.

In light foreign exchange trading, the dollar has lost 0.3% against the yen and Swiss franc, 0.2% relative to the Australian dollar, yuan, euro, and sterling and 0.1% versus the kiwi. The dollar is unchanged against the loonie and peso.

Japanese unemployment rose 0.1% percentage point to 2.5% in February. Employment was 2.3% greater than in February 2017, but the job offers-to-seekers ratio dipped back to 1.58 from 1.59 in the previous two months.

Seasonally adjusted Tokyo consumer prices recorded month-on-month declines in March of 0.5% overall and 0.2% for core (excluding fresh food) and the index that excludes both fresh food and energy.

After slumping 6.8% in January, Japanese industrial production rebounded 4.1% last month. That bounce was still not quite as much as forecast. Output exceeded the February 2017 level by 1.4%, down from on-year advances of 2.5% in January and 4.6% in the fourth quarter of 2017. Japanese officials, as they had last month, assessed the trend in industrial production as “picking up slowly.”

Japanese housing starts recorded an 0n-year decline in February of 2.6%, while construction orders posted a 19.2% increase, which was the most in three months.

Between February 2017 and February 2018, South Korean retail sales climbed 6.3% but industrial production dropped 6.4%.

Italian consumer prices in March rose 0.4% and accelerated to a 0.9% 12-month rate of increase from 0.5% in February.

French consumer prices rose 1.0% in March. On-year CPI inflation of 1.5% exceeded February’s pace of 1.2% and was the most since October 2012.

French PPI inflation also rose sharply, reaching 1.1% in February from 0.4% in January.

French consumer spending, which had fallen 1.9% in the year to January, rose 1.9% in the year to February.

In the year to February, producer prices fell 3.4% in Malaysia and 0.6% in Cyprus.

Greek producer prices in February were 0.4% lower than a year earlier.

Austria’s current account surplus narrowed to EUR 6.96 billion in 2017 from EUR 7.51 billion in 2016.

Turkey’s trade deficit narrowed more than forecast to $5.76 billion in February from $9.07 billion in January.

And Thailand’s trade surplus of $2.29 billion last month was almost twice the size of its $1.33 billion surplus in January.

Copyright 2018, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.

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