Saturday, 14 January 2006

US PPI and retail sales, Japanese machinery orders and European growth outlook

Overall US producer prices jumped in December, but core prices remained tame. Reuters reports:

Soaring prices for energy and food pushed U.S. producer prices up 0.9 percent last month... The Labor Department said the so-called core PPI, which excludes food and energy, edged up 0.1 percent for the second straight month...

The same report mentions that auto sales pushed US retail sales up in December.

U.S. retail sales rose a slightly smaller-than-expected 0.7 percent in December and were up just 0.2 percent when auto purchases were excluded, but overall November sales were revised sharply higher...to a 0.8 percent gain from an initially reported 0.3 percent advance.

Autos had also pushed up business inventories in November.

In other data, the Commerce Department said that U.S. business inventories rose 0.5 percent in November, slightly higher than forecast, with much of the increase fueled by a rise in automotive stocks.

If December US retail sales disappointed, so did Japan's machinery orders for November. From another Reuters report:

Core private-sector machinery orders rose 2.3 percent from October on a seasonally adjusted basis, government data showed, below a consensus forecast of a 5.5 percent increase. They had risen 4.8 percent the previous month.

Compared with the same month last year, core machinery orders, which exclude those for ships and for machinery at electric power firms, rose 0.2 percent.

Overall orders, including ships and electric power equipment, rose 11.2 percent from a month earlier.

A breakdown showed core orders from manufacturers rose 11.7 percent from a month earlier, while those from non-manufacturers rose 7.7 percent, indicating the economic recovery was broad-based.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Eurostat affirmed earlier estimates of 0.6 percent growth in GDP in the third quarter for both the euro-zone and EU25, while the European Commission projected quarterly euro-zone GDP growth in the range of 0.4-0.8 percent for the last and current quarters and 0.4-0.9 percent for the second quarter of 2006.

For the UK, the Conference Board announced that the leading index was unchanged in November, and suggested that "slower economic growth is likely to persist in the near term".

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