Friday, 22 December 2006

US growth rate down, UK steady, Japanese trade surplus jumps

US GDP growth has been revised back down. Reuters reports this and other economic news from the US.

The U.S. economy grew at a tepid 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, hurt by the sharpest housing slump in 15 years...

Another report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank implied persistent economic softening. Its business activity index for the mid-Atlantic region fell to -4.3 percent in December from 5.1 in November -- the third month in the past four it has been negative...

The GDP report said so-called core prices, which exclude food and energy items, slowed to 2.2 percent in the third quarter from 2.7 percent in the second quarter...

A midmorning report from the New York-based Conference Board, a private research group, underlined the uncertainty in the economic outlook.

Its U.S. Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.1 percent to 138.2 in November, the same as in October but down from a 0.4 percent pickup in September, pointing to a likely slow start next year but not necessarily a downturn...

Separately, the Labor Department said 9,000 more workers applied for first-time jobless benefits last week -- a total 315,000 and roughly the number that analysts had forecast...

A monthly index of national activity compiled by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, also issued on Thursday, showed a slight improvement in November but still pointed toward growth that is likely to stay below historical trends.

There was also a GDP report out from the UK. Again from Reuters:

The Office for National Statistics said GDP rose by 0.7 percent in July-Sept period, unrevised from the previous estimate and the same rate as in the second quarter.

But it lifted its estimate of annual growth to 2.9 percent from 2.7 percent -- the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2004 -- and making it almost certain that British finance minister Gordon Brown's new full-year forecast of 2.75 percent will be met...

Separately, the ONS released data on the balance of payments. The current account recorded a deficit of 9.429 billion pound after a 8.264 billion pounds gap in the second quarter. This was equivalent to 2.9 percent of GDP.

Japan also released trade data. From AFP/CNA:

Japan's trade surplus jumped to 915.9 billion yen (US$7.73 billion) in November, up 54.1 percent from a year earlier on strong exports of cars and steel products, the government said Thursday.

Exports gained 12.1 percent from a year earlier to 6.63 trillion yen while imports climbed 7.5 percent to 5.72 trillion yen, the finance ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Japan's all-industries index rose 1.7 percent in October from the previous month.

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