Friday, 4 April 2008

Global growth weak but holding up

Yesterday's data show that economic growth is weak in the US and slowing in Europe.

In the US, the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index came in at 49.6 in March, below 50 but up from 49.3 in February. Earlier, the Labor Department reported that first-time unemployment benefit claims rose to 407,000 last week.

In the euro area, the Royal Bank of Scotland's service sector index fell to 51.6 in March from 52.3 in February while retail sales fell 0.5 percent in February.

In the UK, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply/NTC service activity index fell to 52.1 in March from 54.0 in February while a Bank of England survey showed that credit conditions are tightening.

On the whole, though, the global economy has so far not performed as badly as some had feared. From Reuters:

The Global Total Output index, produced by JP Morgan with research and supply management organisations, rose slightly to 51.8 in March from 51.7 in February, above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction.

The index remained well above the low of 47.7 recorded at the start of 2008.

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