Saturday, 30 May 2009

Friday's economic reports mostly positive

AFP/CNA reports that Japanese industrial output surged in April.

Factory output in April rose 5.2 per cent on the previous month, the fastest monthly jump in more than half a century and far above market expectations for an increase of around 3.3 per cent, the trade ministry said...

Manufacturers forecast that output may rise 8.8 per cent in May and 2.7 per cent in June, raising hopes for a rebound in Asia's biggest economy.

Other data on Japan weren't so positive though.

Japan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.0 per cent in April from 4.8 per cent in March - the highest since November 2003, said the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications...

Separate data showed there were only 46 job offers for every 100 job seekers - matching the worst ever figure in June 1999.

Average monthly household spending dropped by 1.3 per cent in real terms in April from a year earlier, falling for the 14th consecutive month...

Japan's core consumer prices fell 0.1 per cent in April from a year earlier after a 0.1 per cent drop in March, which was the first fall in 18 months.

Meanwhile, India appears to be shrugging off the global economic recession, its GDP growing 5.8 percent in the three months to March, beating forecasts of 5.0 per cent growth.

In Europe, the data were also generally positive. Eurozone inflation fell to zero in May but German retail sales rose 0.5 percent in April and UK house prices rose 1.2 percent in May.

There was also good news from the US. Bloomberg reports:

Confidence among U.S. consumers rose this month to the highest level since September...

The Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment increased to 68.7, higher than anticipated, from 65.1 in April...

And first quarter GDP has been revised upward.

The Commerce Department also reported today that the economy shrank at a 5.7 percent pace in the first quarter, less than the government estimated last month. Following the 6.3 percent pace of decline in the last three months of 2008, the drop capped the worst six-month performance in five decades.

But a regional report turned down in May.

... The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said its business barometer decreased to 34.9 from 40.1 in April; readings below 50 signal a contraction...

Still, the outlook is clearly brightening. From Reuters:

The Economic Cycle Research Institute, a New York-based independent forecasting group, said its Weekly Leading Index ticked up to a 30-week high of 111.9 for the week ending May 22 from 111.0 the prior week, which was revised lower from 111.1.

The index's annualized growth rate surged to a 43-week high of negative 9.3 percent from last week's rate of negative 11.5 percent.

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