Thursday, 14 May 2009

Mixed data on global economic recovery

Good news continued to come out of Asia on Wednesday.

Japan reported a further improvement in merchant sentiment in April, according to Bloomberg.

Confidence among Japanese merchants rose to a 12-month high in April, signaling a recession in the world’s second-largest economy may be easing.

The Economy Watchers index, a survey of barbers, taxi drivers and others who deal with consumers, climbed to 34.2 from 28.4 in March, the third biggest jump on record, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo.

There were also positive numbers coming out of China.

China’s industrial production grew less than economists estimated in April as electricity output fell and exports tumbled. Retail sales climbed.

Output rose 7.3 percent from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today, after gaining 8.3 percent in March. That was less than the 8.6 percent median estimate of 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Retail sales grew 14.8 percent.

However, the economic reports were gloomier elsewhere.

In the euro area, industrial production fell the most on record in March.
Production in the euro region plunged 20.2 percent from a year earlier, the biggest drop since the data series started in 1986, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. The March decline, which followed a 19.1 percent drop in February, was steeper than the 17.6 percent fall economists expected, according to the median of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. From the previous month, output declined 2 percent.

And US retail sales took another step back in April.

Retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in April for a second month, indicating that rising unemployment is prompting consumers to conserve cash.

The 0.4 percent decrease followed a revised 1.3 percent drop in March that was larger than previously estimated, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Other reports showed companies continued to cut stockpiles as demand slowed, and climbing oil costs pushed up prices for imported goods.

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