Friday, 5 June 2009

ECB, BoE and BoC leave rates unchanged

The ECB and BoE both left interest rates unchanged on Thursday. Bloomberg reports:

The European Central Bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1 percent today after first signs of an economic recovery emerged.

President Jean-Claude Trichet also said the ECB will start its plan to buy 60 billion euros ($85 billion) of covered bonds in the primary and secondary markets next month. The Bank of England today left its rate at 0.5 percent...

Central bank rate cuts aren't necessarily a thing of the past.

Other central banks are still cutting rates to bolster their economies. Iceland’s central bank today lowered its benchmark by a percentage point to 12 percent, defying the International Monetary Fund. Russia’s central bank cut the main rates for the third time in six weeks, lowering the refinancing rate to 11.5 percent from 12 percent.

Still, the Bank of Canada on Thursday chose to follow the ECB and BoE's examples and left its key lending rate unchanged at 0.25 percent.

The more sanguine stance by the major central banks is quite understandable. Recent data indicate that the global economy may already be on the mend. For example, Thursday also saw a Bloomberg report showing that eurozone retail sales rose in April.

European retail sales increased for the first time in seven months in April as consumers spent more on food and drinks.

Sales in the 16-nation euro region rose 0.2 percent from the previous month, when they fell 0.1 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said...

And jobless claims in the US appear to have peaked, according to another Bloomberg report.

Initial applications for unemployment insurance fell by 4,000 to 621,000 in the week ended May 30, in line with forecasts, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington...

The claims report also showed the number of people collecting unemployment insurance fell to 6.74 million in the week ended May 23 from 6.75 million the prior week. It was the first decrease in almost five months, breaking a string of 17 consecutive records.

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