US economic data on Friday were mostly positive. Bloomberg reports:
Production in the U.S. rose for a sixth consecutive month, consumers gained confidence and price increases slowed, indicating the economic recovery is being sustained into 2010 without generating inflation.
Output climbed 0.6 percent in December for a second month, according to figures from the Federal Reserve issued today in Washington. The cost of living increased 0.1 percent last month, less than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News...
Another report today showed manufacturing accelerated in the New York Fed region this month. The Fed Bank of New York’s general economic index rose to 15.9 from 4.5 in December. Readings above zero in the so-called Empire State Index signal manufacturing expansion in the state and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut...
The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment for January increased to 72.8, less than anticipated, from 72.5 in December. The gauge averaged 66.3 last year after reaching a record 28-year low of 55.3 in November 2008.
Meanwhile, inflation remains relatively low in the euro area. Reuters reports:
More expensive fuel drove euro zone consumer prices higher in December as expected but core inflation remained flat, indicating that any headline price rises will be subdued over the coming months.
The European Union's statistics office on Friday confirmed its earlier estimate that consumer prices in the 16 countries using the euro rose 0.9 percent year-on-year in December after a 0.5 percent gain in November...
Consumer prices rose 0.3 percent month-on-month, Eurostat said, and here fuel prices had a downward impact, along with cheaper clothes, lower rents and less expensive phone calls...
Separately, Eurostat said the euro zone recorded a 4.8 billion euro ($6.9 billion) trade surplus in November.
Exports fell only 6 percent year-on-year while imports dropped 15 percent, pointing to a pick-up in external demand for euro zone goods.
But things are heating up in China. From Bloomberg:
China’s retail sales grew at the fastest pace in more than two decades in 2009 as government stimulus spurred demand for home appliances, cars and electronics in the world’s most populous nation.
Retail sales in real terms, which are adjusted for inflation, posted their biggest gain since 1986, Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said at a press briefing in Beijing today, without disclosing the growth rate. Rural consumption expanded around 15.5 percent from a year earlier, outpacing urban spending for the first time, Yao added.
And China's foreign exchange reserves has risen to another record. Again from Bloomberg:
China’s foreign-exchange reserves surged to a record level in December and new loans exceeded forecasts, raising the stakes in Premier Wen Jiabao’s campaign to avert asset-price bubbles.
Reserves rose 23 percent to $2.4 trillion, the world’s largest, according to a People’s Bank of China statement on its Web site yesterday. Banks extended 379.8 billion yuan ($55.6 billion) of new loans, taking the annual total to an unprecedented 9.59 trillion yuan, the PBOC reported...
In December, direct investment from abroad more than doubled from a year earlier to $12.1 billion. The value of China’s euro and yen assets also affects the total.