Friday, 12 March 2010

Japanese growth revised down, Chinese inflation reaches 16-month high

Thursday provided a mixed bag of economic reports.

Growth in Japan turned out to be weaker than previously estimated. AFP/CNA reports:

Japan's economy grew at a slower rate than previously thought in the fourth quarter of 2009, new data showed Thursday, raising fresh concerns over the country's recovery from a crushing recession.

The world's number two economy expanded at a pace of 0.9 per cent in October-December from the previous quarter, revised down from an initial estimate of 1.1 per cent growth, the government said.

And a revised figure for July-September showed a contraction of 0.1 per cent, illustrating how Japan's nascent revival stalled in the third quarter.

China, in contrast, looks in need of some moderation. From Bloomberg:

China’s inflation reached a 16- month high, industrial output climbed and new loans exceeded forecasts, adding to the case for the government to pare back stimulus measures.

Consumer prices rose 2.7 percent in February from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said in Beijing today, compared with the 2.5 percent median estimate of 29 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Seasonal factors stemming from a weeklong holiday may have boosted prices. Production rose 20.7 percent in the first two months of 2010, the most in more than five years...

Banks extended 700 billion yuan ($103 billion) of new loans in February, central bank data showed today. That compared with 1.39 trillion yuan in the previous month and 1.07 trillion yuan a year earlier. The median estimate was 600 billion yuan.

M2, a measure of money supply, rose 25.5 percent, compared with a 26 percent gain in January. The government targets 17 percent M2 growth for this year.

Retail sales rose 17.9 percent in the first two months from a year earlier, and urban fixed- asset investment gained 26.6 percent. Retail sales grew 22.1 percent in February, the bureau said...

Producer-price inflation climbed to 5.4 percent in February from 4.3 percent in January, the statistics bureau said today.

The reports from the US were mixed. From Bloomberg:

The trade deficit in the U.S. unexpectedly narrowed in January as imports fell for the first time in five months, indicating demand is cooling following the fastest pace of growth in six years.

The gap shrank 6.6 percent to $37.3 billion from $39.9 billion in December as refineries imported the fewest barrels of crude oil in a decade, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Exports decreased for the first time in nine months, on fewer shipments of aircraft and autos...

Initial applications for jobless benefits dropped by 6,000 to 462,000 in the week ended March 6, according to figures from the Labor Department. The number of people receiving unemployment insurance increased, while those getting extended benefits fell.

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