Thursday, 16 December 2010

Japan's Tankan index falls, US industrial production increases

Japan's economic outlook is weak. From AFP/CNA:

Japanese business confidence has weakened for the first time in nearly two years, the Bank of Japan said Wednesday, with the economy hit by a soaring yen and global economic uncertainty.

The key quarterly Tankan survey showed that the sentiment index among major manufacturers dropped to "five" from "eight" in September, as global economic woes have sapped confidence, particularly of exporters.

But the economic recovery in the US appears to be back on track. From Bloomberg:

Industrial production in the U.S. increased more than forecast in November and consumer prices slowed, indicating the recovery is gaining momentum without generating inflation.

Output at factories, mines and utilities rose 0.4 percent, the biggest gain since July, after a revised 0.2 percent drop in October, a Federal Reserve report showed today in Washington. The consumer-price index climbed 0.1 percent in November after a 0.2 percent gain the prior month, the Labor Department said...

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders was unchanged in December from a month earlier, indicating residential construction will stay near depressed levels, a National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo’s index showed today.

Europe's economic prospects depend much on sovereign debt issues, and the news on Wednesday was not helpful. From Bloomberg:

Spain’s credit rating may be cut from Aa1, Moody’s Investors Service said, as the government prepares its final bond sale of the year tomorrow amid concern it may follow Greece and Ireland in seeking a bailout.

Spain has to raise 170 billion euros ($226 billion) next year, while refinancing needs for its regions total 30 billion euros and for banks around 90 billion euros, Moody’s estimates.

“Spain’s substantial funding requirements, not only for the sovereign but also for the regional governments and the banks, make the country susceptible to further episodes of funding stress,” Kathrin Muehlbronner, an analyst at Moody’s, said in a report today.

Still, Sweden's central bank was confident enough about the economy to raise interest rates again on Wednesday. Bloomberg reports:

Sweden’s central bank raised its benchmark repo rate for a fourth time since July and repeated a forecast for more increases as policy makers try to steer the European Union’s fastest recovery and curb household borrowing.

The Stockholm-based Riksbank raised the seven-day repo rate a quarter of a percentage point to 1.25 percent, it said today on its website. The decision was expected by 17 of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Five predicted no change.

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