Wednesday, 27 April 2011

US home prices fall, consumer confidence rises

US home prices appear to be resuming their downtrend. Bloomberg reports:

Residential real-estate prices dropped in the 12 months to February by the most in more than a year, putting the market on the verge of eclipsing the nadir reached during the U.S. recession.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 3.3 percent from February 2010, the biggest year-over-year decline since November 2009, the group said today in New York. At 139.27, the gauge was just shy of the six-year low of 139.26 in April 2009, two months before the economic slump ended.

The good news on Tuesday is that consumer confidence rose in April.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 65.4 from a revised 63.8 reading in March, figures from the New York-based private research group showed. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected it would advance to 64.5.

However, confidence in Europe's financial health took a knock on Tuesday. From Bloomberg:

Greece’s 2010 budget gap was more than a percentage point wider than the government estimated after a review by Europe’s statistics agency, the latest blow to the nation’s finances as it seeks to avoid a debt restructuring.

Last year’s shortfall was 10.5 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 15.4 percent of GDP in 2009, Eurostat said in a statement today from Luxembourg. In February, the Greek government had said it met its revised target for a 9.4 percent deficit in 2010...

Euro-area debt reached a record in 2010, Eurostat also said today, making it harder for the bloc’s better-off countries to bear the costs of the fiscal crisis triggered by Greece. Debt rose in all 16 euro-region countries, lifting the bloc’s average to 85.1 percent of GDP from 79.3 percent in 2009, the statistics office said. Greece’s debt ballooned to 142.8 percent of GDP, the highest in the euro’s 12-year history.

Meanwhile, China appears to have taken further action to curb credit risk in its economy. Bloomberg reports:

China’s banking regulator set capital targets for the nation’s five biggest lenders above the minimum 11.5 percent ratio amid concern that credit risks may rise, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (601398) Ltd., the world’s largest lender, and three rivals were told last month to maintain capital adequacy ratios of at least 11.8 percent in 2011, one of the people said, declining to be identified as the plan isn’t public. Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. (1288), the nation’s fourth biggest, should target 11.7 percent, two of them said.

The UK economy, though, is already showing signs of cooling. From Reuters:

Manufacturers made a lacklustre start to the second quarter of 2011, with orders unexpectedly weakening in April, a survey showed on Tuesday, suggesting the UK's economic recovery remains fragile...

The Confederation of British Industry said its monthly factory orders balance fell to -11 in April -- its lowest since January -- down from a three-year high of +5 set last month.

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