Thursday, 26 May 2011

Japanese exports and US durable goods orders fall

Japan's trade balance fell into deficit in April. AFP/CNA reports:

Japan fell into a trade deficit in April as exports tumbled at the fastest pace in 18 months on supply chain disruptions after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, official data showed Wednesday.

It was the first time in 31 years that Japan suffered a trade deficit for the month of April, according to the finance ministry...

Exports fell 12.5 per cent, the fastest pace of decline since October 2009, with shipments of automobiles diving 67.0 per cent and electronics parts such as microchips dropping 19.0 per cent...

Overall imports in April rose 8.9 per cent to post growth for the 16th consecutive month as purchases of petroleum products shot up 62.2 per cent on higher prices and demand.

The reports from the US on Wednesday were also negative. Bloomberg reports:

Orders for U.S. durable goods dropped more than forecast in April, reflecting a slump in aircraft demand and disruptions in supplies of auto parts stemming from the earthquake in Japan.

The 3.6 percent decrease in bookings for goods meant to last at least three years was the biggest since October and followed a 4.4 percent surge in March that was larger than previously estimated, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 2.5 percent April decline, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey...

While manufacturing has spearheaded the economic recovery, housing has struggled. Home prices dropped 2.5 percent in the first quarter from the prior three months, the Washington-based Federal Housing Finance Agency said today.

The OECD, though, has raised its forecast for economic growth in the US as well as the euro area. From Reuters:

Global economic recovery is on track, helped by a stronger United States, but threats ranging from high oil prices to European sovereign debt crises could yet combine to create a bout of stagflation, the OECD said on Wednesday...

In its twice-yearly Economic Outlook, the OECD forecast world growth would ease to 4.2 percent this year from 4.9 percent in 2010 before accelerating to 4.6 percent in 2012...

The OECD raised its outlook for the United States from its last report in November, forecasting growth this year of 2.6 percent, compared with an estimate of 2.2 percent in November.

It was also slightly more optimistic about the outlook for growth in the euro zone, forecasting the bloc's economy would expand 2.0 percent in 2011, up from 1.7 percent in November.

But it slashed Japan's forecasts after the country's triple disaster in March. It estimated the country's economy would contract 0.9 percent this year, having forecast growth of 1.7 percent in November.

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