Saturday, 31 March 2012

US and Japanese consumer spending increase

The data from the US on Friday were mostly positive.

Consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in February. After adjusting for inflation, spending rose 0.5 percent, the most in five months.

However, income rose just 0.2 percent, less than the 0.3 percent increase in the price index for personal consumption expenditure.

Still, consumer spending looks likely to stay resilient. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final index of consumer sentiment rose to 76.2 in March, the highest since February 2011, from 75.3 last month.

Another report on Friday showed that the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago's business barometer fell to 62.2 in March from 64 in February.

Earlier on Friday, data from Japan had also been mostly positive.

Household spending rose 2.3 percent in February from a year, a sharp reversal of the 2.3 percent fall in January.

Housing starts rose 7.5 percent in February from a year earlier, the first rise in six months.

Industrial production unexpectedly fell 1.2 percent in February. However, a survey showed that producers expected output to increase 2.6 percent in March and 0.7 percent in April.

Furthermore, the Markit/JMMA Japan Manufacturing purchasing managers index rose to 51.1 in March from 50.5 in February.

In another piece of good news for Japan, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in February from 4.6 percent in January.

Japan also moved out of deflation in February. The core consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in February from a year earlier.

In the euro area, deflation remains far from being a concern. Indeed, inflation slowed only slightly to 2.6 percent in March from 2.7 percent in February.

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