Friday, 11 May 2012

BoE withholds further monetary stimulus amid mixed global economic data

The Bank of England left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.5 percent after its monetary policy meeting on Thursday and announced no additional asset purchases.

The BoE's decision comes as the latest data show that the UK economy remains weak. Nationwide's consumer confidence index plunged to 44 in April after having hit a nine-month high of 53 in March. Industrial production fell 0.3 percent in March. However, manufacturing output rebounded 0.9 percent after having fallen by 1.1 percent in February.

French industrial production also fell in March by 0.9 percent despite a 1.4 percent jump in manufacturing output but Italian industrial production rose 0.5 percent in March.

Outside Europe, Japan also reported mixed data on Thursday. The Cabinet Office's economy watchers survey showed that the current conditions index of service sentiment fell to 50.9 in April from 51.8 in March but the future conditions index rose to 50.9 in April from 49.7 in March. Japan's current account surplus fell 8.6 percent in March from a year ago but this was much better than the 30.7 decline in February. Exports rose 7.3 percent in March from a year earlier, the first gain in six months.

However, China's export growth slowed to 4.9 percent year-on-year in April from 8.9 percent in March. Imports edged up just 0.3 percent from a year ago compared to a 5.3 percent increase in March, which is likely to renew concerns of a slowdown in China's economy.

In contrast, US trade data for March gave few indication of an economic slowdown. Exports grew 2.9 percent while imports jumped 5.2 percent. The increase in imports in March was partly due to a 1.5 percent increase in import prices but the latter fell 0.5 percent in April.

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