Monday, 21 May 2012

Japan led, Europe lagged in first quarter

The major developed economies put up diverging performances in the first quarter of 2012.

The United States economy slowed in the first quarter, growing 0.5 percent from the previous quarter for an annualised rate of 2.2 percent. It had grown 0.7 percent -- 3.0 percent annualised -- in the fourth quarter.

Japan put up the best performance among the major developed economies, growing 1.0 percent in the first quarter after having stagnated in the fourth quarter.

Europe provided most of the laggards among the major developed economies in the first quarter.

Germany managed to grow 0.5 percent in the first quarter, rebounding from the 0.2 percent contraction in the fourth quarter.

However, France's economy stagnated in the first quarter after having grown 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

That was still better though than the United Kingdom and Italy, whose economies contracted by 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. Both of these economies are now in recession after two and three consecutive quarters of contraction respectively.

Percentage change in real GDP
  Q2    Q3    Q4    Q1  
United States0.
Germany0.30.6-0.2 0.5
United Kingdom-0.1 0.6-0.3 -0.2 
Italy0.3-0.2 -0.7 -0.8 

The pattern of growth among the major developed economies is not likely to change much in the months ahead.

In a report on 10 May, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that the composite leading indicators for Japan and the US for March pointed to stronger expansion for these economies. The CLI for the UK also improved, indicating that its economy may turn around.

However, the CLI for the euro area as a whole stagnated. While the CLI for Germany was stable, the CLIs for France and Italy maintained declining trends, pointing to continued sluggish economic activity in the latter countries.

OECD composite leading indicators
 Ratio to trend,
amplitude adjusted
Change from
previous month
United States100.9101.1101.
United Kingdom99.499.599.

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