Saturday, 26 May 2012

US consumer confidence improves, Spain's financial problems worsen

A report on Friday showed that US consumer confidence continued to rise in May. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose to 79.3 this month, the highest level since October 2007, from 76.4 in April.

European consumer confidence also appears to be holding up relatively well despite the on-going debt crisis. GfK said on Friday that its consumer confidence index for Germany will hold at 5.7 next month. Meanwhile, France's consumer confidence index rose to 90 in May from 89 in April.

However, Spain's financial problems continued to deteriorate on Friday. Bankia SA, Spain's fourth biggest bank, asked for a bailout of 19 billion euros after suffering losses from property loans. This comes as Standard & Poor's lowered its ratings on the debt of Bankia and four other Spanish banks and said it was taking a dimmer view of Spain's economy.

Meanwhile, Artur Mas, the president of Catalonia, one of Spain's wealthiest regions, said on Friday that his administration was having difficulty raising funds and called for central government help.

Earlier on Friday in Asia, Japan had reported that its core consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in April from a year earlier, the same as in March.

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