Thursday, 21 February 2013

US housing starts fall, Japan logs record trade deficit

Wednesday brought mixed economic data.

In the US, housing starts fell 8.5 percent in January. This was mainly due to a fall in multi-family housing starts.

In contrast, starts for single-family homes hit their highest level since July 2008 while permits for future construction rose to their highest level since June 2008.

Another report from the US on Wednesday showed that producer prices rose 0.2 percent in January.

Reports from Europe on Wednesday were positive.

The consumer confidence index for the euro area rose to -23.6 in February, the highest in seven months, from -23.9 in January.

In the UK, the number of people in work rose to 29.730 million in the three months to December, the highest since records began in 1971. Claims for jobless benefit fell by 12,500 last month.

Report from Asia on Wednesday were less positive.

Japan logged its worst ever monthly trade deficit in January despite an upturn in exports. The trade deficit came in at 1.63 trillion yen last month. Exports rose 6.4 percent and imports rose 7.3 percent as the yen's fall pushed fuel costs higher.

Foreign direct investment in China fell 7.3 percent in January from a year ago to $9.27 billion. It was also down from December's $11.7 billion.

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