Friday, 10 May 2013

South Korea cuts rates, UK monetary policy unchanged

The global central bank easing trend continued on Thursday with the Bank of Korea cutting its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.5 percent.

However, the Bank of England left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.5 percent and announced no additional bond purchases after its monetary policy meeting on Thursday.

The need for further monetary stimulus by the BoE may have receded a little after a report on Thursday showed that UK industrial production rose 0.7 percent in March following a 0.9 percent increase in February.

The probability of additional monetary stimulus has also decreased in China after inflation there accelerated to 2.4 percent in April from 2.1 percent in March.

There were also positive signs for the Japanese economy on Thursday. The Cabinet Office's index of coincident economic indicators rose 0.8 point in March according to a preliminary report, suggesting that the economy is maintaining its recovery. However, the index of leading economic indicators fell 0.1 point.

In the US, a report on Thursday showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 4,000 last week to 323,000, the lowest level since January 2008. The four-week moving average fell by 6,250 to 336,750, the lowest level since November 2007, just before the last recession.

Not all the data from the US on Thursday were positive. Another report showed that wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in March. While an increase in inventories is often a sign that economic growth has picked up, this report also showed that sales by wholesalers fell 1.6 percent in March, the biggest decline in four years.

In market action, US stocks finally ended their five-day record-breaking run on Thursday. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent after having set consecutive record highs on the five previous trading sessions.

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