Friday, 4 April 2014

ECB discusses QE as economy continues recovery

The European Central Bank left monetary policy unchanged after its meeting on Thursday.

At a press conference following the meeting, President Mario Draghi said that officials had discussed the possibilities with quantitative easing but that they had “different preferences” and that they “will continue working on that in the coming weeks”.

Economic data on Thursday showed that in the meantime, the eurozone economy continued to grow. Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in February while Markit's composite index came out at 53.1 in March, down from 53.3 in February but still indicating growth, as the services index slipped to 52.2 from 52.6.

Another report on Thursday showed that the UK services sector also slowed in March. The Markit/CIPS services PMI fell to 57.6 in March from 58.2 in February, pushing the composite index down to 58.1 from 58.6.

US services activity accelerated in March though. Reports on Thursday showed that the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index rose to 53.1 from a four-year low of 51.6 in February while Markit's services index rose to 55.3 from 53.3, pushing the composite index up to 55.7 from 54.1.

Less positively for the US, its trade deficit widened in February as exports fell 1.1 percent while imports rose 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, services activity in China grew in March, reports showed on Thursday. The Markit/HSBC services PMI increased to 51.9 last month from 51.0 in February while the official services PMI dipped to 54.5 from 55.0.

In Japan, Markit's services index rose to 52.2 in March from 49.3 in February. That helped push the composite index for Japan to 52.8 from 52.0.

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