Wednesday, 28 June 2006

US data mixed but strong European data point to more rate hikes

The data from the US yesterday were mixed. From Reuters:

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said sales of existing homes slipped to an annualized rate of 6.67 million units, 1.2 percent below April's pace and 6.6 percent below the pace of 7.14 million units a year ago...

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 105.7, from an upwardly revised May reading of 104.7, higher than a median forecast by economists polled by Reuters for a reading of 103.5...

Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said its monthly composite manufacturing index rose to 4 in June from 1 in May.

Also the Chicago Fed said on Tuesday its Midwest manufacturing index slipped in May to 106.0 from April's downwardly revised 106.2.

The data from the UK were relatively positive. Again from Reuters:

The British Bankers' Association said [mortgage] approvals...totalled 81,298 in May, a rise of 20 percent from 67,702 in May 2005. The figures are not seasonally adjusted...

Net credit card lending fell by 251 million pounds but the BBA said this was offset by a stronger-than-usual rise in new lending on personal loans and overdrafts, perhaps indicating consumers are beginning to shy away from exorbitant interest rates.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Italian business confidence rose in June.

The Isae Institute's confidence index rose for a 13th month to 98.9, the highest since December 2000, from a revised 97, the institute said today in Rome. The gauge was expected to fall to 96.3, the median estimate of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg showed.

As did Germany's.

The Ifo economic research institute in Munich said its confidence index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, rose to 106.8, the highest since February 1991, from a revised 105.7 in May. Economists expected a decline to 105, according to the median of 44 estimates in a Bloomberg survey...

Import-price inflation accelerated the fastest pace in almost six years in May, driven by increased costs for raw materials, Germany's Federal Statistics Office said today. Producer prices rose the most in 24 years last month...

No wonder ECB officials are sounding hawkish.

"All the recent data indicate that risks to price stability are on the upside and have increased," [ECB council member Nicholas] Garganas said in an interview in Basel, Switzerland. "I would not rule out a higher adjustment to rates than 25 basis points," nor quickening the pace of increases from once every quarter, he said.

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