Tuesday, 16 December 2008

More gloom for manufacturing, housing

AFP/CNA reports that Japanese manufacturers are becoming increasingly gloomy.

Business confidence among big Japanese manufacturers plunged at the fastest pace in more than three decades as the economic crisis deepened, a central bank survey showed Monday.

Confidence tumbled to minus 24 in December from minus three the previous quarter, hitting the lowest level since early 2002, according to the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey of more than 10,000 firms.

Meanwhile in China, AFP/CNA reports that industrial production is slowing dramatically.

China's industrial output growth slowed to 5.4 per cent in November from a year earlier, official data showed Monday, providing the latest evidence that the nation's economy is quickly losing steam.

In the first 11 months of the year, industrial output increased by 13.7 per cent from the same period in 2007, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Industrial output growth has slowed steadily this year, coming off a peak of 17.8 per cent in March and falling to 8.2 per cent in October, according to previously announced government figures.

In the US, industrial production fell in November, according to Bloomberg.

Manufacturing in the U.S. slumped further in November as exports tumbled and automakers slashed their assembly rate to the lowest level in more than 18 years.

Industrial production fell 0.6 percent, the third drop in four months, the Federal Reserve said today in Washington...

The nationwide industrial output report showed factory output, which accounts for four-fifths of industrial production, decreased 1.4 percent...

But perhaps there is hope for an end to the gloom.

The New York Fed said its Empire State index fell to minus 25.8 from minus 25.4 in November. Its measure of new orders rose to minus 20.8 from minus 22.2 the prior month. A measure of the manufacturing outlook for six months from now rose to 19.5 from 13 the prior month.

Meanwhile, there is no end yet to the gloom in the US housing market. From Bloomberg:

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence held at 9 this month, the Washington-based association said today. A reading below 50 means most respondents view conditions as poor.

And in the UK, Reuters reports that house prices fell again in December, albeit at a slower rate.

Property website Rightmove said asking prices fell an unadjusted 2.3 percent this month to 217,808 pounds, after November's 2.9 percent fall.

The annual rate improved slightly to show prices down 6.3 percent in December, compared with 7.1 percent in November.

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