Saturday, 9 March 2013

US reports strong job growth, Japan signals end to recession

Economic data on Friday were mostly positive.

In the US, the closely-watched employment report came out strong with 236,000 jobs added in February. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, from 7.9 percent in January.

Earlier in the day, Japan had reported some good news. Fourth quarter growth was revised up to flat from a 0.1 percent contraction, possibly signalling an end to the recession. Service sector sentiment has also improved recently, with the index for current conditions from the Cabinet Office's economy watchers survey rising to 53.2 in February from 49.5 in January and the future conditions index rising to 57.7 from 56.5.

Less positively, Japan also reported its third straight current account deficit in January. The current account deficit came in at 364.8 billion yen as the trade deficit hit 1.48 trillion yen.

In contrast, China's trade balance remained in surplus in February as exports surged 21.8 percent from the previous year and imports fell 15.2 percent.

However, Europe's export powerhouse, Germany, reported that industrial production stagnated in January.

More encouragingly, French industrial confidence rose for a third month in February and Spain's industrial production fell 5.0 percent in January, an improvement over the 7.1 percent decline in December.

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