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Broad-based inflation pressures in Brazil remain tame despite the sharp BRL depreciation this year, totalling about 7% in the last three months alone.
Brazil has made a convincing escape from high inflation in the past few months, laying the groundwork for a gradual economic recovery and faster cuts in interest rates. Mid-March CPI data, released this week, confirmed that inflation pressures eased substantially this month.
China's September activity data, released at the end of last week, back up our claim that GDP growth weakened in Q3, on a quarter-on-quarter basis.
October likely was the peak in Japanese CPI inflation, at 1.4%, up from 1.2% in September. The uptick was driven by the non-core elements, primarily food.
Data released this week in Brazil, coupled with the message from President Bolsonaro at the World Economic Forum, vowing to meet the country's fiscal targets and reduce distortions, support our benign inflation view and monetary policy forecasts for this year.
In a relatively light week in terms of economic indicators in Brazil, the inflation numbers and the potential effect of the recent BRL sell-off garnered all the attention.
March economic activity in Chile expanded by a solid 4.6% year-over-year, pointing to Q1 real GDP growth of 4.0%, the fastest pace since Q3 2013, up from 3.3% in Q4.
Colombia and Chile faced similar broad trends through most of 2018.
According to Brazil's mid-August inflation reading, which is a preview of the IPCA index, overall inflation pressures are easing. But some price stickiness remains, due to inertia and temporary shocks, despite the severity of the recession and the rapid deterioration of the labour market in recent months.
The beginning of the electoral campaign last week in Brazil bodes uncertain results and a very close competition for the presidential elections on October 7.
Inflation pressures in Brazil and Mexico are well under control, with the August mid-month readings falling more than expected, strengthening the case for the BCB and Banxico to cut interest rates in the near term.
With the exception of Mexico, November inflation was or below expectations in LatAm. Mexico's overshoot increases the likelihood that Banxico will hike its reference rate at the next board meeting on December 20.
Brazilian inflation hit its lowest rate in almost seven years in March, while Mexico's rate is the highest since July 2009. Yet we expect Mexico to tighten policy only modestly in the near term, while Brazil will ease rapidly.
LatAm's growth outlook is deteriorating, despite decent domestic fundamentals and political transitions toward more market-oriented governments in some of the region's main economies.
The Mexican economy's brightest spot continues to be private consumption.
Inflation in the Andes remains in check and the near term will be benign, suggesting that central banks will remain on hold over the coming months.
The latest IPCA inflation data in Brazil show the year-over-year rate fell to 8.8% in June from 9.3% in May. This is the slowest pace since May 2015, with inflation pulled lower by declines across all major components, except food. Indeed, food prices were the main driver of the modest 0.4% unadjusted monthto-month increase, rising by 0.7%, following a 0.8% jump in May. The year-over-year rate rose to 12.8% in June from 12.4%.
Inflation pressures in Brazil are now well- contained, with the headline rate falling to a decade low in July. We think inflation is now close to bottoming out, but the current benign rate strengthens our base case forecast for a 100bp rate cut at the next policy meeting, in September.
Brazil's mid-June inflation reading surprised to the downside, falling to 9.0% from 9.6% in May. The reading essentially confirmed that May's rebound was a pause in the downward trend rather than a resurgence of inflationary pressures. A 1.3% increase in housing prices, including services, was the main driver of mid-June's modest unadjusted 0.4% month-to-month rise in the IPCA-15.
Inflation pressures are falling rapidly in Brazil, suggesting that the Copom will continue to ease aggressively in the near term. January's CPI report,released Wednesday, showed that inflation plunged to 5.4% year-over-year, from 6.3% in December, chiefly as a result of continued disinflation in key components, such as food, housing prices--including utilities--and transportation.
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