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399 matches for " oil prices":
The recent plunge in oil prices is another positive development, alongside looser fiscal policy and the striking of a Brexit deal with the E.U., pointing to scope for GDP growth to pick up next year.
Oil prices remain sticky, poised to hover close to a four-year high for the rest of the year.
If Brent oil prices remain at their current $41 through the end of the second quarter--a big ask, we know, but you have to start with something--the average price of petroleum products imported into the U.S. will rise at an annualized rate of about 70% from their first quarter level.
The last time oil prices fell sharply, from mid-2014, when WTI peaked at $107, through early 2016, when the price reached just $26, the U.S. economy slowed dramatically.
The plunge in oil prices in recent weeks is not a threat to the overall U.S. economic growth story in the near term--we have always expected growth to slow, but remain decent, once the boost from the tax cuts fades--but it will make a difference, at the margin.
The renewed slide in oil prices in recent weeks will crimp capital spending, at the margin, but it is not a macroeconomic threat on the scale of the 2014-to-16 hit.
German data yesterday indicate that inflation pressures have, so far, been resilient in the face of the recent collapse in oil prices. Inflation rose to 0.5% year-over-year in January from 0.3% in December, partly due to base effects pushing up the year-over-year rate in energy prices, but core inflation rose too. The detailed state data indicate that almost all key components of the core index contributed positively, lead by leisure and recreation and healthcare.
Oil prices have risen by about $20 per barrel since last fall.
Investors have lowered once again their expectations for official interest rates and now do not anticipate any rate hikes this year. Markets appear to have judged that the plunge in oil prices will ensure that inflation is too low for the Monetary Policy Committee to tighten policy. Oil prices, however, are not the be-all and end-all for inflation or monetary policy, and we doubt they will distract the MPC from the continued firming of domestic price pressures this year.
The price of Brent oil has fallen sharply to $40 per barrel from about $50 just a month ago, and speculation is mounting that it could plunge to $20 soon. But CPI inflation should still pick up over coming months, provided oil prices remain above $30. And the absence of "second-round" effects of lower oil prices this year should reassure the Monetary Policy Committee that lower oil prices won't bear down on inflation over the medium-term.
The U.K. is one of the smallest winners among advanced economies from the precipitous decline in oil prices. British oil production still fulfils about 55% of the U.K.'s demand, even though it has declined by two-thirds since its 1999 peak. Oil consumption therefore exceeds production by a much smaller margin in the U.K. than in most other European countries. As a result, the boost to the U.K. economy from the $10 decline in oil prices over the last month isn't much to write home about.
The relatively upbeat message from a plethora of Eurozone data this week remains firmly sidelined by chaos in equity and credit markets. EZ Equities struggled towards the end of last year in the aftermath of the disappointing ECB stimulus package, and now, renewed weakness in oil prices and further Chinese currency devaluation have added pressure, by refocusing attention on already weak areas in the global economy.
Venezuela is on the brink o f economic and social collapse. Looting, food scarcity, power rationing, and other problems have become rampant. This week, Venezuela's government allowed citizens to flock across the Colombian border to shop for food and medicine, for the second time this month. Last year, Venezuela's President Maduro shut the border in a bid to crack down on smuggling of subsidized products.
Core PPI inflation has risen relentlessly, though not rapidly, over the past two-and-a-half years.
We have been arguing for some time that the drag on growth from falling capital spending in the oil sector would fade to nothing in the third quarter, and would then likely be followed by a small increase in the fourth quarter. But we seem to have been too cautious. It now seems much more likely that oil capex will rebound strongly as soon as the third quarter, following the clear upturn in the rig count data produced by Baker Hughes, Inc.
Today's advance inventory and international trade data for December could change our Q4 GDP forecast significantly.
In the wake of last week's strong core retail sales numbers for November, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model for fourth quarter GDP growth shot up to 3.0% from 2.4%.
Straight-line extrapolations are always risky--nothing lasts forever--but if you allow us the indulgence, our first chart suggests that domestic U.S. oil production will breach 10M barrels per day by the summer.
German exports had a sluggish start to the fourth quarter, falling 1.2% month-to-month in October. The monthly drop pushed the year-over-year rate down to 3.0% from 4.2% in September, well down from the 5.6% third quarter average and extending the loss of momentum in recent months. Imports fell 3.6%, so net exports rose, but it's too early to make any useful estimates of net trade in the fourth quarter as a whole.
We don't directly plug the ADP employment data into our model for the official payroll number. ADP's estimate is derived itself from a model which incorporates lagged official payroll data, because payrolls tend to mean-revert, as well as macroeconomic variables including oil prices, industrial production and jobless claims -- and actual employment data from firms which use ADP's payroll processing services.
The rise in oil prices to a four-year high of $82 will slow the pace at which inflation falls back over the next year only modestly.
Colombia started the second quarter strongly, with the ISE economic activity indicator--a monthly proxy for GDP--expanding a solid and surprising 3.6% year-over-year in April, up from 2.9% in March. The rate of growth is well above the 2.8% gain in Q1, con firming the country's resiliency in the face of lower oil prices. Still, growth has slowed sharply since the 4.4% increase in activity in 2014, as our first chart shows.
...Third quarter growth was revised up sharply and the prospects for fourth quarter consumption improved substantially. Less positively, the first signs of faltering capex in the wake of the plunge in oil prices emerged in the macro data, and the ISM manufacturing index began to reverse its run of absurd, seasonally-assisted, "strength".
We fully expect to learn today that import prices rose in March for the first time since June last year. Our forecast for a 1% increase is in line with the consensus, but the margin of error is probably about plus or minus half a percent, and an increase of more than 1.2% would be the biggest in a single month in four years. Most, if not all, of the jump will be due to the rebound in oil prices.
The contribution of energy prices to CPI inflation is set to increase over the coming months, following the pick-up in Brent oil prices to $74 per barrel, from $65 at the beginning of March.
Recent data have confirmed that Colombian economic activity is still fragile, and that downside risks increased in Q1 as oil prices hav e slipped. The ISE economic activity index rose just 1.0% year-over-year in January, down from a 1.6% average gain in Q4.
In recent years only one event has made a material difference to the growth path of the U.S. economy, namely, the plunge in oil prices which began in the summer of 2014. The ensuing collapse in capital spending in the mining sector and everything connected to it, pulled GDP growth down from 2½% in both 2014 and 2015 to just 1.6% in 2016.
For some time now we have argued that the forces which have depressed business capex--the collapse in oil prices, the strong dollar, and slower growth in China--are now fading, and will soon become neutral at worst. As these forces dissipate, the year-over-year rate of growth of capex will revert to the prior trend, about 4-to-6%. We have made this point in the context of our forecast of faster GDP growth, but it also matters if you're thinking about the likely performance of the stock market.
A cluster of surveys suggest that the manufacturing sector finished 2016 with a flourish, after a dismal performance for most of the year. But momentum will drain away from the sector's recovery in 2017, as higher oil prices make low value-added work unprofitable again and resurgent inflation causes domestic consumer demand to crumble.
The German inflation rate soared at the start of 2017, but it likely will fall in the next few months. Final February data yesterday showed that inflation rose to 2.2% in February, from 1.9% in January, consistent with the initial estimate. Since December, headline inflation in Germany, and in the EZ as a whole, has been lifted by two factors. Base effects from the 2016 crash in oil prices have pushed energy inflation higher, and a supply shock in fresh produce--due to heavy snowfall in southern Europe--has lifted food inflation.
The recovery of some key commodity prices, policy action in China, and stronger expectations that the U.S. Fed will start hiking rates later during the year, have helped reduce volatility in LatAm financial markets. Oil prices have rise by around 20% year-to-date, iron ore prices are up about 60% and copper has risen by 7%.
The consequences of the collapse in oil prices continue to reverberate through the sector. The number of rigs in operation is still falling rapidly, but the rate of decline is slowing. According to data from Baker Hughes, Inc., an average of 23 rigs per week have ceased operation over the past four weeks, the slowest decline since December.
The recent FX depreciation and falling oil prices are driving the dynamics of inflation across the Andean economies.
The manufacturing sector is much more exposed to external forces--the dollar, and global growth--than the rest of the economy. But much of the slowdown in the sector over the past year-and-a-half, we think, can be traced back to the impact of plunging oil prices on capital spending in the sector.
Most of the time we don't pay much attention to the monthly import and export prices numbers, which markets routinely ignore. Right now, though, they matter, because the plunge in oil prices is hugely depressing the numbers and, thanks to a technical quirk, depressing reported GDP growth.
The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector last year was the biggest single drag on the manufacturing sector, by far. The strong dollar hurt too, as did the slowdown in growth in China, but most companies don't export anything. Capex has fallen in proportion to the drop in oil prices, so our first chart strongly suggests that the bottom of the cycle is now very near.
The upward trend in CPI inflation likely reasserted itself in August, following a hiatus in the last two months due to the decline in oil prices.
Japanese headline PPI inflation will edge higher in coming months as last year's rise in oil prices feeds through. But inflation in manufacturing goods, excluding processing, is microscopic and should soon roll over as pipeline pressures wane.
...The Fed did nothing, surprising no-one; the labor market tightened further; the housing market tracked sideways; survey data mostly slipped a bit; and oil prices jumped nearly $4, briefly nudging above $50 for the first time since May.
We have been waiting a long time to see signs that business investment spending is becoming less reliant on movements in oil prices.
Markets' inflation expectations have fallen in recent weeks, maintaining the trend seen over the previous 18 months. The fall in expectations for the next year or so is justified by the sharp fall in oil prices. But expectations for inflation further ahead have drifted down too, even though lower oil prices will have no effect on the annual comparison of prices beyond a year or so from now.
Collapsing oil prices continue to weigh on inflation pressures in Eurozone. Inflation was unchanged at a minimal 0.2% year-over-year in August, largely due to an accelerated fall in energy prices, which plunged 7.1%, down from a 5.6% drop in July. Base effects will offer support for year-over-year changes in energy prices starting in Q4, but our fir st chart show downside risks loom in the short run.
Lower oil prices cut two ways for US economy
Colombia was the fastest growing economy in LatAm last year but it faces major challenges. The collapse of oil prices--which account for about half of exports--the COP depreciation, rising inflation and Fed's impending monetary policy normalization, are dragging down economic activity and damaging confidence.
We have set out in recent Monitors the differences in the economic and political environment across Latin America, but the plunge in oil prices adds a new element to the analysis.
The response of U.K. producers and consumers to lower oil prices could not have been more different to those on the other side of the Atlantic. Counter-intuitively, U.K. oil production has grown strongly over the last year, while investment hasn't collapsed to the same extent as in the U.S., yet. Meanwhile, U.K. households have thrown caution to the wind and already have spent the windfall from the previous drop in oil prices, unlike their more prudent--so far--U.S. counterparts. With the costs still to come but most of the benefits already enjoyed, lower oil prices will be neutral for 2016 U.K. GDP growth, at best.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economy in LatAm but over the last few quarters the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency--fearing higher U.S. interest rates--and rising inflation, have depressed confidence and dragged down economic activity.
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist, discusses the economic impact of falling oil prices with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu
Growth in South America disappointed last year, but prospects are gradually improving on the back of rising commodity prices and the global manufacturing rebound. These factors will help to ease the region's external and fiscal vulnerabilities, particularly over the second half of the year. On the domestic front, though, the first quarter has proved challenging for some countries, hit by temporary supply factors such as a mine strikes, floods, and wildfires.
The Eurozone's current account surplus remained close to record highs at the end of Q1, despite dipping slightly to €34.1B in March, from a revised €37.8B in February. A further increase in the services surplus was the key story.
German producer price inflation rebounded last month. The headline PPI index rose 2.6% year-over-year in August, up from a 2.3% increase in July, driven almost exclusively by a jump in energy inflation.
Yesterday's Japanese activity data were grim.
The sharp downtrend in commodity prices in recent months is alarming from a LatAm perspective.
Japan's official adjusted surplus rose in October but we think the September figure was an understatement. On our adjustment, the surplus was little unchanged at ¥360B in October.
Yesterday's ECB meeting provided no immediate relief to nervous investors. The central bank kept its main interest rates unchanged, and maintained the pace of QE purchases at €60B per month. Mr. Draghi compensated for the lack of action, however, by hinting heavily at further easing at its next meeting. The president emphasized that the ECB's policies will be "reviewed and reconsidered" in light of the March update to the staff projections. Mr. Draghi also admitted that inflation has been "weaker than expected" since the last meeting, and that downside risks have increased further. The central bank does not pre-commit, but we think it is a good bet that the ECB will do more in March.
Recent global developments lead us to intensify our focus on trade in LatAm.
Recent global developments lead us to intensify our focus on trade in LatAm.
As we reach our Sunday afternoon deadline, no deal has been reached to re-open the federal government.
We pointed out in yesterday's Monitor that Fed Chair Yellen appears to be putting a good deal of faith in the idea that the recent upturn in core inflation is temporary. She argued that "some" of the increase reflects "unusually high readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time".
The PBoC managed to keep interest rates well- anchored around the Chinese New Year holiday, when volatility is often elevated.
China's 2018 property market boomlet let out more air last month.
On the face of it, the potential for a tangible boost to GDP growth from a revival in business investment after a no-deal Brexit has been averted appears modest.
Financial market performance and economic survey data on the Brazilian economy have been better than many investors and commentators feared this year. The composite PMI has improved gradually since November last year, consumer sentiment has stabilized, and national business surveys have been less bleak.
An array of data today will be mostly positive, and even the most likely candidate for a downside surprise--the October advance trade numbers--is very unlikely to change anyone's mind on the Fed's December decision. On the plus side, the first revision to third quarter GDP growth should see the headline number dragged up into almost respectable territory, at 2.4%, from the deeply underwhelming 1.5% initial estimate.
Economic activity in Mexico during the past few months has been resilient, as external and domestic threats, particularly domestic political risks, appear to have diminished.
The nominal value of orders for non-defense capital equipment, excluding aircraft, fell by 3.4% last year. This was less terrible than 2015, when orders plunged by 8.4%, but both years were grim when compared to the average 7.5% increase over the previous five years.
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.
Friday's final CPI report in the Eurozone confirmed that inflation dipped marginally in January, by 0.1 percentage points, to 1.3%.
President Trump made official his plan to impose tariffs on up to $60B of annual imports from China, as well as limitations on Chinese investments in the U.S.
The past year has been difficult for Asian economies, with trade wars, natural disasters, and misguided policies, to name a few, putting a dampener on growth.
need to add docMea culpa: We failed to spot the press release from the Commerce Department announcing the delay of the release of the advance December trade and inventory data, due to the government shutdown.
Data released yesterday confirmed that the Mexican economy ended Q4 poorly; policymakers will take note.
Japan's CPI inflation has risen sharply in recent months, driven by non-core elements. The headline faces cross-currents in coming months, but should remain high, posing problems for BoJ policy.
We suspect that under the calm surface of the BoJ, a major decision is being debated.
The risk of higher US rates put LatAm currencies under pressure during the first half of the week, before the US FOMC meeting on Wednesday. But they recovered some ground yesterday, following the Fed's decision to leave rates on hold.
Punished by the global economic slowdown depressing commodity prices, the Mexican economy is now making a gradual comeback, thanks to the continuing strength of its main trading partner, increasing public expenditure on key infrastructure projects, and accommodative monetary policy.
Yesterday's German IFO survey broadly confirmed the bullish message from the PMIs earlier this week. The headline business climate index rose to 111.0 in February from a revised 109.9 in January, boosted by increases in both the current assessment and the expectations index.
Germans head to the polls on Sunday to elect representatives for the national parliament. The media has tried to keep investors on alert for a surprise, but polls indicate clearly that Angela Merkel will continue as Chancellor.
Korea's trade figures for the first 20 days of November, published yesterday, gave the first real glimpse in a long time of how its exporters are truly performing.
Japan's trade surplus rebounded to ¥522B in April, on our adjustment, from ¥390B in March, around the same level as the official version, though from a higher base.
Today brings a wave of data, some brought forward because of Thanksgiving. We are most interested in the durable goods orders report for October, which we expect will show the upward trend in core capital goods orders continues.
April's consumer price figures, due on Wednesday, are set to show that CPI inflation has fallen, primarily due to the earlier timing of Easter this year than last. We
The Eurozone has come under the spotlight for its growing external surplus, but domestic households have been doing the heavy lifting for GDP growth in this business cycle. During the last four quarters, consumers' spending has boosted year-over-year GDP growth by an average of 1.0 percentage points, in contrast to a 0.4pp drag from net exports.
Yesterday's advance consumer sentiment index in the Eurozone confirmed the upside risks for consumers' spending in Q4. The headline index rose to a 17- year high of +0.1 in November, from -1.0 in October.
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.
Yesterday's public finance figures brought more good news for the Chancellor.
2016 has been another terrible year for Venezuela, and we have no hope that the country's economic and political situation will improve in the near-term. Economic mismanagement, authoritarianism, corruption, violent looting and social unrest are the norm.
With most poll-of-poll measures showing a very narrow margin in the U.K. Brexit referendum, while betting markets show a huge majority for "Remain", today brings a live experiment in the idea that the wisdom of crowds is a better guide to elections than peoples' preferences.
April's retail sales figures, due Thursday, likely will show that spending recovered from snow-induced weakness in March.
Banxico's tightening cycle has totalled 400 basis points, lifting rates to 7.0%. Since late 2015, Banxico has followed the Fed closely, but other external factors also have guided many of its decisions.
The economy slowed less than we expected in 2017.
The manufacturing sector appears to have started the new year on a weaker note. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI dropped to 55.3 in January--its lowest level since June--from 56.2 in December.
Central banks in Mexico and Colombia kept their main interest rates on hold last week, due to recent volatility in the currency markets. Policymakers acknowledged the downside risks to growth, particularly from low commodity prices, but inflation fears, triggered by currency weakness, mean they will not be able to ease if growth slows.
We don't use the index of leading economic indicators as a forecasting tool. If it leads the pace of growth at all, it's not by much, and in recent years it has proved deeply unreliable.
Most of the data were consistent with the idea that fourth quarter growth will be a two-part story, with real strength in domestic final demand partly offset by substantial drags from net foreign trade and inventories.
The economy's fragility was underlined by the Q3 national accounts, released just before the Christmas break.
We expect the BoK to hike this month, believing that it's necessary to curtail household debt growth now, in order to prevent a sharper economic slowdown as the Fed hiking cycle continues, China slows, and trade risks unfold.
Mexico's election results are not available as we go to press, but we're expecting a comfortable win for the left-wing populist candidate, AMLO.
Markets now think the Fed is done.
Friday's data confirmed that inflation in the Eurozone slipped to a 14-month low of 1.1%, from 1.3% in January, 0.1 percentage points below the first estimate.
February's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, likely will show that CPI inflation fell to 2.8%--one tenth below the MPC's forecast--from 3.0% in January.
Yesterday's IFO data in Germany heaped more misery on the Eurozone economy.
Yesterday's final CPI report confirmed that inflation in the euro area increased slightly last month. The headline rate rose to 1.5%, from 1.4% in October, lifted by a 1.7 percentage point increase in energy inflation to 4.9%.
Colombia's economy remained resilient in July, thanks to strong domestic demand and relatively good external conditions for the country's top exports.
Headline inflation in the EZ remained elevated in September, rising by 0.1 percentage point to 2.1%, while the core rate was unchanged at 0.9% in August; both numbers are in line with the initial estimates.
Manufacturing does not consistently lead the rest of the economy. Neither does it consistently lag. On average, turning points in the rates of growth of manufacturing output and GDP are coincident, as our first chart clearly shows. But coincidence is not causality.
Mexico's central bank, Banxico, capitulated in the face of the rapidly depreciating MXN and unexpectedly increased interest rates by 50bp to 3.75% on Wednesday, following an unscheduled meeting the day before. The decision was a unanimous, brave step, showing that policymakers are extremely worried about the FX sell-off, despite growth still running below potential.
On the face of it, trade negotiations have deteriorated in the last week.
NAFTA-related news has been mixed over the last few weeks.
A slew of Asian price numbers are due this Friday, and they will all likely show that price gains softened further in January.
BanRep surprised the markets on Friday with a 25bp interest rate cut, bringing rates to 7.50%. We expected the Colombian central bank to start easing in January, due to the uncertainties surrounding the tax reform package and the ongoing minimum wage negotiations.
The PBoC late on Wednesday announced measures to provide medium-term funding for smaller businesses.
Colombia is one of the few larger economies in Latin America to have enjoyed solid, positive economic growth over the past two years. But lower commodity prices and last year's central bank tightening, to curb high inflation generated by strong growth, have started to become visible in the main economic data.
This is the final report before we dial down for our Christmas break, and we are happy to report that the economic calendar will be almost empty in our absence.
The minutes of this week's MPC meeting indicate that it won't waste any time to raise interest rates after MPs finally have signed off a Brexit deal.
After soaring in the Spring, inflation has slipped back in the Summer. July's consumer prices report, released while we were away last week, showed that CPI inflation held steady at 2.6% in July, one -tenth below the consensus and three tenths below May's year-to-date peak.
Financial markets have put maximum pressure on the ECB going into today's meeting, but we doubt it will be enough to spur the governing council into action so soon after announcing additional stimulus in December. We think the central bank will keep its refi and deposit rate unchanged at 0.05% and -0.3% respectively, and maintain the pace of asset purchases at €60B a month.
Another day, another sharp drop in the stock market, and another wavelet of commentary suggesting recession and deflation are just around the corner. We have no argument with the idea that the manufacturing sector could contract over, say, the next six months. But the other 88% of the economy--apart from the 1½% of GDP generated by oil extraction-- is benefiting from the strong dollar and cheap fuel.
LatAm investors' concerns about U.S. monetary policy expectations and the broad direction of the USD should on the back burner until the Fed hikes again, likely in September. This will leave room for country-specific drivers to take centre stage. That should support Mexico's MXN, which already has risen 14% year-to-date against the USD, erasing its losses after the US election last November.
German producer price inflation fell last month, following uninterrupted gains since the beginning of this year. Headline PPI inflation fell to 2.8% year-over- year in May, from 3.4% in April, constrained by lower energy inflation, which slipped to 3.0%, from 4.6% in April. Meanwhile, non-energy inflation declined marginally to 2.7%, from 2.8%.
The risk of political change in Venezuela is coming to a boil, following President Maduro's plans for a new constituent assembly that has the power to rewrite the constitution and scrap the existing National Assembly.
After three straight 1.3% month-to-month increases in core capital goods orders, we are becoming increasingly confident that the upturn in business investment signalled by the NFIB survey is now materializing.
Recent economic indicators in Brazil have undershot consensus in recent weeks, but the economy nonetheless continues to recover.
Commodity prices have started the year under further downward pressure. This is yet more negative news for LatAm, as most of the countries have failed to diversify, instead relying on oil or copper for a large share of exports and, critically, tax revenue. Venezuela is the biggest loser in the region from the oil hit, and, together with the worsening political and economic crisis, it has pushed the country even closer to the verge of collapse, threatening its debt payments. Venezuela's central bank last week released economic data for the first time since 2014, showing that inflation spiralled to 141% and that the economy shrank 4.5% in the first nine months of last year.
Colombia's oil industry--one of the key drivers of the country's economic growth over the last decade--has been stumbling over recent months, raising concerns about the country's growth prospects. But the recent weakness of the mining sector is in stark contrast with robust internal demand and solid domestic production.
This year has been sobering for Eurozone equity investors.
CPI inflation fell to 2.3% in November--its lowest rate since March 2017--from 2.4% in October, and it remains on track to fall rapidly over the winter.
The ECB is unlikely to make any changes to its policy stance today. We think the central bank will keep its refinancing and deposit rates at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and maintain the pace of QE at €60 per month until the end of the year. We also don't expect any substantial change in the language on forward guidance and QE.
Chile's central bank cut the policy rate 25bp last week to 3.0%, in line with consensus, amid easing inflationary pressures. The timing of the rate cut was no surprise; in January, the BCCh cut rates for the first time in more than two years, and kept a dovish bias.
Looking through recent supply disruptions, Japan's adjusted trade balance seems likely to remain in the red until the new year.
In the years before the crash of 2008, if you wanted to know what was likely to happen to the pace of U.S. economic growth, all you needed to know was what happened to corporate bond yields a year earlier. The correlation between movements in BBB industrial yields--not spreads--and the changes in the rate of GDP growth, lagged by a year, was remarkably strong from 1994 through 2008, as our first chart shows. Roughly, a 50 basis point increase in yields could be expected to reduce the pace of year-over-year GDP growth--the second differential, in other words--by about 1.5 percentage points.
China announced the appointment of key political and financial jobs yesterday.
The startling jump in the Philly Fed index in May, when it rose 11.2 points to a 12-month high, seemed at first sight to be a response to fading tensions over global trade.
Friday's inflation and labour market data in the Eurozone were dovish.
Headline GDP growth in Korea was revised down, to a seasonally-adjusted 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, from 0.7% in the preliminary report.
The latest PMIs indicate that the economy remained listless in Q3, undermining the case for a rate rise before the end of this year. The business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey rose trivially to 53.6 in September, from 53.2 in August.
Chile's unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.1% in July-to-September, from 7.3% in June-to-August, but it was up from 6.7% in September last year.
News last week increased our conviction that the economy will struggle over the coming months, but then will have a spring in its step next year.
Investors have stuck to their view that interest rates are just as likely to rise this year as not, despite the soft round of PMIs released this week.
Revisions to the first quarter productivity numbers, due today, likely will be trivial, given the minimal 0.1 percentage point downward revision to GDP growth reported last week.
China's Caixin services PMI for December surprised well to the upside, providing a glimmer of hope that the economy isn't losing steam on all fronts.
Chile's central bank, the BCCh, held its reference rate unchanged at 2.75% on Tuesday, in line with the majority of analysts' forecasts.
The MPC's penchant for providing interest rate guidance reached new heights last week.
Colombia's BanRep stuck to the script on Thursday by leaving the policy rate on hold at 4.25%.
The violent protests in France claimed their first victims over the weekend, providing sombre evidence of the severity of the situation for the government.
The economic calendar in Mexico was relatively quiet over Christmas, and broadly conformed to our expectations of resilient economic activity in Q4.
German inflation surged in December, pointing to an upside surprise in today's advance EZ report. The headline inflation rate rose to a three-year high of 1.7% year-over-year in December, from 0.8% in November. This was the biggest increase in the year- over-year rate since 1993.
It probably would be wise to view the increase in the ISM manufacturing index in December with a degree of skepticism. The index is supposed to record only hard activity, but we can't help but wonder if some of the euphoria evident in surveys of consumers' sentiment has leaked into responses to the ISM. That said, the jump in the key new orders index-- which tends to lead the other components--looked to be overdue, relative to the strength of the import component of China's PMI.
Investors have revised down their expectations for interest rates since the November Inflation Report and now only a 50% chance of a 25bp hike in Bank Rate is priced-in by the end of this year.
The Caixin manufacturing headline was unremarkable, but the input price index signals that PPI inflation is set to rise again in May, to 4.0%-plus, from 3.4% in April.
Last week's final barrage of data showed that EZ headline inflation rose slightly last month, by 0.1 percentage points to 1.5%, driven mainly by increases in the unprocessed food energy components.
Inflation pressures in the Eurozone edged higher last month, reversing weakness at the start of the year.
While we were out, most of the core domestic economic data were quite strong, with the exception of the soft July home sales numbers and the Michigan consumer sentiment survey.
We recommend that investors take yesterday's inflation data in the Eurozone with a pinch of salt. The headline rate slipped to 1.2% in April, from 1.4% in March, hit by a slide in core inflation to 0.7%, from 1.0%.
The headline hourly earnings data for May were dull, showing the year-over-year rate unchanged at 2.5%. That's up from 2.1% in the year to May 2015, but it's not an alarming rate of increase. But the Atlanta Fed's median hourly earnings data, which track the wages of individuals from year-to-year, show wages up 3.4% year-over-year, the fastest rate of increase since February 2009.
Brazil's benchmark inflation index, the IPCA, fell 0.1% month-to-month unadjusted in August, below market expectations.
We already know that the month-to-month movements in the key labor market components of the December NFIB small business survey were mixed; the data were released last week, ahead the official employment report, as usual.
In contrast to the strong December trade numbers in France--see here--yesterday's German data were soft. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus dipped to €21.5B in December, from €22.3B in November.
Last week's data supported our view that monetary policy across LatAm will continue to diverge in the short term. Brazil will have to prolong its monetary tightening cycle, while economies such as Colombia and Chile will remain on hold despite the recent slowdowns in their economic cycle.
OPEC's decision at the weekend to turn the oil market into a free-for-all means that the rebound in headline inflation over the next few months will be less dramatic than we had been expecting. Falling retail gas prices look set to subtract 0.2% from the headline index in both November and December, and by a further 0.1% in January. These declines are much smaller than in the same three months a year ago, so the headline rate will still rise sharply, to about 1.3% by January from 0.2% in October, but it won't approach 2% until the end of next year or early 2017,
Yesterday's manufacturing data in Germany provided alarming evidence of a much more severe slowdown in the second half of last year than economists had initially expected.
The only way to read the December NFIB survey and not be alarmed is to look at the headline, which fell by less than expected, and ignore the details.
Convention dictates that we lead with yesterday's Fed meeting, but it's hard to argue that it really deserves top billing.
China's trade data looked more normal in April. The trade balance rebounded to a surplus of $28.8B in April, from a deficit of $5.0B in March. Exports also bounced back, rising 12.9% year-over-year in April, after a 2.7% decline in March.
The rollover in bank lending to commercial and industrial companies probably is over. On the face of it, the slowdown has been alarming, with year-over-year growth in the stock of lending slowing to just 2.6% in April, from a sustained peak of more than 10% in the early part of last year.
Core inflation--a long lagging indicator in the euro area-- will rise next year, in response to surging consumers' spending. Our first chart shows that services inflation likely will be a key theme in this story. Even allowing for a structural drag on inflation due to high unemployment outside Germany, cyclical risks to services inflation are tilted firmly to the upside.
Core PPI inflation has risen steadily this year, with month-to-month increases of 0.3% or more in five of the past six months.
Colombia was one of the fastest growing economies in LatAm in 2018, and prospects for this year have improved significantly following June's presidential election, with the market-friendly candidate, Iván Duque, winning.
If you need more evidence that the U.S. economy is bifurcating, look at the spread between the ISM non- manufacturing and manufacturing indexes, which has risen to 3.5 points, the widest gap since September 2016.
Friday's final EZ inflation report of 2017 sent a dovish signal to bond markets.
The ECB will keep all its policy parameters unchanged today. The refi and deposit rates will be maintained at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and the pace of QE will stay at €60B per month, running until the end of the year.
At their March meeting FOMC members' range of forecasts for the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of this year ranged from 4.4% to 4.7%, with a median of 4.5%. But Friday's report showed that the unemployment rate hit the bottom of the forecast range in April.
Inflation pressures in Colombia cooled considerably last month. Saturday's CPI report showed that inflation fell to 3.4% year-over-year in July, its lowest level since 2014, from 4.0% in June.
With little reason to doubt that interest rates will remain at 0.50% on Thursday, focus has turned to what signal the MPC will give about future policy, via its economic forecasts and commentary.
This week's MPC meeting and Inflation Report likely will support the dominant view in markets that the chances of a 2017 rate hike are remote, even though inflation will rise further above the 2% target over the coming months. Overnight index swap markets currently are pricing-in only a 20% chance of an increase in Bank Rate this year.
The days of +2% inflation in the Eurozone are long gone. Data on Friday showed that the headline rate slipped to 1.4% year-over-year in January, from 1.6% in December, thanks to a 2.9 percentage point plunge in energy inflation to 2.6%.
The rebound in the ISM manufacturing index was a relief, after the sharp drop in October, though the strength in last week's Chicago PMI meant that it wasn't a complete surprise.
Our hopes that tax cuts and lower energy inflation would lift French household consumption in Q4 were badly dented by yesterday's consumer sentiment report.
Mexico's political panorama seems to be becoming clearer, at least temporarily. This should dispel some of the uncertainty that has been hanging over the economy in recent months.
The minutes of the MPC's meeting in June indicated that several members' patience for tolerating for above-target inflation is wearing thin.
Mr. Draghi's speech yesterday in Portugal, at the ECB forum on Central Banking, pushed the euro and EZ government bond yields higher. The markets' hawkish interpretation was linked to the president's comment that "The threat of deflation is gone and reflationary forces are at play."
Two entirely separate factors point to significant upside risk to the first estimate of third quarter GDP growth, due today. First, we think it likely that farm inventories will not fall far enough to offset the unprecedented surge in exports of soybeans, which will add some 0.9 percentage points to headline GDP growth.
The preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP, showing quarter-on-quarter growth slowing only to 0.5% from 0.7% in Q2, has kiboshed the chance that the MPC cuts Bank Rate next Thursday.
The third estimate of first quarter GDP growth, due today, will not be the final word on the subject. Indeed, there never will be a final word, because the numbers are revised indefinitely into the future.
Mr. Draghi snubbed investors looking for hints on policy and the euro in his Jackson Hole address--see here--on Friday.
German labour market data continue to break records on a monthly basis. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.2% in A pril, with jobless claims falling 16,000, following a revised 2,000 fall in March. March employment rose 1.2% year-over-year, down slightly from 1.3% in February, but the total number of people in jobs rose to a new high of 43.4 million.
At first glance, the U.K. consumer price data show a perplexing absence of domestically generated inflation.
Net foreign trade made a positive contribution of 0.2 percentage points to GDP growth in the second quarter, matching the Q1 performance.
Yesterday's consumer sentiment data in the two major euro area economies were mixed, but they still support our view that a rebound in EZ consumption growth is underway.
Brazil's external accounts are well under control, despite the wider deficit in January, mainly driven by seasonal deterioration on the trade account.
Orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, have risen in six of the past seven months. In the fourth quarter, orders rose at a 4.7% annualized rate, in contrast to the 5.3% year-over-year plunge in the first half of the year.
The flat trend in core capital goods orders continued through May, according to yesterday's durable goods orders report. We are not surprised.
We were wrong about headline durable goods orders in April, because the civilian aircraft component behaved very strangely.
The Fed is on course to hike again in December, with 12 of the 16 FOMC forecasters expecting rates to end the year 25bp higher than the current 2-to-21⁄4%; back in June, just eight expected four or more hikes for the year.
Venezuelan bond markets have been on a rollercoaster ride this year, with yields rising significantly in response to heightened political uncertainty and then declining when the government pays its obligations or when protests ease.
Last week's detailed Q3 GDP data in Germany verified that GDP fell 0.2% quarter-on-quarter, down from a 0.5% rise in Q2, a number which all but confirms the key story for the economy over the year as a whole.
The publication yesterday of the first BCB quarterly inflation report under the new president, Ilan Golfajn, revealed his initial views on inflation, the currency, and monetary policy. Overall, Mr. Golfajn has taken a hawkish approach. We think Brazil's first rate cut will come no earlier than Q4, likely at the final meeting of the year, providing the government continues the fiscal consolidation process and inflation keeps falling.
The newly-revised data on capital goods orders, released on Friday, support our view that sustained strength in business capex remains a good bet for this year.
The models which generate the ADP measure of private payrolls will benefit in May from the strength of the headline industrial production, business sales and jobless claims numbers.
Advance country data indicate that headline EZ inflation fell slightly in June; we think the rate dipped to 1.3% year-over-year, from 1.4% in May.
The 0.18% increase in the core PCE deflator in December was at the lower end of the range implied by the core CPI. It left the year-over-year rate at just 1.5%.
We were nervous ahead of the GDP numbers on Friday, wondering if our forecast of a 1.5 percentage point hit from foreign trade was too aggressive. In the event, though, the trade hit was a huge 1.7pp, so domestic demand rose at a 3.5% pace.
Yesterday's November inflation reports from Germany and Spain suggest that today's data for the Eurozone as a whole will undershoot the consensus.
The MPC likely will raise interest rates on Thursday, for the first time since July 2007, in response to the uptick in GDP growth and the upside inflation surprise in Q3.
The recovery in the Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI to 53.1 in November, from 51.1 in October, propelled it well above the consensus, and the equivalent reading for the Eurozone, 51.8, for only the second time in the last 19 months.
The pullback in CPI inflation in June and continued slow GDP growth in Q2 mean that the MPC almost certainly will keep Bank Rate at 0.25% on Thursday.
The modest overshoot to consensus in September's core PCE deflator won't trouble any lists of great economic surprises, but it did serve to demonstrate that the PCE can diverge from the CPI, in both the short and medium-term.
Today's ECB meeting will be accompanied by an update of the staff projections, where the inflation outlook will be in the spotlight. The June forecasts predicted an average inflation rate of 0.3% year-over-year this year, currently requiring a rather steep increase in inflation towards 1.1% at the end of the year. We think this is achievable, but we doubt the ECB is willing to be as bold, and it is reasonable to assume this year's forecast will be revised down a notch.
One of the more disheartening aspects of the Q2 national accounts, released last week, was the downward revision to business investment. Quarteron-quarter growth was revised to -0.7%, from +0.5% previously.
Venezuela's fundamentals continue to deteriorate, economic chaos is increasing and the social/political situation remains fragile.
Tokyo CPI inflation jumped to 1.5% in October, from 1.2% in September. That
Tokyo CPI inflation edged down to 0.4% in May, from 0.5% in April.
One of the questions we have been asked recently is when inflation in the euro area will trough this year. This is difficult to answer without a look at the structural drivers of price pressures in Europe.
The manufacturing sector appears to have finished 2017 on a strong note. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI fell to 56.3 in December from 58.2 in November, but it remained above its 12-month average, 55.9.
Colombia's Central Bank is facing a short-term test. The recent fall in inflation was interrupted in August--data due on Thursday will show another increase in September--while economic growth, particularly consumption, is struggling, at least for now.
The U.K.'s balance of payments leaves little room for doubt that sterling would sink like a stone in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Manufacturing Upswing Continues; no Sign of Weakening
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony this week reinforced our view that the first U.S. rate hike will be in June. The transition to higher U.S. rates will require an unpleasant adjustment in asset prices in some LatAm countries.
The FTSE 100 has fallen by 4% over the last two weeks, exceeding the 1-to-3% declines in the main US, European and Japanese markets. The FTSE's latest drop builds on an underperformance which began in early 2014. The index has fallen by 10% since then--compared to rises of between 10% and 20% in the main overseas benchmarks--and has dropped by nearly 15% since its April 2015 peak. We doubt, however, that the collapse in U.K. equity prices signals impending economic misery. The economy is likely to struggle next year, but this will have little to do with the stock market's travails.
The downturn in equity prices deepened yesterday, with the FTSE 100 index closing at 5,537, 22% below its April 2015 peak. We remain unconvinced, however, that financial market turmoil is set to push the U.K. economy into a recession. We continue to take comfort from the weakness of the past relationship between equity prices and economic activity.
Mexico's economy is not accelerating, but it is holding up very well in difficult circumstances, with rising domestic political risk and stifling interest rates.
Chinese CPI inflation trends point to diminishing wage growth, as the services sector begins to struggle with the influx of labour displaced by the industrial productivity drive.
Our suggestion that the ECB could still raise the deposit rate later this year, by 20bp to -0.4%, has met with strong scepticism in recent conversations with readers.
The absence of a hawkish slant to the MPC's Inflation Report or the minutes of its meeting suggest that an increase in interest rates remains a long way off.
The Mexican industrial sector is struggling. December industrial output fell 0.4% month-to-month, the third consecutive drop, driven mainly by a similar decline in mining/oil output.
The overshoot in the November core PPI does not change the key story, which is that PPI inflation, headline and core, is set to fall sharply through the first half of next year, at least.
Friday's inflation report for Brazil confirmed that inflation is rapidly falling towards the BCB's target range, helping to make the case for stepping up the pace of monetary easing to 50bp at the Copom's January meeting.
Recent economic indicators in Mexico have been relatively positive.
China's PPI inflation rose again in June, to 4.7%, from 4.1% in May.
CPI inflation held steady at -0.1% in October, matching its lowest rate since March 1960. We had expected the rate to tick down to -0.2%, but the rebound in clothing inflation in October, following a period of discounting in September, was larger than we had anticipated. Looking ahead, we can be fairly confident that CPI inflation will pic k up sharply over the coming months.
The re-emergence of Chinese PPI inflation in 2016 was instrumental in stabilising equities after the 2015 bubble burst.
Another day, another downbeat survey. The British Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive and long-running Quarterly Economic Survey was published yesterday, and it added to evidence of a Q1 slowdown.
The MPC emphasised yesterday that its faith that interest rates need to rise further has not been shaken by recent downside data surprises.
You may have seen the chart below, which shows what appears to be an alarming divergence between the official jobless claims numbers and the Challenger survey's measure of job cut announcements. We should say at the outset that the chart makes the fundamental mistake of comparing the unadjusted Challenger data with the seasonally adjusted claims data.
Last week, the Chinese authorities were out in force, talking up the economy and markets, and bearing measures to support private firms.
Brazilian inflation has been well under control in the past few months, still laying the ground for rates to remain on hold for the foreseeable future.
With rates now certain to rise this week, the real importance of the employment picture is what it says about the timing of the next hike. To be clear, we think the Fed will raise rates again in June, and will at that meeting add another dot to the plot, making four hikes this year.
October's consumer price figures, released Tuesday, likely will show that CPI inflation increased to 3.1%, from 3.0% in September.
PPI inflation has finally started to soften, after having increased steadily from 2.0% in April, and holding steady at 3.0% in Q3.
Data released yesterday in Brazil are consistent with our view that private consumption will continue to drive the recovery over the second half, offsetting the ongoing weakness in private investment.
August's consumer price figures, released today, likely will show that households' spending power is being increasingly eroded by rising inflation. We think CPI inflation picked up to 0.8%, from 0.6% in July, exceeding the consensus, 0.7%, for the third consecutive month.
The Fed rate hike on Wednesday is fully priced in to LatAm markets, so we expect no significant immediate reaction when the trigger is pulled. But as markets gradually come around to our view that future U.S. rate risk is to the upside, markets will come under renewed pressure.
Industrial production in Mexico remained under pressure at the start of Q4. Output rose just 0.1% month-to-month in October, leaving the year-over-year rate unchanged at -1.4%, down from an average of -0.8% in Q3.
The headline March retail sales numbers probably will look horrible, thanks to the unexpected drop in auto sales reported by the manufacturers earlier this month. Their unit sales data don't always move exactly in line with the dollar value numbers in the retail sales report, as our first chart shows, but it's hard to imagine anything other than a clear decline today.
Long-standing readers will know that we have been downbeat on the potential for net external trade to boost the economy following sterling's 2016 depreciation.
Industrial production in Mexico surged 2.6% year-over-year in February, up from a 0.8% increase in January. A favourable calendar effect, however, is a key part of this story. Once adjusted for the leap year, which added an extra working day, industrial production rose only 0.8%, down from a 1.6% expansion in January.
The Bank kept interest rates unchanged at 1.50% yesterday, but downgraded its inflation forecast for 2018 to 1.6% from 1.7%
November's consumer price report likely will show that October's dip in CPI inflation was just a blip against a strong upward trend. We think that CPI inflation picked up to 1.1% in November, from 0.9% in October, in line with the consensus.
The CPI report due today will be released on schedule, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles the data, remains open during the partial government shutdown.
Yesterday's price data for China showed continued declines in both CPI and PPI inflation.
The Eurozone escaped deflation last month, and we doubt it will return in this business cycle. Inflation rose to 0.1% year-over-year in June, up from -0.1% in May; it was lifted chiefly by the gradual recovery in oil and other global commodity prices. Energy prices fell 6.5% in June, up from a 8.4% fall in May, and we think the recovery will accelerate in coming months.
Yesterday was a good day for headline EZ economic data. GDP growth accelerated, inflation rose and unemployment fell further. Advance Q4 data showed that real GDP in the Eurozone rose 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, marginally faster than the upwardly revised 0.4% in Q3. Full-year growth in 2016 slowed slightly to 1.7% from 2.0% in 2015.
House purchase mortgage approvals by the main street banks jumped to 40.1K in January, from 36.1K in December, fully reversing the 4K fall of the previous two months, according to trade body U.K. Finance.
Yesterday's aggregate economic data for the euro area showed that inflation rose slightly in August. The headline rate rose to a four-month high of 1.5% in August from 1.3% in July. The rate was lifted mainly by energy inflation, rising to 4.6% from 2.2% in July, but we think the rebound will be short-lived.
China's FX reserves were relatively stable in March, with the minimal increase driven by currency valuation effects.
March's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, look set to show that inflation's ascent was kept in check by the later Easter this year compared to last. Nonetheless, CPI inflation will take big upward strides over the coming months, and it likely will exceed 3% by the summer.
Friday's data deluge suggests that EZ economic growth slowed less than we expected in the second quarter. The advance estimate indicates that real GDP in the euro area rose 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, down from a 0.6% jump in the first quarter. This was in line with the consensus, but it likely doesn't tell the whole story.
Figures released today look set to reveal that industrial production rose in January by the biggest percentage since August. But this will simply reflect a rebound in demand for heating energy after extreme weakness late last year. The oil and manufacturing sectors remain on course for an extremely challenging year.
The pitiful 0.7% expansion of the economy in the fourth quarter is not, in our view, a sign of things to come. It is also not, by any means, a definitive verdict on what happened in the fourth quarter; the data are subject to indefinite revision. As they stand, the numbers are impossible to square with the 2.0% annualized increase in payroll employment over the quarter, so our base case has to be that these data will be revised upwards.
With financial markets still turbulent and the Governor stating only two weeks ago that economic conditions do not yet justify a rate hike, the Inflation Report on Thursday will not signal imminent action. Nonetheless, higher medium-term forecasts for inflation are likely to imply that the Committee still envisions raising interest rates this year.
Markets were on the right side of the argument with economists about the outlook for monetary policy in 2015, but we doubt history will repeat itself this year. The consensus among economists a year ago was for interest rates to rise to 0.75% from 0.5% by the end of 2015, in contrast to the markets' view that an increase was unlikely.
...The data were all over the map, with existing home sales plunging while consumer confidence rose; Chicago-area manufacturing activity plunged but national durable goods were flat; real consumption rose at a decent clip but pending home sales dipped again. Markets, by contrast, are little changed from the week before the holidays. What to make of it all?
Increased volatility has given equity investors a torrid start to the year, but economic reports have been strong, and yesterday's PMIs were no exception. The composite index in the Eurozone rose marginally to 54.3 in December from 54.2 in November, slightly higher than the initial estimate of 54.0. This is consistent with a continuing cyclical recovery, and real GDP growth of 0.4%-to-0.5% in Q4, modestly higher than the 0.3% rise in the third quarter.
The outlook for Brazil's industrial economy is better than at any time since before the crisis. But data released this week highlighted that the recovery will be slow and bumpy.
For some time now we have argued that collapse in capital spending in the oil sector was the source of most of the softening of activity in the manufacturing and wholesaling sectors last year.
Survey data have been signalling a stronger German economy in the last few months, and hard data are beginning to confirm this story. Data yesterday showed that industrial production rose 0.4% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 2.2%, from an upwardly-revised 1.6% in October. The headline was boosted mainly by a 1.5% month-to-month jump in construction and a 0.9% rise in intermediate goods production.
First things first: Payroll growth likely will be sustained at or close to November's pace.
Our base case forecast for today's July core CPI is that the remarkable and unexpected run of weak numbers, shown in our first chart, is set to come to an end, with a reversion to the prior 0.2% trend.
The next few months, perhaps the whole of the first quarter, are likely to see a clear split in the U.S. economic data, with numbers from the consumer side of the economy looking much better than the industrial numbers.
German net exports were treading water at the start of the fourth quarter. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus slipped to €17.4B in October, from a revised €17.7B in September, constrained by a 1.3% month-to-month rise in imports, which offset a 0.7% increase in exports.
Mexico's inflation rate ended 2018 in line with market expectations, strengthening the case for interest rates to remain on hold in the near term.
On the face of it, the slowdown in bank loan growth to commercial and industrial companies over the past two years looks alarming. In the year to November, the stock of loans outstanding rose by 8.0%, the smallest gain since January 2014. A further decline in the year-over-year rate, taking it below the rate of growth of nominal GDP--we expect 4.7% in the first quarter--for the first time in six years, is now a fair bet. The three- and six-month annualized growth rates of C&I lending in November were just 6.2% and 4.7% respectively, and still falling.
The CBO reckons that the April budget surplus jumped to about $179B, some $72B more than in the same month last year. This looks great, but alas all the apparent improvement reflects calendar distortions on the spending side of the accounts.
Market participants and analysts have gradually softened their cautious stance towards Mexico, as concerns about the new U.S. administration's trade and immigration policies have eased, and risks of a credit rating downgrade have lessened.
For some time now, we have puzzled over the softness of small firms' capital spending intentions, as measured by the monthly NFIB survey.
History is repeating itself in France. When the Republican Nicolas Sarkozy defeated the Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal in April 2007, consumer sentiment briefly soared to a six-year high, before plunging to an all-time low a year later.
It has been mostly doom and gloom for euro area investors in equities and credit this year.
Germany's external balance was virtually stable at the beginning of the second quarter. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose marginally to €23.9B in April from a revised €23.7B in March, mainly due to weakness in imports. Demand for goods abroad fell 0.2% month-to-month, which pushed up the surplus despite amid unchanged exports. Imports fell 1.5% year-over-year in April, up slightly from a 2.5% decline in March.
April's Retail Sales Monitor from the British Chambers of Commerce, released yesterday, provided a powerful signal that households' spending rebounded in April, following a terrible Q1.
The run of soft-looking headline retail sales numbers in recent months--the initial estimates for February, January and December were -0.6%, -0.8% and -0.9% respectively--will end today; the March number will look solid.
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.
Mexico's central bank likely will pause its monetary tightening on Thursday, keeping the main rate at 6.5%. A hike this week would follow five consecutive increases, totalling 350bp since December 2015, when policymakers were first overwhelmed by the MXN's sell-off.
The euro area's trade surplus slipped further mid- way through the second quarter; falling to a 15-month low of €16.9B in May, from a downwardly-revised €18.0B in April, and extending its descent from last year's peak of nearly €24.0B.
The final and detailed April CPI data confirmed that inflation pressures in the Eurozone eased last month. Headline inflation slipped to 1.2%, from 1.3% in March.
Yesterday's CPI report in the Eurozone confirmed that inflation pressures remain subdued, even as GDP growth is accelerating.
Yesterday's sole economic report showed that the Eurozone's external surplus recovered ground over the summer, but we don't think the rebound will last long.
October's retail sales figures confirm that consumers have adopted a more cautious mindset since the summer, when retail sales increased at a faster rate than incomes.
When the MPC last met, on November 2, it attempted to persuade markets that Bank Rate would need to rise three times over the next three years to keep inflation close to the 2% target.
On the face of it, recent retail spending surveys have been puzzlingly weak in light of the pick-up in employment growth, still-robust real wage gains and renewed momentum in the housing market. We think those surveys are a genuine signal that retail sales growth is slowing, and expect today's official figures to surprise to the downside. But retail sales account for just one-third of household spending, and, in contrast to the early stages of the economic recovery, consumers now are prioritising spending on services rather than goods.
Yesterday's GDP reports confirmed that growth was stable at 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the Eurozone, leaving the year-over-year rate unchanged at 1.5%. Rebounding growth outside Germany, which has been a main driver of EZ GDP growth in this cycle, was the key story.
The headline retail sales numbers for October looked good, but the details were less comforting.
Economic data are telling a story of a strengthening recovery, but downbeat investor sentiment points to a more difficult environment. The headline ZEW expectations index fell to a ten-month low of 12.1 in September, from 25.0 in August. This takes sentiment back to levels not seen before QE was announced, highlighting the increasing worry that deflation risks and low growth in China will derail the recovery. We don't agree, but we can't be sure the ECB thinks the same, and risks of additional stimulus this year have increased.
Over the past 18 months, the year-over-year rate of growth of manufacturing output has swung from minus 2.1% to plus 2.5%.
Eurozone inflation continued its slow rebound last month. Final CPI data showed that inflation rose marginally to 0.2% in November from 0.1% in October, a bit higher than the initial estimate of 0.1%. The upward revision was due to marginally higher services inflation at 1.2%, compared to the initial 1.1% estimate. Non-energy goods inflation eased slightly to 0.5% from 0.6% last month. We have received push-back on our call for higher inflation next year, but core inflation is a lagging indicator, and it can rise independently of the story told by GDP or survey data. Core inflation tends to peak during recessions, and only starts falling later as prices are adjusted downwards, with a lag, to the cyclical downturn.
The most important number released yesterday was hidden well behind the headline inflation, production and housing construction data. We have been waiting to see how quickly the upturn in the number of rigs in operation would translate into rising oil and gas well-drilling, and now we know: In July, well-drilling jumped by 4.7%
The Eurozone's trade surplus rebounded slightly over the summer, rising to €16.6B in August from €12.6B in July, helped mainly by a 2.0% month-to- month jump in exports.
The MPC's forecast in August, which predicted that inflation would overshoot its 2% target over the next two years only modestly--giving it the green light to ease policy--assumed that inflation in sectors insensitive to swings in import prices would remain low. We doubt, however, that domestically generated inflation will remain benign.
Colombia and Peru have been among the top performers in LatAm currency markets in recent weeks, both rising above 4% against the dollar. Higher commodity prices seem to be driving the rally as domestic factors haven't changed dramatically.
Polls suggest that Ivan Duque has comfortably beat Gustavo Petro to become Colombia's president.
Data on Friday confirmed that headline inflation in the Eurozone rose a bit last month, to 1.5% from 1.4% in January, but also that the core rate dipped by 0.1 percentage points, to 1.0%.
July's consumer price figures, released on Wednesday, look set to show that CPI inflation rose to 2.5%, from 2.4% in June.
Colombia's worrying inflation picture suggests the Central Bank will likely hike rates at least once more before the end of the year, attempting to anchor expectations. The October 30th BanRep minutes, in which the board surprised the market by hiking the main rate by 50bp to 5.25%--consensus was a 25bp increase--made it clear that the decision was based on fear of increased inflation risks, coupled with an improving domestic demand picture. The 50bp hike was not agreed unanimously, with dissenters arguing that the bank should adopt a more gradual approach due the high degree of uncertainty over the global economy. In addition, those favoring a 25bp hike argued that it would be better to move at a predictable pace to avoid possible market turmoil.
Eurozone inflation pressures remained subdued in April. Today's final data likely will show that inflation fell to -0.2% year-over-year in April, from 0.0% in March. The main story in this report will be the reversal in services inflation from the March surge, which was due to the early Easter.
Chinese residential property prices appear to be staging a comeback, with new home prices rising 1.1% month-on-month in June, faster than the 0.8% increase in May.
Data over the past week give a near-complete picture of how India's economy fared in the fourth quarter.
The euro area's external surplus dipped at the start of Q4.
Final data for Eurozone inflation yesterday revealed that inflation fell slightly to 0.1% year-over-year in August, from 0.2% in July, a tiny downward revision from the original estimate of 0.2%. Depressed energy prices will continue to constrain inflation in coming months, but base effects will reduce this drag, and core inflation is rising. Nominal GDP growth accelerated to 2.9% year-over-year in Q2, up from 2.4% in Q1, sending a convincing signal of higher core inflation.
AMLO unveiled on Saturday Mexico's budget plan for 2019, calling for a moderate increase in spending, focused mainly on social programs, without raising taxes or the country's debt.
Inflation pressures in the Eurozone edged lower last month.
Fourth quarter construction activity in the Eurozone was much better than in Q3, despite a dip in December. Output fell 0.6% month-to-month in the final month of the year, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -0.4% from a revised 0.3% in November.
Banxico hiked its policy rate by 25bp to a cyclical-high of 8.0% yesterday, in line with market expectations.
Comments by Mr. Draghi in Washington last week point to a high bar for an adjustment to the QE program. The ECB president noted that while asset purchases and negative interest rates have driven a notable improvement in confidence and asset prices, the real key to the central bank's policies' success is a lasting boost to investment, consumption and inflation.
The near-term U.S. inflation outlook is benign, but it is not without risk.
The minutes of the September 19/20 FOMC meeting record that "...it was noted that the National Federation of Independent Business reported that greater optimism among small businesses had contributed to a sharp increase in the proportion of small firms planning increases in their capital expenditures."
We remain confident--see here--that today's Q3 GDP report in Germany will be a shocker, but this already is priced-in by markets.
Friday's detailed October CPI report in Germany confirmed that inflation pressures are steadily rising. Inflation rose to 0.8% year-over-year in October, from 0.7% in September, lifted mostly by a continuing increase in energy prices.
The EZ Q4 GDP data narrowly avoided a downward revision in yesterday's second estimate.
Wednesday's Mexican industrial production report was upbeat for manufacturing, but it revealed that the oil and public construction sectors remain under severe strain.
To answer the question: Yes, growth could hit 5% in the second quarter.
The medium-term outlook in most LatAm economies is improving, though economic activity is likely to remain anaemic in the near term. The gradual recovery in commodity prices is supporting resource economies, while the post-election surge in global stock prices has boosted confidence. But country-specific domestic considerations are equally relevant; the growth stories differ across the region.
German inflation pressures were unchanged last month. The CPI index rose 0.8% year-over-year, matching the increase in October, and in line with the consensus and initial estimate. Energy deflation intensified marginally, as a result of lower prices for household utilities.
We are sticking to our view that the Eurozone's trade surplus will fall in the next six months, despite yesterday's upbeat report. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus leapt to a record high of €25.0B in September from revised €21.0B in August, lifted by an increase in exports and a decline in imports.
CPI inflation held steady at 3.0% in January, above the consensus by one tenth and thus pushing up the market-implied probability of a May rate hike to 65%, from 62% earlier this week.
Japan's unadjusted current account surplus fell sharply in November, to ¥757B, from ¥1,310B in October.
April's impressive-looking retail sales numbers--the headline jumped 1.3%, with non-auto sales up 0.8%--were boosted by two entirely separate factors, one of which will play no p art in May and one which will offer very modest support. The key lift in April came from the very early Easter, which confounded the seasonal adjustments, as it usually does.
Today brings a huge wave of data, but most market attention will be on the June CPI, following the run of unexpectedly soft core readings over the past three months.
The FTSE 100 fell further yesterday, briefly to levels not seen since November 2012, but its drop over recent months is not a convincing signal of impending economic disaster. The economic recovery is likely to slow further, but this will reflect the building fiscal squeeze and the sterling-related export hit much more than the wobble in market sentiment.
Data released earlier this week show that Japan's current account surplus continued its downtrend in October, falling to ¥1,404B, on our seasonal adjustment, from ¥1,494B in September.
Swap markets currently price-in RPI inflation falling to 3.0% this time next year, from 3.2% in November, before recovering to 3.8% at the start of 2020.
The most important retail sales report of the year, for December, won't be published today, unless some overnight miracle means that the government has re-opened.
We expect June's consumer prices report, released on Wednesday, to show that CPI inflation increased to 2.7%, from 2.4% in May, above the consensus, 2.6%, and the Bank of England's forecast, 2.5%.
Economists are evenly split on December's consumer prices report, due on Wednesday, with half expecting CPI inflation to fall to 2.1%, from 2.3% in November, and the other half expecting a 2.2% print.
October's consumer price figures, to be released tomorrow, look set to show CPI inflation easing to -0.2%, from -0.1%, below the no-change consensus and the lowest rate since March 1960. No doubt this will spark more hyperbolic headlines about the U.K.'s descent into pernicious deflation; ignore them. October's print will almost certainly represent the nadir and we think it will take only a year for CPI inflation to return to the MPC's 2% target.
Inflation pressures in France eased across the board at the end of last year.
December's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, likely will reveal that CPI inflation rose to 1.4%--its highest rate since August 2014--from 1.2% in November. Inflation will take even bigger upward steps over the coming months as the anniversary of sharp falls in commodity prices is reached and retailers pass on hefty increases in import prices to consumers.
April's consumer price figures, released on Tuesday, look set to reveal that CPI inflation jumped to 2.7%--its highest rate since September 2013--from 2.3% in March. Inflation likely will be driven up entirely by a jump in the cor e rate to 2.3%, from 1.8% in March.
On a headline level, the ECB conformed to expectations yesterday.
CPI inflation held steady at 2.4% in October, undershooting the 2.5% consensus expectation and the MPC's forecast in this month's Inflation Report.
The average month-to-month increase in the core CPI in the past three months is a solid 0.20, much firmer than the 0.05% average over the previous five months, stretching back to the first of the run of downside surprises, in March.
Colombian activity data released this week were weak, but mostly better than we expected. Real GDP rose 0.7% quarter- on-quarter in Q2, in contrast to the 0.3% fall in Q1, when the economy was hit by the lagged effect of last year's monetary tightening and the one-off VAT increase.
CPI inflation is on track to fall back to 2.0% in the winter and below the MPC's target thereafter, despite rising to 2.5% in July, from 2.4% in June.
Japan's trade surplus is set to fall in coming months, as domestic demand remains robust, while recent oil price increases will be a drag, lifting imports.
2015 is set to be another grim year for Venezuela, and we have no hope things will improve further down the road, barring huge changes in policy.
Due to a technical quirk, Eurostat was not able to publish seasonally adjusted January trade numbers yesterday, so the report is of limited use. The unadjusted trade surplus in the Eurozone plunged to €7.9B in January, from €24.3B in December, driven in part by a collapse in Italy's surplus.
The big story in global macro over the past 18 months or so has been the gigantic transfer of income from oil producers to oil consumers. The final verdict on the net impact of this shift--worth nearly $2T at an annualized rate--is not yet clear, because the boost to consumption takes longer than the hit to oil firms ' capex, which began to collapse just a few months after prices began to fall sharply. But our first chart, which shows oil production by country as a share of oil consumption, plotted against the change in real year-over-year GDP growth between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015, tells a clear story.
Oil and gas extraction, and the drilling of wells to facilitate extraction, accounts for only 2.0% of GDP, but it punches far above its weight when it comes to capital spending.
Pantheon Macroeconomics Founder Ian Shepherdson discusses the price of oil, the U.S. economy and the Greek crisis. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
The recent surge in the oil price has added to the headwinds set to batter the economy over the next year. The price of Brent crude has jumped by $10 since September to $64, its highest level since June 2015.
Chile's economy is showing the first reliable signs of improvement, at last. December retail sales rose 1.9% year-over-year, up from 0.4% in November, indicating that household expenditure is starting to revive, in line with a pick-up in consumer confidence and the improving labor market.
France just about avoided slipping into deflation in December, with the CPI rising 0.1% year-over-year, down from 0.3% in November. The 4.4% drop in the energy component should have pushed inflation below zero, but a seasonal increase in tourism services was enough to offset the drag from oil prices.
November's consumer prices figures, released tomorrow, look set to show that the U.K.'s spell of negative inflation has ended. CPI inflation is set to pick-up decisively over the coming months, even if oil prices continue to drift down. In fact, fuel prices likely will contribute to the pick-up in inflation from October's -0.1% rate. November's 1.5% fall in prices at the pump was smaller than the 2.3% drop in the same month last year, so the year-over-year rate will rise. Fuel's contribution to CPI inflation therefore will pick up, albeit very marginally, to -0.47pp from -0.50pp in October.
After a very light week for economic data so far, everything changes today, with an array of reports on both activity and inflation. We expect headline weakness across the board, with downside risks to consensus for the December retail sales and industrial production numbers, and the January Empire State survey and Michigan consumer sentiment. The damage will b e done by a combination of falling oil prices, very warm weather, relative to seasonal norms, and the stock market.
Markets' judgement that the Monetary Policy Committee--which meets today--will wait until 2017 to raise interest rates overestimates the role that the drop in oil prices and slower GDP growth will play in its decision-making. The inflation risks emanating from the increasingly tight labour market still could motivate a tightening before the summer.
Colombia is more vulnerable to falling oil prices than most other LatAm economies. That's why the COP has dropped by 20% since June, outpaced only by the rouble, which has problems beyond falling oil prices.
Today brings a raft of January data on both economic activity and prices, but we expect the headline numbers in each report to be distorted by the impact of severe weather or the plunge in oil prices.
We have argued consistently since oil prices first began to fall that U.S. consumers would spend most of their windfall, so real spending would accelerate even as nominal retail sales growth was dragged down by the drop in the price of gas and other imported goods. At the same time, we argued that capital spending in the oil business would collapse, and that exports would struggle in the face of the stronger dollar.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economies in LatAm but over the last few quarters the country has been adjusting to the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency and rising inflation. But the slowdown, especially on the domestic side of the economy, has been less dramatic than expected, so far. Our main scenario is that the adjustment process to challenging external conditions will continue over the coming quarters.
Inflation in Germany rebounded last month, rising to plus 0.1% year-over-year in May, from minus 0.1% in April. We think the economy has escaped the claws of deflation, for now. Household energy prices fell 5.7% year-over-year in May, up from a 6.3% decline in April, and the rate will rise further. Base effects and higher oil prices point to a surge in energy inflation in the next three-to-six months.
Inflation in the Eurozone jumped in December, and will surge further in Q1 as base effects from last year's crash in oil prices push energy inflation higher. Higher inflation in the U.S. and surging Chinese factory gate prices indicate that this isn't just a Eurozone story.
Manufacturing data for the euro area's major economies point to renewed downside risks for GDP growth, despite the likely tailwind to consumption from low oil prices. November industrial production fell 0.1% and 0.3% month-to-month in Germany and France respectively, indicating that the manufacturing sector remains under pressure.
Mexican manufacturing sector kicked off the year on a soft note, due mainly to the sharp drop in oil prices, and the sharp weather-induced slowdown in the U.S. Mexico's northern neighbor is its largest trading partner, by far, accounting for about 85% of total exports last year and close to 80% of total non-oil exports.
The substantial, though incomplete, rebound in the September ISM manufacturing survey is consistent with our view that the outlook for the industrial economy right now is better than at any time since before the crash in oil prices
The major Andean economies had a very challenging first quarter. In Colombia, the effect of the sharp fall in oil prices has become more evident in the last few months. The ISE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--fell considerably during 2014, with a significant deceleration over the last half of the year.
December's consumer prices figures, released tomorrow, look set to show CPI inflation ticked up to 0.2% from 0.1% in November, despite the renewed collapse in oil prices. The further fall in energy prices this year means that the inflation print won't reach 1% until May's figures are published in June. But Governor Carney has emphasised that core price pressures will motivate the first rate hike--a focus he likely will reiterate in a speech on Tuesday-- meaning that a May lift-off is still on the table.
We have lost count of the number of times the drop in the ISM manufacturing survey, in the wake of the plunge in oil prices, was a harbinger o f recession across the whole economy. It wasn't, because the havoc wreaked in the industrial economy by the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector was contained.
The pressures on U.S. manufacturers are changing. For most of this year to date, the problem has been the collapse in capital spending in the oil business, which has depressed overall investment spending, manufacturing output and employment. Oil exploration is extremely capital-intensive, so the only way for companies in the sector to save themselves when the oil prices collapsed was to slash capex very quickly.
November's industrial production figures, released today, look set to surprise the consensus to the downside, underscoring our view that the economic recovery is continuing to lose momentum. Moreover, with sterling remaining uncompetitive, despite depreciating over recent weeks, and lower oil prices making extracting oil from the North Sea unprofitable, the industrial sector likely will impede the economic recovery further in 2016.
Mexican economic growth was subdued during the first half of the year, and we expect it to remain weak over the coming months. The economy has been held back largely by external headwinds, especially low oil prices and disruptions to activity in the US, its main trading partner.
German exporters stumbled at the end of last year. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in Germany dipped to €18.4B in December, from €21.8B in November, hit by a 3.3% month-to-month plunge in exports. Imports were flat on the month. The fall in exports looks dramatic, but it followed a 3.9% jump in the previous month, and nominal exports were up 2.5% over Q4 as a whole. Advance GDP data next week likely will show that net trade lifted quarter-on-quarter growth by 0.2 percentage points, partly reversing the 0.3pp drag in Q3. Real imports were held back by a jump in the import price deflator, due to rebounding oil prices.
Treasury yields closed Friday a few basis points higher across the curve than the day before the surprisingly soft March payroll report. A combination of slightly less dovish-than-expected FOMC minutes, a hawkish speech from Richmond president Jeff Lacker, rising oil prices, and robust--albeit second-tier--data last week seem to have done the work.
Advance CPI data yesterday continue to indicate that inflation pressures remain depressed in the Eurozone's largest economy, for now. Inflation in Germany rose slightly in May, but only to 0.1% year-over-year, from -0.1% in April. The downward pressure on the headline from the crash in oil prices remains significant. Energy prices fell 7.9% year-over-year, slowing slightly from the 8.5% drop in the year to April.
Eurozone manufacturing selling prices remain under pressure from deflationary headwinds. The PPI index, ex-construction, in the euro area fell 4.2% year-over-year in March, matching February's drop. Weakness in oil prices continues to drive the headline.
The Colombian economy has been able to grow this year despite the plunge in oil prices since the middle of 2014. Gains in consumers' spending and investment have offset part of the hit from falling exports. But private spending growth, nonetheless, slowed considerably during the first few months of the year, as shown in our char t below, in part due to rising prices for imported goods after the depreciation of the COP, as well as broad-based concerns over the state of the economy.
Capex data by industry are available only on an annual basis, with a very long lag, so we can't directly observe the impact the collapse in the oil sector has had on total equipment spending. But we can make the simple observation that orders for non-defense capital goods were rising strongly and quite steadily-- allowing for the considerable noise in the data--from mid-2013 through mid-2014, before crashing by 9% between their September peak and the February low. It cannot be a coincidence that this followed a 55% plunge in oil prices.
Colombia's central bank--Banrep--decided last Friday to leave its benchmark interest rate at 4.5% for the third consecutive month, concerned by the slowdown in oil prices, which is affecting economic activity in the fastest growing economy in the region.
Chilean GDP growth hit bottom in August, but activity is now picking up and will gather speed over the coming quarters. The tailwinds from lower oil prices and fiscal stimulus will soon be visible in the activity data.
The latest drop in crude oil prices me ans that sub-zero headline CPI inflation in the spring is now more likely than not. We expect a lurch down from November's 1.3% to 0.7% in December, then 0.3% in January. The rate will remain close to that level for the next few months before hitting zero in May and slipping into negative territory--just--in June and July.
Inflation data later today will likely show that the Eurozone fell into deflation driven primarily by the big plunge in oil prices since 2008. The consensus expects a 0.1% decline year-over-year, but we look for the CPI to fall slightly more, by 0.2%.
The plunge in oil prices me ans that U.S. oil imports are set to drop much further over the next few months, flattering the headline trade deficit. The trend in imports has been downwards since early 2013, as our first chart shows, reflecting the surge in domestic production. That surge is now over, but as falling prices become the dominant factor in the oil import story, the trend will remain downwards.
Mexico's economy is not accelerating, but it is holding up well in extremely difficult circumstances for EM. Growth is reasonably healthy, inflation is under control and the labor market is resilient. In short, Mexico is a success story, given the backdrop of plunging oil prices. The contrast with the disaster in Brazil is stark. Last week's survey and hard data continued to tell an upbeat story on Mexico's economy. The IMEF manufacturing index, Mexico's PMI, rose to 52.1 in November up from 51.6 in October, lifted mainly by gains in the employment and deliveries indexes.
The Fed left in place the three key elements of its statement yesterday, repeating that the extent of labor market under-utilization is "diminishing"; that the inflation drop as a result of falling oil prices will be "transitory" and that the Fed can be "patient" before starting to raise rates.
Colombia's peso has been one of the most battered currencies in LatAm this year, due mainly to the sharp fall in oil prices, the country's primary export. The COP has dropped about 23% this year against the USD. At the same time, other temporary factors, most notably the impact of El Niño on food prices, have done a great deal of inflation damage too. October's food prices increased 1.4% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 8.8% from an average of 6.6% in the first half of the year. Overall inflation has jumped to 5.9% in October from 3.8% in January, forcing BanRep's board to act aggressively.
Detailed German inflation data today likely will confirm that inflation fell to 0.3% year-over-year in December from 0.4% in November, mainly due to falling food inflation. Preliminary data suggest that food inflation declined sharply to 1.4% from 2.3% in November, offsetting slower energy price deflation, due to base effects. Food and energy prices are wild cards in the next three-to-six months, and could weigh on the headline, given the renewed weakness in oil prices, and lower fresh food prices. Core inflation, however, is a lagging indicator, and will continue to increase this year.
This week's economic data for the Mexican economy have been encouraging, especially for Banxico, which left its main interest rate unchanged yesterday at 3.0%. Inflation remained on target for the second consecutive month in the first half of February, and the closely-watched IGAE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--continued to grow at a relatively solid pace, despite the big hit from lower oil prices.
As we're writing, the price of U.S. crude oil is only about 50 cents per barrel lower than on Thursday, when markets began to anticipate an OPEC deal to cut production over the weekend. The failure of the Doha talks generated an initial sharp drop in oil prices, but the damage now is very limited, as our first chart shows.
The sharp drop in commodity prices, especially oil prices, has dampened the growth prospects for most countries in Latin America. But the most damage, so far, is in the currencies, which have dropped sharply.
The flattening of the curve in recent months has been substantial, but in our view it is telling us little, if anything, about the outlook for growth. More than anything else, investors in longer Treasuries care about inflation, and the likely path of headline inflation clearly has been lowered by the plunge in oil prices.
Eurozone investors continue to look to the ECB as the main reason to justify a constructive stance on the equity market. Last week, the central bank all but promised additional easing in March, but the soothing words by Mr. Draghi have, so far, given only a limited lift to equities. Easy monetary policy has partly been offset by external risks, in the form of fears over slow growth in China, and the risk of low oil prices sparking a wave of corporate defaults. But uncertainty over earnings is another story we frequently hear from disappointed equity investors. We continue to think that QE and ZIRP offer powerful support for equity valuations in the Eurozone, but weak earnings are a key missing link in the story.
A widening core trade deficit is the inevitable consequence of a strengthening currency and faster growth than most of your trading partners. Falling oil prices have limited the headline damage by driving down net oil imports, but the downward trend in core exports since late 2014 has been steep and sustained, as our first chart shows. The deterioration meant that trade subtracted an average of 0.3 percentage points from GDP growth in the past three quarters.
We have been very encouraged in recent months to see core capital goods orders breaking to the upside, relative to the trend implied by the path of oil prices.
If we had known back in June 2014 that oil prices would drop to about $30, the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector would not have been a surprise. Spending on well-drilling, which accounts for about three quarters of oil capex, has dropped in line with the fall in prices, after a short lag, as our first chart shows. We think spending on equipment has tracked the fall in oil prices, too.
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Ian Shepherdson's mission is to present complex economic ideas in a clear, understandable and actionable manner to financial market professionals. He has worked in and around financial markets for more than 20 years, developing a strong sense for what is important to investors, traders, salespeople and risk managers.
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