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A setback in German manufacturing orders was coming after the jump at the end of 2016, but yesterday's headline was worse than we expected. Factory orders crashed 7.4% month-to-month in January, more than reversing the 5.4% jump in December. The year-over-year rate fell to -0.8% from a revised +8.0%. The decline was the biggest since 2009, but the huge volatility in domestic capital goods orders means that the headline has to be taken with a large pinch of salt.
The upturn in German manufacturing orders waned slightly towards the end of 2017; factory orders fell 0.4% month-to-month in November.
We're expecting a substantial inventory hit in the fourth quarter, subtracting about 1¼ percentage points from headline GDP growth. Businesses very likely added to their inventories in Q4, in real terms, but the we reckon the increase was only about $30B, annualized, compared to the $85.5B jump in the third quarter. Remember, the contribution to GDP growth is the change in the pace of inventory-building between quarters.
The hefty upward revision to Q3 inventories means we have to lower our working assumption for fourth quarter GDP growth, because the year-end inventory rebound we previously expected is now much less likely to happen. Remember, the GDP contribution from inventories is equal to the change in the pace of inventory accumulation between quarters, and we're struggling to see a faster rate of accumulation in Q4 after the hefty revised $90B third quarter gain. Inventory holdings are in line with the trend in place since the recession of 2001; firms don't need to build inventory now at a faster pace.
German manufacturing is in good shape, but probably is not as strong as implied by yesterday's surge in new orders. Factory orders jumped 5.2% month-to-month in December, rebounding strongly after a downwardly revised 3.6% fall in November. December's jump was the biggest monthly increase in two years, but it was flattered by a leap in bulk investment goods orders, mainly in the domestic market and other EZ economies.
Our hope for a year-end jump in German factory orders was laughably optimistic.
In one line: No relief; these data are still horrible.
In one line: Still stuck in the mud.
Whether the economy enters recession will hinge more on corporate behaviour than on consumers. Household spending accounts for about two thirds of GDP, but it is a relatively stable component of demand. By contrast, business investment and inventories--which are often overlooked--are prone to wild swings.
In one line: Dreadful.
In one line: Normal, and poor, services resumed.
In one line: Not much to cheer about; the trend is still falling.
In one line: Solid EZ retail sales and German new orders; and upward revisions to the PMIs.
Investors have welcomed the flurry of encouraging opinion polls for the Conservatives that were published over the weekend, with cable rising nearly to $1.30 on Monday, a level last seen on a sustained basis six months ago.
Quarter-on-quarter GDP growth last year was buffeted by the accumulation, and subsequent depletion, of inventories, around the two Brexit deadlines in March and October.
A sluggish GDP headline, a further increase in inflation, and poor German manufacturing data were the primary euro area highlights in our absence.
After the drama of the last few days, Brexit developments now are set to proceed at a slower pace.
In one line: Stung by volatility in major orders, but still unequivocally grim.
Demand in German manufacturing slid at the start of Q3.
In one line: Mr. Draghi just talked himself into cutting rates before he steps down.
China's August foreign trade data were nasty, on the face of it, with exports falling 1.0% year-over- year, after the 3.3% increase in July.
Manufacturing activity in Germany rebounded at the start of the fourth quarter, following a miserable Q3. New orders jumped 1.8% month-to-month in October, lifted by increases in consumer and capital goods orders, both domestic and export. But the year-over-year rate fell to -1.4%, from a revised -0.7% in September, due to unfavorable base effects, and the three-month trend remained below zero. Our first chart shows that non-Eurozone export orders are the key drag, with export orders to other euro area economies doing significantly better.
Predicting which way markets would move in response to potential general election outcomes has been relatively straightforward in the past. But the usual rules of thumb will not apply when the election results filter through after polling stations close on Thursday evening.
According to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, it is "almost inevitable" that Labour will table a no-confidence motion in the government next month, shortly after MPs return from the summer recess on September 3.
For sterling traders, no election news is good news.
The gaps in the third quarter GDP data are still quite large, with no numbers yet for September international trade or the public sector, but we're now thinking that growth likely was less than 11⁄2%.
Yesterday's FOMC , announcing a unanimous vote for no change in the funds rate, is almost identical to December's.
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.
In one line: Not pretty; the slowdown intensified in Q3.
The November IFO report suggests that the headline indices are on track for a tepid recovery in Q4 as a whole, but the central message is still one of downside risks to growth
Today brings more housing market data, in the form of the Case-Shiller home price report for April.
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.
We continue to expect a general election to be held in December.
Increasingly, we are hearing equity strategists argue that investors should rebalance their portfolios toward EZ equities. On the surface, this looks like sound advice. Commodity prices have exited their depression, factory gate inflation pressures are rising, and global manufacturing output is picking up. These factors tell a bullish story for margins and earnings at large cap industrial and materials equities in the euro area.
The Prime Minister achieved a rare victory yesterday, when the Commons passed the government-backed Brady amendment.
Markets greatly cheered the Conservatives' landslide victory on Friday, but remained cautious on the potential for the MPC to return to the tightening cycle it started in 2017.
After the first round of voting by Tory MPs, Boris Johnson remains the clear favourite to be the next Prime Minister.
Today's advance inventory and international trade data for December could change our Q4 GDP forecast significantly.
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.
The Prime Minister is threatening to bring back her Brexit deal to the Commons for a third time before March 20, in a final bid to win over the rebels within the Tory party who want a harder Brexit.
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.
The theory of spontaneous combustion of the U.S. economy appears to be making something of a comeback, if our inbox and market chat is to be believed. The core idea here is that expansions die of old age, and can be helped on their way to oblivion by factors like falling corporate earnings and rising inventory. The current recovery, which began in June 2009 and is now 63 months old, already looks a bit long-in-the-tooth.
The wide spread in first quarter GDP growth "trackers"--which at this point are more model and assumption than actual data--is indicative of the uncertainty surrounding the international trade and inventory components.
A classic indicator of impending recession is the emergence of excessive levels of inventory across the economy. The pace of businesses inventory accumulation typically lags sales growth, so when activity slows, usually in response to higher interest rates, firms are left with unsold goods.
The tepid recovery in German manufacturing continued in at the start of Q4. Factory orders edged higher by 0.3% month-to-month in October, boosted by a 2.9% month-to-month increase in export orders, primarily for capital and intermediate goods in other EZ economies.
Demand for German manufacturing goods remained firm at the start of Q4. Data yesterday showed that factory orders increased 0.5% month-to-month in October, helped by gains in both export and domestic activity.
Manufacturing orders in Germany recovered some ground in the middle of Q1, following the plunge at the beginning of the year. Factory orders rose 3.4% in February, pushing the year-over-year rate up to +4.6% from a revised 0.0% in January.
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 Prime Minister has revealed that her Plan B for Brexit is to get Eurosceptics within the Tory party on side in an attempt to show the E.U. that a deal could be done if the backstop for Northern Ireland was amended. Her plan is highly likely to fail, again.
The spectre of a general election relentlessly will haunt the new Prime Minister--due to be announced as Tory party leader today before moving into Downing Street tomorrow--but our base case remains that a poll won't happen this year.
Friday's factory orders report in Germany provided a bit of relief amid the gloom in manufacturing.
The first economic report of 2020 confirmed the main story in the euro area last year; namely a recession in manufacturing.
It will take months, and perhaps years, before markets have any clarity on the U.K.'s new relationship with the EU. In the U.K., the main parties remain shell-shocked. Both leading candidates for the Tory leadership, and, hence, the post of Prime Minister, have said that they would wait before triggering Article 50.
Yesterday's data were mixed, though disappointment over the weakening in the Richmond Fed survey should be tempered by a quick look at the history, shown in our first chart.
The story of U.S. retail sales since last summer is mostly a story about the impact of the hurricanes, Harvey in particular.
Sometime very soon, likely in the second quarter of this year, the stock of net housing wealth will exceed the $13.1T peak recorded before the crash, in the fourth quarter of 2005. At the post-crash low, in the first quarter of 2009, net housing equity had fallen by 53%, to just $6.2T. The recovery began in earnest in 2012, and over the past year net housing wealth has been rising at a steady pace just north of 10%. With housing demand rising, credit conditions easing and inventory still very tight, we have to expect home prices to keep rising at a rapid pace.
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.
We have tweaked our third quarter GDP forecast in the wake of the September advance international trade and inventory data; we now expect today's first estimate to show that the economy expanded at a 4.0% annualized rate.
The rate of inventory-building regularly is a major influence on GDP growth, but often is overlooked by analysts. Much slower inventory accumulation than in 2014 was the key source of downside surprise to the 2015 consensus GDP growth forecast, and we think inventories likely will be a sustained drag on GDP growth this year too.
The June durable goods, trade and inventory reports today, could make a material difference to forecasts for the first estimate of second quarter GDP growth, due tomorrow.
Today's wave of data will be mixed, but most of the headlines are likely to be on the soft side, so the reports are very unlikely to trigger a wave of last minute defections to the hawkish side of the FOMC. As always, though, the headlines don't necessarily capture the underlying story, and that's certainly been the case with the retail sales data this year. Plunging prices for gas and imported goods, especially audio-video items, have driven down the rate of growth of nominal retail sales, but real sales have performed much better.
Yesterday's German industrial production data were poor, but better than we expected. Output fell 0.5% month-to-month in February, pushing annual growth down to 1.3% from a revised 1.8% in January. In addition, net revisions to the month-to-month data were a hefty -1.0%, but this is not enough to change the story of a Q1 rebound in industrial production.
EZ equity futures predictably fell out of bed as the news of the Trump victory gradually became clear overnight yesterday. The reaction was less violent than after the U.K. Brexit referendum, though, and Mr. Trump's balanced victory speech appears to have calmed nerves for now.
In recent Monitors, we have highlighted the upturn in Q4 survey data pointing to a strong end of the year for the EZ economy. This story has not changed, but yesterday's money supply data tell a story of downside risks.
Early results project that Andrés Manuel López Obrador--AMLO--will become the new Mexican president with 53.4% of the votes, against Ricardo Anaya's 22.6%, and José Antonio Meade's 15.7%. AMLO has declared victory and thanked his opponents, who recognized his triumph.
Some of the recent labor market data appear contradictory. For example, the official JOLTS measure of the number of job openings has spiked to an all-time high, and the number of openings is now greater than the number of unemployed people, for the first time since the data series begins, in 2001.
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone GDP
Claus Vistesen, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief euro zone economist, discusses how volatility has impacted the bond market.
Ian Shepherdson on U.S. Manufacturing Activity
Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing Output
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing the General Election in June
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. CBI Industrial Trends Survey
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing the devaluation of the GBP
China's official GDP data, published on Monday, showed year-over-year growth edging down to 6.7% in Q2, from 6.8% in Q1.
Existing home sales peaked last February, and the news since then has been almost unremittingly gloomy.
The level of mortgage applications long ago ceased to be a reliable indicator of the level of new home sales, thanks to the fracturing of the mortgage market triggered by the financial crash. But the rates of change of mortgage demand and new home sales are correlated, as our first chart shows, and the current message clearly is positive.
Italy's economy is still bumping along the bottom, after emerging from recession in the middle of last year.
The sustained upturn in mortgage applications since last fall ought to have driven up the pace of new home construction quite sharply. But our first chart shows that single-family building permit issuance--we use permits rather than starts, as they are much less volatile--rose only 8.3% year-over-year in the three months to May, while applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase jumped by 18.8% over the same period.
PM Johnson has conceded considerable ground over the terms of Brexit for Northern Ireland in order to get a deal over the line in time for MPs to vote on it on Saturday, before the Benn Act requires him to seek an extension.
The declines in headline housing starts and building permits in September don't matter; both were driven by corrections in the volatile multi-family sector.
Surging soybean exports contributed 0.9 percentage points, gross, to third quarter GDP growth, though the BEA said that this was "mostly" offset by falling inventories of wholesale non-durable goods.
The trend rate of increase in private payrolls in the months before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was about 240K per month.
The Conservatives have maintained a substantial poll lead over Labour since MPs voted two weeks ago to hold a December 12 general election.
Back-to-back elevated weekly jobless claims numbers prove nothing, but they have grabbed our attention.
Sterling took another pounding last week. Resignations from the Cabinet, protests by the DUP, and the public submission of letters by 21 MPs calling for a confidence vote in Mrs. May's leadership, imply that parliament won't ratify the current versions of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on the future relationship with the E.U. next month.
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.
In the short-term, all the housing data are volatile. But you can be sure that if the recent pace of new home sales is sustained, housing construction will rise.
Our first impression of the proposed Brexit deal between the EU and the U.K. is that it is sufficiently opaque for both sides to claim that they have stuck to their guns, even if in reality, they have both made concessions.
China is a collection of hugely disparate provinces and cities. Managing all these cities with one interest rate is always difficult but in this cycle it is proving to be nearly impossible.
With campaigning for the general election intensifying last week, it was unsurprising that October's money and credit release from the Bank of England received virtually no media or market attention.
The possibility of a Corbyn-led Labour Government has been highlighted by some analysts as a major economic risk. Mr. Corbyn, however, has little practical chance of being elected soon.
We have been asked several times in recent days whether a pick-up in stockbuilding, as part of businesses' contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, could cause the economy to gather some pace in the run-up to Britain's scheduled departure from the EU in March 2019.
Over the past couple of weeks, the number of applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase have reached their highest level since late 2010, when activity was boosted by the impending expiration of a time-limited tax credit for homebuyers.
Investors have become more concerned about a no-deal Brexit.
Stories of Chinese ghost cities are plentiful and alarming. The aggregate data present a startling picture. Between 2012 and 2015, China started around six billion square meters of residential floorspace but sold only around five billion.
Japan's trade surplus has whipsawed recently. Sharp changes are to be expected in January and February, due to the shifting timing of Chinese New Year.
As we write, 25 Conservative MPs have confirmed publicly that they have submitted no-confidence letters to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee. That's 23 short of the 48 required to trigger a leadership contest, though some MPs might have submitted letters without making it public.
In the wake of the unexpectedly weak September Empire State survey, released Monday, we are now very keen to see what today's Philadelphia Fed survey has to say.
The recent increases in single-family housing construction are consistent with the rise in new home sales, triggered by the substantial fall in mortgage rates over the past year.
Sterling soared yesterday following news that Britain and the EU have agreed the terms of the transition period from March 2019, which will ensure that goods, services, capital and people continue to move freely, until December 2020.
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.
Halfway through the third quarter, we have no objection to the idea that GDP growth likely will exceed 2% for the third straight quarter.
The key detail in Friday's barrage of economic data was the above-consensus increase in EZ inflation.
We're reasonably happy with the idea that business sentiment is stabilizing, albeit at a low level, but that does not mean that all the downside risk to economic growth is over.
The government now has a 50:50 chance of getting the Withdrawal Agreement Bill--WAB--through parliament in the coming weeks, despite Letwin's successful amendment and the extension request.
Car sales continue to offer solid support for consumption spending in the Eurozone. Growth of new car registrations in the euro area fell trivially to 10.6% year-over-year in September, from 10.8% in August, consistent with a stable trend. Surging sales in the periphery are the key driver of the impressive performance, with new registrations rising 22.1% and 17.1% in Spain and Italy respectively, and surging 30% in Portugal. Favorable base effects mean that rapid growth rates will continue in Q4, supporting consumers' spending.
While were out over the holidays, the single biggest surprise in the data was yet another drop in imports, reported in the advance trade numbers for November.
The chances of the first phase of the Brexit saga concluding soon declined sharply last week.
On the face of it, the rebound in the manufacturing PMI, to 53.3 in August from 48.3 in July, directly challenges our view that the economy is set to slow sharply over the coming quarters. A close look at the survey, however, suggests that the manufacturing PMI exaggerates the extent of the sector's recovery in August.
Sterling continued to recover last week, hitting its highest level against the dollar since October, despite a series of data releases indicating that the economy is losing momentum. Indeed, sterling was unscathed by the news on Friday that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowed to just 0.3% in Q1, from 0.7% in Q4.
Data on EZ consumption were soft while we were enjoying our Christmas break. The advance EC consumer confidence index slipped to a three-year low of -8.1 in December, from -7.2 in November, breaking its recent tight range.
In recent client meetings the first and last topic of conversation has been the market implications of the possible departure of President Trump from office.
Upbeat survey data, a competitive MXN, and the strong U.S. manufacturing sector indicate that Mexican industry should be rebounding.
Chair Powell broke no new ground in his semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, repeating the Fed's new core view that the current stance of policy is "appropriate".
Consumers' spending in the second quarter is still set to be less than great, thanks in part to unfavorable base effects from the first quarter, but a respectable showing of about 2¾% now seems likely. The core May retail sales numbers were a bit stronger than we expected, with gains in most sectors, and the upward revisions to April and March were substantial.
Today's general election looks set to be a closer race than opinion polls suggested two weeks ago.
The escalation in the U.S.-Chinese trade wars has understandably pushed EZ economic data firmly into the background while we have been resting on the beach.
Friday's manufacturing data in the Eurozone were mixed.
October's consumer prices report, released on Wednesday, likely will show that CPI inflation has continued to drift further below the 2% target
The headline figures from yesterday's GDP report gave a bad impression. September's 0.1% month-to- month decline in GDP matched the consensus and primarily reflected mean-reversion in car production and car sales, which both picked up in August.
Next week is so crammed full of data releases that we need to preview November's consumer price data early, in the eye of the storm of the general election.
Chair Yellen broke no new ground in her Testimony yesterday, repeating her long-standing view that the tightening labor market requires the Fed to continue normalizing policy at a gradual pace.
We often hear that the large gap between the slowing rising path for interest rates anticipated by the MPC and the flat profile expected by markets is justified because markets have to price-in all of the downside risks to the economic outlook posed by Brexit.
The French manufacturing data delivered another upside surprise last week, following the solid numbers in Germany; see here. French industrial production rose slightly in November, by 0.3% month-to-month, extending the gains from an upwardly-revised 0.5% rise in October.
Today's industrial production report in the Eurozone will be poor.
One of the main conclusions we drew from last week's ECB meeting was that the QE program is here to stay for a while. If the economy improves, the central bank could reduce the pace of purchases further. But we struggle to come up with a forecast for growth and inflation next year that would allow the ECB to signal that QE is coming to an end.
The government remains on course to lose next Tuesday's Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement--WA--by a huge margin.
China's November money and credit data were a little less grim, with only M2 growth slipping, due to unfavourable base effects.
Yesterday's economic headlines in the Eurozone were pleasant reading.
Chinese PPI inflation was unchanged at 5.5% in July; it had been expected to rise modestly. Officially, inflation peaked at 7.8% in February, but we think this peak was artificially high, thanks to seasonal effects. The slowing in PPI inflation since the peak appears to suggest that monthly price gains have slowed sharply. We find little evidence to support this.
The government last week fired the starting gun for the contest to replace Mark Carney as Governor of the Bank of England.
We have written a good deal recently about the likely impact of the sudden explosion of U.S. soybean exports on third quarter GDP growth.
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.
The headline ISM non-manufacturing index is not, in our view, a leading indicator of anything much. The survey covers a broad array of non manufacturing activity, including mining, healthcare, and financial services, but most of the time it tends to follow the track of real core retail sales, as our first chart shows.
The Conservatives successfully have defended their average poll lead over Labour of 10 percentage points over the last week.
Japan's GDP growth was revised up, to 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, from 0.1% in the preliminary reading.
The ECB made no changes to its policy stance yesterday.
Markets rightly placed little weight on October's below-consensus GDP report yesterday, and still think that the chances of the MPC cutting Bank Rate within the next six months are below 50%.
Friday was a busy day in the Eurozone economy. The third detailed GDP estimate confirmed that growth was unchanged at 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, pushing the year-over-year rate down by 0.4 percentage points to 2.1%, marginally below the first estimate,2.2%.
Friday's data provided the first bit of evidence that manufacturing in the Eurozone is headed for a slowdown in Q2, partly reversing the strength in Q1.
Our forecast of a solid 190K increase in headline December payrolls ignores our composite employment indicator, which usually leads by about three months and points to a print of just 50K or so.
The rate of deterioration in the labour market remains gradual enough for the MPC to hold back from cutting Bank Rate over the coming months.
Sterling held on to its recent gains yesterday despite mounting speculation that Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are plotting a leadership challenge.
We're sticking to our call that the Eurozone PMIs have bottomed, though we concede that the picture so far is more one of stabilisation than an outright rebound.
This week brings the third anniversary of the first rate hike in this cycle, on December 16, 2015.
Tariffs are a tax on imported goods, and higher taxes depress growth, other things equal.
Even if the Prime Minister fends off an emerging leadership challenge--as we write, the rebels still are short of the 48 signatures required to trigger a confidence vote--her chances of getting parliament to back the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form are slim.
A 45bp rise in long-term interest rates--the increase between mid-August and last week's peak--ought to depress stock prices, other things equal.
It's now four weeks since the Prime Minister called a snap general election, and the Conservatives still are riding high in the opinion polls. The average of the last 10 polls suggests that the Tories are on track to take 47% of the vote, well above Labour's 30%.
We are still waiting for the promised rebound in EZ car sales.
Former Chancellor George Osborne famously quipped after last year's general election that Theresa May was "a dead woman walking and the only question is how long she remains on death row".
The BoJ is likely to stay on hold this week for all its main policy settings.
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%.
Boeing's announcement that it will temporarily cut production of 737MAX aircraft to zero in January, from the current 42 per month pace, will depress first quarter economic growth, though not by much.
Growth in Eurozone car sales slowed slightly at the end of the first quarter. New car registrations in the euro area rose 5.8% year-over-year in March, down from a 14.4% increase in February. But the 12-month average level of new registrations jumped to new cyclical highs of 440,000 and 252,000 in the core and periphery respectively.
The GM strike will make itself felt in the September industrial production data, due today.
China's September imports missed expectations, but commentators and markets tend to focus on the year-over-year numbers.
China's main activity data for October disappointed across the board, strengthening our conviction that the PBoC probably isn't quite done with easing this year.
The fall in CPI inflation to just 1.5% in October-- its lowest rate since November 2016--from 1.7% in September, isn't a game-changer for the monetary policy outlook.
Sterling weakened yesterday, to $1.31 from $1.32, following news that 40 Conservative MPs have agreed to sign a letter of no-confidence in the Prime Minister.
Data on Friday showed that the upturn in French manufacturing petered out at the end of Q1.
The consumer in Brazil was off to a strong start to the first quarter, and we expect household spending will continue to boost GDP growth in the near term.
Japan's GDP likely dropped by a huge 0.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, after the 0.5% increase in Q3, with risks skewed firmly to the downside.
Chancellor Javid's resignation, only eight months after assuming the role, is the clearest sign yet that the Johnson-led government wants fiscal policy to play a bigger part in stimulating the economy over the next couple of years.
Soft September data in Germany and Italy suggest that today's industrial production report in the Eurozone will be poor. Our first chart shows that data from the major EZ economies point to a 0.8% month-to- month fall in September.
Sterling leapt to $1.27, from $1.22 last week, amid some positive signals from all sides engaged in Brexit talks.
GDP growth in Korea surprised to the upside in the fourth quarter, with the economy expanding by 1.2% quarter-on-quarter, three times as fast as in Q3, and the biggest increase in nine quarters.
October's 0.1% month-to-month fall in retail sales volumes was disappointing, following substantial improvements in the CBI, BRC and BDO survey measures.
Eurozone manufacturers had an underwhelming start to Q4. Data yesterday showed that production fell 0.1% month-to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 0.6%, from a revised 1.3% in September. Output was constrained mostly by weakness in France and a big month-to-month fall in Ireland, which offset marginal gains in Germany and Spain.
Industrial production in Eurozone had a decent start to the fourth quarter. Output ex-construction rose 0.6% month-to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 1.9% from a revised 1.3% in September. Production was lifted by gains in the major economies, and surging output in the Netherlands, Portugal and Lithuania. Across sectors, increases in production of capital and consumer goods were the main drivers, but energy output also helped, due to a cold spell lifting demand and production in France.
The EU's decision to grant the U.K. an extension under Article 50, until October 31, reveals two key aspects of continental Europe's position on Brexit.
Downward revisions to Japan's Q4 real GDP growth, published on Wednesday, lead us to revisit our main worry over the durability of the recovery; namely, that monetary conditions appear to be signalling a slowdown.
The third estimate of first quarter GDP growth, due today, will not be the final word. The BEA will revise the data again on July 30, when it will also release its first estimate for the second quarter and the results of its annual revision exercise. Quarterly estimates back to 2012 will be revised. The revisions are of greater interest than usual this year because the new data will incorporate the first results of the BEA's review of the seasonal problems.
The simultaneous decline in both ISM indexes was a key factor driving markets to anticipate last week's Fed easing.
In the wake of the ADP report released Wednesday, we moved up our payroll forecast to 150K from 100K, but we've now taken a closer look at the post-Florence path of jobless claims.
We would sum up the final stages of the Brexit negotiations as follows: Both sides have an interest in a deal with minimal disruptions, but we probably have to get a lot closer to the cliff- edge for the final settlement.
Support in opinion polls for both the Conservatives and Labour has been increasing steadily.
Evidence of slowing growth in Eurozone consumers' spending continues to mount. Retail sales in the euro area fell 0.5% month-to-month in March, pushing the year-over-rate down to 2.1% from a revised 2.7% in February. The headline likely was depressed by the early Easter. March had one trading day less than February, which was not picked up the seasonals.
Yesterday's retail sales report indicates that preliminary Eurozone Q4 GDP data next week are likely to paint an upbeat picture of the economy. Sales rose 0.3% month-to-month in December, equivalent to 2.8% year-over-year. An upward revision to November data means that turnover increased 0.8% quarter-on- quarter, the best since the first quarter of 2005.
In theory, June should be a crunch month for Theresa May's Brexit plans. The Prime Minister will meet EU leaders on June 28 and hopes to have found a consensus in cabinet by then for how the U.K. will trade with the EU outside of the customs union.
October payrolls were stronger than we expected, rising 128K, despite a 46K hit from the GM strike.
Yesterday's detailed Q3 growth data in the Eurozone offered no surprises in terms of the headline.
It's hard to overstate the geopolitical importance of Friday's assassination of Qassim Soleimani, architect of Iran's external military activity for more than 20 years and perhaps the most powerful man in the country, after the Supreme Leader.
Friday's early EZ CPI data for December were red hot. Headline HICP inflation in Germany jumped to 1.5%, from 1.3% in November, while the headline rate in France increased by 0.4pp, to 1.6%.
Demand in German manufacturing rebounded strongly midway through the second quarter.
Late last year, China said it would scrap residency restrictions for cities with populations less than three million, while the rules for those of three-to-five million will be relaxed.
Real M1 growth is slowing, and financial conditions are beginning to tighten in the Eurozone, but shortleading indicators continue to signal firm momentum in the economy.
Productivity likely rose by 1.7% last year, the best performance since 2010.
The decision by the ECB to remove the waiver for including Greek government bonds in standard refinancing operations changes little in the short run, as the banking system in Greece still has full access to the ELA. It does put additional pressure on Syriza, though, to abandon the position that it will exit the bailout on February the 28th, effectively pushing the economy into the abyss.
Our composite index of employment indicators, based on survey data and the official JOLTS report, looks ahead about three months.
With less than a week to go until MPs' meaningful vote on Brexit legislation, on December 11, the Prime Minister still looks set to lose.
Implied volatility on the euro is now so low that we're compelled to write about it, mainly because we think the macroeconomic data are hinting where the euro goes next.
Sterling strengthened last week to its highest tradeweighted level since mid-May, amid hopes that the U.K. government will concede more ground to ensure that the European Council deems, at its December 14 meeting, that "sufficient progress" has been made in Brexit talks for trade discussions to begin
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.
The ADP employment report was on the money in October at the headline level--it undershot the official private payroll number by a trivial 6K--but the BLS's measure was hit by the absence of 46K striking GM workers from the data.
The recent narrowing of the Conservatives' opinion poll lead suggests that investors, particularly in the gilt market, now must consider other parties' fiscal proposals.
We have been asked by a few readers how much confidence we have in our forecast of a 1% rebound in the third quarter employment costs index, well above the 0.6% consensus and the mere 0.2% second quarter gain. The answer, unfortunately, is not much, though we do think that the balance of risks to the consensus is to the upside.
The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators appears to signal that the U.S. economy is plunging headlong into recession.
The fundamentals underpinning our forecast of solid first half growth in consumers' spending remain robust.
The near-term performance for EZ manufacturing will be a tug-of-war between positive technical factors, and a still-poor fundamental outlook.
The economic and political backdrop to this week's Monetary Policy Committee meeting is significantly more benign than when it last met on September 19.
Yesterday's data showed that the euro area PMIs were a bit stronger than initially estimated in November.
We were worried about downside risk to yesterday's ADP employment measure, but the 67K increase in November private payrolls was at the very bottom of our expected range.
The unexpectedly robust 128K increase in October payrolls--about 175K when the GM strikers are added back in--and the 98K aggregate upward revision to August and September change our picture of the labor market in the late summer and early fall.
We're relatively optimistic--yes, you read that correctly--on the outlook for the U.K. economy in 2019.
In trade-weighted terms, sterling finished 2017 just 1% higher than at the start of the year, reversing little of 2016's 14% drop.
Investors have concluded from June's Markit/CIPS PMIs and Governor Carney's speech on Tuesday that the chance of the MPC cutting Bank Rate before the end of this year now is about 50%, rising to 55% by the time of Mr. Carney's final meeting at the end of January.
The U.K.'s dysfunctional cabinet will meet at the Prime Minister's country retreat today to agree--finally--on a set of proposals for how Britain will trade outside of the E .U.'s customs union and single market.
Mr. Draghi was in a slightly more bullish mood yesterday, noting that the significant easing of financial conditions in recent months and improving sentiment show that monetary policy "has worked". Economic risks are tilted to the downside, according to the president, but they have also "diminished".
Markets clearly love the idea that the "Phase One" trade deal with China will be signed soon, at a location apparently still subject to haggling between the parties.
We have argued for a while that China and the U.S. will not reach a comprehensive trade deal until after the next election.
The release of October's GDP report on Tuesday likely will be overshadowed by campaigning ahead of Thursday's general election.
Manufacturers in Germany endured another miserable quarter in Q3.
Investors now see a 50/50 chance of the MPC cutting Bank Rate within the next nine months, following the slightly dovish minutes of the MPC's meeting, and its new forecasts.
The latest iteration of the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model of second quarter GDP growth shows the economy expanding at a 4.5% annualized rate.
Demand in German manufacturing rebounded slightly at the end of Q1, though the overall picture for the sector remains grim.
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,
A core element of our relatively upbeat macro view before the implementation of fiscal stimulus under the new administration is that the ending of the drag from falling capex in the oil sector will have quite wide, positive implications for growth. The recovery in direct oil sector spending is clear enough; it will just track the rising rig count, as usual.
Industrial production data in Germany continued to defy the signal of doom and gloom from leading indicators.
A flawed theory still is circulating that the economy might outperform over the next two quarters because firms will stockpile goods due to the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
Payroll growth in September and October probably won't be materially worse than August's meager 96K increase in private jobs.
The ECB made no major policy changes yesterday, but tweaked its communication. The key refinancing and deposit rates were kept at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and the pace of QE was maintained at €30B per month.
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.
The German manufacturing sector appears to have settled into an equilibrium of sustained misery.
The reported drop in mortgage applications over the holidays is now reversing, not that it ever mattered.
The ink has hardly dried on economists' and the ECB's inflation projections for 2020, but we suspect that some forecasters are already considering ripping up the script.
The contrast between November's very modest 67K ADP private payroll number and the surprising 254K official reading was startling, even when the 46K boost to the latter from returning GM strikers is stripped out.
The startling November international trade numbers, released yesterday, greatly improve the chance that the fourth quarter saw a third straight quarter of 3%- plus GDP growth.
Demand for German manufacturing goods remained subdued at the end of Q4.
The jump in oil prices over the past two trading days eventually will lift retail gasoline prices by about 35 cents per gallon, or 131⁄2%.
As we go to press, equities in the Eurozone are having a bad day following the collapse in U.S. and Asian equities earlier.
We raised our forecast for today's January payroll number after the ADP report, to 200K from 160K.
October's Markit/CIPS services survey suggests that the PM's new Brexit deal has had a lukewarm reception from firms.
Productivity growth reached the dizzy heights of 1.8% year-over-year in the second quarter, following a couple of hefty quarter-on-quarter increases, averaging 2.9%.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone were solid across the board.
Mexico's survey data have improved significantly over the last few months, reaching levels last since before Donald Trump won the U.S. election in November. This suggest that the economy is in much better shape than feared earlier this year. Consumer confidence, for instance, has continued its recovery.
Last week's manufacturing data in Germany left investors with more questions than answers.
China's FX reserves rose to $3119B in November from $3109B in October. But the increase is explained by simultaneous yen, euro and sterling strength, which raises the dollar value of assets denominated in these currencies.
One bad month proves nothing, but our first chart shows that October's auto sales numbers were awful, dropping unexpectedly to a six-month low.
The economic data calendar for next week is so congested that we need to preview early September's GDP report, released on Monday.
Recent polls in the U.K. have reminded markets that the vote is too close to call at this point, but investors in the Eurozone appear unfazed, so far. The headline Sentix index rose to 9.9 in June, from 6.2 in May, lifted by the expectations index, which increased to a six-month high of 10.0 from 5.5 in May.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone were mostly positive.
The stage is set for the Fed to ease by 25bp today, but to signal that further reductions in the funds rate would require a meaningful deterioration in the outlook for growth or unexpected downward pressure on inflation.
Data yesterday showed that German inflation roared higher at the start of the year, but the devil is in the detail.
The key data today, covering March durable goods orders and international trade in goods, should both beat consensus forecasts.
The Prime Minister's announcement on Sunday that the meaningful vote in parliament on her Brexit deal will be delayed from this week, until March 12, came as no surprise after a series of prior postponements.
A trade deal with China is in sight. President Trump tweeted Sunday that the planned increase in tariffs on $200B of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%, due March 1, has been deferred--no date was specified-- in light of the "substantial progress" in the talks.
In recent months we have argued that housing market activity has peaked for this cycle, with rising mortgage rates depressing the flow of mortgage applications.
Investors think it more likely that the MPC will cut Bank Rate in the first half of next year, following Friday's release of the flash Markit/CIPS PMIs for November.
We expect MPs this week to take a big step towards a soft Brexit, which has been our base case since the referendum.
The weaker is the economy over the next few months, the more likely it is that Mr. Trump blinks and removes some--perhaps even all--the tariffs on Chinese imports.
Korean GDP unexpectedly declined in Q4, for the first time since the financial crisis, falling 0.2% quarter-on-quarter after a 1.5% jump in Q3.
In our view, the chances of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 have not surged just because Boris Johnson has become Prime Minister and is gesticulating wildly at the Despatch Box.
The first point to make about today's Q1 GDP growth number is that whatever the BEA publishes, you probably should add 0.9 percentage points.
Britain looks set for a general election during the week commencing December 9, now that all main parties are pushing for a pre-Christmas poll.
The second estimate of Q1 GDP confirmed that the recovery has lost momentum and revealed that growth would have ground to a halt without consumers. GDP growth likely will slow further in Q2, as Brexit risk undermines business investment.
Korean real GDP growth rebounded to 1.1% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, after GDP fell 0.2% in Q4. Growth in Q4 was hit by distortions, thanks to a long holiday in October, which normally falls in September.
The Conservatives have continued to gain ground over the last week, with support averaging 43% across the 13 opinion polls conducted last week, up from 41% in the previous week.
We're nudging down our estimate of Q2 GDP growth, due today, by 0.3 percentage points to 1.8%, in the wake of yesterday's array of data.
We were terrified by the plunge in the ISM manufacturing export orders index in August and September, which appeared to point to a 2008-style meltdown in trade flows.
New home sales surprised to the upside in May, rising 6.7% to 689K, a six-month high.
After strong real GDP growth in Q1, China commentators called the peak, claiming that growth would slow for the rest of 2017.
Sterling rallied to $1.25 last week--its highest level against the dollar since Boris Johnson became PM in mid-July--amid growing speculation that a Brexit deal still was possible in the next couple of weeks, enabling the U.K. to leave the E.U. on October 31.
Orders for core capital goods began to fall outright in September last year; we can't blame the severe winter for the 11.1% annualized decline in the fourth quarter of last year. Indeed, the drop in orders in the first quarter will be rather smaller than in the fourth, unless today's March report reveals a catastrophic collapse.
Industry estimates for August light vehicle sales suggest that the downshift in sales which began at the turn of the year is over, at least for now.
The 17-point leap in the Richmond Fed index for October, reported yesterday, was startlingly large.
As we write, the Commons appears to be on the verge of voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill--WAB--at its second reading but then voting against the government's "Programme Motion", which sets out a very tight timetable for its passage through parliament, in a bid to meet the October 31 deadline and to minimise parliamentary scrutiny.
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.
The June batch of the French statistical office's business surveys continues to signal a firming cyclical recovery. The aggregate business index rose to cyclical high of 106 in June from a revised 105 in May, continuing an uptrend that began in the middle of 2016.
We are a bit troubled by the persistent weakness of the Redbook chain store sales numbers. We aren't ready to sound an alarm, but we are puzzled at the recent declines in the rate of growth of same-store sales to new post-crash lows. On the face of it, the recent performance of the Redbook, shown in our first chart, is terrible. Sales rose only 0.5% in the year to July, during which time we estimate nominal personal incomes rose nearly 3%.
You could be forgiven for being alarmed at the 1.5% decline in the stock of outstanding bank commercial and industrial lending in the fourth quarter, the first dip since the second quarter of 2017.
Korean real GDP growth--to be published on Thursday--should bounce back in Q1 to 1.0% quarter-on-quarter, after the 0.2% drop in Q4.
Friday's economic data in Germany left markets with a confused picture of the Eurozone's largest economy.
The PM now is at a fork in the road and will have to decide in the coming days whether to risk all and seek a general election, or restart the process of trying to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill--WAB--through parliament.
Core durable goods orders have not weakened as much as implied by the ISM manufacturing survey, as our first chart shows, but it is risky to assume this situation persists.
April's public finances indicate that the economy has remained weak in Q2, casting doubt on the suggestion from recent business surveys that the slowdown in Q1 was just a blip.
The chances of our Brexit base case--a soft departure just before the current October 31 deadline--playing out have declined sharply over the last two weeks.
Political uncertainty is starting to dampen housing market activity again.
Forecasting the health insurance component of the CPI is a mug's game, so you'll look in vain for hard projections in this note.
Yesterday's final manufacturing PMIs confirmed that the headline index in the euro area rebounded further last month.
The Redbook chainstore sales survey today is likely to give the superficial impression that the peak holiday shopping season got off to a robust start last week.
The number of coronavirus cases continues to increase, but we're expecting to see signs that the number of new cases is peaking within the next two to three weeks.
The political momentum in the run-up to the election now lies with Labour.
Once again, MPs failed to coalesce around any way forward for Brexit in the indicative votes process on Monday.
The emergence last month of a new E.U. Withdrawal Agreement that has a strong chance of being ratified by MPs appears to have given a small boost to business confidence.
We expect today's first estimate of third quarter GDP growth to show that the economy expanded at a 2.4% annualized rate over the summer.
Friday's advance Q4 growth numbers in the EZ were a bit of a dumpster fire.
The pressure on Theresa May from Brexiteers within her own party intensified yesterday, when 60 Conservative MPs signed a letter arguing that they could not back a proposal for a "customs partnership".
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%.
The Conservatives' opinion poll rating has fallen dramatically over the last 10 days or so, pushing sterling down and forcing investors to confront the possibility that Theresa May might not increase her majority much from the current paltry 17 MPs.
The risk of a snap general election has jumped following Theresa May's resignation and the widespread opposition within the Conservative party to the compromises she proposed last week, which might have paved the way to a soft Brexit.
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.
We're expecting a hefty increase in private payrolls in today's August ADP employment report. ADP's number is generated by a model which incorporates macroeconomic statistics and lagged official payroll data, as well as information collected from firms which use ADP's payroll processing services.
Manufacturers in the Eurozone are still suffering, but yesterday's final PMI data for April offered a few bright spots.
Japan's Q1 is coming more sharply into focus.
If we're right with our forecast that real consumers' spending rose by just 0.1% month-to-month in February -- enough only to reverse January's decline -- then it would be reasonable to expect consumption across the first quarter as a whole to climb at a mere 1.2% annualized rate.
Yesterday's EZ money supply data confirmed that liquidity conditions in the private sector improved in Q3, despite the dip in the headline.
Yesterday's IFO data reversed the good vibes sent by last week's upbeat German PMIs.
Some analysts argue that sterling won't recover materially even if MPs wave through Brexit legislation, because the threat of a Labour government worries investors more than a messy departure from the EU.
Yesterday's data don't significantly change our view that first quarter GDP growth will be reported at only about 1%, but the foreign trade and consumer confidence numbers support our contention that the underlying trend in growth is rather stronger than that.
The deadline for registering to vote in the general election passed on Tuesday, with a record 660K people registering on the final day.
We covered the detailed German Q1 GDP report in Friday's Monitor--see here--but the investment data could do with closer inspection. The headline numbers looked great.
Core durable goods orders in recent months have been much less terrible than implied by both the ISM and Markit manufacturing surveys.
Fourth quarter GDP growth is likely to be revised down today.
Survey data in Germany showed few signs of picking up from their depressed level at the start of Q4.
Yesterday's detailed GDP data in Germany confirmed that the economy shrank slightly in the second quarter, by 0.1% quarter-on-quarter, following the 0.4% increase in Q1.
Net foreign trade was a drag on GDP growth in the second quarter, subtracting 0.7 percentage points from the headline number.
Advance inflation data on Friday added to the gloom on the Eurozone economy. Reports from Germany, France, and Spain all surprised to the downside, indicating the euro area as a whole slipped back into deflation in February. Inflation in Germany dipped to 0.0% year-over-year in February, from 0.5% in January, and France slid back into deflation as the CPI index fell 0.2%, down from a 0.2 increase last month.
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.
A third outright decline in the past four months seems a decent bet for today's August durable goods orders, thanks to the malign influence of the downward trend in orders for civilian aircraft. The global airline cycle is maturing, and orders for both Boeing and Airbus aircraft have been slowing for some time.
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.
MPs will be asked today to approve the PM's motion, proposed in accordance with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act--FTPA--to hold a general election on December 12.
In contrast to surveys of manufacturing activity and sentiment, the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence rose sharply in August, hitting an 11-month high. People were more upbeat about both the current state of the economy and the outlook, with the improving job market key to their optimism. The proportion of respondent believing that jobs are "plentiful" rose to 26%, the highest level in nine years.
Brexit talks have hit an impasse over the Irish border. The Republic of Ireland will veto any deal that creates a hard border with Northern Ireland. This means that Northern Ireland must remain in the EU's customs union.
Eurozone investors will be looking anxiously across the pond overnight as the results of U.S. elections come in. Our assumption is that Hillary Clinton will be elected president and that risk assets will celebrate accordingly today.
In one line: Stabilisation in the m/m data, but trend still points to slower output growth.
Trade data yesterday added to the downbeat impression of the German economy, following poor manufacturing data earlier in the week. Exports plunged 5.2% month-to-month in August--the second biggest monthly fall ever--pushing the year-over-year rate down to 4.4%, from a revised 6.3% in July. Surging growth in the past six months, and base effects pointed to a big fall in August, but we didn't expect a collapse.
The German economy's engine room continues to stutter.
All regulators face the challenge that when you regulate one part of the economy, problems appear somewhere else. For China, the game is particularly intense because liquidity created by previous debt binges continues to slosh around the financial system, with no outlet to the real economy.
Yesterday's raft of data had no net impact on our forecast for second quarter GDP growth, which we still think will be about 21⁄4%.
Centrist politicians and markets breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as the results of the Dutch parliamentary elections rolled in. The incumbent conservatives, led by PM Mark Rutte, lost ground but emerged as parliament's biggest party with 33 seats out of the total 150.
Chinese real GDP growth reportedly edged down to 6.7% year-over-year in Q2, from 6.8% in Q1.
Your correspondent is headed to the beach for the next couple of weeks, with publication resuming on Tuesday, September 4.
Back in September, after the Fed decided to hold fire in the wake of market turmoil, we expected rates to rise in December and again in March. We forecast 10-year yields would rise to 2.75% by the end of March. in the event, the Fed hiked only once, and 10-year yields ended the first quarter at just 1.77%. So, what went wrong with our forecasts?
Yesterday's sole economic report showed that the EZ trade surplus rebounded slightly at the start of the year, rising to €17.0B in January, from a revised €16.0B in February, lifted by a 0.8% increase in exports, which offset a 0.3% rise in imports.
We struggle to find much wrong with the near-term outlook for Eurozone manufacturing. The headline PMI fell marginally to 59.6 in January, from 60.6 in December, but it continues to signal robust growth at the start of the year.
The ECB will not make any adjustments to its policy stance today. We think the central bank will keep its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.0% and -0.4%, respectively, and also that will maintain the pace of QE purchases at €80B a month. The updated macroeconomic projections likely will include a modest upgrade of this year's GDP forecast to 1.5%, from its 1.4% estimate in March.
Inflation pressures are slowly, but surely, rising in the Eurozone. Advance data indicate that inflation in Germany rose to 0.7% year-over-year in May, up from 0.5% in April. Reduced drag from the non-core components is the main driver, with energy prices rebounding, and food prices now rising steadily at 1.4% year-over-year.
China's official PMIs paint a picture of robust momentum going into 2018 but we find this difficult to reconcile with the other data.
Markets initially objected to last week's ECB package, but the tune has since changed. The decision to focus on direct credit easing to the domestic economy, via more attractive TLTROs and corporate bond purchases--rather than by lowering rates further--is now seen by many analysts as a stroke of genius.
We want to be very clear about the terrible-looking December retail sales numbers: The core numbers were much less bad than the headline, and there is no reason to think the dip in the core is anything other than noise.
CPI inflation in China surged to a five-month high of 2.3% in March, from 1.5% in February.
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.
Experimental figures, released earlier this week, suggest that wages have increased at a faster rate than indicated by the average weekly earnings--AWE--data.
Behind all the talk of slowdowns and Fed pauses, we see no sign that the labor market is loosening beyond a very modest uptick in jobless claims, and even that looks suspicious.
Q2's GDP figures create a terrible first impression, but a closer look suggests that the risk of a recession remains very low.
Japanese M2 growth increased trivially in June to 3.9% year-on-year from 3.8% in May, significantly higher than the 3.2% rate in August, before the BoJ began targeting the yield curve.
The EZ calendar has been extremely busy in the first few weeks of the year, making it virtually impossible to see the forest for the trees.
China's M2 growth slowed to 8.2% year-over-year in August, from 8.5% in July
We expect Greece to do what it needs to do by Wednesday to secure its third bailout, and, judging by her speech in Cleveland last Friday, so does the Fed Chair. It's always risky to assume blithely that European politicians will do the right thing in the end, and they seem absolutely determined to humiliate Greece before writing the checks, but a completed deal is the most likely outcome.
For most of the decade since the whole-economy average hourly earnings numbers were first published, the year-over-year rate of increase has run faster than the ECI measure of private sector wages and salaries, excluding incentive-paid occupations. But in the first quarter of this year, the ECI measure rose 2.5% year-over-year, the fastest increase in six years, while hourly earnings rose 2.3%. That difference might not sound like much, but it matters a good deal when put into context.
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.
Advance data from Germany and Spain indicate that Eurozone inflation rebounded in October. We think inflation rose to 0.2% year-over-year from -0.2%, and German data suggest the main boost will come from both core and food inflation. Inflation in Germany rose to 0.3% year-over-year from 0.0% in September, lifted by an increase in inflation of leisure and entertainment, hotels and durable goods. Food inflation also rose to 1.6% from 1.1% in September, due to surging prices for fresh fruit and vegetables.
We were wrong about headline durable goods orders in April, because the civilian aircraft component behaved very strangely.
Yesterday's IFO offered a rare upside surprise in the German survey data.
Mexico's data over the last few weeks have confirmed our view that private consumption remains the key driver of the current economic cycle. Solid economic fundamentals, thanks to stimulative monetary policy and structural reforms, have supported the domestic economy in recent quarters. Falling inflation has also been a key driver, slowing to 2.5% by mid-September, a record low, from an average of 4% during 2014.
China's Caixin manufacturing PMI edged down to 50.6 in August, from July's 50.8. This clashed with the increase in the official PMI, though the moves in both indexes were modest.
Youth unemployment remains a blemish on the Eurozone economy, despite an increasingly resilient cyclical recovery. The unemployment rate for young workers aged 15-to-24 years stood at 18.4% at the end of April, chiefly due to high joblessness in the periphery.
The Japanese government's plan to smooth out the consumption cliff-edge generated by October's sales tax hike is either going too well, or consumers now are facing fundamental headwinds.
Yesterday's final PMI data added to the evidence that the EZ economy was firing on all cylinders at the end of last year. The composite PMI in the euro area rose to an 11-year high of 58.5 in December, from 57.5 in November, in line with the initial estimate.
The core economic narrative in U.S. markets right now seems to run something like this: The pace of growth slowed in Q1, depressing the rate of payroll growth in the spring. As a result, the headline plunge in the unemployment rate is unlikely to persist and, even if it does, the wage pressures aren't a threat to the inflation outlook.
Headline money supply growth in the Eurozone accelerated further at the start of Q2.
Today's data dump will deliver the advance PMIs and the French INSEE business sentiment indices for February, all of which will be examined closely for signs of stabilisation in the wake of recent evidence that EZ growth is slowing quicker than markets and the ECB have been expecting.
The closer we look at the Fed's new forecasts, the stranger they seem. The FOMC cut its GDP estimate for this year and now expects the economy to grow by 1.9%--the mid-point of its forecast range--in the year to the fourth quarter. Growth is then expected to pick up to 2.6% next year, before slowing a bit to 2.3% in 2017. Unemployment, however, is expected to fall much less quickly than in the recent past.
The economy's resilience in the first quarter of this year, in the midst of heightened Brexit uncertainty, can be attributed partly to a boost from no-deal Brexit precautionary stockpiling.
The recent sharp, if not startling, upturn in the regional manufacturing surveys should continue today with the release of the Philadelphia Fed report. The survey is constructed in the same way as the more volatile Empire State, which has rocketed in the past few months, and the headline indexes follow similar trends, as our first chart shows.
If our inbox is any guide, a significant proportion of investors remain far from convinced that the slowdown in the economy in the first quarter is largely the consequence of the severe weather, with an additional temporary hit to capex from the rollover in the oil sector.
Japan's manufacturing PMI rose to 53.3 in April, from 53.1 in March. The index weakened earlier this year, but remained at levels unjustified by the hard data.
Expectations that the ECB will respond to weakening growth in China with Additional stimulus mean that survey data will be under particular scrutiny this week. The consensus thinks the Chinese manufacturing PMI--released overnight--will remain weak, but advance PMIs in the Eurozone should confirm that the cyclical recovery remained firm in Q3. We think the composite PMI edged slightly lower to 54.0 in September from 54.3 in August, consistent with real GDP growth of about 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3.
Markets cheered soaring business surveys in the Eurozone earlier this week, and recent consumer sentiment data also have been cause for celebration. The advance GfK consumer confidence index in Germany rose to a record high of 10.4 in June, from 10.2 in May.
Yesterday's first batch of Q3 survey data in the Eurozone suggest that economic growth eased further, albeit it slightly, at the start of the quarter.
EZ households' demand for new cars was off to a strong start in 2017. Car registrations in the euro area jumped 10.9% year-over-year in January, accelerating from a 2.1% rise in December. We have to discount the headline level of sales by about a fifth to account for dealers' own registrations. Even with this provision, though, the January report was solid. Growth rebounded in France and Germany, and a 27.1% surge in Dutch car registrations also lifted the headline. We think car registrations will rise about 1.5% quarter-onquarter in Q1, rebounding from a weak Q4. But this does not change the story of downside risks to private spending.
The headlines of China's August activity data are missing the real story in recent months.
The tone of today's FOMC statement likely will be different to the gloomy April missive, which began with a list of bad news: "...economic growth slowed during the winter months, in part reflecting transitory factors. The pace of job gains moderated... underutilization of labor resources was little changed. Growth in household spending declined... Business fixed investment softened, the recovery in the housing sector remained slow, and exports declined."
Market-implied expectations of negative rates through 2021, and bund yields plunging below -0.1%, are an accident waiting to happen, but the main story is clear as rain.
Spain heads to the polls on Sunday, but unlike the chaos that descended on Europe following Greece's elections earlier this year, we expect a market-friendly outcome. The key political story likely will be the end of the two-party system, as polls indicate neither of the two largest mainstream parties--Partido Popular and PSOE--will be able to form a majority. Markets' fears have been that the fall of the established parties would allow anti-austerity party, Podemos, to lead a confrontation with the EU, but this looks very unlikely.
In our daily Monitors we've talked about the four paths that we see for the Chinese economy over the medium-to-long term. First, China could make history and actively transition to private consumption-led growth.
The Eurozone has a productivity problem. Between 1997 and 2007, labour productivity rose an average 1.2% year-over-year, but this rate has slowed to a crawl--a mere 0.5%--since the crisis. These data tell an important story about the peaks in EZ GDP growth over the business cycle. Before the financial crisis in 2008, cyclical peaks in Eurozone GDP growth were as high as 3%-to-4% year-over-year.
It's easy to read the January minutes as the dovish counterpart to a clear hawkish shift in the meeting. The statement, remember, upgraded the growth view to "solid" from "moderate"; it reiterated that the downward inflation shock from energy prices will be "transitory" and it said that the the pace of job growth is now "strong", having previously been "solid".
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.
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.
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.
As we go to press, Mr. Draghi is set to give the opening remarks for the 2019 ECB central banking forum in Sintra, and later today, at 09:00 CET, the president delivers his introductory speech.
Growth in new EZ car registrations slowed last month, but the data continue to tell a story of strong consumer demand for new cars. New registrations in the euro area rose 6.9% y/y in June, down from a 16.9% jump in May, mainly due to slowing growth in France. New registrations in the euro area's second largest economy rose a mere 0.8% year-over-year, after a 22% surge in May.
Yesterday's euro area PMI data continue to tell a story of a firm business cycle upturn. The composite PMI was unchanged at 53.9 in December; an increase in the manufacturing index offset a decline in the services PMI.
The industrial production trajectory in Mexico looked strong going into Q3, but Friday's report for August threatens to change that picture.
Mr. Draghi's introductory statement before yesterday's hearing at the European Parliament repeated that the ECB will "review and possibly reconsider its monetary policy stance in March." But it didn't provide any conclusive smoking gun that further easing is a done deal.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's five-line letter to House Speaker Pelosi on last Friday--copied to other Congressional leaders--which said that "there is a scenario in which we run out of cash in early September, before Congress reconvenes", introduces a new element of uncertainty to the debt ceiling story.
Yesterday's second estimate of Q4 Eurozone GDP confirmed the upbeat story from the advance report, despite the dip in headline growth.
Brazil's recession is getting uglier. Real GDP in Brazil fell 1.7% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, much worse than expected, though marginally less terrible than the downwardly revised 2.1% contraction in Q2. Year-over-year, the economy plunged by 4.5% in the third quarter, down from -3.0% in Q2, and -2.5% in the first half. The disappointment was widespread in Q3; though rising mining output was a positive, the underlying trend in mining is still falling. The key story here, though, is that the economy has sunk into its worst slump since the Great Depression.
If the Fed really believed its own rhetoric--"Inflation is expected... to rise to 2 percent over the medium term as the transitory effects of past declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further"--it would have raised rates yesterday, given the very long lags between policy action and the response from the real economy.
Inflation pressures in France eased in February, in contrast to the story in the rest of the EZ. Yesterday's report confirmed the initial estimate that inflation fell to 1.2% year-over-year in February, from 1.3% in January. The headline was hit by a crash in the core rate to a two-year low of 0.2%, from 0.7% in January.
The sovereign debt crisis in the euro area was a macroeconomic horror story
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.
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.
Selling pressure in LatAm markets after Donald Trump's election victory eased when the dollar rally paused earlier this week. Yesterday, the yield on 10- year Mexican bonds slipped from its cycle high, and rates in other major LatAm economies also dipped slightly.
The acceleration in real consumption over the past year reflects the upturn in real after-tax income growth. This, in turn, is mostly a story of falling gasoline prices, which have depressed the PCE deflator. Gross nominal incomes before tax rose 4.2% year-over-year in the three months to September, exactly matching the pace in the three months to September 2014. But real income growth, after tax, accelerated to 3.3% from 2.5% over the same period, as our first chart shows.
With Russia and some other emerging economies now in full panic mode, the financial market story is sharply divided between two narratives. Either the plunge in global energy prices acts as positive catalyst by boosting real incomes and allowing most central banks to run easier monetary policy or it is a sign that risk assets are about to hit a deflationary wall.
The data tell an increasingly convincing story that the Eurozone's external surplus rose further in the second half of last year.
Brazil's mid-April inflation report delivered more evidence that inflation is decelerating; it fell to 9.3% from 10.0% in March, reaching the slowest pace since July 2015. The unadjusted month-to-month increase surprised marginally to the upside, but the key story is of a declining year-over-year trend. Core inflation, which is a lagging indicator of the business cycle, slowed again, in line with the decline in services and market prices inflation.
The ECB held fire yesterday and kept its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.0% and -0.4%, respectively. The central bank also left the pace of monthly asset purchases unchanged at €80B. The introductory statement overall confirmed the central bank's dovish stance.
Political uncertainty in the Eurozone is the story that won't die. Coalition talks in Germany collapsed yesterday when the centre-right FDP walked out of the negotiations.
Fed Chair Yellen made it clear in last week's press conference that she is not convinced the increase in core inflation will persist: "I want to warn that there may be some transitory factors that are influencing [the rise in core inflation]... I see some of that is having to do with unusually high inflation readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time.
The Eurozone's current account surplus plunged to €18.0B in May from €24.0B, the biggest monthly fall since July 2013, but an upward revision to the April data makes the headline look worse than it is. These numbers are volatile, even after seasonal adjustments, and revisions have been larger than normal this year, so we need to smooth the data to get the true story.
The U.S. consumer is back on track, almost. We have argued in recent months that the sharp slowdown in the rate of growth of consumption is mostly a story about a transition from last year's surge, when spending was boosted by the tax cuts and, later, by falling gas prices, to a sustainable pace roughly in line with real after-tax income growth.
Falling gas prices will make themselves felt in the November CPI data today, with a likely 4% seasonally adjusted decline enough to subtract 0.2% from the month-to-month change in the headline index. But gas prices plunged by 7.2% in November last year, so in year-over-year terms gas prices will push aggregate headline inflation up. We look for the rate to rise to 0.4%, up from 0.2% in October and zero in September. The same story will play out in January and February too, by which time the headline rate should have risen to 1¼%, assuming a crude oil price of about $35 per barrel.
The story in EZ capital markets this year has been downbeat.
The S&P 500 index chalked up a new record on Wednesday by going 3,453 days without a 20% drawdown, making it the longest equity bull-run in U.S. history.
The headline payroll number each month is the difference between the flow of gross hirings and the flow of gross firings. The JOLTS report provides both numbers, with a lag, but we can track the firing side of the equation via the jobless claims numbers. Claims are volatile week-to-week, thanks to the impossibility of ironing out every seasonal fluctuation in such short-term data, but the underlying trend is an accurate measure. The claims data are based on an actual count of all the people making claims, not a sample survey like most other data. That means you'll never be blindsided by outrageous revisions, turning the story upside-down.
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.
China's growth can be decomposed into the structural story and the mini-cycle, which is policy- driven.
Politics are once again encroaching on the economic story in the Eurozone. At the ECB, this week has so far been a tumultuous one.
Today's housing market data likely will look soft, but will probably not be representative of the underlying story, which remains quite positive.
Friday's inflation data in the Eurozone added a dovish twist to the story ahead of the key ECB meeting later this month.
Yesterday's surprising decline in the Eurozone unemployment rate adds further evidence to the story of a slowly healing economy. The rate of joblessness fell to 10.9% in July from 11.1% in June, the lowest since the beginning of 2012, mainly driven by a 0.5 percentage point fall in Italy, and improvement in Spain, where unemployment fell 0.2 pp to 22.2%.
Korean exports continued to fall year-over-year in April, but the story isn't as bleak as the headlines suggest.
The PMI survey points to a slow, but steady improvement, in Eurozone manufacturing. The gauge rose marginally to 52.5 in June, up from 52.2 in May. This pushed the quarterly average in Q2 to 52.2, up from 51.1 in Q1. The survey is also telling a story of broad-based manufacturing strength in the two major peripheral economies, despite declines in June.
China's official manufacturing PMI was unchanged at 50.2 in December, marking a weak end to the year. But it could have been worse; we had been worried that the return to above-50 territory in November had been boosted by temporary factors. December's print allays some of those fears.
The INSEE business sentiment data in France continue to tell a story of a robust economy.
Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, has set out the first points of his austerity plan, two weeks after his overwhelming victory at the polls.
Manufacturing confidence in France remained resilient in the fourth quarter. The INSEE sentiment index rose to 103 in December from 102 in November, lifted by a jump in firms' own production expectations, and a small increase in the new orders-to-inventory ratio. We think production will increase in Q4, lifted by energy output, but the recent jump in the year-over-year rate is unlikely to be sustained, even if we factor in the marginal increase in new orders this month.
We think this week's main economic surveys in the Eurozone will take a step back following a steady rise since the end of Q3. Today's composite PMI in the Eurozone likely slipped to 54.0 in February, from 54.4 in January, mainly due to a dip in the manufacturing component. Even if we're right about slightly weaker survey data in February, though, it is unlikely to change the story of a stable and solid cyclical expansion in the EZ.
The markets' favorite story of the moment, aside from the Fed, seems to be the idea that overstretched corporate finances are an accident waiting to happen. When the crunch comes, the unavoidable hit to the stock market and the corporate bond market will have dire consequences, limiting the Fed's scope to raise rates, regardless of what might be happening in the labor market. We don't buy this. At least, we don't buy the second part of the narrative; we have no problem with the idea the finances of the corporate sector are shaky.
August inflation surprised to the downside across most of LatAm, as food price surges proved transitory, and the lagged effect of the FX depreciations last year faded. Brazil appeared to be the exception last month, but the underlying trend in inflation is downwards.
Under normal circumstances, we would have no hesitation calling for substantially higher long Treasury yields and a lower earnings multiple as the Fed raises rates. History tells us that you fight the Fed at your peril, as our first two charts show.
Don't fret over the slowdown in growth in the fourth quarter. The quarterly GDP data are volatile even after several rounds of revisions, and the advance numbers are full of assumptions about missing trade, inventory and capex data, which often turn out to be wrong.
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.
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.
It's tempting to conclude from the third quarter's GDP figures, which showed output rising 0.5% quarter-on-quarter, despite a record drag from net trade, that the U.K. economy is comfortably weathering sterling's appreciation. But a closer look at the data shows the net trade drag is the counterparty to some erratic inventory movements. The real net trade hit is still to come.
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.
The underlying U.S. consumer story, hidden behind a good deal of recent noise, is that the rate of growth of spending is reverting to the trend in place before last year's tax cuts temporarily boosted people's cashflow.
Yesterday's German factory orders data suggest that manufacturing remained weak in the beginning of Q1. New orders fell 0.1% month-to-month in January, though the year-over-year rate rose to 1.1% from a revised -2.2% in December. The small monthly decline was due to a fall in domestic orders; this offset an increase in export orders to other Eurozone economies.
The headline 0.9% month-to-month increase in German factory orders--a 1.9% increase year-over-year-- is not enough to change the picture of an overall sluggish first quarter.
Yesterday's wall of data told us a bit about where the economy likely is going, and a bit about how it started the first quarter. The January trade and inventory data were disappointing, but the February Chicago PMI and consumer confidence reports were positive.
The softening in payroll growth in November appears mostly to be a story about short-term noise, rather than a sign that tariffs are hurting or that the broader economy is slowing.
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.
Yesterday's economic data in Germany cemented the story of a strong start to the year, despite the disappointing headlines. Industrial production slipped 0.4% month-to-month in March, pushing the year-over-year rate down to +1.9% from a revised +2.0% in February.
Yesterday's economic data in Germany were stellar, but base effects mean that the story for Q4 as a whole is less upbeat.
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.
Inflation data in Brazil, Mexico and Chile last week reinforced our view that interest rates will remain on hold, or be cut, over the coming meetings. The recent fall in oil prices, and the weakness of domestic demand, will offset recent volatility caused by the FX sell-off, driven mostly by the coronavirus story.
Demand in the German manufacturing sector stumbled at the end of Q4. Factory orders fell 0.7% month-to-month in December, but the details of the report were slightly more upbeat than the headline. The main hit came from a 2.5% fall in domestic orders, chiefly as a result of weakness in the intermediate goods sector.
Yesterday's German factory orders report showed that manufacturing activity accelerated in August. New orders rose 1.0% month-to-month, after a 0.3% increase in July, pushing the year-over-year rate up to +2.1% from a revised -0.6%.
Germany's exporters just broke another record: The trade surplus for Europe's biggest economy is now at its highest on record.........Here's how Germany's recent export history looks, according to Pantheon Macroeconomics
The Fed Is All-In On The Slowdown Story...But They're Playing With Fire In The Labor Market
The Slowdown Story is Overdone...If a China Deal is Done, the Fed Will Keep Hiking
Are there any signs that the U.S. tax cuts and/or regulatory relaxation are stimulating increased non-residential fixed investment?
U.S. inflation gauges are sliding toward negative territory for the first time in more than five years. But the oil-fueled tumble in prices is far from the kind of growth-sapping episodes of deflation that tend to worry economists
Economic theory tells us that government spending should be counter-cyclical, but recent experience in the Eurozone tells a slightly different story. The contribution to GDP growth from government spending rose during the boom from 2004 to 2007, and remained expansionary as the economy fell off the cliff in 2008. As the economy slowed again following the initial recovery, the sovereign debt crisis hit, driving a severe pro-cyclical fiscal hit to the economy.
Distinguishing between the structural and cyclical story is crucial to understanding the inflation picture in the Eurozone. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman recently lamented--New York Times, March 1st--that the Eurozone economy appears to be stalling. We doubt the outlook for GDP growth this year is that dire.
We are wary of a downside surprise in today's German orders, due to weak advance data from the engineering organisation, VDMA. We think factory orders fell 0.5% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate slightly lower to 4.5% in June from 4.7% in May. This is noticeably worse than the market expects, but the consensus forecast for a 0.3% rise implies a jump in the year-over-year rate, which is difficult to reconcile with leading indicators.
EZ bond markets were stung earlier this week by a Bloomberg story suggesting that the ECB, in principle, has agreed on a QE exit strategy which involves "tapering" purchases by €10B per month. The story also specified, though, that the central bank has not discussed when tapering will begin.
Strong real M1 growth suggests the cyclical recovery is in good shape. But recent economic data indicate GDP growth slowed in Q4, and survey evidence deteriorated in January. This slightly downbeat message, however, is a far cry from the horror story told by financial markets. The recent collapse in stock-to-bond returns extends the decline which began in Q2 last year, signalling the Eurozone is on the brink of recession.
Yesterday's survey data tell a story of resilient manufacturing in the Eurozone. The headline EZ PMI rose to 52.6 in September, from 51.7 in August, lifted by a rise in new orders to a three-month high.
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.
New business in German manufacturing ended the first quarter on a strong note. Factory orders rose 1.9% month-to-month in March, above the consensus 0.6%, and net revisions to the February data were +0.4 percentage points. The rise in new orders was exclusively due to a 4.3% increase in export orders, which offset a 1.2% fall in domestic orders. These are strong numbers, but the details suggest that mean reversion will push the headline down next month.
Donald Trump's victory casts a shadow of political uncertainty over what had appeared to be a decent outlook for the U.S economy. The U.K.'s trade and financial ties with the U.S., however, are small enough to mean that any downturn on the other side of the Atlantic will have little impact on Britain.
The MPC's meeting on Thursday looks set to be a perfunctory affair. Signs that the economy has lost momentum this year, alongside downward surprises from CPI inflation in January and wage growth in December, mean the Committee won't give the idea of hiking rates a moment's thought.
Activity in the Eurozone industrial sector cooled at the end of the first quarter. Manufacturing production declined 0.8% month-to-month in March, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 0.2% from a revised 1.0% in February. Over Q1 as a whole, though, the story was positive.
LatAm currencies have suffered in recent weeks. Each country has its own story, so the currency hit has been uneven, but all LatAm economies share one factor: Fear of the start of a Fed tightening cycle.
It is by now a familiar story that the Eurozone has become a supplier of liquidity to the global economy in the wake of the sovereign debt crisis.
Chinese monetary conditions remain tight. Systemic tightening through higher interest rates last year is playing a role, but intensified and ever- more public regulatory enforcement is becoming the primary driver of tightening credit conditions for businesses.
What should we make of the view of Fed hawks, set out with admirable clarity in the September FOMC minutes, that higher rates "might spur rather than restrain economic activity"? The core story behind this counter-intuitive proposal is the idea that zero rates send a signal to the private sector that the Fed is deeply worried about the state of the economy.
Barring a gigantic shock from the Fed this week--we expect a 25bp hike--Eurozone equities will end the year with a solid return for investors, who have been overweight. Total return of the MSCI EU ex-UK should come in around 10%, which compares to a likely flat return for the MSCI World, reflecting the boost from the ECB's QE driving out performance. Our first chart shows the index has been mainly lifted by consumer sector, healthcare and IT stocks, comfortably making up for weakness in materials and energy. The year has been a story of two halves, however, and global headwinds have intensified since the summer, partly offsetting the surge in the Q1 as markets celebrated the arrival of QE and negative interest rates.
Pedro Kuczynski, the centre-right candidate of the Peruvians for Change party, won the presidential election held in June 5th. Mr. Kuczynski, a former finance minister and World Bank economist, defeated Ms. Keiko Fujimori, the candidate of the conservative Fuerza Popular party, and the daughter of jailed former leader Alberto Fujimori. Mr. Kuczynski's margin of victory over Ms. Fujimori was fewer than 43K votes, or just 0.2%.
This could have been a momentous week, but now it very likely will be just another week with another Fed meeting where rates are left on hold. Our call has very little to do with the underlying state of the economy, which we think can cope with higher rates, and needs them, given the tightness of the labor market. Instead, the story is all about the perceptions--misplaced, in our view--of both the Fed and the markets.
The wave of May data due for release today likely will go some way to countering the market narrative of a seriously slowing economy, a story which gained further momentum last week after the release of the May employment report.
China's headline trade numbers appear to paint a picture of an economy in rude health but scratch the surface and the story is quite different. The trade surplus rose to$42.8B in June from $40.8B in May, hitting consensus.
In yesterday's Monitor we set out the risk that accelerating wages will force the Fed to raise rates more quickly than expected, but we didn't have space to address the underlying premise of this story, namely, the idea that inflation is largely a cost-push phenomenon. From the perspective of fixed income investors, it might not seem to matter whether this is a realistic description of the inflation process, because Fed Chair Yellen believes it wholeheartedly, and her hands are on the levers of monetary policy.
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 euro's spectacular rise against the pound has been the key story in European FX markets recently. But the trade-weighted euro, however, is up "only" 6% year-to-date, as a result of the relatively stable EURUSD.
The big story in financial markets at the moment is the idea that major global central banks are about to embark on a policy easing cycle.
French industrial production data surprised to the upside yesterday. Output rose 0.1% month-to-month in September, a solid gain following an upwardly-revised 1.7% rise in August, and also higher than the consensus, forecast for a 0.4% fall. The details, however, were less upbeat than the headline. Transport equipment fell, as expected, following production being pushed forward ahead of the Summer holidays. But this story was overshadowed by a 22.5% month-to-month jump in oil refining-- included in manufacturing--as refineries resumed full production following maintenance over the summer.
Another day, another solid economic report in the Eurozone. Data yesterday showed that industrial production in France jumped 2.2% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate up to +1.8%, from -1.8% in October. The 2.3% jump in manufacturing output was the key story, offsetting a 0.3% decline in construction activity. Production of food and beverages rebounded from weakness in October, and oil refining also accelerated.
The plunge in Russia's financial markets, in response to targeted U.S. sanctions--see here--against Russian oligarchs and government officials, was the main EU news story yesterday.
Workers in the euro area remain scarred by the zone's repeated crises, but the strengthening cyclical recovery is slowly starting to spread to the labour market. The unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 10.9% in July, and employment has edged higher after hitting a low in the middle of 2013. Germany's outperformance is a key story, with employment increasing uninterruptedly since 2009, and the unemployment rate declining to an all-time low of 6.4%. Among the other major economies, the unemployment rate in Spain and Italy remains higher than in France. But employment in Spain has outperformed in the cyclical recovery since 2013.
After wobbling immediately after the referendum, house prices appear to be back on a rising trajectory. The Halifax measure of house prices, which is based on the lenders' mortgage offers, rose by 1.4% month-to-month in October, following a 0.3% increase in September.
The Eurogroup finally agreed on a four-month financing extension for Greece late Friday evening, conditional on Syriza presenting a satisfactory list of reforms later today. At the press conference, Eurogroup President Dijsselboem emphasized that commitments always come before money.
Emmanuel Macron's victory in France has lifted investors' hopes that the good times in the Eurozone economy and equity markets are here to stay. On the face of it, we share markets' optimism. Mr. Macron and his opposite number in Germany--our base case is that Ms. Merkel will remain Chancellor--will form a strong pro-EU axis in the core of the Eurozone.
French industrial production data offered a bit of relief last week following a string of woeful German data, and news of monthly falls in Italian and Spanish manufacturing output. Industrial production jumped 1.6% month-to-month in August, but the headline was flattered by a 0.3% downward revision of the July data. The monthly jump pushed the year-over-year rate higher to 1.6%, from a revised 0.9% fall in July. All sectors performed strongly in August, but the key story was a hefty increase in transport equipment manufacturing, due to a 11.9% surge in vehicle production.
Friday's industrial production headlines in the Eurozone were weak, but the details tell a more nuanced story.
The debate about the ECB's policy trajectory is bifurcated at the moment. Markets are increasingly convinced that a rapidly strengthening economy will force the central bank to make a hawkish adjustment in its stance.
A strong December didn't change the story of another year of Eurozone equity underperformance in 2016. The total return of the MSCI EU, ex-UK, last year was a paltry 3.5%, compared to 11.6% and 10.6% for the S&P 500 and MSCI EM respectively. In principle, the conditions are in place for a reversal in this sluggish performance are present. Equities in the euro area do best when excess liquidity--defined as M1 growth less GDP growth and inflation--is rising.
The equity market this year has been a story of two halves. Hopes of a sustainable economic recovery pushed the benchmark Eurozone equity index to an 7.5% increase in the first six months of the year.
Japan will host the Olympics in 2020 and the preparatory surge in construction investment makes 2017-to-2018 the peak spending period.
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 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.
Yesterday's final PMI data for February confirmed the story from the advance reports.
The ECB sent a strong signal yesterday that it is ready to fight deflation with a full range of unconventional monetary policy tools. Asset purchases, including sovereigns, to the tune of €60B per month will begin in March, and will run until end-September 2016, but Mr. Draghi noted that purchases could continue if the ECB is not satisfied with the trajectory of inflation.
First, a deep breath: June payrolls, with a margin of error of +/-107K, missed the consensus by 10K. Adding in the -60K revisions and the miss is still statistically insignificant. The story, therefore, is that there is no story. Even relative to our more bullish forecast, the miss was just 37K. Nothing bad happened in June. But we hav e to acknowledge that payroll growth has now undershot the pace implied by the NFIB's hiring intentions number--lagged by five months--in each of the past four months. In June, the survey pointed to a 320K jump in private employment, overshooting the actual print by nearly 100K.
The hard numbers in Eurozone manufacturing continue to lag the sharp rise in the main surveys. Data yesterday showed that German factory orders rose 1.0% month-to-month in May, only partially rebounding from a downwardly revised 2.2% plunge in April.
German factory orders struggled in the second quarter. New orders were unchanged month-to-month in May, a poor headline following the revised 1.9% plunge in April. The year-over-year rate rose to -0.2%, from a revised -0.4% in April. The month-to-month rate was depressed by a big fall in domestic orders, which offset a rise in export orders.
External demand in France probably weakened in the first quarter. The trade deficit widened sharply to €5.2B in February, from a revised €3.9B in January, pushing the current account deficit to an 18-month high. It is tempting to blame the stronger euro, but that wasn't the whole story.
Survey data have been signalling a relatively resilient Brazilian economy in the last few months, despite intensified political risk, and hard data are beginning to confirm this story.
German factory orders probably bounced a modest 0.3% month-to-month in February, equivalent to a 0.5% decline year-over-year. We expect private investment growth to have picked up in the first quarter, but leading indicators for the industrial sector in Germany are sending conflicting signals.
The disappointing German factory orders ended the run of strong economic data last week. New orders fell 1.4% month-to-month in July, pushing the year-over-year rate down to a 0.6% fall from a 7.0% increase in June. This is a poor headline, but it partly reflects mean-reversion from last month's revised 1.8% jump. We expect a rebound next month, and the details also offer a useful reminder that these data are extremely volatile on a month-to-month basis.
Yesterday's factory orders report in German was grim reading. New orders fell 1.8% month-to-month in August, following a downwardly revised 2.2% plunge in July. Weakness in export demand and mean reversion in domestic orders were the key culprits. Domestic orders fell 2.6% month-to-month; nothing to worry about after a near-4% jump in July.
The Greek polls released Sunday evening indicate a comfortable victory for "no," rejecting the latest EU proposal. This is not a good outcome for the market, and volatility will likely increase substantially today. The result--not confirmed as we go to press but very clearly indicated by the count so far--gives an air of legitimacy to Syriza's brinkmanship, but the creditors' reaction to a "no" vote, which they likely did not expect, is uncertain.
Yesterday's Brazilian industrial production data continue to tell a story of a slow business cycle upturn. Output rose 0.2% month-to-month in November, after a downwardly revised 1.2% plunge in October. The year-over-year rate, though, jumped to -1.1%, from -7.3% in October. The underlying trend is now on the mend, following weakness in Q3 and early Q4. Output rose in November three of the four major categories and in 13 of the 24 sectors.
We have spent the past few weeks shifting our story on the EZ economy from one focused on slowing growth and downside risks to a more balanced outlook. It seems that markets are starting to agree with us.
The ECB left its key interest rates unchanged yesterday, and maintained the pace of QE at €60B a month, but increased the issue limit to 33% from 25%. The updated staff projections revealed a downward adjustment of the central bank's inflation and growth forecasts across all horizons up to 2017. These forecasts were accompanied by a very dovish introductory statement, noting disappointment with the pace of the cyclical recovery, and emphasizing renewed downside risks to the economy and the inflation outlook.
Today's local elections are more important than usual, because they will enable investors to assess if the Conservatives really are on track for a landslide victory in the general election, as suggested by the opinion polls and priced-in by the forex market.
The Fed surprised no-one yesterday, leaving rates on hold, saying nothing new about the balance sheet, and making no substantive changes to its view on the economy. The statement was tweaked slightly, making it clear that policymakers are skeptical of the reported slowdown in GDP growth to just 0.7% in Q1: "The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory".
The April foreign trade numbers strongly support our view that foreign trade will make a hefty positive contribution to second quarter GDP growth, after subtracting a massive 1.9 percentage points in the first. The headline April deficit fell further than we expected, thanks in part to an unsustainable jump in aircraft exports and a decline in the oil deficit, but the big story was the 4.2% plunge in non- oil imports.
We have been telling an upbeat story about the EZ economy in recent Monitors, emphasizing solid services and consumers' spending data.
The forecasts compiled by Bloomberg for today's June German factory orders data look too timid to us. The consensus is pencilling in a 0.5% month-to month rise, which would push the year-over-year rate down to -2.1%, from zero in May. But survey data point to an increase in year-over-year growth, which would require a large month-to-month rise due to base effects from last year.
Fed Chair Yellen yesterday reinforced the impression that the bar to Fed action in December, in terms of the next couple of employment reports, is now quite low: "If we were to move, say in December, it would be based on an expectation, which I believe is justified, [our italics] that with an improving labor market and transitory factors fading, that inflation will move up to 2%." The economy is now "performing well... Domestic spending has been growing at a solid pace" making a December hike a "live possibility." New York Fed president Bill Dudley, speaking later, said he "fully" agrees with Dr. Yellen's position, but "let's see what the data show."
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.
Factory orders in Germany probably jumped in September, following a string of losses in the beginning of Q3. We think new orders rose 1.0% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate slightly lower, to 1.8% from 2.0% in August. A rebound in non- Eurozone export orders likely will be the key driver of the monthly gain, following a 14.8% cumulative plunge in the previous two months. The rise will be concentrated in capital and consumer goods, and should be enough to offset a fall in export orders within the euro area. Our forecast is consistent with new orders falling 2.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, partly reversing the 3.0% surge in the second quarter, and raising downside risks for production in Q4.
The Conservatives' opinion poll lead continued to decline over the last week, suggesting that a landslide victory on Thursday no longer is likely. Indeed, the Tories' average lead over Labour in the 10 most recent opinion polls has fallen to just 6%, down from a peak of nearly 20% a month ago.
We don't believe that payrolls rose only 138K in May. History strongly suggests that when the May payroll survey is conducted relatively early in the month, payroll growth falls short of the prior trend.
The German manufacturing data remain terrible. Friday's factory orders report showed that new orders plunged 2.2% month-to-month in May, convincingly cancelling out the 1.1% cumulative increase in March and April.
The winter hit to payrolls is now ancient history. Private employment rose by an average of 273K per month in the second half of last year, so May's 262K has restored normal service, more or less. History strongly suggests the number will be revised up, so we are happy to argue that the data convincingly support our view that the weakness in late winter and early spring was temporary, substantially due to the severe weather.
Friday's German new orders data were sizzling. Factory orders jumped 3.6% month-to-month in August, pushing the year-over-year rate up to a nine-month high of 7.8%, from an upwardly-revised 5.4% in July.
CPI inflation in China punches through the 3% target. PPI deflation in China should soon bottom out. Japan's rugby boost small in the face of pre-tax front loading. September machinery orders data seriously undermines Japan's "resilient capex" story.
The verdict is not yet definitive, but prudence dictates we must now assume victory for Donald Trump. The immediate implication of President Trump is global risk-off, with stocks everywhere falling hard, government bonds rallying, alongside gold and the Swiss franc. The dollar is the outlier; usually the beneficiary when fear is the story in global markets, it has fallen overnight because the risk is a U.S. story.
As it became clear that Donald Trump would beat Hillary Clinton to win the U.S. presidency, EM currencies came under severe pressure, fearing his economic and immigration policies. Some of the initial pressure is easing as markets digest the news and following Mr. Trump's conciliatory tone in his victory speech. But the proposals have been made and the MXN and other key LatAm assets likely will remain very stressed in the near term.
The undershoot in April payrolls, relative to the consensus, is a story of a fluke number in just one sector. Retail payrolls reportedly shrank by 3K, after rising by an average of 52K over the previous six months. Our first chart shows clearly that the retail payrolls are quite volatile over short periods, with sudden and often inexplicable swings in both directions quite common.
In one line: Soft, but not a major shift in the key story.
In one line: Colour us confused; is the inventory correction over already?
In one line: The trend in sales is rising, and inventory is falling.
In one line: Still hit be regulatory changes; demand should stabilise in 2020.
In one line: The inventory-related slump in export demand nearly is over; industrial production will bounce back in the summer.
In one line: Fernández victory presages dramatic change in Argentina; but a balanced Congress gives slight room for optimism.
In one line: Decent, but more upside is needed in Q1 to tell a positive story overall.
The trade-off between the timeliness and accuracy of the data is fundamental to macroeconomic analysis. Coincident data such as GDP, industrial production and retail sales are the most direct measures of economic activity, but their first estimates don't always tell the full story.
Yesterday's economic reports showed that the German economy firmed at the end of Q1, but this doesn't change the story for a poor quarter overall.
National accounts data released last week rewrote the recent history of households' saving.
Yesterdays' industrial production report capped a poor week for German manufacturing. Output fell 1.2% month-to-month in August, well below the consensus, +0.2%, though note that a 0.5% upward revision to the July data made the August headline look worse. Similar to the factory orders report earlier this week--see our October 6th Monitor--base effects also mean that production accelerated to 2.5% year-over-year, from a revised 0.8% gain in July.
Demand for German manufacturing goods slipped at the end of Q3. Yesterday's report showed that factory orders fell 0.6% month-to-month in September, constrained by weakness in domestic demand and falling export orders to other EZ economies.
A casual glance at our char t below, which shows the number of job openings from the JOLTS report, seems to fit our story that the slowdown in payrolls in April and May--perhaps triggered by the drop in stocks in January and February--will prove temporary. Job openings dipped, but have recovered and now stand very close to their cycle high.
New orders data indicate that German manufacturing enjoyed a strong start to the second quarter. Factory orders rose 1.4% month-to-month in April, equivalent to a modest 0.4% gain yearover- year, down from a revised 2.0% in March. The numbers put new orders on track for a solid 1.8% quarter-on-quarter gain in Q2--assuming no change in May and June--but these data are volatile, making this estimate highly uncertain.
The combination of upbeat survey data and solid consumer spending numbers indicate that the German economy is in good shape. But manufacturing data continue to disappoint; factory orders fell 0.9% month-to-month in February, equivalent to a 1.3% decline year-over-year.
The headline Chinese trade numbers are beginning to come into line with the story we have been telling about the more recent trends.
The headline changes in yesterday's ECB policy announcement were largely as expected. The central bank left its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively, and maintained the pace of QE at €60B per month. The central bank also delivered the two expected changes to its introductory statement. The reference to "lower levels" was removed from the forward guidance on rates, signalling that the ECB does not expect that rates will be lowered anytime soon.
Mr. Macron's victory in France answers two questions for markets, at least in the short run. Firstly, France will stay in the Eurozone, and Mr. Macron will not call a referendum on EU membership. Mr. Macron has come to power with a mandate to strengthen economic integration and co-operation between Eurozone economies.
The Mexican inflation rate soared at the start of 2017, but this is yesterday's story; the headline will stabilize soon and will decline slowly towards the year-end. May data yesterday showed that inflation rose to 6.2%, from 5.8% in April. Prices fell 0.1% month-to-month unadjusted in May, driven mainly by lower non-core prices, which dropped by 1.3%, as a result of lower seasonal electricity tariffs.
New orders data released yesterday for Germany confirmed that weakness in the manufacturing sector remains a key challenge for the economy. Factory orders fell 2.4% month-on-month in November, equivalent to a 0.4% fall year-over-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.
Retail sales data later today will provide further support for the upbeat consumer story in the Eurozone. We expect a third monthly gain in a row, taking retail sales to a 0.8% expansion quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the fastest since the end of 2006. We are seeing clear signs of improvement in the Eurozone economy, and the data are forcing us to recognise upside risks to our Q4 GDP forecast of 0.3-to-0.4%
The main story to emerge from China's Economic Work Report is the extent of tax cuts, which on our calculations will leave a large funding hole.
The IFO continues to tell a story of a German economy on the ropes.
The FOMC minutes confirmed that most FOMC members were not swayed by the weak-looking first quarter GDP numbers or the soft March core CPI. Both are considered likely to prove "transitory", and the underlying economic outlook is little changed from March.
Friday's July PMI reports presented investors with a rather confusing story. The composite PMI in the Eurozone fell trivially to 52.9 in July, from 53.1 in June, despite rising PMIs in Germany and France. The final data on 3 August will give the full story, but Markit noted that private sector growth outside the core slowed to its weakest pace since December 2014.
Broadly speaking, yesterday's headline EZ survey data recounted the same story they've told all year; namely that manufacturing is suffering amid resilience in services.
The Eurozone economy is in fine shape, according to the latest PMI data. The composite EZ PMI fell trivially to 54.3 in January, but remains strong. A marginal dip in the services index offset a small increase in the manufacturing PMI to a cyclical high of 55.1. These data tell a story of a strong private sector that continues to support GDP growth.
Survey data in Germany continue to tell an upbeat story on the economy. The IFO business climate index rose to 109.0 in November from 108.2 in October, lifted by gains in both the expectations and current assessment indexes. The IFO tends to be slightly over-optimistic on GDP growth, but our first chart shows that the survey points to upside risks in the fourth quarter.
The two main national surveys--IFO and INSEE-- both beat consensus forecasts yesterday, supporting our story of that economic sentiment is holding up relatively well in the face increasing investor anxiety. In Germany, the main IFO business climate index rose marginally to 108.5 from a revised 108.4 in August, boosted by an increase in the expectations index to a six-month high of 103.3, up from 102.0 in August. The IFO expectations index points to real GDP growth rising 0.5%-to-0.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q3.
Hong Kong delivered a resounding landslide victory to pro-Democracy parties in district council elections over the weekend.
Friday's PMIs gave the first hint of Q4 growth in the Eurozone, and continue to tell a story of a stable cyclical recovery. The composite PMI in the Eurozone rose 54.0 in October from 53.6 in September, mainly due to a rise in the services index, to 54.2 from 53.7. Assuming the PMI remains unchanged over the remainder of the quarter, the survey indicates solid GDP growth of 0.4%-to-0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4.
Data released in recent days are confirming the story of a struggling economy and falling inflation pressures in Mexico, strengthening our base case of interest rate cuts over the second half of the year.
The first exit poll published at 18.00 CET on Sunday evening points to a landslide victory for Syriza, and the real possibility that the party could form a majority government. Counter-intuitively, the prospects for Syriza here depend upon how the smaller parties do.
LatAm currencies and stock markets have suffered badly in recent weeks, but Monday turned into a massacre with the MSCI stock index for the region falling close to 4%. Markets rebounded marginally yesterday, but remain substantially lower than their April-May peaks. Each economy has its own story, so the market hit has been uneven, but all have been battered as China's stock market has crashed. The downward spiral in commodity prices--oil hit almost a seven-year low on Monday--is making the economic and financial outlook even worse for LatAm.
Yesterday's barrage of French business surveys contains hundreds of indicators, but its central story is comfortably simple.
Markets are trading like Emmanuel Macron has already moved into the Élysée Palace. Eurozone equities soared at the open yesterday, lead by the French banks, 10-year yields in France plunged, and the euro jumped. This makes sense given the signal from the polls. They were correct in their prediction of Mr. Macron's victory on Sunday, and they have been consistently forecasting that he will comfortably beat Mrs. Le Pen in the runoff.
If, like us, you have been cheered by the upturn in mortgage applications since November, you don't need to worry about the apparent drop in activity in the past couple of weeks. The numbers don't look great: The MBA's index capturing the number of applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase has dropped from a peak of 237.7 in the third week of January--ignoring September's spike, which was triggered by a regulatory change--to 213.3 last week.
Data released in recent days confirm the story of a struggling economy and falling inflation pressures in Mexico, strengthening our forecast of interest rate cuts over the second half of the year.
The bad news just keeps coming for Brazil's economy. The mid-month CPI, the IPCA-15 index, rose 1.2% month-to-month in March. Soaring energy prices remain the key contributor to the inflation story in Brazil, pushing up the housing component by 2.8% in March, after a 2.2% increase in February.
On the eve of the referendum, opinion polls continue to suggest that the result is essentially a coin toss. The latest online polls point to a neck-and-neck race, while telephone polls point to a narrow Remain victory.
The manufacturing industry in France is recovering slowly, but surely. The headline INSEE index rose to 102 in July from 101 in June, close to a post-crisis high, pointing to steady improvement for manufacturers. Our first chart shows the main leading components of the survey, indicating a modest, but positive, trend in output. The increase in sentiment in July was driven by firming new orders--especially in the export sector--pushing the new orders-to-inventory ratio to an 18-month high.
It's probably too soon to start looking for second round effects from the drop in gasoline prices in the core CPI. History suggests quite strongly that sharp declines in energy prices feed into the core by depressing the costs of production, distribution and service delivery, but the lags are quite long, a year or more.
Robust demand in the ECB's final TLTRO auction was the main story in EZ financial markets yesterday. Euro area banks--474 in total-- took up €233.5B in the March TLTRO, well above the consensus forecast €110B. To us, this strong demand is a sign that EZ banks are taking advantage of the TLTROs' incredibly generous conditions.
We are struggling to make sense of the third quarter GDP numbers. The reality is that the massive surge in soybean exports--which we estimate contributed 0.9 percentage points, gross, to GDP growth--mostly came from falling inventory, because the soybean harvest mostly takes place in Q4.
Today's ECB meeting will mainly be a victory lap for Mr. Draghi--it is the president's last meeting before Ms. Lagarde takes over--rather than the scene of any major new policy decisions.
Mauricio Macri, the centre-right candidate of the Cambiemos--Let's Change--coalition won Argentina's weekend presidential election. Mr. Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires, defeated Daniel Scioli, of the ruling Front for Victory--FpV--coalition on Sunday. His victory marks the end of the 12-year Kirchnerist era, characterized by wild inflation, huge public deficits and unsustainable subsidies. If Mr. Macri lives up to his promises, Argentina, the second-largest economy in South America, will become an orthodox economy on a sustainable path. The recovery will come, we think, but it will be a long and challenging process.
Eurozone PMI data yesterday presented investors with a confusing message. The composite index fell marginally to 52.9 in May, from 53.0 in April, despite separate data that showed that the composite PMIs rose in both Germany and France. Markit said that weakness outside the core was the key driver, but we have to wait for the final data to see the full story.
The minutes of the May 2/3 FOMC meeting today should add some color to policymakers' blunt assertion that "The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory and continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further, and inflation will stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term."
We're still no nearer to a definitive answer to the question of what went wrong in the manufacturing sector over the summer, when we expected to see things improving on the back of the rebound in activity in the mining sector, rising export orders and an end to the domestic inventory correction. Instead, the August surveys dropped, and September reports so far are, if anything, a bit worse.
The PMIs are telling an increasingly upbeat story for the EZ economy in Q4. The composite PMI in the euro area rose to an 11-month high of 54.1 in November, from 53.3 in October. The uptick was driven by strong new business growth across all private sectors, and employment also increased in response to higher work backlogs.
Retail sales data later today will give us the first hard data from the fourth quarter, and the story should be altogether more positive than the still downbeat message from the manufacturing sector.
We are not bothered by either the drop in real December consumption, all of which was due to a weather-induced plunge in utility spending, or the drop in the ISM manufacturing index, which is mostly a story about hopeless seasonal adjustments.
Headline money supply growth in the Eurozone has averaged 5% year-over-year since the beginning of 2015; yesterday's October data did not change that story.
Leading economic indicators in the Eurozone continue to send contradictory signals. Most of the headline surveys indicate that a further slowdown, and perhaps even recession, are imminent, while the money supply data suggest that GDP growth is about to re-accelerate.
The presumption in markets is that the French presidential election is the last hurdle to be overcome in the EZ economy. As long as Marine Le Pen is kept out of l'Élysée, animal spirits will be released in the economy and financial markets. We concede that a Le Pen victory would result in chaos, at least in the short run. Bond spreads would widen, equities would crash and the euro would plummet. But we also suspect that such volatility would be short-lived, similar to the convulsions after Brexit.
Last week's May CPI data in the major EZ economies all but confirmed the story for this week's advance estimate for the euro area as a whole.
Barely a day passes now without an email asking about "evidence" that the U.S. economy is slowing or even heading into recession. The usual factors cited are the elevated headline inventory-to-sales ratio, weak manufacturing activity, slowing earnings growth and the hit from weaker growth in China. We addressed these specific issues in the Monitor last week, on the 23rd--you can download it from our website--but the alternative approach to the end-of-the-world-is-nigh view is via the labor market.
The closer we look at the startling surge in imports in the fourth quarter, the more convinced we become that it was due in large part to a burst of inventory replacement following the late summer hurricanes.
Another week, another batch of contradictory signals regarding the economy's current health.
We now have consumption data for two-thirds of the first quarter, making it is easy to see that a near-herculean spending effort is required to lift the quarter as a whole into anything like respectable territory. After February's 0.1% dip, real spending has to rise by at least 0.4% in March just to generate a 2.0% annualized gain for the quarter, and a 2.5% increase requires a 0.7% jump.
Today will be an incredibly busy day for EZ investors with no fewer than eight major economic reports. Overall, we think the data will tell a story of a stable business cycle upturn and rising inflation. Markets will focus on advance Q4 GDP data in France and in the euro area as a whole. Our mo dels, and survey data, indicate that the EZ economy strengthened at the end of 2016, and we expect the headline data to beat the consensus.
The upward trend in German inflation stalled temporarily in August, with an unchanged 0.4% year-over-year reading in August. A dip in core inflation likely offset a continued increase in energy price inflation. The detailed final report next month will give the full story, but state data suggest that the core rate was depressed by a dip in price increases of household appliances, restaurant services, as well as "other goods and services."
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.
It's pretty easy to spin a story that the recent core PCE numbers represent a sharp and alarming turn south.
Guo Shuqing, head of the newly formed China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, has been named as Party Secretary for the PBoC.
Recent political and economic developments in Brazil make us more confidence in our forecast of a gradual recovery. On Wednesday, interim President Michel Temer scored his first victory in Congress, winning approval for his request to raise this year's budget target to a more realistic level. Under the new target, Brazil's government plans to run a budget gap, before interest, of about 2.7% of GDP this year.
Our ECB-story since Ms. Lagarde took the helm as president has been that the central bank will do as little as possible through 2020, at least in terms of shifting its major policy tools.
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.
The landslide victory by anti-austerity party Syriza in Greece this weekend will increase uncertainty in coming months. The coalition between Syriza and the Independent Greeks will prove a tough negotiating partner for the EU as both parties are strongly in favor of pushing the Troika to significant concessions on any future bailout terms this year.
The headline in yesterday's EZ money supply report gave the illusion that monetary conditions are stable, but the details tell a different story. M3 growth accelerated marginally to 5.0% year-over-year in June, from 4.9%, but momentum in narrow money fell further. M1 growth slowed to 8.5% year-over-year, from 9.0% in May due to a fall in overnight deposits and currency in circulation.
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.
Mr. Draghi used his introductory statement at the ECON--EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee-- hearing last week to assure investors that the central bank is vigilant to downside risks. The president noted the governing council "would not hesitate to act" if it deems growth and inflation to be undershooting expectations. Market volatility has increased the ECB's worries, but economic data continue to tell a story of a firm business cycle upturn.
The definition of "yesbutism": Noun, meaning the practice of dismissing or seeking to diminish the importance of data on the grounds that the next iteration will tell the opposite story.
We have been asked how we can justify raising our growth forecasts but at the same time arguing that the housing market is set to weaken quite dramatically, thanks to the clear downshift in mortgage applications in recent months. Applications peaked back in June, so this is not just a story about the post-election rise in mortgage rates.
Former Treasury Secretary and thwarted would-be Fed Chair Larry Summers has been arguing for some time that the Fed should not raise rates "...until it sees the whites of inflation's eyes". As part of his campaign to persuade actual Fed Chair Yellen of the error of her intended ways, he argued at the World Economic Forum in September that the strong dollar has played no role in depressing inflation. Never one to miss an opportunity to diss the competition, he wrote that Stanley Fischer's view that the dollar has indeed restrained inflation is "substantially weakened" by the hard evidence. Dr. Summers' view is that inflation is being held down by other, longer-lasting factors, principally the slack in the lab or market, rather than the "transitory" influences favored by the Fed.
This year has been a story of two halves for EZ equities. The MSCI EU ex-UK jumped 11% in the first five months of 2017, but has since struggled to push higher.
Monthly publication telling the economic story of each region in roughly 40 charts
Samuel Tombs has more than a decade of experience covering the U.K. economy for investors. At Pantheon, Samuel's research is rigorous, free of dogma and jargon, and unafraid to challenge consensus views. His work focuses on what matters to professional investors: The links between the real economy, monetary policy and asset prices. He has a strong track record of getting the big calls right. The Sunday Times ranked Samuel as the most accurate forecaster of the U.K. economy in both 2014 and 2018. In addition, Bloomberg consistently has ranked Samuel as one of the top three U.K. forecasters, out of pool of 35 economists, throughout 2018 and 2019. His in-depth knowledge of market-moving data and his forensic forecasting approach explain why he consistently beats the consensus. Samuel's work on Brexit goes beyond simply reporting developments and is always analytical and unbiased, enabling investors to see through the noise of the daily headlines. While his analysis points to a particular path that politicians will take, he acknowledges the inherent uncertainty and draws out the economic and financial market implications of all plausible Brexit scenarios. Samuel holds an MSc in Economics from Birkbeck College, University of London and an undergraduate degree in History and Economics from the University of Oxford. Prior to joining Pantheon in 2015, he was Senior U.K. Economist at Capital Economics. In 2011, Samuel won the Society of Business Economists' prestigious Rybczynski Prize for an article on quantitative easing in the UK. He is based in London but frequently visits our other offices. Recent key calls include: 2018 - Correctly forecast that GDP growth would slow and inflation would undershoot the MPC's initial forecast, prompting the Committee to shock investors and almost other economists by waiting until August to raise Bank Rate, rather than pressing ahead in May. 2017 - Argued that the MPC was wrong to expect CPI inflation to stay below 3% following sterling's depreciation. He also highlighted that economic indicators pointed to the Conservatives losing their outright majority in the snap general election.
What to expect from the ECB as Ms. Lagarde takes the seat as new president?
With the Mexican Elections on July 1st, our Chief Latam Economist Andres Abadia has received many questions about the possible outcomes and how this will affect the Mexican economy going forward.
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. GDP
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Public Finances
Will EZ services hold their own amid weakness in manufacturing?
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone Inflation.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics is the winner of the MarketWatch Forecaster of the Month award for June.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson named Market Watch forecaster of the month for July
Chief US Economist Ian Shepherdson on Durable Goods Orders, February
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. Durable Goods Orders
The rapid hiring that made 2014 a stellar year for job gains is showing no sign of slowing down.
Chief LatAm Economist Andres Abadia on the Argentina Election
Chief US economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest Jobs report
What's So Bad About Cheap Oil?
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. hiring
Producer Prices Edge Up Despite Slide in Cost of Gas
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the U.S. Economy
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Freya Beamish produces the Asia service at Pantheon. She has several years of experience in covering the global economy, with a particular focus on China, Japan and Korea. Previously, she worked at Lombard Street Research (now TS Lombard), where she delivered research on Asia and the Global economy for over five years, latterly as the manager of the Macroeconomics group.
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