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The response of U.K. producers and consumers to lower oil prices could not have been more different to those on the other side of the Atlantic. Counter-intuitively, U.K. oil production has grown strongly over the last year, while investment hasn't collapsed to the same extent as in the U.S., yet. Meanwhile, U.K. households have thrown caution to the wind and already have spent the windfall from the previous drop in oil prices, unlike their more prudent--so far--U.S. counterparts. With the costs still to come but most of the benefits already enjoyed, lower oil prices will be neutral for 2016 U.K. GDP growth, at best.
We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the plunge in capital spending on equipment in the oil sector could cost about 300K jobs over the course of this year. Adding in the potential hit from falling spending on structures, which likely will occur over a longer period, given the lead times in the construction process, the payroll hit this year could easily be 500K, or just over 40K per month.
The rising trend in U.S. oil production was interrupted only briefly by the hurricanes.
Straight-line extrapolations are always risky--nothing lasts forever--but if you allow us the indulgence, our first chart suggests that domestic U.S. oil production will breach 10M barrels per day by the summer.
We are intrigued by the idea that the rollover in oil firms' capital spending on equipment might already be over, even as spending on new well-drilling--captured by the still-falling weekly operating rigs data--continues to decline. The evidence to suggest equipment spending has fallen far enough is straightforward.
If we had known back in June 2014 that oil prices would drop to about $30, the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector would not have been a surprise. Spending on well-drilling, which accounts for about three quarters of oil capex, has dropped in line with the fall in prices, after a short lag, as our first chart shows. We think spending on equipment has tracked the fall in oil prices, too.
Most of the time we don't pay much attention to the monthly import and export prices numbers, which markets routinely ignore. Right now, though, they matter, because the plunge in oil prices is hugely depressing the numbers and, thanks to a technical quirk, depressing reported GDP growth.
The durable goods numbers were among the first short-term indicators to warn clearly of the hit to manufacturing from the rollover in oil sector capex, which began last fall. The trend in core capital goods orders was rising strongly before oil firms began to cut back, with the year-over-year rate peaking at 11.9% in September. Leading capex indicators in the small business sector remained quite robust, but just nine months later, core capex orders were down 6.4% year-over-year, following annualized declines of more than 14% in both the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of this year.
We fully expect to learn today that import prices rose in March for the first time since June last year. Our forecast for a 1% increase is in line with the consensus, but the margin of error is probably about plus or minus half a percent, and an increase of more than 1.2% would be the biggest in a single month in four years. Most, if not all, of the jump will be due to the rebound in oil prices.
The large unexpected surge in oil and gas output this year has boosted the overall economic recovery significantly. But this looks like the last hurrah for a sector of the U.K. economy in terminal decline.
If the current rate of contraction continues, the U.S. onshore oil industry will cease to exist in the third week of January next year. Over the past six weeks, the number of operating rigs has dropped by an average of 8.5, and 362 rigs were running last week. At the peak, in early October 2014--just 18 months ago--the rig count reached 1,609.
Capex data by industry are available only on an annual basis, with a very long lag, so we can't directly observe the impact the collapse in the oil sector has had on total equipment spending. But we can make the simple observation that orders for non-defense capital goods were rising strongly and quite steadily-- allowing for the considerable noise in the data--from mid-2013 through mid-2014, before crashing by 9% between their September peak and the February low. It cannot be a coincidence that this followed a 55% plunge in oil prices.
We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the very low and declining level of jobless claims is a good indicator that businesses were not much bothered by the slowdown in the pace of economic growth in the first quarter. The numbers also help illustrate another key point when thinking about the current state of the economy and, in particular, the rollover in the oil business.
German data yesterday indicate that inflation pressures have, so far, been resilient in the face of the recent collapse in oil prices. Inflation rose to 0.5% year-over-year in January from 0.3% in December, partly due to base effects pushing up the year-over-year rate in energy prices, but core inflation rose too. The detailed state data indicate that almost all key components of the core index contributed positively, lead by leisure and recreation and healthcare.
The renewed slide in oil prices in recent weeks will crimp capital spending, at the margin, but it is not a macroeconomic threat on the scale of the 2014-to-16 hit.
Wednesday's Mexican industrial production report was upbeat for manufacturing, but it revealed that the oil and public construction sectors remain under severe strain.
Outside the U.S., global oil production is dominated by national oil companies, which are effectively arms of their states. State actors respond differently to private oil producers when prices fall, especially in states where oil revenues are the key element of government cashflow.
The consequences of the collapse in oil prices continue to reverberate through the sector. The number of rigs in operation is still falling rapidly, but the rate of decline is slowing. According to data from Baker Hughes, Inc., an average of 23 rigs per week have ceased operation over the past four weeks, the slowest decline since December.
The latest data from the Energy Department show that the feared collapse in U.S. oil production in the wake of the plunge in crude prices has no t started yet. The number of rigs in operation is falling sharply, but our first chart shows it is not yet approaching the collapse seen after the financial crash.
Colombia was the fastest growing economy in LatAm last year but it faces major challenges. The collapse of oil prices--which account for about half of exports--the COP depreciation, rising inflation and Fed's impending monetary policy normalization, are dragging down economic activity and damaging confidence.
Colombia is more vulnerable to falling oil prices than most other LatAm economies. That's why the COP has dropped by 20% since June, outpaced only by the rouble, which has problems beyond falling oil prices.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economies in LatAm but over the last few quarters the country has been adjusting to the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency and rising inflation. But the slowdown, especially on the domestic side of the economy, has been less dramatic than expected, so far. Our main scenario is that the adjustment process to challenging external conditions will continue over the coming quarters.
Japan's trade surplus is set to fall in coming months, as domestic demand remains robust, while recent oil price increases will be a drag, lifting imports.
Oil and gas extraction, and the drilling of wells to facilitate extraction, accounts for only 2.0% of GDP, but it punches far above its weight when it comes to capital spending.
We have set out in recent Monitors the differences in the economic and political environment across Latin America, but the plunge in oil prices adds a new element to the analysis.
The combination of weather effects and the meltdown in the oil sector make it very hard to spot the underlying trend in manufacturing activity. The sudden collapse in oil-related capital spending likely is holding down production of equipment, but the data don't provide sufficient detail to identify the hit with any precision.
We have been arguing for some time that the drag on growth from falling capital spending in the oil sector would fade to nothing in the third quarter, and would then likely be followed by a small increase in the fourth quarter. But we seem to have been too cautious. It now seems much more likely that oil capex will rebound strongly as soon as the third quarter, following the clear upturn in the rig count data produced by Baker Hughes, Inc.
Colombia's oil industry--one of the key drivers of the country's economic growth over the last decade--has been stumbling over recent months, raising concerns about the country's growth prospects. But the recent weakness of the mining sector is in stark contrast with robust internal demand and solid domestic production.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economy in LatAm but over the last few quarters the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency--fearing higher U.S. interest rates--and rising inflation, have depressed confidence and dragged down economic activity.
As we're writing, the price of U.S. crude oil is only about 50 cents per barrel lower than on Thursday, when markets began to anticipate an OPEC deal to cut production over the weekend. The failure of the Doha talks generated an initial sharp drop in oil prices, but the damage now is very limited, as our first chart shows.
The 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.
We're pretty sure our forecast of a levelling-off in capital spending in the oil sector will prove correct. Unless you think the U.S. oil business is going to disappear, capex has fallen so far already that it must now be approaching the incompressible minimum required for replacement parts and equipment needed to keep production going.
The pressures on U.S. manufacturers are changing. For most of this year to date, the problem has been the collapse in capital spending in the oil business, which has depressed overall investment spending, manufacturing output and employment. Oil exploration is extremely capital-intensive, so the only way for companies in the sector to save themselves when the oil prices collapsed was to slash capex very quickly.
The most important number released yesterday was hidden well behind the headline inflation, production and housing construction data. We have been waiting to see how quickly the upturn in the number of rigs in operation would translate into rising oil and gas well-drilling, and now we know: In July, well-drilling jumped by 4.7%
Collapsing oil prices continue to weigh on inflation pressures in Eurozone. Inflation was unchanged at a minimal 0.2% year-over-year in August, largely due to an accelerated fall in energy prices, which plunged 7.1%, down from a 5.6% drop in July. Base effects will offer support for year-over-year changes in energy prices starting in Q4, but our fir st chart show downside risks loom in the short run.
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.
The relatively upbeat message from a plethora of Eurozone data this week remains firmly sidelined by chaos in equity and credit markets. EZ Equities struggled towards the end of last year in the aftermath of the disappointing ECB stimulus package, and now, renewed weakness in oil prices and further Chinese currency devaluation have added pressure, by refocusing attention on already weak areas in the global economy.
The recent surge in the oil price has added to the headwinds set to batter the economy over the next year. The price of Brent crude has jumped by $10 since September to $64, its highest level since June 2015.
The U.K. is one of the smallest winners among advanced economies from the precipitous decline in oil prices. British oil production still fulfils about 55% of the U.K.'s demand, even though it has declined by two-thirds since its 1999 peak. Oil consumption therefore exceeds production by a much smaller margin in the U.K. than in most other European countries. As a result, the boost to the U.K. economy from the $10 decline in oil prices over the last month isn't much to write home about.
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,
Investors have lowered once again their expectations for official interest rates and now do not anticipate any rate hikes this year. Markets appear to have judged that the plunge in oil prices will ensure that inflation is too low for the Monetary Policy Committee to tighten policy. Oil prices, however, are not the be-all and end-all for inflation or monetary policy, and we doubt they will distract the MPC from the continued firming of domestic price pressures this year.
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.
After 29 straight weekly declines, the number of oil rigs in operation in the U.S. rose to 640 in the week ended July 2, from 628 the previous week, according to oil services firm Baker Hughes, Inc. If today's report for the week ended July 9 shows the rig count steady or up again, it will b e much easier to argue that the plunge in activity since the peak--1,601 rigs, in mid-September--is now over.
The price of Brent oil has fallen sharply to $40 per barrel from about $50 just a month ago, and speculation is mounting that it could plunge to $20 soon. But CPI inflation should still pick up over coming months, provided oil prices remain above $30. And the absence of "second-round" effects of lower oil prices this year should reassure the Monetary Policy Committee that lower oil prices won't bear down on inflation over the medium-term.
If Brent oil prices remain at their current $41 through the end of the second quarter--a big ask, we know, but you have to start with something--the average price of petroleum products imported into the U.S. will rise at an annualized rate of about 70% from their first quarter level.
Today's advance inventory and international trade data for December could change our Q4 GDP forecast significantly.
The underlying state of the Mexican economy is still positive, despite recent signs of a modest slowdown. The IGAE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--rose 2.1% year-over-year in April, a relatively solid pace, but down from 2.8% in March, and 2.6% in Q1.
In the wake of the May international trade numbers, our hopes that net foreign trade would contribute more than a full percentage point to second quarter GDP growth have taken something of a knock. We're now looking for a 0.7pp contribution.
The headline NFIB index of small business activity and sentiment in July likely will be little changed from June--we expect a half-point dip, while the consensus forecast is for a repeat of June's 94.5--but what we really care about is the capex intentions componen
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.
We would like to be able to argue with confidence that today's December durable goods orders report will show core capital goods orders rebounding after three straight declines, totalling 3.4%.
The rollover in core capital goods orders in recent months has been startling. In the three months to February, compared to the previous three months, orders for non-defense capital goods fell at a 7.6% annualized rate.
The nominal value of orders for non-defense capital equipment, excluding aircraft, fell by 3.4% last year. This was less terrible than 2015, when orders plunged by 8.4%, but both years were grim when compared to the average 7.5% increase over the previous five years.
Due to a technical quirk, Eurostat was not able to publish seasonally adjusted January trade numbers yesterday, so the report is of limited use. The unadjusted trade surplus in the Eurozone plunged to €7.9B in January, from €24.3B in December, driven in part by a collapse in Italy's surplus.
Colombia was likely the fastest growing economy in LatAm in 2015, but it is set to slow this year as monetary and fiscal policy are tightened, and commodity prices remain under pressure during the first half of the year, at least. Economic activity was surprisingly resilient during 2015, especially during the second half, despite the COP's sell-off, high inflation, and subdued consumer confidence.
Just two components of first quarter GDP were weak enough together to depress growth by 2.0 percentage points. Net foreign trade subtracted 1.25 percentage points, while falling investment in non-residential structures reduced growth by 0.75pp.
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.
2015 is set to be another grim year for Venezuela, and we have no hope things will improve further down the road, barring huge changes in policy.
German exports had a sluggish start to the fourth quarter, falling 1.2% month-to-month in October. The monthly drop pushed the year-over-year rate down to 3.0% from 4.2% in September, well down from the 5.6% third quarter average and extending the loss of momentum in recent months. Imports fell 3.6%, so net exports rose, but it's too early to make any useful estimates of net trade in the fourth quarter as a whole.
Upbeat survey data and relatively resilient consumer spending numbers indicate that the Mexican economy is in good shape, despite a marginal slowdown in most of Q2.
The resilience and adaptability that the Chilean economy has shown over previous cycles has been tested repeatedly over the last year. Uncertainty on the political front, falling metal prices, and growing concerns about growth in China have been the key factors behind expectations of slowing GDP growth.
Venezuela is on the brink o f economic and social collapse. Looting, food scarcity, power rationing, and other problems have become rampant. This week, Venezuela's government allowed citizens to flock across the Colombian border to shop for food and medicine, for the second time this month. Last year, Venezuela's President Maduro shut the border in a bid to crack down on smuggling of subsidized products.
We see considerable downside risk to the consensus forecast that GDP increased by 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the same as in Q3.
A cluster of surveys suggest that the manufacturing sector finished 2016 with a flourish, after a dismal performance for most of the year. But momentum will drain away from the sector's recovery in 2017, as higher oil prices make low value-added work unprofitable again and resurgent inflation causes domestic consumer demand to crumble.
Business investment has punched above its weight in the economic recovery from the crash of 2008; annual real growth in capex has averaged 5% over the last five years, greatly exceeding GDP growth of 2%. This recovery is unlikely to grind to a halt soon, since profit margins are still high and borrowing costs will remain low. But corporate balance sheets are not quite as robust as they seem, while capex in the investment-intensive oil sector still has a lot further to fall.
Colombia's central bank--Banrep--decided last Friday to leave its benchmark interest rate at 4.5% for the third consecutive month, concerned by the slowdown in oil prices, which is affecting economic activity in the fastest growing economy in the region.
The recovery of some key commodity prices, policy action in China, and stronger expectations that the U.S. Fed will start hiking rates later during the year, have helped reduce volatility in LatAm financial markets. Oil prices have rise by around 20% year-to-date, iron ore prices are up about 60% and copper has risen by 7%.
...Third quarter growth was revised up sharply and the prospects for fourth quarter consumption improved substantially. Less positively, the first signs of faltering capex in the wake of the plunge in oil prices emerged in the macro data, and the ISM manufacturing index began to reverse its run of absurd, seasonally-assisted, "strength".
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.
We don't directly plug the ADP employment data into our model for the official payroll number. ADP's estimate is derived itself from a model which incorporates lagged official payroll data, because payrolls tend to mean-revert, as well as macroeconomic variables including oil prices, industrial production and jobless claims -- and actual employment data from firms which use ADP's payroll processing services.
The June ISM manufacturing index signalled clearly that the industrial recovery continues, with the headline number rising to its highest level since August 2014, propelled by rising orders and production. But the industrial economy is not booming and the upturn likely will lose a bit of momentum in the second half as the rebound in oil sector capex slows.
November's industrial production figures, released today, look set to surprise the consensus to the downside, underscoring our view that the economic recovery is continuing to lose momentum. Moreover, with sterling remaining uncompetitive, despite depreciating over recent weeks, and lower oil prices making extracting oil from the North Sea unprofitable, the industrial sector likely will impede the economic recovery further in 2016.
We have been waiting a long time to see signs that business investment spending is becoming less reliant on movements in oil prices.
This week's economic data for the Mexican economy have been encouraging, especially for Banxico, which left its main interest rate unchanged yesterday at 3.0%. Inflation remained on target for the second consecutive month in the first half of February, and the closely-watched IGAE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--continued to grow at a relatively solid pace, despite the big hit from lower oil prices.
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.
Inflation in Germany rebounded last month, rising to plus 0.1% year-over-year in May, from minus 0.1% in April. We think the economy has escaped the claws of deflation, for now. Household energy prices fell 5.7% year-over-year in May, up from a 6.3% decline in April, and the rate will rise further. Base effects and higher oil prices point to a surge in energy inflation in the next three-to-six months.
French manufacturing cooled at the end of 2016. Industrial production slipped 0.9% month-to-month in December, partially reversing an upwardly revised 2.4% jump in November. The main hits came from declines in oil refining and manufacturing of cars and other transport equipment.
We have argued for some time that the revival in nonoil capex represents clear upside risk for GDP growth next year, but it's now time to make this our base case.
The upward trend in CPI inflation likely reasserted itself in August, following a hiatus in the last two months due to the decline in oil prices.
Recent data have confirmed that Colombian economic activity is still fragile, and that downside risks increased in Q1 as oil prices hav e slipped. The ISE economic activity index rose just 1.0% year-over-year in January, down from a 1.6% average gain in Q4.
Colombia started the second quarter strongly, with the ISE economic activity indicator--a monthly proxy for GDP--expanding a solid and surprising 3.6% year-over-year in April, up from 2.9% in March. The rate of growth is well above the 2.8% gain in Q1, con firming the country's resiliency in the face of lower oil prices. Still, growth has slowed sharply since the 4.4% increase in activity in 2014, as our first chart shows.
The downturn in equity prices deepened yesterday, with the FTSE 100 index closing at 5,537, 22% below its April 2015 peak. We remain unconvinced, however, that financial market turmoil is set to push the U.K. economy into a recession. We continue to take comfort from the weakness of the past relationship between equity prices and economic activity.
The consensus expectation that industrial production rose by 1.0% month-to-month in November is far too low; we expect Wednesday's data to show a jump of 2.0% or so. The rebound, however, should not be interpreted as another sign that the economy has been revitalised by the Brexit vote. Instead, we expect the rise chiefly to reflect volatility in oil production and heating energy supply.
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.
For some time now we have argued that the forces which have depressed business capex--the collapse in oil prices, the strong dollar, and slower growth in China--are now fading, and will soon become neutral at worst. As these forces dissipate, the year-over-year rate of growth of capex will revert to the prior trend, about 4-to-6%. We have made this point in the context of our forecast of faster GDP growth, but it also matters if you're thinking about the likely performance of the stock market.
The manufacturing sector is much more exposed to external forces--the dollar, and global growth--than the rest of the economy. But much of the slowdown in the sector over the past year-and-a-half, we think, can be traced back to the impact of plunging oil prices on capital spending in the sector.
The Eurozone escaped deflation last month, and we doubt it will return in this business cycle. Inflation rose to 0.1% year-over-year in June, up from -0.1% in May; it was lifted chiefly by the gradual recovery in oil and other global commodity prices. Energy prices fell 6.5% in June, up from a 8.4% fall in May, and we think the recovery will accelerate in coming months.
Mexican manufacturing sector kicked off the year on a soft note, due mainly to the sharp drop in oil prices, and the sharp weather-induced slowdown in the U.S. Mexico's northern neighbor is its largest trading partner, by far, accounting for about 85% of total exports last year and close to 80% of total non-oil exports.
Figures released today look set to reveal that industrial production rose in January by the biggest percentage since August. But this will simply reflect a rebound in demand for heating energy after extreme weakness late last year. The oil and manufacturing sectors remain on course for an extremely challenging year.
We have lost count of the number of times the drop in the ISM manufacturing survey, in the wake of the plunge in oil prices, was a harbinger o f recession across the whole economy. It wasn't, because the havoc wreaked in the industrial economy by the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector was contained.
The major Andean economies had a very challenging first quarter. In Colombia, the effect of the sharp fall in oil prices has become more evident in the last few months. The ISE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--fell considerably during 2014, with a significant deceleration over the last half of the year.
The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector last year was the biggest single drag on the manufacturing sector, by far. The strong dollar hurt too, as did the slowdown in growth in China, but most companies don't export anything. Capex has fallen in proportion to the drop in oil prices, so our first chart strongly suggests that the bottom of the cycle is now very near.
The worst is over for manufacturers, we think. The three major forces depressing activity in the sector last year--namely, the strong dollar, the slowdown in China, and the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector--will be much less powerful this year.
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.
...The Fed did nothing, surprising no-one; the labor market tightened further; the housing market tracked sideways; survey data mostly slipped a bit; and oil prices jumped nearly $4, briefly nudging above $50 for the first time since May.
Colombia's economy has continued to slow, due mainly to lagged effect of the oil price shock since mid-2014, and stubbornly high inflation, which has triggered painful monetary tightening. Modest fiscal expansion and capital inflows have helped to avoid a hard landing, but the economy is still feeling the pain of weakening domestic demand. And the twin deficits--though improving--remain a threat.
Swings in energy output continue to add volatility to French manufacturing data. Industrial production fell 0.9% month-to-month in April, equivalent to a 0.1% fall year-over-year. This was a weak report, even if we factor in the 0.3% upward revision to the March numbers,but it was also he avily tainted by a 10.8% month-to-month collapse in oil refining.
Markets' inflation expectations have fallen in recent weeks, maintaining the trend seen over the previous 18 months. The fall in expectations for the next year or so is justified by the sharp fall in oil prices. But expectations for inflation further ahead have drifted down too, even though lower oil prices will have no effect on the annual comparison of prices beyond a year or so from now.
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 alarming-looking decline in core capital goods orders since late 2014 has been substantially due, in our view, to the rollover in investment in the mining sector. But the 29% jump in the number of oil rigs in operation, since the mid-May low, makes it clear that the collapse is over.
The April international trade numbers were startlingly, and surprisingly, horrible. The deficit in trade in goods leaped by $6.2B -- the biggest one-month jump in two years -- to $67.1B, though the headline damage was limited by a sharp narrowing in the oil deficit, thanks to lower prices, and a rebound in the aircraft surplus.
The risk of political change in Venezuela is coming to a boil, following President Maduro's plans for a new constituent assembly that has the power to rewrite the constitution and scrap the existing National Assembly.
Colombia's worrying inflation picture suggests the Central Bank will likely hike rates at least once more before the end of the year, attempting to anchor expectations. The October 30th BanRep minutes, in which the board surprised the market by hiking the main rate by 50bp to 5.25%--consensus was a 25bp increase--made it clear that the decision was based on fear of increased inflation risks, coupled with an improving domestic demand picture. The 50bp hike was not agreed unanimously, with dissenters arguing that the bank should adopt a more gradual approach due the high degree of uncertainty over the global economy. In addition, those favoring a 25bp hike argued that it would be better to move at a predictable pace to avoid possible market turmoil.
After a very light week for economic data so far, everything changes today, with an array of reports on both activity and inflation. We expect headline weakness across the board, with downside risks to consensus for the December retail sales and industrial production numbers, and the January Empire State survey and Michigan consumer sentiment. The damage will b e done by a combination of falling oil prices, very warm weather, relative to seasonal norms, and the stock market.
December's consumer prices figures, released tomorrow, look set to show CPI inflation ticked up to 0.2% from 0.1% in November, despite the renewed collapse in oil prices. The further fall in energy prices this year means that the inflation print won't reach 1% until May's figures are published in June. But Governor Carney has emphasised that core price pressures will motivate the first rate hike--a focus he likely will reiterate in a speech on Tuesday-- meaning that a May lift-off is still on the table.
The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector and poor construction spending have constrained aggregate Mexican industrial output in recent months, despite the strength of the manufacturing sector. Total production fell 0.1% year-over-year in January, though note this was a clear improvement after the 0.6% drop in December, and better than the average 0.4% contraction over the second half of 2016.
Another day, another sharp drop in the stock market, and another wavelet of commentary suggesting recession and deflation are just around the corner. We have no argument with the idea that the manufacturing sector could contract over, say, the next six months. But the other 88% of the economy--apart from the 1½% of GDP generated by oil extraction-- is benefiting from the strong dollar and cheap fuel.
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.
The German inflation rate soared at the start of 2017, but it likely will fall in the next few months. Final February data yesterday showed that inflation rose to 2.2% in February, from 1.9% in January, consistent with the initial estimate. Since December, headline inflation in Germany, and in the EZ as a whole, has been lifted by two factors. Base effects from the 2016 crash in oil prices have pushed energy inflation higher, and a supply shock in fresh produce--due to heavy snowfall in southern Europe--has lifted food inflation.
Commodity prices have started the year under further downward pressure. This is yet more negative news for LatAm, as most of the countries have failed to diversify, instead relying on oil or copper for a large share of exports and, critically, tax revenue. Venezuela is the biggest loser in the region from the oil hit, and, together with the worsening political and economic crisis, it has pushed the country even closer to the verge of collapse, threatening its debt payments. Venezuela's central bank last week released economic data for the first time since 2014, showing that inflation spiralled to 141% and that the economy shrank 4.5% in the first nine months of last year.
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.
The sharp drop in commodity prices, especially oil prices, has dampened the growth prospects for most countries in Latin America. But the most damage, so far, is in the currencies, which have dropped sharply.
If the collapse in oil sector capex and the strong dollar were going to push the industrial economy into recession, it probably would have started by now
Japanese headline PPI inflation will edge higher in coming months as last year's rise in oil prices feeds through. But inflation in manufacturing goods, excluding processing, is microscopic and should soon roll over as pipeline pressures wane.
The Mexican economy had a decent start to the year thanks to resilient domestic demand, but hampered by the rollover in capital spending in the oil sector and the slowdown in manufacturing activity. Economic activity expanded 2.2% year-over-year in the second quarter, down from 2.6% in the first quarter, but the underlying trend remains reasonably solid.
What's So Bad About Cheap Oil?
Lower oil prices cut two ways for US economy
Today brings a raft of January data on both economic activity and prices, but we expect the headline numbers in each report to be distorted by the impact of severe weather or the plunge in oil prices.
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
Pantheon Macroeconomics Founder Ian Shepherdson discusses the price of oil, the U.S. economy and the Greek crisis. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist, discusses the economic impact of falling oil prices with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu
Chief Eurozone economist Claus Vistesen comments on the Eurozone PMIs
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.
After three straight 1.3% month-to-month increases in core capital goods orders, we are becoming increasingly confident that the upturn in business investment signalled by the NFIB survey is now materializing.
U.S. President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at delivering on his campaign pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The executive order also includes measures to boost border patrol forces and increase the number of immigration enforcement officers. As previous U.S. presidents have discovered, however, signing an executive order is one thing and fulfilling it is something else. President Obama, for instance, signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo detention facility on his second day in office.
Today brings a wave of data, some brought forward because of Thanksgiving. We are most interested in the durable goods orders report for October, which we expect will show the upward trend in core capital goods orders continues.
Three of today's economic reports, all for December, could move the needle on fourth quarter GDP growth. Ahead of the data, we're looking for growth of 1.8%, a bit below the consensus, 2.2%, and significantly weaker than the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model, which projects 2.8%.
Mexico's economy stuttered at the start of the year. Real GDP rose 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, after a solid 0.7% in the fourth quarter. Q1 activity was supported by the services sector, rising 0.5%, offsetting the 0.2% contraction in industrial activity.
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.
It's hard to imagine that Fed Vice-Chair Dudley would choose to say yesterday that he finds the case for a September rate hike "less compelling than it was a few weeks ago" without having had a chat beforehand with Chair Yellen. Mr. Dudley pointed out that the case "could become more compelling by the time of the meeting", depending on the data and the markets, but he also argued that developments in markets and overseas economies can "impinge" on the U.S., and that there "...still appears to be excess slack in the labor market". These ideas, especially on the labor market but also on the impact of events overseas, are not shared by the hawks, but we can't imagine Mr. Dudley disagreeing in public with Dr. Yellen. We have to assume these are her views too.
Orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, have risen in six of the past seven months. In the fourth quarter, orders rose at a 4.7% annualized rate, in contrast to the 5.3% year-over-year plunge in the first half of the year.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony this week reinforced our view that the first U.S. rate hike will be in June. The transition to higher U.S. rates will require an unpleasant adjustment in asset prices in some LatAm countries.
The solid 0.2% increase in January's core CPI, coupled with the small upward revision to December, ought to offer a degree of comfort to anyone worried about European-style deflation pressures in the U.S.
Brazil's mid-June inflation reading surprised to the downside, falling to 9.0% from 9.6% in May. The reading essentially confirmed that May's rebound was a pause in the downward trend rather than a resurgence of inflationary pressures. A 1.3% increase in housing prices, including services, was the main driver of mid-June's modest unadjusted 0.4% month-to-month rise in the IPCA-15.
We pointed out in yesterday's Monitor that Fed Chair Yellen appears to be putting a good deal of faith in the idea that the recent upturn in core inflation is temporary. She argued that "some" of the increase reflects "unusually high readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time".
Mexico's economy continues to bring good news, despite the tough external environment for all EM economies. According to the economic activity index, a monthly proxy for GDP, growth gained further momentum in Q4. Activity rose 2.7% year-over-year in November, supported by stronger services activities, which expanded 0.3% month-to-month. The services sector has been the main driver of the current cycle, growing 3.8% year-over-year in November, bolstering our optimism about the domestic economy in the near-term.
As we reach our Sunday afternoon deadline, no deal has been reached to re-open the federal government.
We have argued for some time that the hourly earnings data, which take no account of changes in the mix of employment by industry or occupation, have been depressed over the past year by the relatively rapid growth of low-paid jobs.
We expect to learn today that the economy expanded at a 1.7% rate in the fourth quarter. At least, that's our forecast, based on incomplete data, and revisions over time could easily push growth significantly away from this estimate. The inherent unreliability of the GDP numbers, which can be revised forever--literally--explains why the Fed puts so much more emphasis on the labor market data, which are volatile month-to-month but more trustworthy over longer periods and subject to much smaller revisions.
Growth in South America disappointed last year, but prospects are gradually improving on the back of rising commodity prices and the global manufacturing rebound. These factors will help to ease the region's external and fiscal vulnerabilities, particularly over the second half of the year. On the domestic front, though, the first quarter has proved challenging for some countries, hit by temporary supply factors such as a mine strikes, floods, and wildfires.
Today's September international trade report will be the third to be distorted by hugely elevated soybean exports. The surge began in July, when soybean exports jumped by $3.6B--that's a 220% month-to-month increase--to $5.2B.
The BoJ kept policy unchanged yesterday, with the policy balance rate remaining at -0.1% and the 10-year yield target remaining around zero.
The IFO did its part to alleviate the stock market gloom yesterday, with the business climate index rising slightly to 108.3 in August from 108.0 in July. The August reading doesn't reflect the panic in equities, though, and we need to wait until next month to gauge the real hit to business sentiment. The increase in the headline index was driven by businesses assessment of current output, with the key expectations index falling trivially to 102.2 from a revised 102.3 in July. This survey currently points to a stable trend in real GDP growth of about 0.4% quarter-on-quarter, consistent with our expectation of full year growth of about 1.5%.
Fed Chair Yellen set out a robust and detailed defense of the orthodox approach to monetary policy in her speech in Amherst, MA, yesterday afternoon. Her core argument could have come straight from the textbook: As the labor market tightens, cost pressures will build. Monetary policy operates with a "substantial" lag, so waiting too long is dangerous; the "...prudent strategy is to begin tightening in a timely fashion and at a gradual pace".
The risk of higher US rates put LatAm currencies under pressure during the first half of the week, before the US FOMC meeting on Wednesday. But they recovered some ground yesterday, following the Fed's decision to leave rates on hold.
The woes of the manufacturing sector are likely to intensify over the next few months, even if--as we expect--overall economic growth picks up. The core problem is the strong dollar, which is hammering exporters, as our first chart shows. The slowdown in growth in China and other emerging markets is hurting too, but this is part of the reason why the dollar is strong in the first place.
Yesterday's IFO survey in Germany was a nasty downside surprise for markets. The business climate index slipped to 106.2 in August, from 108.3 in July, well below the consensus forecast for a modest rise. In addition, the expectations index slid ominously to 100.1, from a revised 102.1 in July.
Yesterday's advance consumer sentiment index in the Eurozone confirmed the upside risks for consumers' spending in Q4. The headline index rose to a 17- year high of +0.1 in November, from -1.0 in October.
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.
Brazilian inflation rate remained well under control at the start of this year, and we think the news will continue to be favorable for most of this year.
Weakness in risk assets turned into panic yesterday with the Eurostoxx falling over 6%, taking the accumulated decline to 19% since the beginning of August, and volatility hitting a three-year high. Market crashes of this kind are usually followed by a period of violent ups and downs, and we expect volatile trading in coming weeks. Following an extended bull market in risk assets, the key question investors will be asking is whether the economic cycle is turning.
Today's headline durable goods orders number for January is likely to blast through the consensus forecast, +2.7%. We expect a 6.5% jump, comfortably reversing December's 5.0% drop.
Fed Chair Yellen speaks at Jackson Hole today, at 10:00 Eastern. Her topic is billed as "financial stability", but that does not necessarily preclude remarks on the outlook for the economy and policy.
Today's preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP is the last major economic report to be released before the MPC's meeting on November 2.
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.
Financial market performance and economic survey data on the Brazilian economy have been better than many investors and commentators feared this year. The composite PMI has improved gradually since November last year, consumer sentiment has stabilized, and national business surveys have been less bleak.
Hard economic data for the first quarter will appear over the next few weeks, but the EC sentiment survey later today gives a useful overview of how the euro area economy started the year.
Like just about everyone else, we have struggled in recent years to find a convincing explanation for the persistent sluggishness of growth even as the Fed has cut rates to zero and expanded its balance sheet to a peak of $4.2T. Sure, we can explain the slowdown in growth in 2010, when the post-crash stimulus ended, and the subsequent softening in 2013, when government spending was cut by the sequester.
Punished by the global economic slowdown depressing commodity prices, the Mexican economy is now making a gradual comeback, thanks to the continuing strength of its main trading partner, increasing public expenditure on key infrastructure projects, and accommodative monetary policy.
The White House budget proposals, which Roll Call says will be released in limited form on March 14, will include forecasts of sustained real GDP growth in a 3-to-3.5% range, according to an array of recent press reports.
Friday's final CPI report in the Eurozone confirmed that inflation dipped marginally in January, by 0.1 percentage points, to 1.3%.
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.
Japan's CPI inflation has risen sharply in recent months, driven by non-core elements. The headline faces cross-currents in coming months, but should remain high, posing problems for BoJ policy.
Mexico's inflation is finally falling, giving policymakers room for manoeuvre.
Yesterday's German IFO survey broadly confirmed the bullish message from the PMIs earlier this week. The headline business climate index rose to 111.0 in February from a revised 109.9 in January, boosted by increases in both the current assessment and the expectations index.
The PBoC managed to keep interest rates well- anchored around the Chinese New Year holiday, when volatility is often elevated.
2016 has been another terrible year for Venezuela, and we have no hope that the country's economic and political situation will improve in the near-term. Economic mismanagement, authoritarianism, corruption, violent looting and social unrest are the norm.
The recent deceleration in households' real spending means that either business investment or net exports will have to pickup if the economy is to avoid a severe slowdown this year.
Brazil's external accounts continue to be the country's bright spot, having improved considerably in recent quarters. The unadjusted current account deficit for January, USD4.8B, was lower than expected and much smaller than the USD12.2B shortfall a year earlier.
With most poll-of-poll measures showing a very narrow margin in the U.K. Brexit referendum, while betting markets show a huge majority for "Remain", today brings a live experiment in the idea that the wisdom of crowds is a better guide to elections than peoples' preferences.
The ECB's decision to go all-in and buy sovereign debt has three key consequences for U.S. markets. First, Treasuries will no longer benefit from safe-haven flows, because shorting Eurozone government debt has just become a fantastically risky proposition.
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.
Germans head to the polls on Sunday to elect representatives for the national parliament. The media has tried to keep investors on alert for a surprise, but polls indicate clearly that Angela Merkel will continue as Chancellor.
LatAm investors' concerns about U.S. monetary policy expectations and the broad direction of the USD should on the back burner until the Fed hikes again, likely in September. This will leave room for country-specific drivers to take centre stage. That should support Mexico's MXN, which already has risen 14% year-to-date against the USD, erasing its losses after the US election last November.
NAFTA-related news has been mixed over the last few weeks.
Markets are reacting to Colombia's disappointing activity figures, released Friday, by pulling forward expectations for the country's first rate cut to December. The data certainly looked weak--especially upon close examination--and we expect growth to slow further. But we think that inflation is still too high to expect rate cuts this year.
In a surprise move, Peru's central bank, BCRP, succumbed to the current weakness of the economy and cut interest rates by 25bp to 3.25% last Thursday, for the first time since August last year. The board also lowered the interest rates on lending and deposit operations between the central bank and financial institutions.
Mexico's central bank, Banxico, capitulated in the face of the rapidly depreciating MXN and unexpectedly increased interest rates by 50bp to 3.75% on Wednesday, following an unscheduled meeting the day before. The decision was a unanimous, brave step, showing that policymakers are extremely worried about the FX sell-off, despite growth still running below potential.
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".
Manufacturing does not consistently lead the rest of the economy. Neither does it consistently lag. On average, turning points in the rates of growth of manufacturing output and GDP are coincident, as our first chart clearly shows. But coincidence is not causality.
The probability of a rate hike on June 14, as implied by the fed funds future, has dropped to 90%, from a peak of 99% on May 5.
We don't use the index of leading economic indicators as a forecasting tool. If it leads the pace of growth at all, it's not by much, and in recent years it has proved deeply unreliable.
The economy slowed less than we expected in 2017.
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 manufacturing sector appears to have started the new year on a weaker note. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI dropped to 55.3 in January--its lowest level since June--from 56.2 in December.
Central banks in Mexico and Colombia kept their main interest rates on hold last week, due to recent volatility in the currency markets. Policymakers acknowledged the downside risks to growth, particularly from low commodity prices, but inflation fears, triggered by currency weakness, mean they will not be able to ease if growth slows.
We are taking our spring break starting tomorrow so it makes sense to preview the employment report today. To forecast payrolls, we start with the underlying trend -- mean reversion is the most powerful force in payrolls, most of the time -- and then look for reasons why this month's number might deviate from it.
Yesterday's final CPI report confirmed that inflation in the euro area increased slightly last month. The headline rate rose to 1.5%, from 1.4% in October, lifted by a 1.7 percentage point increase in energy inflation to 4.9%.
Inflation pressures in the Eurozone nudged higher last month. Friday's final CPI report showed that inflation rose to 0.6% year-over-year in November, from 0.5% in October, in line with the initial estimate. The food, alcohol and tobacco component was the key driver of the increase.
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.
CPI inflation held steady at -0.1% in October, matching its lowest rate since March 1960. We had expected the rate to tick down to -0.2%, but the rebound in clothing inflation in October, following a period of discounting in September, was larger than we had anticipated. Looking ahead, we can be fairly confident that CPI inflation will pic k up sharply over the coming months.
Activity in Colombia cooled at the end of the first quarter, in the face of many domestic and external headwinds. Retail sales, for example, plunged 2.9% in March after a 4.6% leap in February. The headline likely was depressed by the early Easter, as March had one fewer trading day than February.
When the advance estimate of first quarter GDP growth is revised, on May 29, we expect the new data to show that net foreign trade subtracted an enormous 1.9 percentage points from growth. With GDP likely to be revised down to -0.7% from +0.2%, that means domestic demand likely will be reported up 1.2%.
Comments by Mr. Draghi in Washington last week point to a high bar for an adjustment to the QE program. The ECB president noted that while asset purchases and negative interest rates have driven a notable improvement in confidence and asset prices, the real key to the central bank's policies' success is a lasting boost to investment, consumption and inflation.
Venezuela's fundamentals continue to deteriorate, economic chaos is increasing and the social/political situation remains fragile.
Today brings the September housing construction report, which likely will show that activity was depressed by the hurricanes.
If clarity is the first test of written English, the FOMC failed miserably yesterday. "Considerable time" is gone, but the new formulation--"the Committee judges that it can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy"--was not clearly defined, though the FOMC did say it is "consistent with its previous statement".
Construction data released yesterday provided further evidence that the Eurozone economy had a decent start to the fourth quarter. Output rose 1.3% month-on-month in October, equivalent to a 1.4% year-over-year increase.
Everyone heard San Francisco Fed president Williams's suggestion Monday that central banks could raise their inflation targets in response to the sustained slow growth and lower-than-expected inflation of recent years. It's not clear, though, that markets grasped the scale of the increase he thinks might be appropriate.
In September last year, headline CPI inflation stood at exactly zero. Today, we expect to see a 1.5% print, thanks mostly to the fading impact of falling energy prices.
Inflation pressures in LatAm are moderating, and governments have been taking steps to pursue fiscal consolidation. These factors, coupled with a relatively favourable external environment, are providing policymakers with the opportunity to start relaxing monetary policy.
The French presidential election campaign remains chaotic. Republican candidate François Fillon had to defend himself again yesterday as investigations into his potential misuse of public funds deepened. Mr. Fillon and his wife have now been summoned to court to explain themselves. Markets expected Mr. Fillon to resign as the Republican front-runner. Instead, he used his unscheduled media address to defiantly declare that he is staying in the race.
Brazil's recovery has been steady in recent months, and Q1 likely will mark the end of the recession. The gradual recovery of the industrial and agricultural sectors has been the highlight, thanks to improving external demand, the lagged effect of the more competitive BRL, and the more stable political situation, which has boosted sentiment.
Japan's official adjusted surplus rose in October but we think the September figure was an understatement. On our adjustment, the surplus was little unchanged at ¥360B in October.
It has become pretty clear over the past couple of weeks that Hillary Clinton will be the next president, so it's now worth thinking about how fiscal policy will evolve over the next couple of years.
The flat trend in core capital goods orders continued through May, according to yesterday's durable goods orders report. We are not surprised.
German producer price inflation fell last month, following uninterrupted gains since the beginning of this year. Headline PPI inflation fell to 2.8% year-over- year in May, from 3.4% in April, constrained by lower energy inflation, which slipped to 3.0%, from 4.6% in April. Meanwhile, non-energy inflation declined marginally to 2.7%, from 2.8%.
Financial markets have put maximum pressure on the ECB going into today's meeting, but we doubt it will be enough to spur the governing council into action so soon after announcing additional stimulus in December. We think the central bank will keep its refi and deposit rate unchanged at 0.05% and -0.3% respectively, and maintain the pace of asset purchases at €60B a month.
If the economy is to enter recession, falling business investment probably will have to be the main driver. Growth in consumer spending likely will slow sharply over the next year as firms become more cautious about hiring new workers and inflation begins to exceed wage growth again.
German producer price inflation rebounded last month. The headline PPI index rose 2.6% year-over-year in August, up from a 2.3% increase in July, driven almost exclusively by a jump in energy inflation.
Brazil's decision to keep interest rates at 14.25% on Wednesday was a surprise. The consensus forecast immediately before the meeting was for a 25bp increase. As recently as Tuesday, though, most forecasters expected a 50bp increase, following hawkish comments from Board members since the last meeting in November, and rising inflation expectations. But the day before the meeting, the IMF revised its forecast for 2016 GDP to -3.5%, much worse than the 1% drop it predicted in October.
Yesterday's ECB meeting provided no immediate relief to nervous investors. The central bank kept its main interest rates unchanged, and maintained the pace of QE purchases at €60B per month. Mr. Draghi compensated for the lack of action, however, by hinting heavily at further easing at its next meeting. The president emphasized that the ECB's policies will be "reviewed and reconsidered" in light of the March update to the staff projections. Mr. Draghi also admitted that inflation has been "weaker than expected" since the last meeting, and that downside risks have increased further. The central bank does not pre-commit, but we think it is a good bet that the ECB will do more in March.
With the MXN up more than 7% since the low of 21.9 against the dollar in January, investors are pondering just how high the Mexican currency can go. We believe that the MXN will continue to hover around its recent range, 20.1-to-20.5, in the near term, but will come under pressure again as protectionist policies in the U.S. take real shape in the spring or summer.
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.
Brazil's recession stretched into the start of the third quarter, but its intensity has eased. The IBC-Br economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--fell 0.1% month-to-month seasonally adjusted in July, following a 0.4% gain in June. The unadjusted year-over-year rate fell to -5.2%, from an upwardly revised -2.9%.
Colombia is one of the few larger economies in Latin America to have enjoyed solid, positive economic growth over the past two years. But lower commodity prices and last year's central bank tightening, to curb high inflation generated by strong growth, have started to become visible in the main economic data.
After soaring in the Spring, inflation has slipped back in the Summer. July's consumer prices report, released while we were away last week, showed that CPI inflation held steady at 2.6% in July, one -tenth below the consensus and three tenths below May's year-to-date peak.
BanRep surprised the markets on Friday with a 25bp interest rate cut, bringing rates to 7.50%. We expected the Colombian central bank to start easing in January, due to the uncertainties surrounding the tax reform package and the ongoing minimum wage negotiations.
After three straight lower-than-expected jobless claims numbers, we have to consider, at least, the idea that maybe the trend is falling again. This would be a remarkable development, given that claims already are at their lowest level ever, when adjusted for population growth, and at their lowest absolute level since the early 1970s.
Friday's inflation data in the Eurozone added a dovish twist to the story ahead of the key ECB meeting later this month.
Chile's economic indicators for July were unreservedly weak, confirming that the economic recovery remains sluggish. The industrial production index--comprising mining, manufacturing, and utility output--fell by 5.2% year-over-year in August, after a 1.7% contraction in July. Mining production suffered a sharp 9.3% year-over-year contraction, due mainly to an 8.3% fall in copper production, as strikes and maintenance works badly hit the industry.
The Fed won't raise rates today, or substantively change the wording of the post-meeting statement. In September, the FOMC said that "The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened but decided, for the time being, to wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives."
The ECB is unlikely to make any changes to its policy stance today. We think the central bank will keep its refinancing and deposit rates at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and maintain the pace of QE at €60 per month until the end of the year. We also don't expect any substantial change in the language on forward guidance and QE.
Chile's central bank cut the policy rate 25bp last week to 3.0%, in line with consensus, amid easing inflationary pressures. The timing of the rate cut was no surprise; in January, the BCCh cut rates for the first time in more than two years, and kept a dovish bias.
Recent economic indicators in Brazil have undershot consensus in recent weeks, but the economy nonetheless continues to recover.
Banxico's tightening cycle has totalled 400 basis points, lifting rates to 7.0%. Since late 2015, Banxico has followed the Fed closely, but other external factors also have guided many of its decisions.
The consensus view on the Monetary Policy Committee, that it will take two years for CPI inflation to return to the 2% target, looks complacent. Leading indicators suggest that price pressures will return faster than both policymakers and markets expect. Interest rates are therefore likely to rise in the first half of 2016, even if the recovery loses momentum.
In the years before the crash of 2008, if you wanted to know what was likely to happen to the pace of U.S. economic growth, all you needed to know was what happened to corporate bond yields a year earlier. The correlation between movements in BBB industrial yields--not spreads--and the changes in the rate of GDP growth, lagged by a year, was remarkably strong from 1994 through 2008, as our first chart shows. Roughly, a 50 basis point increase in yields could be expected to reduce the pace of year-over-year GDP growth--the second differential, in other words--by about 1.5 percentage points.
The FOMC's statement on April 29 mentioned the winter--"...economic growth slowed during the winter months"--but did not explicitly blame any of the first quarter's weakness on the extended cold and snowy weather. That was a change from the March statement, which made no mention of the weather and gave the distinct impression that policymakers had no firm view on why growth had "moderated".
Recent global developments lead us to intensify our focus on trade in LatAm.
One of the questions we have been asked recently is when inflation in the euro area will trough this year. This is difficult to answer without a look at the structural drivers of price pressures in Europe.
We're expecting a 175K increase in December payrolls today. Our forecast has been nudged down from 190K in the wake of the ADP employment report, which was slightly weaker than we expected.
Investors have stuck to their view that interest rates are just as likely to rise this year as not, despite the soft round of PMIs released this week.
The record 1,178-point drop in the Dow will garner all the headlines today, but a sense of perspetive is in order, despite the chaos. The 113-point, or 4.1%, fall in the S&P 500 was very startling, but it merely returned the index to its early December level; it has given up the gains only of the past nine weeks.
Colombia's August inflation rate exceeded BanRep's 2-to-4% target range yet again, rising to a six-year high of 4.7%, from 4.5% in July. The signs of stabilization over the previous couple of months proved to be temporary. Core inflation has jumped above the upper bound of the inflation target too, climbing to 4.2%--the highest rate since 2009--in August from 4.0% in July, suggesting that the pass-through from the depreciating currency into consumer prices is starting to hurt. Inflation in tradables jumped in August to 5.2% from 4.7%, underscoring the hit from the COP's drop.
The rise in Markit/CIPS services PMI to 55.0 in March, from 53.3 in February, brings some relief that GDP growth has not stalled in Q1, following manufacturing and construction surveys that signalled near-stagnation.
The MPC's penchant for providing interest rate guidance reached new heights last week.
The elevated September ISM non-manufacturing index reported yesterday--it dipped to 56.9 but remains very high by historical standards--again served to underscore the depth of the bifurcation in the economy. The services sector, boosted by the collapse in gasoline prices and the strong dollar, is massively outperforming the woebegone manufacturing sector.
Today's consumer credit report for April likely will show that the stock of debt rose by about $15B, a bit below the recent trend. The monthly numbers are volatile, but the underlying trend rate of increase has eased over the past year-and-a-half, as our first chart shows. The slowdown has been concentrated in the non-revolving component, though the rate of growth of the stock of revolving credit--mostly credit cards--has dipped recently, perhaps because of weather effects and the late Easter.
The headline hourly earnings data for May were dull, showing the year-over-year rate unchanged at 2.5%. That's up from 2.1% in the year to May 2015, but it's not an alarming rate of increase. But the Atlanta Fed's median hourly earnings data, which track the wages of individuals from year-to-year, show wages up 3.4% year-over-year, the fastest rate of increase since February 2009.
The big four LatAm economies, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, released September inflation this week and the data showed three clear--and contrasting--trends. Inflation is accelerating in the Andes, whereas the headline rate hit another historic low in Mexico. Inflation in Brazil is still the depressing outlier, with annual CPI inflation hovering around 9.5% year-over-year in recent months, well above the rates of its regional peers. But it is close to peaking, at last.
Markets likely will be particularly sensitive to May's industrial production and construction output figures, released today, as they will provide a guide to the strength of the preliminary estimate of Q2 GDP, released shortly before the MPC's key meeting on August 3.
Markets were jolted yesterday by news that the U.S. Fed is mulling ending, or at least slowing, the reinvestment of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities later this year. Such a move would reduce liquidity in global markets that has underpinned soaring equity prices in recent years.
Colombia's Central Bank is about to face a short-term dilemma. The recent fall in inflation will be interrupted while economic growth, particularly private spending, will struggle to build momentum over the second half.
The latest PMIs indicate that the economy remained listless in Q3, undermining the case for a rate rise before the end of this year. The business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey rose trivially to 53.6 in September, from 53.2 in August.
Political developments are clouding the horizon in Mexico, at least temporarily. Mexico's Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, the mastermind behind President Enrique Peña Nieto's most important economic reforms, resigned on Wednesday. José Antonio Meade, a former finance chief, has been tapped to replace him.
It probably would be wise to view the increase in the ISM manufacturing index in December with a degree of skepticism. The index is supposed to record only hard activity, but we can't help but wonder if some of the euphoria evident in surveys of consumers' sentiment has leaked into responses to the ISM. That said, the jump in the key new orders index-- which tends to lead the other components--looked to be overdue, relative to the strength of the import component of China's PMI.
It's not our job to pontificate on the merits, or otherwise, of the tax cut bill from a political perspective.
Yesterday's ECB policy decision was a carbon copy of the announcement in July. The central bank maintained its key refinancing rate at 0.00%, and also kept its deposit and marginal lending facility rates unchanged at -0.4% and 0.25% respectively. The ECB also kept the pace of QE unchanged at €80B per month. Finally, the central bank refrained from formally extending QE.
The run of soft core CPI numbers is over. The average 0.18% increase over the past two months probably is a good indication of the underlying trend -- the prints would have been close to this pace in both months had it not been for wild swings in the lodging component -- and the other one-time oddities of recent months' have faded.
German inflation surged in December, pointing to an upside surprise in today's advance EZ report. The headline inflation rate rose to a three-year high of 1.7% year-over-year in December, from 0.8% in November. This was the biggest increase in the year- over-year rate since 1993.
BanRep accelerated the pace of easing last Friday, cutting Colombia's key interest rate by a bold 50 basis points, to 5.75%. Economic activity has been under severe pressure in recent months. The economy expanded by only 1.1% year-over-year in Q1, following an already weak 1.6% in Q4.
LatAm financial markets have performed solidly in the first sessions of the year, with most regional currencies trading more strongly against the USD.
The prospect of a Greek parliamentary election on January 25th, following Prime Minister Samaras' failure to secure support for his presidential candidate, weighed on Eurozone assets over the holidays. The looming political chaos in Greece will increase market volatility in the first quarter, but it is too early to panic.
Today's December international trade numbers could easily signal a substantial upward revision to fourth quarter GDP growth. When the GDP data were compiled, the December trade numbers were not available so the BEA had to make assumptions for the missing numbers, as usual.
We often have quite strong views on the balance of risks in the monthly payroll numbers. November is not one of those months. We can generate plausible forecasts between about 50K and 370K, and that's much too wide for comfort. This is probably a payroll release to sit out.
If the Redbook chain store sales survey moved consistently in line with the official core retail sales numbers, it would attract a good deal more attention in the markets. We appreciate that brick-and-mortar retailers are losing market share to online sellers, but the rate at which sales are moving to the web is quite steady and easy to accommodate when comparing the Redbook with the official data.
The U.S. Presidential election will set the tone for LatAm's markets this week. Hillary Clinton's dwindling lead over Donald Trump in recent polls has unleashed pressure on EM assets.
It would be a mistake to conclude much about the economic impact of the Brexit vote from today's official industrial production figures for September, and the British Retail Consortium's figures for retail sales in October.
The consensus that industrial production increased by just 0.2% month-to-month in July looks too cautious.
This week's MPC meeting and Inflation Report likely will support the dominant view in markets that the chances of a 2017 rate hike are remote, even though inflation will rise further above the 2% target over the coming months. Overnight index swap markets currently are pricing-in only a 20% chance of an increase in Bank Rate this year.
At their March meeting FOMC members' range of forecasts for the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of this year ranged from 4.4% to 4.7%, with a median of 4.5%. But Friday's report showed that the unemployment rate hit the bottom of the forecast range in April.
With the FOMC decision now just seven days away, the forcefulness of recent Fed speakers has led many analysts to argue that only a spectacularly bad payroll report, or an external shock, can prevent a rate hike next week. External shocks are unpredictable, by definition, and we think the chance of a startlingly terrible employment report is low, though substantial sampling error does occasionally throw the numbers off-track.
Inflation pressures in Colombia cooled considerably last month. Saturday's CPI report showed that inflation fell to 3.4% year-over-year in July, its lowest level since 2014, from 4.0% in June.
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.
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.
Figures due on Friday likely will show that the increase in industrial production in December was much smaller than the 0.6% month-to-month assumed by the ONS in its preliminar y Q4 GDP estimate. We expect a 0.2% rise, which would leave production down 0.1% quarter-on-quarter, rather than up 0.1% as the ONS initially estimated.
Total real inventories rose at a $48.7B annualized rate in the fourth quarter, contributing 1.0 percentage points to headline GDP growth. Wholesale durable goods accounted for $34B of the aggregate increase, following startling 1.0% month-to-month nominal increases in both November and December. The November jump was lead by a 3.2% leap in the auto sector, but inventories rose sharply across a broad and diverse range of other durables, including lumber, professional equipment, electricals and miscellaneous.
Last week's data supported our view that monetary policy across LatAm will continue to diverge in the short term. Brazil will have to prolong its monetary tightening cycle, while economies such as Colombia and Chile will remain on hold despite the recent slowdowns in their economic cycle.
Colombian inflation ended 2017 slightly above the central bank's 2-to-4% target range, after a year in which policymakers cut interest rates to boost economic growth.
We already know that the month-to-month movements in the key labor market components of the December NFIB small business survey were mixed; the data were released last week, ahead the official employment report, as usual.
April's production data, released today, look set to indicate that the industrial sector's recession--its third in the last eight years--deepened in the second quarter. We think the consensus expectation that industrial production held steady in April is too upbeat. We look for a 0.3% month-to-month drop.
The 0.7% month-to-month rise in industrial production in September marked the sixth consecutive increase, a feat last achieved 23 years ago.
Banxico's likely will deliver the widely-anticipated rate hike this Thursday. Policymakers' recent actions suggests that investors should expect a 50bp increase, in line with TIIE pric ing and the market consensus. The balance of risks to inflation has deteriorated markedly on the back of the "gasolinazo", a sharp increase in regulated gasoline prices imposed to raise money and attract foreign investment.
The industrial sector went from strength to strength in 2017. Year-over-year growth in production picked up to 2.1%--its highest rate since 2010--from 1.3% in 2016.
The release of the NFIB survey at 6.00AM eastern time this morning--really, they need a new PR advisor--doubtless will bring a flurry of headlines about rising wage pressures, with the expected compensation index rising by a startling three points to a new post-crash high. But this is not news, nor is the high, stable level of hiring intentions; these key labor market numbers were released last week in the NFIB Jobs Report, which appears the day before the official employment report. The data are simply extracted from the main NFIB survey.
German industrial output was off to a sluggish start in the fourth quarter. Production eked out a marginal 0.2% month-to-month gain in October, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 0.0% from a revised 0.4% in September. Manufacturing output rose 0.6%, led by a 2.7% jump in production of capital goods, but the underlying trend in the sector overall is flat. On a more positive note, construction output rose 0.7% month-to-month in October, and leading indicators suggest this could be the beginning of a string of gains, lifting investment spending in coming quarters.
We aren't revising our payroll forecast in the wake of the ADP report, which showed private payrolls rising by 241K in December. We expected a bigger increase because ADP tends to lag the official data for the previous month, and the BLS reported a 314K jump in private employment in November, but the "shortfall" is too small to matter.
Deflation officially arrived in the Eurozone yesterday as a 6.3% plunge in energy prices pushed the overall rate of inflation to -0.2% year-over-year in December, down sharply from 0.3% in November.
The rollover in bank lending to commercial and industrial companies probably is over. On the face of it, the slowdown has been alarming, with year-over-year growth in the stock of lending slowing to just 2.6% in April, from a sustained peak of more than 10% in the early part of last year.
The ECB will keep all its policy parameters unchanged today. The refi and deposit rates will be maintained at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and the pace of QE will stay at €60B per month, running until the end of the year.
Friday's final EZ inflation report of 2017 sent a dovish signal to bond markets.
We expected a consensus-beating ADP employment number for February, but the 298K leap was much better than our forecast, 210K. The error now becomes an input into our payroll model, shifting our estimate for tomorrow's official number to 250K; our initial forecast was 210K.
LatAm, particularly Mexico, has dealt with Donald Trump's presidency better than expected thus far. Indeed, the MXN rose 10.7% against the USD in Q1, the stock market has recovered after its initial post-Trump plunge, and risk metrics have eased significantly.
Colombia and Peru have been among the top performers in LatAm currency markets in recent weeks, both rising above 4% against the dollar. Higher commodity prices seem to be driving the rally as domestic factors haven't changed dramatically.
The preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP, showing quarter-on-quarter growth slowing only to 0.5% from 0.7% in Q2, has kiboshed the chance that the MPC cuts Bank Rate next Thursday.
BanRep surprised everyone late Friday, moving ahead of the curve by starting a tightening cycle that had been expected to begin later in the year or in Q1. But the seven-board member succumbed in the face of persistent inflationary pressures, and voted unanimously to hike the main interest rate by 25bp to 4.75%, the first move since April 2014.
Two entirely separate factors point to significant upside risk to the first estimate of third quarter GDP growth, due today. First, we think it likely that farm inventories will not fall far enough to offset the unprecedented surge in exports of soybeans, which will add some 0.9 percentage points to headline GDP growth.
The two-year budget deal agreed between the administration and the Republican leadership in Congress will avert a federal debt default and appears to constitute a modest near-term easing of fiscal policy. The debt ceiling will not be raised, but the law imposing the limit will be suspended through March 2017, leaving the Treasury free to borrow as much as necessary to cover the deficit. As a result, the presidential election next year will not be fought against a backdrop of fiscal crisis.
Mexico's political panorama seems to be becoming clearer, at least temporarily. This should dispel some of the uncertainty that has been hanging over the economy in recent months.
German labour market data continue to break records on a monthly basis. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.2% in A pril, with jobless claims falling 16,000, following a revised 2,000 fall in March. March employment rose 1.2% year-over-year, down slightly from 1.3% in February, but the total number of people in jobs rose to a new high of 43.4 million.
The terrible scenes from Texas will play out in the economic data over the next few weeks.
The preliminary estimate of Q4 GDP was unambiguously strong and has forced us to modify our view of the likely timing of the next interest rate increase.
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.
The preliminary estimate of a 0.5% quarter-on-quarter rise in GDP in Q4 slightly exceeded our expectation and the third quarter's growth rate, both 0.4%. Nonetheless, there was little to console the optimists in the figures. The recovery remains unbalanced, with industrial production and construction output falling by 0.2% and 0.1% respectively, while services output rose 0.7% quarter-on-quarter.
Mr. Draghi snubbed investors looking for hints on policy and the euro in his Jackson Hole address--see here--on Friday.
Britain still has nothing to show for sterling's depreciation, even though nearly two years have passed since markets started to price-in Brexit risk, driving the currency lower.
The minutes of the MPC's meeting in June indicated that several members' patience for tolerating for above-target inflation is wearing thin.
The upturn in Mexico's trade balance in recent months stalled in May, but the underlying trend is still improving. Data yesterday showed that the seasonally adjusted deficit rose to USD700M in May, after a USD15M gap in April. Imports rose 2.9% month-to-month, offsetting a mere 0.7% increase in exports.
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.
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.
We think today's consumer sentiment survey in France will show that the headline index was unchanged at 94 in May. The survey's forward looking components have weakened modestly in recent months, due to declines in households' outlook for their financial situation and standard of living in the coming 12 months.
The news that the seasonal adjustments in the GDP numbers are even less reliable than previously thought means the Fed likely will put even greater emphasis on the labor market when pondering when to begin raising rates. A cost-push view of the inflation process necessarily centers on the labor data, but every FOMC statement begins with an assessment of the overall pace of growth.
Mexico's external accounts remain solid, despite adverse global conditions over the past year. The current account decreased to USD9.5B, or 3.2% of GDP, in the first quarter, just down from 3.3% a year earlier. Shortfalls of USD10.3B in the income account and USD4.7B in goods and services--mostly the latter--were again the key driver of the overall deficit.
Venezuelan bond markets have been on a rollercoaster ride this year, with yields rising significantly in response to heightened political uncertainty and then declining when the government pays its obligations or when protests ease.
Fed Chair Yellen's speech in Cleveland yesterday elaborated on the key themes from last week's FOMC meeting.
Mr. Draghi's speech yesterday in Portugal, at the ECB forum on Central Banking, pushed the euro and EZ government bond yields higher. The markets' hawkish interpretation was linked to the president's comment that "The threat of deflation is gone and reflationary forces are at play."
The Colombian economy was relatively resilient at the end of last year, but economic reports released during the last few weeks indicate that growth is still fragile, and that downside risks have increased. Real GDP rose 1.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 1.6% from 1.2% in Q3.
We argued yesterday that the August payroll number is unlikely to be a blockbuster, thanks to a combination of problems with the birth/death model and the strong tendency for this month's jobs number to be initially under-reported and then revised substantially higher. But these arguments don't apply to the unemployment rate, which is derived from the separate household survey.
Net foreign trade made a positive contribution of 0.2 percentage points to GDP growth in the second quarter, matching the Q1 performance.
The publication yesterday of the first BCB quarterly inflation report under the new president, Ilan Golfajn, revealed his initial views on inflation, the currency, and monetary policy. Overall, Mr. Golfajn has taken a hawkish approach. We think Brazil's first rate cut will come no earlier than Q4, likely at the final meeting of the year, providing the government continues the fiscal consolidation process and inflation keeps falling.
It doesn'tt matter if third quarter GDP growth is revised up a couple of tenths in today's third estimate of the data, in line with the consensus forecast.
Bullish money supply data last week added to the evidence that the Eurozone's business cycle is strengthening. Broad money growth--M3--rose to 5.3% year-over-year in October from 4.9% in September. Most of the increase came from a surge in short-term debt issuance, rising 8.4% year-over-year, following an inexplicable 1.4% fall in September.
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.
BanRep cut Colombia's key interest rate by 25 basis points last Friday, to 6.25%. We were expecting a bolder cut, as economic activity has been under severe pressures in recent months.
Mexico's central bank left its main interest rate unchanged last week, citing the need for cautious monetary policy as the economy has lost some momentum during the first months of the year, despite the risk of inflation pass-though effects from the weaker MXN.
Advance country data indicate that headline EZ inflation fell slightly in June; we think the rate dipped to 1.3% year-over-year, from 1.4% in May.
The MPC likely will raise interest rates on Thursday, for the first time since July 2007, in response to the uptick in GDP growth and the upside inflation surprise in Q3.
Brazil's recession has deepened. Overall, the economy has sunk into its worst slump in six years, and the recovery will be painful and slow. This is not surprising, but the sharper than expected 3% contraction over the first half of the year may have thrown a further bucket of cold water on President Rousseff, whose popularity ratings have fallen to a level not seen since 1992, when President Collor de Mello was forced out of office after being impeached for corruption. Real GDP in Brazil fell 1.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, much worse than the downwardly revised 0.7% contraction in Q1.
In the wake of April's 0.2% increase in real consumers' spending, and the upward revisions to the first quarter numbers, we now think that second quarter spending is on course to rise at an annualized rate of about 3.5%.
The March employment report didn't tell us what we really want to know. The underlying trend in wage growth remains obscured by the calendar quirk which depresses reported hourly earnings when the 15th of the month--pay day for people paid semi-monthly -- falls after the payroll survey week.
The pullback in CPI inflation in June and continued slow GDP growth in Q2 mean that the MPC almost certainly will keep Bank Rate at 0.25% on Thursday.
Colombia's second quarter GDP data, released Monday, revealed a dismal 2.0% year-over-year growth rate, down from 2.5% in Q1. GDP rose by a very modest 0.2% quarter-on-quarter, for the second consecutive quarter. The year-over-year rate was the slowest since the end of the financial crisis, but it is in line with our 2.1% forecast for this year as a whole.
We are expecting a hefty increase in the August ADP employment number today--our forecast is 225K, above the 175K consensus --but we do not anticipate a similar official payroll number on Friday. Remember, the ADP number is based on a model which incorporates lagged official employment data, the Philly Fed's ADS Business Conditions Index, and data from firms which use ADP for payroll processing.
Mexico's trade balance shrank slightly last year, to USD11B, from USD13B in 2016. The main driver was a big swing in the non- energy balance, to a record USD8.0B surplus, following a USD0.4B deficit in 2016.
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 Manufacturing Upswing Continues; no Sign of Weakening
The sharp and unexpected improvement in the Markit/CIPS manufacturing survey in October released on Monday raised hopes that the recession in the industrial sector might be over. A cool look at the evidence, however, suggests that this probably is just wishful thinking.
The manufacturing sector appears to have finished 2017 on a strong note. The Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI fell to 56.3 in December from 58.2 in November, but it remained above its 12-month average, 55.9.
In contrast to the strong December trade numbers in France--see here--yesterday's German data were soft. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus dipped to €21.5B in December, from €22.3B in November.
Brazil's current account deficit is stabilizing following an substantial narrowing since early 2015, thanks to the deep recession.
The Fed left rates on hold yesterday, as expected, repeating its long-held core view that inflation will rise to 2% in the medium-term, requiring gradual increases in the fed funds rate.
Colombia's Central Bank is facing a short-term test. The recent fall in inflation was interrupted in August--data due on Thursday will show another increase in September--while economic growth, particularly consumption, is struggling, at least for now.
Mexico's trade balance shrank slightly last year, to USD13B, from USD14.6B in 2015. An improvement in the non-energy deficit was the main driver, while the energy gap worsened.
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.
Today's ECB meeting will be accompanied by an update of the staff projections, where the inflation outlook will be in the spotlight. The June forecasts predicted an average inflation rate of 0.3% year-over-year this year, currently requiring a rather steep increase in inflation towards 1.1% at the end of the year. We think this is achievable, but we doubt the ECB is willing to be as bold, and it is reasonable to assume this year's forecast will be revised down a notch.
U.K. manufacturers are benefiting from rapid growth in the Eurozone, but increasingly they are being held back by weak domestic demand.
Economic activity in Mexico during the past few months has been relatively resilient, as external and domestic threats appear to have diminished.
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.
The sudden downshift in core inflation at the consumer level since March, clearly visible in the CPI and the PCE, and shown in our first chart, has been accompanied by a steady increase in core producer price inflation.
Friday's inflation report for Brazil confirmed that inflation is rapidly falling towards the BCB's target range, helping to make the case for stepping up the pace of monetary easing to 50bp at the Copom's January meeting.
Inflation in the Eurozone is under pressure from all angles, and data from France and Germany yesterday confirmed that the risk of outright deflation has risen significantly. In Germany, inflation fell to 0.6% yearover- year in November, and in France the CPI rose a paltry 0.3%.
Yesterday's Mexican industrial data painted a downbeat picture of the sector at the end of last year, and highlighted the downside risks facing the economy in the first half of this year. Industrial output fell 0.1% month-to-month and was flat year over-year in December, with weakness in all sectors except manufacturing. Overall, industrial activity expanded by only 0.2% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, the slowest pace since late 2013.
Chinese CPI inflation trends point to diminishing wage growth, as the services sector begins to struggle with the influx of labour displaced by the industrial productivity drive.
Chair Yellen has become quite good at not giving much away at her semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony.
Markets are looking for the BCCh to remain on hold and the BCRP to ease on Thursday; we think they will be right. In Chile, the BCCh will hold rates because inflation pressures are absent and economic activity is stabilizing following temporary hits in Q1 and early Q2.
Yesterday's industrial production, construction output and trade data for November collectively suggest that the economy lost a little momentum in the fourth quarter. GDP growth likely slowed to 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, from 0.6% in Q3. Growth remains set to slow further this year, as inflation shoots up and constrains consumers.
Mexico's latest industrial production figures, released yesterday, showed that growth is stabilizing, but it likely will not accelerate any time soon. June output rose 1.4% year-over-year, rebounding from the 1.0% contraction in May, and matching April's gain. The increase in output was relatively broad-based, with solid gains in mining and utilities.
Yesterday's industrial production report in Mexico added weight to the idea that the sector improved marginally in the first quarter, despite many external threats. Industrial output rose 0.1% month-to-month in February, following a similar gain in January. The calendar-adjusted year-over-year rate rose to -0.1%, after a modest 0.3% contraction in January.
May's activity data underline the weakness of Colombia's economic growth. Domestic demand still is under pressure due to the lagged effect of the deterioration in the terms of trade and other temporary shocks in 2016, and the VAT increase in January this year.
On the face of it, the slowdown in bank loan growth to commercial and industrial companies over the past two years looks alarming. In the year to November, the stock of loans outstanding rose by 8.0%, the smallest gain since January 2014. A further decline in the year-over-year rate, taking it below the rate of growth of nominal GDP--we expect 4.7% in the first quarter--for the first time in six years, is now a fair bet. The three- and six-month annualized growth rates of C&I lending in November were just 6.2% and 4.7% respectively, and still falling.
The MPC was a little irked by the markets' reaction to its November meeting.
The Office for National Statistics yesterday released the last major batch of output data before the preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP is published on October 25, just one week before the MPC's key meeting.
The single most startling development in the labor market data in recent months is acceleration in labor force growth. The participation rate has risen only marginally, because employment has continued to climb too, but the absolute size of the labor force is now expanding at its fastest pace in nine years, up 1.9% in the year to September.
Friday's weekly report on the assets and liabilities of U.S. commercial banks will complete the picture or March and, hence, the first quarter. It won't be pretty. With most of the March data already released, a month-to-month decline in lending to commercial and industrial companies of about 0.7% is a done deal. That would be the biggest drop since May 2010, and it would complete a 1% annualized fall for the first quarter, the worst performance since Q3 2010. The year-over-year rate of growth slowed to just 5.0% in Q1, from 8.0% in the fourth quarter and 10.3% in the first quarter of last year.
Another day, another downbeat survey. The British Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive and long-running Quarterly Economic Survey was published yesterday, and it added to evidence of a Q1 slowdown.
The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in Germany slipped to €19.6B in July, from €21.2B in June, its lowest since April, and we are confident that it has peaked for this cycle.
Brazil's benchmark inflation index, the IPCA, rose 0.7% month-to-month in May, above market expectations. The stickiness of some components explains the surprise upshift; food prices in particular rose by 1.4% in May, after a 1% increase in April. Housing also rose at a faster rate than we had expected, due mainly to a 2.8% jump in the electricity component, the largest single contributor to May's headline increase.
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.
Mexican industrial activity started the fourth quarter badly. Industrial production fell 0.1% month- to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate slightly up to -1.1% from -1.2% in September and -0.7% in Q3.
Industrial production in Mexico remained under pressure at the start of Q4. Output rose just 0.1% month-to-month in October, leaving the year-over-year rate unchanged at -1.4%, down from an average of -0.8% in Q3.
November's consumer price report likely will show that October's dip in CPI inflation was just a blip against a strong upward trend. We think that CPI inflation picked up to 1.1% in November, from 0.9% in October, in line with the consensus.
Over the last few months we have started to see hard evidence of Brazil's deceleration, and, as we have argued in previous Monitors, the slowdown is now set to become more visible. Over the coming weeks, markets will focus on whether Brazil is already in recession, its likely severity, and how the country will get out of this mess.
Brazil's central bank started the year firing on all cylinders. The Copom surprised markets on Wednesday by delivering a bold 75bp rate cut, bringing the Selic rate down to 13.0%. In October and November, the Copom eased by only 25bp, but inflation is now falling rapidly and consistently. The central bank said in its post-meeting communiqué that conditions have helped establish a "new rhythm of easing", assuming inflation expectations hold steady.
Under normal circumstances, we can predict movements in the headline NFIB index from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released a day ahead of the official employment report, and, hence, about 10 days before the full NFIB survey appears.
In recent years we have argued consistently that investors and the commentariat overstate the importance of the dollar as a driver of U.S. inflation. Only about 15% of the core CPI is meaningfully affected by shifts in the value of the dollar, because the index is dominated by domestic non-tradable services.
Mexico's latest industrial production figures, released on Friday, showed that the recovery is stuttering. May output fell 0.9% year-over-year, down from the 1.2% gain in April. Total production was depressed by a 1.5% month-to-month drop in construction output, after two consecutive increases.
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 headline March retail sales numbers probably will look horrible, thanks to the unexpected drop in auto sales reported by the manufacturers earlier this month. Their unit sales data don't always move exactly in line with the dollar value numbers in the retail sales report, as our first chart shows, but it's hard to imagine anything other than a clear decline today.
The absence of a hawkish slant to the MPC's Inflation Report or the minutes of its meeting suggest that an increase in interest rates remains a long way off.
Last week's official data supported our forecast that GDP growth likely will slow further in Q1, suggesting that a May rate hike is not the sure bet that markets assume.
Eurozone manufacturing probably stalled at the start of the second quarter. We think industrial production rose a mere 0.1% month-to-month in April, lower than the 0.4% consensus forecast, and equivalent to a 0.8% increase year-over-year. Output ex-construction was up 0.8% in Germany, but this is likely to be offset by declines in France and Italy, and a hefty 3.2% fall in Greece.
You may have seen the chart below, which shows what appears to be an alarming divergence between the official jobless claims numbers and the Challenger survey's measure of job cut announcements. We should say at the outset that the chart makes the fundamental mistake of comparing the unadjusted Challenger data with the seasonally adjusted claims data.
Today's FOMC minutes will add flesh to the bones of the three dissents on September 21. The FOMC statement merely said that each of the three--Loretta Mester, Esther George and Eric Rosengren--preferred to raise rates by a quarter-point.
Industrial activity in Mexico had a very poor start to the third quarter. Output plunged 1.0% month-to- month in July, the biggest drop since May 2015, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -1.5%, from -0.2% in June.
The Monetary Policy Committee likely will not follow up August's stimulus measures with another rate cut at its meeting on Thursday. The partial revival in surveys of activity and confidence have weakened the case for immediate action.
First things first: Payroll growth likely will be sustained at or close to November's pace.
Retail sales ex-autos have undershot consensus forecasts in eight of the 11 reports released so far this year, prompting interest rate doves to argue that consumers have not spent their windfall from falling gas prices. But this ignores the impact of falling prices--for gasoline, electronics, furniture, and clothing--on the sales numbers, which are presented in nominal terms.
Chile's economic sector survey, released on Monday, provides further evidence that the cyclical recovery in the economy continues, albeit at a moderate pace. On the demand side, the rebound is still in place, with retail sales jumping 2.0% month-to-month in February and the underlying trend firm.
Economic growth in Colombia and--especially-- Chile, braked in the fourth quarter and at the start of this year as the strong USD drove up imported good prices and tepid global demand weighed on exports. Colombia's January exports plunged 36.6% year-over-year, even worse than the 35% average drop in Q4.
On Tuesday, Brazil's Special Committee presented its recommendation for a constitutional amendment capping spending. Currently it is being voted in the Lower House Committee.
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.
Inflation data last week confirmed that the spectre of deflation is slowly but surely encroaching on the euro area. In Germany, inflation slipped to 0.6% year-over- year in November, from 0.8% in October, and in the Eurozone as a whole the he adline rate declined to 0.3%, from 0.4% in September.
Yesterday was a good day for headline EZ economic data. GDP growth accelerated, inflation rose and unemployment fell further. Advance Q4 data showed that real GDP in the Eurozone rose 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, marginally faster than the upwardly revised 0.4% in Q3. Full-year growth in 2016 slowed slightly to 1.7% from 2.0% in 2015.
Yesterday's first estimate of full-year 2016 GDP in Mexico indicates that growth gathered momentum over the second half of last year. But risks are now tilted to the downside, following the U.S. election. GDP rose 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, after a 1.0% increase in Q3. Growth was much slower in the firs t half, as shown in our char t below.
All the regional PMI and Fed business surveys we follow suggest that today's national ISM manufacturing report for November will be weaker than in October
The consensus view that industrial production rose by a mere 0.1% month-to-month in August looks far too low; we expect today's report to reveal a jump of about 1%.
Increased volatility has given equity investors a torrid start to the year, but economic reports have been strong, and yesterday's PMIs were no exception. The composite index in the Eurozone rose marginally to 54.3 in December from 54.2 in November, slightly higher than the initial estimate of 54.0. This is consistent with a continuing cyclical recovery, and real GDP growth of 0.4%-to-0.5% in Q4, modestly higher than the 0.3% rise in the third quarter.
The 0.7% first quarter increase in the ECI measure of private sector wages and salaries raised the year-over-year rate to 2.8%, the highest since late 2008 and significantly stronger than the 2.1% increase in hourly earnings in the year to March.
With financial markets still turbulent and the Governor stating only two weeks ago that economic conditions do not yet justify a rate hike, the Inflation Report on Thursday will not signal imminent action. Nonetheless, higher medium-term forecasts for inflation are likely to imply that the Committee still envisions raising interest rates this year.
Investors were presented with a barrage of mixed EZ economic data on Friday, fighting for attention amid markets celebrating the arrival of negative interest rates in Japan. Advance Eurozone CPI data gave some respite to the ECB, with inflation rising to 0.4% year-over-year in January from 0.2% in December.
Data this week clearly hint at a cyclical trough in Eurozone inflation in the first quarter. The advance estimate for April shows year-over-year inflation rising slightly to zero, up from -0.1% in March.
Markets were on the right side of the argument with economists about the outlook for monetary policy in 2015, but we doubt history will repeat itself this year. The consensus among economists a year ago was for interest rates to rise to 0.75% from 0.5% by the end of 2015, in contrast to the markets' view that an increase was unlikely.
The outlook for Brazil's industrial economy is better than at any time since before the crisis. But data released this week highlighted that the recovery will be slow and bumpy.
The first major data release of 2016 showed manufacturing activity slipping a bit further at the end of last year, but we doubt the underlying trend in the ISM manufacturing index will decline much more. Anything can happen in any given month, especially in data where the seasonal adjustments are so wayward, but the key new orders and production indexes both rose in January; almost all the decline in the headline index was due to a drop in the lagging employment index.
...The data were all over the map, with existing home sales plunging while consumer confidence rose; Chicago-area manufacturing activity plunged but national durable goods were flat; real consumption rose at a decent clip but pending home sales dipped again. Markets, by contrast, are little changed from the week before the holidays. What to make of it all?
House purchase mortgage approvals by the main street banks jumped to 40.1K in January, from 36.1K in December, fully reversing the 4K fall of the previous two months, according to trade body U.K. Finance.
In the absence of an unexpected surge in auto sales or a sudden burst of unseasonably cold weather, lifting spending on utilities, fourth quarter consumption is going to struggle to rise much more quickly than the 2.1% annualized third quarter increase.
The CBO reckons that the April budget surplus jumped to about $179B, some $72B more than in the same month last year. This looks great, but alas all the apparent improvement reflects calendar distortions on the spending side of the accounts.
Market participants and analysts have gradually softened their cautious stance towards Mexico, as concerns about the new U.S. administration's trade and immigration policies have eased, and risks of a credit rating downgrade have lessened.
April's Retail Sales Monitor from the British Chambers of Commerce, released yesterday, provided a powerful signal that households' spending rebounded in April, following a terrible Q1.
September's industrial production figures likely will not surprise markets today. We look for a 0.3% month-to-month rise in production, matching the consensus and the ONS assumption in the preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP.
Industrial production figures look set to surprise the consensus to the downside again today. We think that production was flat on a month-to-month basis in August, falling short of the consensus forecast of 0.2% growth.
Our base case forecast for today's July core CPI is that the remarkable and unexpected run of weak numbers, shown in our first chart, is set to come to an end, with a reversion to the prior 0.2% trend.
A reader sent us last week a series of five simple feedback loops, all of which ended with the Fed remaining "cautious". For example, in a scenario in which the dollar strengthens--perhaps because of stronger U.S. economic data--markets see an increased risk of a Chinese devaluation, which then pummels EM assets, making the Fed nervous about global growth risks to the domestic economy.
Neither the 33K drop in September payrolls nor the 0.5% jump in hourly earnings tells us anything about the underlying state of the labor market.
Germany's external balance was virtually stable at the beginning of the second quarter. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose marginally to €23.9B in April from a revised €23.7B in March, mainly due to weakness in imports. Demand for goods abroad fell 0.2% month-to-month, which pushed up the surplus despite amid unchanged exports. Imports fell 1.5% year-over-year in April, up slightly from a 2.5% decline in March.
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.
Banxico's Quarterly Inflation Report--QIR--for Q2 2017, published this week, confirmed that the central bank has become more upbeat about the economic recovery and the outlook for inflation. Banxico believes that the balance of risks to inflation and growth are neutral.
You might want a strong coffee before you read today's Monitor, because we're going deep inside the relationship between the ADP employment report and the official numbers. We have long argued that ADP's headline reading is not a useful indicator of payrolls, because the numbers are heavily influenced by the official payroll data for the previous month, which are inputs to the ADP model. To be clear, ADP's employment number is not generated solely from hard data from companies which use the company for payroll processing; that information is just one input to their model.
Mexico's economy grew 1.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, the fastest pace since 2014, following a 0.2% contraction in Q2, according to the preliminary report published yesterday.
Leading indicators all point to a solid August payroll number. Survey-based measures of the pace of hiring signal a 200K-plus increase, and jobless claims--a proxy for the pace of gross layoffs--are at a record low as a share of the workforce.
Yesterday's aggregate economic data for the euro area showed that inflation rose slightly in August. The headline rate rose to a four-month high of 1.5% in August from 1.3% in July. The rate was lifted mainly by energy inflation, rising to 4.6% from 2.2% in July, but we think the rebound will be short-lived.
December's industrial production figures, released today, look set to surprise the consensus to the downside, pushing down the pound and increasing the chances that the preliminary estimate of a 0.5% quarter-on-quarter increase in fourth quarter GDP will be revised down.
March's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, look set to show that inflation's ascent was kept in check by the later Easter this year compared to last. Nonetheless, CPI inflation will take big upward strides over the coming months, and it likely will exceed 3% by the summer.
Germany's external surplus remained resilient at the start of the year. Data on Friday showed that the seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose marginally to €18.5B in January, from a revised €18.3B in December.
The German trade data on Friday completed a poor week for economic reports in the Eurozone's largest economy. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus fell to €22.1B in May, from €24.1B in April, mainly due to a 1.8% month-to-month fall in exports. Imports, on the other hand, were little changed.
The strong dollar is pushing down goods prices, but not very quickly. As a result, the sustained upward pressure on rents is gradually nudging core CPI inflation higher. It now stands at 1.9%, up from a low of 1.6% in January, and even relatively modest gains over the third quarter will push the rate above 2% by year-end. We can't rule out core CPI inflation ending the year at a startling 2.3%.
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.
We are sticking to our view that the Eurozone's trade surplus will fall in the next six months, despite yesterday's upbeat report. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus leapt to a record high of €25.0B in September from revised €21.0B in August, lifted by an increase in exports and a decline in imports.
We aren't going to pretend for a minute that the manufacturing sector is anything other than weak, but the 0.5% drop in output in August--the worst month since January 2014--hugely overstates the extent of industry's struggles. All the decline was due to a 6.4% plunge in auto output, but a glance at the recent path of production in this sector makes it very clear that its short-term swings aren't to be taken seriously. Auto production fell by 4.5% in June, rocketed by 10.6% in July, and then dropped sharply in August.
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.
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.
We think the FOMC's announcement this afternoon will not include the phrase "considerable time", signaling that the first rate cut will come at or before the middle of next year. At the same time, the Fed's new forecasts likely will show the unemployment rate falling into the Fed's estimated Nairu range this year, rather than the spring of 2016, as implied by their September forecasts.
The elevated readings from the ISM manufacturing survey this year have not been followed by rapid growth in output. The headline ISM averaged 55.8 in the second quarter, a solid if unspectacular reading. But output rose by only 1.2% year-over-year, and by 1.4% on a quarterly annualized basis.
The average month-to-month increase in the core CPI in the past three months is a solid 0.20, much firmer than the 0.05% average over the previous five months, stretching back to the first of the run of downside surprises, in March.
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.
The ECB will keep its main interest rates and the pace of QE purchases unchanged today. Mr. Draghi will also reiterate the commitment to continuing QE until September next year, at least. But the press conference likely will focus on Greece, and the central bank's role in the chaos. Greek financial institutions are on the verge of collapse, partly because the ECB has been forced to cap emergency liquidity assistance--ELA--at €89B, and raise collateral haircut requirements following the announcement of the referendum.
December's consumer price figures, released tomorrow, likely will reveal that CPI inflation rose to 1.4%--its highest rate since August 2014--from 1.2% in November. Inflation will take even bigger upward steps over the coming months as the anniversary of sharp falls in commodity prices is reached and retailers pass on hefty increases in import prices to consumers.
This week's economic activity data for Brazil have been upbeat, indicating that the economy is recovering after a recession in the first half of 2014, but at a very gradual pace.
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 over-hyped mystery of the gap between the hard and soft data in the industrial economy has largely resolved itself in recent months.
Eurozone GDP data on Friday were better than we expected, but were still soft compared to upbeat market expectations. Real GDP rose 0.3% quarter-onquarter in the third quarter, down slightly from 0.4% in Q2, and lower than the consensus forecast for another 0.4% gain. These data are not a blank check for ECB doves, but they probably are enough to push through further easing in December. This looks odd given growth in the last four quarters of an annualised 1.6%--the strongest since 2011--and probably slightly above the long-run growth rate.
October's consumer price figures, to be released tomorrow, look set to show CPI inflation easing to -0.2%, from -0.1%, below the no-change consensus and the lowest rate since March 1960. No doubt this will spark more hyperbolic headlines about the U.K.'s descent into pernicious deflation; ignore them. October's print will almost certainly represent the nadir and we think it will take only a year for CPI inflation to return to the MPC's 2% target.
Economic data released yesterday underscored that Brazil emerged from recession in the first quarter, but further rate cuts are needed. Indeed, the monthly economic activity index--the IBC-Br--fell 0.4% monthto- month in March, though this followed a strong 1.4% gain in February.
On the face of it, recent retail spending surveys have been puzzlingly weak in light of the pick-up in employment growth, still-robust real wage gains and renewed momentum in the housing market. We think those surveys are a genuine signal that retail sales growth is slowing, and expect today's official figures to surprise to the downside. But retail sales account for just one-third of household spending, and, in contrast to the early stages of the economic recovery, consumers now are prioritising spending on services rather than goods.
Yesterday's trade data showed that the Eurozone's external balance continues to improve markedly. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in the euro area rose to €23.3B in December, a new all-time high, from a revised €21.6B in November.
The MPC's forecast in August, which predicted that inflation would overshoot its 2% target over the next two years only modestly--giving it the green light to ease policy--assumed that inflation in sectors insensitive to swings in import prices would remain low. We doubt, however, that domestically generated inflation will remain benign.
Yesterday's sole economic report showed that the Eurozone's external surplus recovered ground over the summer, but we don't think the rebound will last long.
The first October survey evidence from the industrial economy, in the form of the Empire State report, is remarkably strong.
Final data for Eurozone inflation yesterday revealed that inflation fell slightly to 0.1% year-over-year in August, from 0.2% in July, a tiny downward revision from the original estimate of 0.2%. Depressed energy prices will continue to constrain inflation in coming months, but base effects will reduce this drag, and core inflation is rising. Nominal GDP growth accelerated to 2.9% year-over-year in Q2, up from 2.4% in Q1, sending a convincing signal of higher core inflation.
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.
Fourth quarter construction activity in the Eurozone was much better than in Q3, despite a dip in December. Output fell 0.6% month-to-month in the final month of the year, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -0.4% from a revised 0.3% in November.
The euro area's external surplus dipped at the start of Q4.
The Fed rate hike on Wednesday is fully priced in to LatAm markets, so we expect no significant immediate reaction when the trigger is pulled. But as markets gradually come around to our view that future U.S. rate risk is to the upside, markets will come under renewed pressure.
October's retail sales figures confirm that consumers have adopted a more cautious mindset since the summer, when retail sales increased at a faster rate than incomes.
The spectacular 1.3% rebound in manufacturing output last month -- the biggest jump in seven years, apart from an Easter-distorted April gain -- does not change our core view that activity in the sector is no longer accelerating.
The Fed's insistence this week that U.S. rates will rise only twice more this year helped to ease pressures on LatAm markets this week, particularly FX. The way is now clear for some LatAm central banks to cut interest rates rapidly over the coming months, even before U.S. fiscal and trade policy becomes clear. We expect the next Fed rate hike to come in June, as the labor market continues to tighten. If we're right, the free-risk window for LatAm rate cuts is relatively short.
Yesterday's ECB press conference confirmed our view that Mr. Draghi is the periphery's friend, not enemy. Crucially, the central bank agreed to increase emergency liquidity assistance--ELA--to Greek banks by €900M. This is consistent tent with the agreement by the Eurogroup to give Greece €7B bridge financing, and shows the ECB is ready to act on the back of only a temporary truce between Greece and the EU. The increase in ELA is modest, and we doubt a painful restructuring of the banking system can be avoided. But with Greek bond yields falling, the available pool of collateral will go up, allowing the central bank to provide further relief in coming weeks.
Net exports in the euro area likely rebounded in Q4. The headline EZ trade surplus rose to €22.7B in November from €19.7B in October. Exports jumped 3.3% month-to-month, primarily as a result of strong data in Germany and France, offsetting a 1.8% rise in imports. Over Q4 as a whole, we are confident that net exports gave a slight boost to eurozone GDP growth, adding 0.1 percentage points to quarter-on-quarter growth.
The latest survey evidence strongly supports our view that momentum is building in the industrial economy, but the official production data continue to lag. Yesterday's March Philly Fed survey was remarkably strong, with the correction in the headline sentiment index -- inevitable, after February's 33-year high -- masking increases in all the subindexes.
Mexico's central bank likely will pause its monetary tightening on Thursday, keeping the main rate at 6.5%. A hike this week would follow five consecutive increases, totalling 350bp since December 2015, when policymakers were first overwhelmed by the MXN's sell-off.
Yesterday's CPI report in the Eurozone confirmed that inflation pressures remain subdued, even as GDP growth is accelerating.
The FTSE 100 has fallen by 4% over the last two weeks, exceeding the 1-to-3% declines in the main US, European and Japanese markets. The FTSE's latest drop builds on an underperformance which began in early 2014. The index has fallen by 10% since then--compared to rises of between 10% and 20% in the main overseas benchmarks--and has dropped by nearly 15% since its April 2015 peak. We doubt, however, that the collapse in U.K. equity prices signals impending economic misery. The economy is likely to struggle next year, but this will have little to do with the stock market's travails.
Colombian activity data released this week were weak, but mostly better than we expected. Real GDP rose 0.7% quarter- on-quarter in Q2, in contrast to the 0.3% fall in Q1, when the economy was hit by the lagged effect of last year's monetary tightening and the one-off VAT increase.
The latest model-based third quarter GDP forecast from the Atlanta Fed is 3.6%, well above the 2.5% consensus forecast reported by Bloomberg. We are profoundly skeptical of so-called "tracking models" of GDP growth, because they are based mostly on forecasts and assumptions until very close to the actual GDP release.
More evidence indicating that the recovery in global industrial activity is underway and gaining momentum- has poured in. In particular, trade data from China, one of LatAm's biggest trading partners, was stronger than the market expected last month. Both commodity import and export volumes increased sharply in January, and this suggests better economic conditions for China's key trading partners.
German inflation pressures were unchanged last month. The CPI index rose 0.8% year-over-year, matching the increase in October, and in line with the consensus and initial estimate. Energy deflation intensified marginally, as a result of lower prices for household utilities.
Peru's central bank left its policy interest rate unchanged at 3.75% last week, but signalled that further easing is on the way. According to the press release accompanying the decision, policymakers noted that inflation expectations are within their target range and still falling.
CPI inflation held steady at 3.0% in January, above the consensus by one tenth and thus pushing up the market-implied probability of a May rate hike to 65%, from 62% earlier this week.
Yesterday's data were second-tier in the eyes of the markets, but not, perhaps in the eyes of the Fed. The continued surge in job openings, which reached a 14-year high in December, means that the Beveridge Curve--which links the number of job openings to the unemployment rate--shows no signs at all of returning to normal.
April's impressive-looking retail sales numbers--the headline jumped 1.3%, with non-auto sales up 0.8%--were boosted by two entirely separate factors, one of which will play no p art in May and one which will offer very modest support. The key lift in April came from the very early Easter, which confounded the seasonal adjustments, as it usually does.
Today brings a huge wave of data, but most market attention will be on the June CPI, following the run of unexpectedly soft core readings over the past three months.
On Monday we highlighted the grim state of the Brazilian industrial sector, where output fell by a huge 5.8% year-over-year in November. By contrast, the outlook for Mexico's industrial sector is much brighter.
The run of soft-looking headline retail sales numbers in recent months--the initial estimates for February, January and December were -0.6%, -0.8% and -0.9% respectively--will end today; the March number will look solid.
Economic growth in Mexico will remain relatively modest over the second half of the year, and the outlook for 2017 remains cloudy, for now. The core fundamentals suggest that growth will increase, but we think that depressed mining output and fiscal tightening might limit the pace of the upturn.
Evidence that U.K. asset prices still are depressed by Brexit risk has become harder to find.
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.
Yesterday's State of the Union address by EC president Jean-Claude Juncker commanded more attention than usual, but contained little news on the key talking points for investors.
The US employment data last week reduced further the likelihood of a June Fed rate increase. In turn, this changes the likely timing of the normalization process in some LatAm economies. Our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, expects the Fed to start its normalization process in July or September; the strength of the employment data will prevent any postponement beyond the third quarter.
October's consumer price figures, released Tuesday, likely will show that CPI inflation increased to 3.1%, from 3.0% in September.
Data released yesterday in Brazil are consistent with our view that private consumption will continue to drive the recovery over the second half, offsetting the ongoing weakness in private investment.
August's consumer price figures, released today, likely will show that households' spending power is being increasingly eroded by rising inflation. We think CPI inflation picked up to 0.8%, from 0.6% in July, exceeding the consensus, 0.7%, for the third consecutive month.
Brazil's retail sales data undershot consensus in August, falling by 0.5% after four straight gains. But we think this merely a temporary softening, following the strong performance in recent months.
A huge wave of data will break over markets this week, along with the FOMC meeting, new dot plots and Chair Yellen's press conference. But today is calm, with no significant data releases and no Fed speeches; policymakers are in purdah ahead of the meeting.
With rates now certain to rise this week, the real importance of the employment picture is what it says about the timing of the next hike. To be clear, we think the Fed will raise rates again in June, and will at that meeting add another dot to the plot, making four hikes this year.
When the dust settles after today's wave of data, we expect to have learned that core retail sales continued to rise in June, core inflation nudged back up to its cycle high, and manufacturing output rebounded after an auto-led drop in May. None of these reports will be enough to push the Fed into early action, but they will add to the picture of a reasonably solid domestic economy ahead of the U.K. Brexit referendum.
Upbeat survey data, a competitive MXN, and the strong U.S. manufacturing sector indicate that Mexican industry should be rebounding.
The FTSE 100 fell further yesterday, briefly to levels not seen since November 2012, but its drop over recent months is not a convincing signal of impending economic disaster. The economic recovery is likely to slow further, but this will reflect the building fiscal squeeze and the sterling-related export hit much more than the wobble in market sentiment.
German inflation eased in May, but the underlying upward pressure on the core is increasing. Yesterday's data showed that inflation fell to 1.5% year-over-year in May, from 2.0% in April, as the boost from the late Easter reversed. Inflation in leisure and entertainment services was driven down to +0.8%, from +3.3% in April, as a result of sharply lower inflation in package holidays and airfares.
April's consumer price figures, released on Tuesday, look set to reveal that CPI inflation jumped to 2.7%--its highest rate since September 2013--from 2.3% in March. Inflation likely will be driven up entirely by a jump in the cor e rate to 2.3%, from 1.8% in March.
Recent industrial data for Mexico point to renewed upside risks for GDP growth, despite the likely headwind to consumption from high inflation and depressed confidence.
The medium-term outlook in most LatAm economies is improving, though economic activity is likely to remain anaemic in the near term. The gradual recovery in commodity prices is supporting resource economies, while the post-election surge in global stock prices has boosted confidence. But country-specific domestic considerations are equally relevant; the growth stories differ across the region.
Last week's industrial report confirmed that the Mexican economy softened at the end of the second quarter. Industrial production was unchanged year- over-year in June, calendar-and seasonally adjusted, down marginally from +0.1% in May.
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.
So, what should we make of the fourth straight disappointment in the retail sales numbers? First, we should note that all is probably not how it seems. The 0.2% upward revision to March sales was exactly equal to the difference between the consensus forecast and the initial estimate, neatly illustrating the danger of over-interpreting the first estimates of the data.
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.
Small businesses remain extremely positive about the economy, but some of the post-election gloss appears to be wearing off. To be clear, the headline composite index of small business sentiment and activity in February, due this morning, will be much higher than immediately before the election, but a modest correction seems likely after January's 12- year high.
We don't often write about the performance of individual companies, but we have to make an exception for Boeing, because it is big enough to matter at a macro level. Last year, civilian aircraft orders--dominated by Boeing--totalled $102B, equivalent to 0.6% of GDP.
LatAm's economies are starting to expand at a relatively healthy pace, inflation is more or less under control and near-term growth prospects are positive.
The minutes of the September 19/20 FOMC meeting record that "...it was noted that the National Federation of Independent Business reported that greater optimism among small businesses had contributed to a sharp increase in the proportion of small firms planning increases in their capital expenditures."
Mexican industrial production data for August were a little stronger-than-expected. Output rose 1.0% year-over-year, for the second consecutive month, and marginally higher than the 0.6% average growth in the second quarter. The rise in production in August is encouraging, especially the strong manufacturing component, which accounts for about half of all output.
Friday's detailed October CPI report in Germany confirmed that inflation pressures are steadily rising. Inflation rose to 0.8% year-over-year in October, from 0.7% in September, lifted mostly by a continuing increase in energy prices.
The slowdown in retail sales in the first quarter and the recent pick-up in the number of retailers seeking protection from creditors begs the question: are consumers retrenching, or just spending their money elsewhere?
If the plunge in the stock market last week, and especially Friday, was a entirely a reaction to the slowdown in China and its perceived impact on other emerging economies, then it was an over-reaction. Exports to China account for just 0.7% of U.S. GDP; exports to all emerging markets account for 2.1%. So, even a 25% plunge in exports to these economies-- comparable to the meltdown seen as global trade collapsed after the financial crisis--would subtract only 0.5% from U.S. growth over a full year, gross.
The headline durable goods orders number for October, due today, likely will be depressed by falling aircraft orders, both civilian and military. Boeing reported orders for 55 civilian aircraft in September, compared to only three in August, but a hefty adverse swing in the seasonal factor will translate that into a small seasonally adjusted decline.
More evidence emerged yesterday of the fading impact of the severe winter on the data, in the form of the strength of the NAHB survey and the weakness of the headline industrial production number.
Yesterday's detailed EZ GDP report showed that real output rose 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, the same pace as in Q2. The year-over-over rate rose marginally to 1.7% from 1.6%, trivially higher than the first estimate, 1.6%. The details showed that consumers' spending and public consumption were the key drivers of growth in Q3, offsetting a slowdown in net trade.
Chile's economy is showing the first reliable signs of improvement, at last. December retail sales rose 1.9% year-over-year, up from 0.4% in November, indicating that household expenditure is starting to revive, in line with a pick-up in consumer confidence and the improving labor market.
The sell-off in bonds and equities continued yesterday, but the reaction bears no resemblance, so far, to the sovereign debt crises in 2012 and 2010. The first evidence from sentiment data in July also points to surprising stability. The headline Sentix index rose to 18.5, up slightly from 17.1 in June, but the expectations index fell marginally, to 22.3 from 22.5.
Detailed German inflation data today likely will confirm that inflation fell to 0.3% year-over-year in December from 0.4% in November, mainly due to falling food inflation. Preliminary data suggest that food inflation declined sharply to 1.4% from 2.3% in November, offsetting slower energy price deflation, due to base effects. Food and energy prices are wild cards in the next three-to-six months, and could weigh on the headline, given the renewed weakness in oil prices, and lower fresh food prices. Core inflation, however, is a lagging indicator, and will continue to increase this year.
Bond markets in the euro area have been a calm sea recently relative to the turmoil in equities, credit and commodities. Following the initial surge in yields at the end of second quarter, 10-year benchmark rates have meandered in a tight range, recently settling towards the lower end, at 0.5%. Our outlook for the economy and inflation tells us this is to o low, even allowing for the impact of QE.
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?
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.
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.
France just about avoided slipping into deflation in December, with the CPI rising 0.1% year-over-year, down from 0.3% in November. The 4.4% drop in the energy component should have pushed inflation below zero, but a seasonal increase in tourism services was enough to offset the drag from oil prices.
Yesterday's economic activity data from Peru signalled that the relatively firm business cycle continues. The monthly GDP index accelerated to 3.6% year-over-year in November, rising from 2.1% in October, but marginally below the 4.4% on average in Q3. Growth continued to be driven by mining output, including oil and gas, which rose 15% year-over- year. The opening of several new mines explains the upturn, and we expect the sector to remain key for the Peruvian economy this year.
We have argued consistently since oil prices first began to fall that U.S. consumers would spend most of their windfall, so real spending would accelerate even as nominal retail sales growth was dragged down by the drop in the price of gas and other imported goods. At the same time, we argued that capital spending in the oil business would collapse, and that exports would struggle in the face of the stronger dollar.
Colombia's GDP growth was a poor 1.6% year-over- year in Q4, down from 2.3% in Q3, despite the oil recovery and the COP's rebound since mid-year. GDP rose a modest 0.3% quarter-on-quarter, after a 0.8% increase in Q3.
Markets' judgement that the Monetary Policy Committee--which meets today--will wait until 2017 to raise interest rates overestimates the role that the drop in oil prices and slower GDP growth will play in its decision-making. The inflation risks emanating from the increasingly tight labour market still could motivate a tightening before the summer.
To paraphrase recent correspondence: "How can you possibly believe, given the terrible run of economic data and the turmoil in the markets, that the Fed will raise rates in March/June/at all this year?" Well, to state the obvious, if markets are in anything like their current state at the time of the eight Fed meetings this year, they won't hike. That sort of sustained downward pressure and volatility would itself prevent action at the next couple of meetings, as did the turmoil last summer when the Fed met in September. And if markets were to remain in disarray for an extended period we'd expect significant feedback into the real economy, reducing--perhaps even removing--the need for further tightening.
The Colombian economy has been able to grow this year despite the plunge in oil prices since the middle of 2014. Gains in consumers' spending and investment have offset part of the hit from falling exports. But private spending growth, nonetheless, slowed considerably during the first few months of the year, as shown in our char t below, in part due to rising prices for imported goods after the depreciation of the COP, as well as broad-based concerns over the state of the economy.
The turmoil in Washington has begun to hit markets. We don't know how this will end, but we do know that it isn't going away quickly.
At the October FOMC meeting, policymakers softened their view on the threat posed by the summer's market turmoil and the slowdown in China, dropping September's stark warning that "Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term." Instead, the October statement merely said that the committee is "monitoring global economic and financial developments."
Final inflation for February in the Eurozone likely will be confirmed today at -0.3% year-over-year, up from -0.6% in January. This bounce was mainly driven by a reduced drag from falling oil and food prices, but it is too early to call a trough in headline inflation.
Mexico's structural reforms, robust fundamentals, and its close ties to the U.S. should have conferred a degree of protection from the turmoil in EMs over the past year. But its markets have been hit as hard as other LatAm countries by the sell-off in global markets in recent weeks. The MXN fell about 5% against the USD in January alone, and has dropped by 20% over the last year.
German exporters stumbled at the end of last year. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in Germany dipped to €18.4B in December, from €21.8B in November, hit by a 3.3% month-to-month plunge in exports. Imports were flat on the month. The fall in exports looks dramatic, but it followed a 3.9% jump in the previous month, and nominal exports were up 2.5% over Q4 as a whole. Advance GDP data next week likely will show that net trade lifted quarter-on-quarter growth by 0.2 percentage points, partly reversing the 0.3pp drag in Q3. Real imports were held back by a jump in the import price deflator, due to rebounding oil prices.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
Advance data suggest German inflation pressures eased towards the end of last year. Inflation fell to 0.3% year-over-year in December from 0.4% in November, likely due to a fall in food inflation--mean reversion in fruit and vegetables inflation--and a sharp fall in the annual price increase of clothing and shoes. State data indicate that deflation in household utilities persisted, but that inflation of fuel and transportation is slowly recovering. Assuming a stable oil price in coming months, base effects should push up energy price inflation in the first quarter, though it should then fall again slightly in the second quarter. Overall, though, we expect energy price inflation gradually to stabilise and recover this year.
The substantial, though incomplete, rebound in the September ISM manufacturing survey is consistent with our view that the outlook for the industrial economy right now is better than at any time since before the crash in oil prices
Business investment has been resilient to the slowdown in the wider economy so far, with year-over-year growth in the first three quarters of 2015 averaging a very respectable 6.2%. Outside the oil sector, firms are generating healthy profits and can borrow cheaply.
At the October FOMC meeting, policymakers softened their view on the threat posed by the summer's market turmoil and the slowdown in China, dropping September's stark warning that "Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term." Instead, the October statement merely said that the committee is "monitoring global economic and financial developments."
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs the recent increase in Oil
Some commentators have asserted that the Monetary Policy Committee won't raise interest rates until all its members agree and investors have fully priced in an increase, arguing that an earlier move would create excessive market turmoil and muddy the Committee's message. But a look back to previous turning points in the interest rate cycle suggests that the Monetary Policy Committee--MPC--hasn't paid much heed to those considerations before.
Treasury yields closed Friday a few basis points higher across the curve than the day before the surprisingly soft March payroll report. A combination of slightly less dovish-than-expected FOMC minutes, a hawkish speech from Richmond president Jeff Lacker, rising oil prices, and robust--albeit second-tier--data last week seem to have done the work.
November production data in Mexico, released Monday, showed that the industrial economy remained quite soft in the last part of last year. The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector, slowing public spending, and weaker growth in EM and the U.S. manufacturing sector have combined to hit Mexican industrial output quite hard. Total production rose just 0.1% year-over-year in November, down from an already weak 0.5% in October, and below the 1.3% average increase in Q3. Output fell 0.5% month-to-month, the biggest drop since May, reflecting broad-based weakness.
Manufacturing data for the euro area's major economies point to renewed downside risks for GDP growth, despite the likely tailwind to consumption from low oil prices. November industrial production fell 0.1% and 0.3% month-to-month in Germany and France respectively, indicating that the manufacturing sector remains under pressure.
If Fed Chair Yellen's objective yesterday was to deliver studied ambiguity in her Testimony--and we believe it was--she succeeded. She offered plenty to both sides of the rate debate. For the hawks, she noted that unemployment is now "...in line with the median of FOMC participants' most recent estimates of its longer-run normal level", and that inflation is still expected to return to the 2% target, "...once oil and import prices stop falling".
Mexican economic growth was subdued during the first half of the year, and we expect it to remain weak over the coming months. The economy has been held back largely by external headwinds, especially low oil prices and disruptions to activity in the US, its main trading partner.
November's consumer prices figures, released tomorrow, look set to show that the U.K.'s spell of negative inflation has ended. CPI inflation is set to pick-up decisively over the coming months, even if oil prices continue to drift down. In fact, fuel prices likely will contribute to the pick-up in inflation from October's -0.1% rate. November's 1.5% fall in prices at the pump was smaller than the 2.3% drop in the same month last year, so the year-over-year rate will rise. Fuel's contribution to CPI inflation therefore will pick up, albeit very marginally, to -0.47pp from -0.50pp in October.
Advance CPI data yesterday continue to indicate that inflation pressures remain depressed in the Eurozone's largest economy, for now. Inflation in Germany rose slightly in May, but only to 0.1% year-over-year, from -0.1% in April. The downward pressure on the headline from the crash in oil prices remains significant. Energy prices fell 7.9% year-over-year, slowing slightly from the 8.5% drop in the year to April.
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.
Eurozone manufacturing selling prices remain under pressure from deflationary headwinds. The PPI index, ex-construction, in the euro area fell 4.2% year-over-year in March, matching February's drop. Weakness in oil prices continues to drive the headline.
Colombia's peso has been one of the most battered currencies in LatAm this year, due mainly to the sharp fall in oil prices, the country's primary export. The COP has dropped about 23% this year against the USD. At the same time, other temporary factors, most notably the impact of El Niño on food prices, have done a great deal of inflation damage too. October's food prices increased 1.4% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 8.8% from an average of 6.6% in the first half of the year. Overall inflation has jumped to 5.9% in October from 3.8% in January, forcing BanRep's board to act aggressively.
Volatile commodity prices make this week's inflation data in Germany and the Eurozone a wild card. Crude oil in euro terms is down about 20% month-to-month in July, which will weigh on energy prices. In Germany, though, we think higher core inflation offset the hit from oil, pushing inflation slightly higher to 0.4% year-over-year in July from 0.3% in June.
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.
Final inflation data yesterday confirmed Eurozone inflation pressures are still low. Inflation rose to 0.2% year-over-year in December from 0.1% in November, lifted by easing deflation in energy prices. Base effects likely will lift energy price inflation in January and February, but the year-over-year rate will dip in Q2, if the oil price remains depressed. Food inflation fell in December due to a decline in unprocessed food prices, and we see further downside in Q1. Core inflation was unchanged, with the key surprise that services inflation fell to 1.1% from 1.2% in November. We think this dip will be temporary, however, and our first chart shows that risks to services inflation are tilted to the upside.
The advance trade data for February make it very likely that today's full report will show the headline deficit rose by about $½B compared to March, thanks to rising net imports of both capital and consumer goods, which were only partly offset by improvements in the oil and auto accounts.
Chilean GDP growth hit bottom in August, but activity is now picking up and will gather speed over the coming quarters. The tailwinds from lower oil prices and fiscal stimulus will soon be visible in the activity data.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
Bond market volatility and political turmoil in Greece have been the key drivers of an abysmal second quarter for Eurozone equities. Recent panic in Chinese markets has further increased the pressure, adding to the wall of worry for investors. A correction in stocks is not alarming, though, following the surge in Q1 from the lows in October. The total return-- year-to-date in euros--for the benchmark MSCI EU ex-UK index remains a respectable 11.4%.
Inflation data later today will likely show that the Eurozone fell into deflation driven primarily by the big plunge in oil prices since 2008. The consensus expects a 0.1% decline year-over-year, but we look for the CPI to fall slightly more, by 0.2%.
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.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
The astonishing 86% annualized plunge in capital spending in mining structures--mostly oil wells--alone subtracted 0.6 percentage points from headline GDP growth in the first quarter. The collapse was bigger than we expected, based on the falling rig count, but the key point is that it will not be repeated in the second quarter.
We were a bit surprised to see our forecast for the April trade deficit is in line with the consensus, $44B, down from $51.4B in March, because the uncertainty is so great. The March deficit was boosted by a huge surge in non-oil imports following the resolution of the West Coast port dispute, while exports rose only slightly. As far as we can tell, ports unloaded ships waiting in harbours and at the docks, lifting the import numbers before reloading those ships.
Brazil economic and political outlook is still opaque, but grim, after a vast array of negative news. Impeachment of President Rousseff remains a possibility; the process of fiscal consolidation is messy and politically bloody; rumors that Finance Minister Levy might leave his post next year have intensified; and the latest data showed that the recession worsened in Q3. As a consequence, the BRL and interest rates have been under pressure and we see no clear signs that the turmoil will ease soon.
The first estimate of Q1 growth will show that the economy struggled in the face of the severe winter and, to a lesser extent, the rollover in capital spending in the oil sector. But the weather hit appears to have been much smaller than last year, when the economy shrank at a 2.1% rate in the first quarter; this time, we think the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.1%.
Political turmoil in Brazil continues to undermine President Dilma Rousseff's leverage over the economy. On Friday, the Lower House of Congress voted to start impeachment proceeding against Ms. Rousseff. She has until early April to present her defense against charges that she doctored government accounts and used graft proceeds to fund the 2014 electoral campaign.
LatAm's relatively calm market environment has been thrown into disarray over the last few weeks.New fears of a slowdown in China, political turmoil in the U.S. and, most importantly, the serious corruption allegations facing Brazil's President, Michel Temer, have triggered a modest correction in asset markets and have disrupted the region's near-term policy dynamics.
Colombia's industrial and retail sectors surprised to the upside in August, suggesting that the domestic economy has been resilient during most of the third quarter, despite the hit from an array of external headwinds. Industrial production increased by a solid 2.6% year-over-year in August, up from an upwardly revised 0.6% expansion in July, and above its recent trend. In the first half of the year, industrial activity fell on average by 1.1%, the worst performance since 2013, due mainly to the oil hit and ex tended works at Reficar, the country's second biggest oil refinery. But Colombia's manufacturers appear to have shrugged off part of the oil pain in recent months.
The flattening of the curve in recent months has been substantial, but in our view it is telling us little, if anything, about the outlook for growth. More than anything else, investors in longer Treasuries care about inflation, and the likely path of headline inflation clearly has been lowered by the plunge in oil prices.
A widening core trade deficit is the inevitable consequence of a strengthening currency and faster growth than most of your trading partners. Falling oil prices have limited the headline damage by driving down net oil imports, but the downward trend in core exports since late 2014 has been steep and sustained, as our first chart shows. The deterioration meant that trade subtracted an average of 0.3 percentage points from GDP growth in the past three quarters.
The plunge in capital spending in the oil business appears to be over, at least for now. Orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, fell by 8.9% from their September peak to their February low, but they have since rebounded, as our first chart shows. We can't be certain that the sudden drop in core capex orders late last year was triggered by a rollover in oil companies' spending, but it is the most likely explanation, by far.
Yesterday's money supply report provided further relief for investors doubtful over the cyclical recovery following the market turmoil. Broad money growth, M3, accelerated to 5.3% year-over-year in July, up from 4.9% in June, and within touching distance of a new post-crisis high. Narrow money continued to surge too, rising 12.1% year-over-year, up from 11.1% in June, sending a bullish message on the Eurozone economy.
Multiple factors have shaken LatAm financial markets this week. China's market turmoil, commodity price oscillations, currency volatility, and political mayhem in every corner of the region, have all conspired against markets. But market chaos has also driven some central banks to rethink their monetary policy plans. For EM, in particular for LatAm, the stance of the Federal Reserve is key, given the region's close ties to the U.S., and the dollar.
ECB board member Peter Praet fired the first shot across the markets' bow yesterday following this week's turmoil. Speaking to journalists in Germany, Mr. Praet noted "increased downside risk of achieving a sustainable inflation path towards 2%," and assured investors the current QE program is fully flexible, and can be readily adjusted in response to an adverse development in inflation expectations. We don't think, though, this is a pre -cursor for additional easing at next week's ECB meeting.
The impasse between Greece and its creditors has roiled Eurozone bond markets, but the ECB is likely ready to restore calm, if necessary. We think a further widening of short-term interest rate spreads would especially worry the central bank, as it would represent a challenge to forward guidance. For now, spreads remain well below the average since the birth of the Eurozone, even after the latest increase.
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.
We have been very encouraged in recent months to see core capital goods orders breaking to the upside, relative to the trend implied by the path of oil prices.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. Producer Prices
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Q1 growth in the Eurozone
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Industrial Production
Chief U.K.. economist Samuel Tombs comments on U.K. PMI
Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen discusses how the ECB will respond to the missed IMF payment yesterday.
Ian Shepherdson's mission is to present complex economic ideas in a clear, understandable and actionable manner to financial market professionals. He has worked in and around financial markets for more than 20 years, developing a strong sense for what is important to investors, traders, salespeople and risk managers.
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