Euro-Area Economy Strengthens More on Service-Sector Surge – Financial Post
(Bloomberg) — Euro-zone economic growth continued to pick up in March, driven exclusively by the service sector as concerns over energy supplies recede.
The overall rate of expansion rose to the highest level in 10 months, according to business surveys by S&P Global. Manufacturing output broadly stagnated, however, only supported by a backlog of orders as demand continued to fall.
“Growth has been buoyed since the lows of late last year as recession fears and energy market worries fade, inflation pressures ease and the unprecedented supply chain delays seen during the pandemic are replaced with record improvements to supplier delivery times,” said Chris Williamson, an economist at S&P Global.
Sentiment in Europe has been improving as it became clear that the region would avoid worst-case scenarios for access to natural gas predicted after Russia cut off supplies to the bloc. Recent turmoil in the banking sector has cast some doubt on how the global economy will develop, though European officials have sounded confident that the sector can withstand any fallout.
While activity improved in both Germany and France, the strongest performance came in the rest of the 20-nation euro area.
What Bloomberg Economic Says…
“The euro-area composite PMI survey for March suggests the economy is beginning to emerge from a period of stagnation and holding up well under the weight of higher interest rates. While monetary policy works with long and variable lags and choppy waters may still lie ahead, the resilience of the economy should allow the hawks at the European Central Bank to succeed in pushing for more interest rate increases”
—David Powell, economist. For full analysis, click here
Inflation is still running far above the European Central Bank’s 2% target, however, with underlying data becoming the key focus for policymakers. While price gains continued to moderate in March, they remain elevated by historical standards, according to S&P Global.
“Such stubborn inflationary pressures, fueled primarily by the service sector and rising wage costs, will be a concern to policymakers and suggests that more work may be needed in terms of bringing inflation down to target,” Williamson said.
The jobs market also remained resilient. Employment growth reached a nine-month high, with acceleration seen especially in services in line with rising demand.
Firms’ confidence in the business outlook dipped, though it remained well above levels seen in late 2022. That could be linked to concerns over uncertainty caused by banking-sector stress and the impact of further increases in interest rates, S&P Global said.
The composite PMI reading for the UK edged lower to 52.2 in March from 53.1 the previous month, suggesting the economy has avoided a recession for now. British companies are the most confident they’ve been since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Data earlier revealed activity in Japan’s services sector edged up to the strongest in almost a decade as the return of Chinese tourists boosted demand. The US number due later on Friday is expected to be below 50.
—With assistance from Mark Evans, Joel Rinneby, Tom Rees and Zoe Schneeweiss.
(Updates with UK PMI data in 10th paragraph.)
India's economy likely gained pace in March quarter – Financial Post
NEW DELHI — India is set to release data on Wednesday that is expected to show the economy grew by 5% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, accelerating from 4.4% in the previous quarter due to steady urban demand and government spending.
The median forecast from a Reuters poll of economists hinged on the robust performance of services like travel and retail, and the boost given to demand by falling food prices and the drop in oil prices globally.
Moving forward, India could be at the mercy of a potential global slowdown.
“Slowing global growth, protracted geopolitical tensions and a possible upsurge in financial market volatility” could pose downside risks to the economic growth, Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, warned in its annual report on Tuesday.
The last official estimate for the full 2022/23 fiscal year put growth at 7%, though that could be revised when the GDP data is released on Wednesday at 1200 GMT. Some private economists reckoned growth in the year to March 31 could turn out around 6.8%.
During the March quarter, high frequency indicators showed that a rise in urban incomes had boosted sales of expensive cars, Apple mobile phones, and air travel.
The performance looks less impressive considering that the economy was still working through the tail-end of the pandemic during the previous year.
Farm and manufacturing workers suffered flat growth in real wages due to high inflation, and that kept sales of motorbikes, low-end consumer goods and railway traffic below pre-pandemic levels.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains widely popular after nine years in power, but his Bharatiya Janata Party lost assembly elections in the southern state of Karnataka this month as the opposition Congress party promised to step up subsidies for households hit by inflation and unemployment.
Modi must call for a national election by early 2024, and there a several more state polls due before then.
Lack of good paying jobs remains a major issue among the youth as reflected in unemployment rate rising to 8.11% in April and more workers joining the workforce, according to Mumbai-based think tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.
(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
Canada's economy grew by more than expected in first quarter, upping odds of rate hike next week – CBC.ca
The Canadian economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2023, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.
The latest data shows growth beat out the federal agency’s own forecast of 2.5 per cent for the quarter. A preliminary estimate suggests the economy grew by 0.2 per cent in April, after remaining flat in March.
The ongoing resilience in the economy will likely spur discussions of a potential rate hike, as the Bank of Canada is expected to make its next interest rate announcement next week.
The relatively strong GDP showing had investors increasing the odds of a rate hike when the central bank meets next week. Prior to the GDP numbers, trading in investments known as swaps was implying a litle over a one-in-four chance of a hike.
Now, those odds are better than one-in-three.
Statscan says growth in exports and household spending helped spur growth in the first quarter. On the other side of the ledger, slower inventory accumulations as well as declines in household investment and business investment in machinery and equipment weighed on growth.
Tuan Nguyen, an economist with consulting firm RSM Canada, says the GDP numbers “blew past expectations.”
“After a slow final quarter of last year, the Canadian consumers and businesses came out strong in the first quarter, defying rising recession concerns that most market participants have been talking about,” Nguyen said. “There is no doubt that the data pointed to a hot economy, explaining why underlying inflation has remained elevated.”
Stubbornly high inflation
The Canadian economy has managed to continue outperforming expectations, despite the Bank of Canada hoping high interest rates would cause a more profound pullback by consumers and businesses.
The household spending figures show spending up on both goods and services in the first three months of the year, after minimal growth in the previous two quarters.
However, the report notes disposable income fell for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2021. The federal agency says disposable income declined by one per cent, largely due to the expiration of government measures aimed at helping people cope with inflation.
The central bank paused its rate-hiking cycle earlier this year, keeping its key interest rate at 4.5 per cent — the highest it’s been since 2007.
But the central bank’s governor, Tiff Macklem, has signalled that the bank is still trying to figure out if interest rates are high enough to quash inflation.
The headline inflation rate ticked up slightly to 4.4 per cent in April, remaining well above the central bank’s two per cent target.
What the JOLTS Report tells us about the economy – Yahoo Canada Finance
The Canadian Press
National Bank reports Q2 profit down from year ago, raises quarterly dividend
MONTREAL — National Bank of Canada raised its quarterly dividend and reported its second-quarter profit fell compared with a year ago as it faced higher non-interest expenses and increased provisions for bad loans. The Montreal-based bank said Wednesday it will now pay a quarterly dividend of $1.02 per share, up from 97 cents. The increased payment to shareholders came as National Bank reported a profit of $847 million or $2.38 per diluted share for the quarter ended April 30, down from a profit
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