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French, Italian economies hurt most under second lockdowns – The Guardian

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By Leigh Thomas

PARIS (Reuters) – Lockdowns in France and Italy are weighing down public mobility more than in other European countries, according to high- frequency data compiled by Reuters that suggest the two economies will take a correspondingly bigger hit.

Data ranging from use of Apple maps apps to Google’s user location history are proving vital tools for governments, central bankers and investors trying to gauge the economic impact of restrictions, weeks in advance of conventional indicators like consumer spending or industrial output.

The French official stats agency INSEE has found that the data Google can collect on how much time people spend at home is particularly closely correlated with how much an economy has slowed during the crisis.

And while the impact is nowhere near as pronounced as during the first set of more draconian lockdowns this year, that data suggest that people in France, Italy and Britain are currently seeing the biggest increases in the time spent at home.

Paris and Milan have also seen the sharpest reductions in traffic congestion, and Italy the steepest decline in public transport usage, ahead of the Netherlands, UK and France.

Graphic: Time spent at home in Europe’s biggest economies – https://graphics.reuters.com/EUROPE-ECONOMY/yzdvxkaojpx/chart.png

Germany’s “lockdown lite” imposed on Nov. 2 has left indicators of activity holding up much better than in countries that have gone for tougher measures, such as closing all but essential shops and services.

Spain was among the hardest hit in the first wave, but its activity also appears be resisting better after it imposed a six-month state of emergency at the end of October, giving its regions legal backing to implement curfews and restrict travel.

Graphic: Changes in traffic congestion in European capitals – https://graphics.reuters.com/EUROPE-ECONOMY/nmopadyglva/chart.png

Overall, countries are seeing less of a blow to activity than in the first wave of lockdowns after governments calibrated restrictions this time to limit the economic fallout. For comparison, mobility is around the same levels as seen in May.

In a case in point, France has seen a sharp fall in activity since the government was one of the first in Europe to put the country back under a full lockdown on Oct. 30.

However, the drop is not as dire as in March and April with the new French lockdown allowing considerably more flexibility for companies and schools left open.

Graphic: Apple mobility trends in public transport – https://graphics.reuters.com/EUROPE-ECONOMY/jznpnnjolpl/chart.png

Other real-time indicators like electricity consumption also show little impact from the new wave of restrictions across Europe, although colder weather is also fuelling demand heading into the winter.

Meanwhile, governments have largely spared their industrial sectors under the new restrictions, as the service sector bears the brunt of the fallout.

The German official stats agency’s truck toll mileage index https://www.destatis.de/EN/Service/EXDAT/Datensaetze/truck-toll-mileage.html, which it says is a bellwether for industrial production in Europe’s biggest economy, is currently running at levels on par with those seen before the coronavirus crisis broke out.

While overall economic activity has cooled once again heading into the year end, some traditional indicators of economic health such as unemployment and bankruptcy filings are still not flashing red.

But that is likely to be because of government support measures like subsidised furlough schemes and state-guaranteed bank loans to companies are keeping consumers and businesses afloat – at least for now.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Mark John, Larry King)

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Australia's economy rebounds sharply in third quarter, beats forecast – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s economy handily beat forecasts last quarter, rebounding from a coronavirus-induced contraction helped by massive stimulus, while growth is expected to be even stronger this quarter with near-zero new COVID cases.

The economy expanded by 3.3% in the three months to September, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast a 2.6% rise after a 7% contraction in second quarter.

Despite the brisk pace of quarterly growth, GDP still contracted 3.8% on an annual basis, suggesting the recession-stricken economy is not out of the woods yet and that policy support will be needed for some time.

The rebound was led by household spending, which rose 7.9%, the data showed.

But annual output is not expected to reach pre-COVID levels until late next year, provided Australia is able to keep the virus at bay.

The country, which has recorded nearly 28,000 coronavirus cases, has been lauded globally for successfully reopening its economy in late-May after curbing the pandemic.

That, together with A$300 billion ($221.55 billion)in fiscal stimulus and record low cash rate of 0.1%, have boosted jobs, credit demand, home prices and household consumption.

In a sign of solid consumer demand, Australia’s top lender Commonwealth Bank saw nationwide spending on its credit and debit cards jump 12% for the week-ending Nov.23 from last year.

ANZ Banking Group said spending on its cards surged 28% for the week to end-November, helped by Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

“Q4 growth is currently shaping up to be solid,” ANZ economists wrote in a note.

“The strong rebound in activity in Melbourne, the broader bounce in consumer and business confidence, along with upside surprises from the high frequency data are currently suggesting that December quarter growth will be pretty solid.”

Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, reopened from its marathon lockdown in late October.

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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Australia's economy rebounds sharply in third quarter, beats forecast – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s economy handily beat forecasts last quarter, rebounding from a coronavirus-induced contraction helped by massive stimulus, while growth is expected to be even stronger this quarter with near-zero new COVID cases.

The economy expanded by 3.3% in the three months to September, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Wednesday. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast a 2.6% rise after a 7% contraction in second quarter.

Despite the brisk pace of quarterly growth, GDP still contracted 3.8% on an annual basis, suggesting the recession-stricken economy is not out of the woods yet and that policy support will be needed for some time.

The rebound was led by household spending, which rose 7.9%, the data showed.

But annual output is not expected to reach pre-COVID levels until late next year, provided Australia is able to keep the virus at bay.

The country, which has recorded nearly 28,000 coronavirus cases, has been lauded globally for successfully reopening its economy in late-May after curbing the pandemic.

That, together with A$300 billion ($221.55 billion)in fiscal stimulus and record low cash rate of 0.1%, have boosted jobs, credit demand, home prices and household consumption.

In a sign of solid consumer demand, Australia’s top lender Commonwealth Bank saw nationwide spending on its credit and debit cards jump 12% for the week-ending Nov.23 from last year.

ANZ Banking Group said spending on its cards surged 28% for the week to end-November, helped by Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

“Q4 growth is currently shaping up to be solid,” ANZ economists wrote in a note.

“The strong rebound in activity in Melbourne, the broader bounce in consumer and business confidence, along with upside surprises from the high frequency data are currently suggesting that December quarter growth will be pretty solid.”

Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, reopened from its marathon lockdown in late October.

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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Statistics Canada says economy grew at a record pace in third quarter of 2020 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says the economy grew at a record annualized pace of 40.5 per cent in the third quarter as businesses came out of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, the agency says.

As historic as the rebound was, it fell short of expectations.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate was for an annualized growth rate of 47.6 per cent for the quarter.

The rebound over July, August and September was a sharp turnaround from the preceding three-month stretch which saw a record drop.

Driving the bounce-back were the further rolling back of public health restrictions that allowed businesses to reopen.

Statistics Canada also says there was a substantial increase in the housing market owing to low interest rates and household spending on goods like cars.

Despite the overall increase, the national statistics office says real gross domestic product still remains shy of where it was before the pandemic.

The third quarter ended with the fifth consecutive monthly increase in real GDP after the steepest monthly drops on record in March and April when widespread lockdowns were instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19.

September saw a 0.8 per cent increase in real GDP, Statistics Canada says, a slight slowing from the 0.9 per cent recorded in August.

The agency also provided a preliminary estimate for October’s figures, saying early indicators point to a 0.2 per cent increase in the month. The figure will be finalized at the end of this month.

“The fourth quarter of 2020 is still beginning with some growth, though less than we had anticipated,” CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes wrote in a note.

“Looking ahead, the economy faces a December with harsh restrictions that will likely see another contraction in economic activity.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.

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