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Headwinds Mount for World Economy Into Final Stretch of 2021 – Yahoo Finance

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The global economy is entering the final quarter of 2021 with a mounting number of headwinds threatening to slow the recovery from the pandemic recession and prove policy makers’ benign views on inflation wrong.

The spreading delta variant continues to disrupt schools and workplaces. U.S. lawmakers are wrangling over the debt ceiling and spending plans. China is suffering an energy crunch and pursuing a regulatory crackdown, while markets remain on edge as China Evergrande Group struggles to survive.

Fuel and food costs are soaring worldwide, combining with congested ports and strained supply chains to elevate price pressures. Labor shortages continue to plague some employers.

Although the expansion seems intact, such a backdrop is fanning fears of a mix of weaker growth and faster inflation to come, threatening to complicate nascent efforts by central banks to dial back stimulus without rattling markets.

“Expectations of a swift exit from the pandemic were always misplaced,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “Full recovery will be measured in years, not quarters.”

Economists at Barclays Bank Plc warned of “gusts of headwinds that could eventually take their toll on activity.”

Here’s a breakdown of the major risks:

China Crunched

China’s energy travails have forced manufacturers to curb production and prompted economists to cut their growth forecasts. Bloomberg Economics expects the power shortages to have the biggest hit to expansion since a nationwide lockdown when the pandemic first erupted.

Regions impacted by the curbs represent about two-thirds of the economy and include the top five provinces in terms of gross domestic product -– Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang and Henan. In a sign of what’s to come, factory activity contracted in September for the first time since the pandemic began.

That’s compounding a drag from the crisis engulfing Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, and a broader slowdown in the all-important housing sector. President Xi Jinping’s push for tighter regulations of industries including technology is also unnerving investors.

Costlier Food and Energy

China’s energy problems also risk triggering a renewed surge in world agriculture and food prices as it means the country is set for a difficult harvest season from corn to soy to peanuts and cotton. Over the past year, Beijing imported a record amount of agricultural products due to a domestic shortage, driving prices and global food costs to multiyear highs.

A United Nations index is up 33% over the past 12 months. At the same time, some gas, coal, carbon and electricity benchmarks are hitting records.

The price of oil passed $80 a barrel for the first time in three years and natural gas is the costliest in seven, helping to push the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index to its highest level in a year. TotalEnergies SE Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said the gas crisis that’s affecting Europe is likely to last all winter.

It could get even worse. Bank of America analysts are telling clients there is a chance of oil reaching $100, spurring an economic crisis.

Supply Squeezed

With the northern hemisphere winter approaching, the delta variant remains another worry.

That helps explain why congestion is building at key crossroads for international commerce, from ports in Shanghai and Los Angeles, to rail yards in Chicago and warehouses in the U.K.

Retailers including Costco Wholesale Corp. in the U.S are ordering everything possible to ensure shelves are stocked, particularly for the late-year boost of holiday shopping.

Manufacturers, meanwhile, are having trouble sourcing key parts such as semiconductors, chemicals and glass.

Dubai’s DP World, one of the biggest global port operators, expects bottlenecks that have rattled global trade flows will continue at least for another two years.

There is also a shortage of labor in some industries with the coming week’s U.S. payrolls report providing an insight into how much of a problem that was for firms in September.

Policy Problems

The shine is also coming off U.S. economic policy as a locomotive for the global recovery. While President Joe Biden swerved a disruptive shutdown of the federal government for now through a stopgap funding bill, fractured talks continue on his $4 trillion economic agenda with deep divisions among his Democrats on the way forward.

Compromise on the shutdown came after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that her department will effectively run out of cash around Oct. 18 unless Congress suspends or increases the federal debt limit. Failure to do so would trigger both a recession and financial crisis, Yellen said.

Globally, fiscal policy support is set to slow into 2022 after governments ran up the biggest debts since the 1970s.

Monetary Policy

Biden and Yellen must also decide whether to hand a second term to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, a decision which could also roil markets.

For Powell and his international counterparts, the combination of slowing growth and stubborn inflation is a challenge.

Friday alone saw news of the fastest euro-area inflation in 13 years and a U.S. gauge rose the most on an annual basis since 1991.

For now, Powell and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde are voicing cautious optimism that inflation will ease. But economists are asking at what point transitory becomes more persistent.

And that makes plans to reduce bond purchases or raise interest rates a risky proposition. Many Latin American central banks and some in eastern Europe have already hiked borrowing costs, Norway just became the first developed nation to do so and the Fed is signaling it will pare its bond-buying program as soon as November.

Deutsche Bank AG strategist Jim Reid reckons the world economy may be facing its most hawkish period for monetary policy in a decade.

“Central banks are playing with fire by tapering to avert inflationary pressures without being fully sure of where we stand in the cycle,” said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis.

(Updates to add Barclays comment in sixth paragraph)

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Province Invests in Midland Automotive Parts Manufacturer to Boost Local Economy | Ontario Newsroom – Government of Ontario News

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UK's economy gathers speed, inflation pressures mount – PMIs – Financial Post

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LONDON — Britain’s economy unexpectedly regained momentum in October and cost pressures rose by the most in more than 25 years, according to a survey on Friday that could encourage the Bank of England to raise interest rates for the first time since the pandemic.

The preliminary “flash” IHS Markit/CIPS flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index rose by the largest amount since May to hit 56.8 from September’s 54.9. By contrast, a Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a further slowdown to 54.0.

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“The UK economy picked up speed again in October, but the expansion is looking increasingly dependent on the service sector, which in turn looks prone to a slowdown amid the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” said IHS Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson.

The rise in the PMI was driven by Britain’s services firms as consumers and businesses picked up their spending. Travel firms benefited from a relaxation of COVID-19 travel rules.

Service sector activity outpaced manufacturing output by the widest margin since 2009 as factories struggled again with shortages of supplies and staff and recorded barely any growth.

A rise in overall employment was close to August’s record high, despite problems in filling vacancies.

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Higher wages and the worsening supply shortages resulted in the fastest increase in average costs since the combined composite index was launched in January 1998. Separate PMIs for the services and manufacturing sectors showed prices charged by firms rose by the most since these series began in 1996 and 1992 respectively.

With inflation set to hit more than double its 2% target soon, the BoE is expected to raise borrowing costs soon as it tries to make sure that rising inflation expectations do not become embedded in British businesses’ pricing decisions.

The Confederation of British Industry said on Thursday that manufacturers were raising prices by the most since 1980 in the face of some of the biggest increases in costs and labor shortages since the 1970s.

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The PMI for the services sector rose to 58.0, its highest in three months, while the manufacturing PMI’s output component – which IHS Markit says currently gives a better picture of the sector than the headline index – sank to its lowest since February at 50.6.

Despite the improved picture for most companies, many consumers are concerned about the outlook for the economy.

A survey published earlier on Friday showed Britons were their most downbeat since they February, when they were under lockdown, and are increasingly worried about the year to come as prices and COVID cases rise. (Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Dollar set for another week of losses even as Fed tapering looms

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The dollar was heading for a second week of declines on Friday as sentiment stayed tilted towards riskier assets, while an intervention by the Australian central bank put a halt to the Aussie dollar’s recent surge.

The dollar index was last at 93.733, little changed in Asian hours but off 0.24% on the week, as it continues its fall from a 12-month high of 94.565 hit in earlier this month.

It had managed to stem losses on Thursday, bouncing on better U.S. jobs and housing data, but the rally petered out on Friday morning in Asia, where risk sentiment was boosted news that beleaguered developer China Evergrande Group has supplied funds to pay interest on a U.S. dollar bond, averting a default.

But traders are still trying to assess whether the dollar has scope to fall further, or if this is a temporary blip on a march higher.

“People are wondering whether we are at an inflection point, as the dollar has been weakening and that doesn’t really fit with the broader narrative that global growth is cooling and the Fed is on the path to tapering, which should be supportive for the dollar,” said Paul Mackel, global head of FX research at HSBC.

On Friday, benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields were at 1.6872%, slightly off from Thursday’s multi-month high of 1.7%, as markets continue to prepare themselves for an announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will start to wind down its massive bond buying programme, which is widely expected for November.

Mackel said part of the reason for the dollar’s weakness had been strong performances by currencies from most commodity exporting countries.

These were quieter on Friday, however, as traders took profits, analysts said, and energy prices softened.

Brent crude, which had risen above $86 dollars a barrel on Thursday, continued its tumble and was last at $84.10.

The Australian dollar was at $0.7475, off Thursday’s three-month top, as the boost to the China-exposed currency from Evergrande’s news was outweighed by action from the Reserve Bank of Australia to stem a bond sell off, as well as the pause in energy price rises.

The RBA said on Friday it had stepped in to defend its yield target for the first time in eight months, spending A$1 billion ($750 million) to dampen an aggressive bonds sell-off as traders have bet on inflation pulling forward rate hikes.

Also affected by energy prices, the Canadian dollar slipped to C$1.2352 per U.S. dollar, off Thursday’s C$1.2287, a level last seen in June.

The British pound paused for breath at $1.3798, off a month peak hit earlier in the week, to which it had been carried by growing expectations of an interest rate hike to combat rising inflationary pressures.

The euro was little changed at $1.1627, while the yen wobbled within sight of its multi-year lows, with one dollar worth 114.01 yen, compared with 114.69 earlier in the week, a four-year low.

China’s yuan eased against the dollar on Friday after the FX regulator warned of possible action if the currency market is hit by greater volatility following its recent rally. But the yuan still looked set for the biggest weekly gain since May.

Bitcoin was at $63,928, a little off Wednesday’s all-time high of $67,016

 

(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill)

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