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August 25, 2014
"Political comfort is a substitute for economic comfort."
The week in review...
Eurozone: Headwinds Manufacturing and services activity decreased in July, suggesting that the disappointing GDP figures for 2Q2014 may not be the last. Euro-area composite PMIs fell to 52.8 from 53.8, below expectations. While figures above 50 indicate growth, the pace has slowed. And with Russia’s trade embargo expected to reduce demand for Europe’s agricultural and manufacturing goods, the manufacturing PMI figure of 50.8, a 13-month low, suggests that any decrease in manufacturing demand from abroad could result in out-and-out contraction.
UK: Pay packet puzzle The Bank of England (BoE) cut in half its forecast for wage growth for the rest of 2014, despite decreasing unemployment. For June, 3-month average weekly earnings dropped 0.2%. One possible explanation: employment growth is focused on lower-wage jobs. If true, this also complicates the government’s attempt to curb borrowing; lower payroll tax rates at lower wage levels could postpose the hoped-for end of deficit spending.
US: Minutes count The release of the FOMC meeting minutes from July 29-30 reveal a growing belief that the labor market is improving, despite a continued “large gap” between current conditions and normal levels of labor utilization. That, combined with a growing consensus that inflation will no longer recede, lead some observers to believe that the Fed could hasten its exit from its years-long zero interest rate policy.
Mexico: Neighborhood improvement Economic growth improved in 2Q2014, with GDP climbing 1% from the previous quarter and 1.6% year-on-year, both better than expected. Export growth is driving some of the pickup, as US growth, especially demand for automobiles, generates growth in manufacturing. Vehicle output rose 8.2% from the year-ago quarter, after a 6.5% 1Q2014 increase. Agriculture expanded 2.6% from the year-ago quarter; demand from the US helped that sector as well.
Trade: Good news among the bad The trade deficit widened in July to ¥964 bn ($9.28 bn), the 25th straight monthly deficit and much wider than expected. But within that figure, imports climbed 2.3% year-on-year, most of which was due to fuel imports. And exports moved into the plus column for the first time in three months, rising 3.9% year-on-year after contracting 1.9% in June.
Signs of the times:
Prices for new homes in China drop in record 64 cities – South China Morning Post
Eurozone government borrowing costs hit record lows – Financial Times
Russian sanctions create surplus of European produce – Deutsche Welle
London Home Asking Prices Plunge Most in More Than Six Years – Bloomberg
Broad Gain in U.S. Factory Production Signals Strength – Bloomberg
Sources: Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, South China Morning Post, Xinhua
...The week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: August 24–30
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Sun Aug 24
End, Little League World Series (baseball)
Belgium: Grand Prix Formula One (auto)
Germany: business confidence
HK: trade data
Durable goods orders, 20-city home prices
South Africa: GDP
Germany retail sales
France: business confidence, unemployment
Italy: consumer confidence
GDP, unemployment, personal consumption
Spain: inflation, GDP
UK: retail sales
S. Korea: current account balance
China: industrial profits
Ukraine: International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue package decision
Eurozone: inflation, unemployment
France: producer prices
UK: house prices, consumer confidence
Italy: GDP, inflation
Greece: retail sales
Japan: inflation, industrial output
College football season
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an economic statistic which measures the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is the policy-making body of the Federal Reserve (Fed), the US central bank, responsible for the formulation of a policy designed to promote economic growth, full employment, stable prices, and a sustainable pattern of international trade and payments.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average change in consumer prices over time in a fixed market basket of goods and services.
Unless otherwise specified, all uses of the symbol "$" refer to US dollars.
The opinions and views expressed herein, as well as references to individual companies or securities, are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, or a guarantee of future results, or recommendations to buy, hold or sell, or investment advice.
Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
All investments involve risk, including possible loss of principal.
International investments are subject to special risks including currency fluctuations, social, economic and political uncertainties, which could increase volatility. These risks are magnified in emerging markets.
This material is for information only and does not constitute an invitation to the public to invest in any funds, securities, strategies or other products. You should be aware that the investment opportunities described should normally be regarded as longer term investments and they may not be suitable for everyone. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested, and can be affected by changes in interest rates, in exchange rates, general market conditions, political, social and economic developments and other variable factors. Past performance is no guide to future returns and may not be repeated. Investment involves risks including but not limited to, possible delays in payments and loss of income or capital. Neither Legg Mason nor any of its affiliates guarantees any rate of return or the return of capital invested.
Please note that an investor cannot invest directly in an index. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual developments and results to differ materially from the expectations expressed. This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed and is not a complete summary or statement of all available data. Individual securities mentioned are intended as examples of portfolio holdings and are not intended as buy or sell recommendations. Information and opinions expressed by either Legg Mason or its affiliates are current as at the date indicated, are subject to change without notice, and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors.
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