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April 14, 2014
"…Prices are going up by the elevator and salaries by the stairs…"
The week in review...
Argentina: Narrowing options Argentina recently devalued its peso nearly 20% and slashed gas and water subsidies, measures intended to placate holders of its shaky sovereign debt by replenishing rapidly-dwindling foreign currency reserves (now down to $24.8 bn, half of what they were in 2010). One result: rampant consumer inflation – about 35% in Feb year-over-year. Strikes by transportation workers and police have fueled a rising crime rate as well as slowdowns in Rosario, the location of Argentina’s largest grain export hub.
US: By the numbers Growth was clearly visible in data released this week: job openings in Feb beat estimates, rising by 299k to 4.17 mn, the highest level since Jan 2008. Consumer credit in Feb rose at a 6.5% annual rate, reaching an estimated $16.5 bn, above expectations. Revolving credit, including credit cards, dropped at a 3.5% annual rate, while car and student loans rose at a 10% rate. First-time unemployment claims dropped by 32k to 300k for the week ended Apr 5, the lowest level since May 2007. And tax collections for Mar were $216 bn, up 16% from a year ago – some from rate increases, some from growing incomes of high-rate taxpayers.
Eurozone: What crisis? Greece's sale of more than €3 bn ($4.15 bn) of 5-year sovereign bonds was the first such offer in four years, and was greeted by over €20 bn of orders, at a yield of 4.95% — much better than expected. The rates were echoed in other markets: 10-year Italian bonds reached 3.15% and Spanish 10-years reached 3.16% – levels appearing to signal little question about the solvency of their governments. Outside the bourses, however, the atmosphere remains contentious, with Greece's labor unions declaring a nationwide anti-austerity strike, and the explosion of a car bomb outside one of the central bank’s offices in central Athens.
China: Balancing act Trade figures reflected the challenges of maintaining growth in a time of structural change. Chinese exports fell 6.6% in Mar at the same time as imports fell 11.3%, suggesting that both the domestic and export-manufacturing sectors are slowing. The government appears to expect growth to fall short of the often-promoted 7.5% rate; a government-controlled labor group reported that Premier Li Keqiang had said growth of "only 7.2%& would still meet the country's employment goals.
Signs of the times:
India’s forex reserves soar to $303.67 billion – The Hindu
Japan posts first current account surplus in five months – Channel NewsAsia
U.K. Industrial Output Surges More Than Forecast – Bloomberg
Brazil March inflation at highest for the month in 11 years – Reuters
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Caijing, xinhuanet, EuroNewsNet, MNI, The Hindu, Channel NewsAsia.
...The week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: April 13 – April 19
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Retail sales, business inventories
Colombia: industrial production
Eurozone: industrial production, capacity utilization
UK: retail sales
Australia: interest rate decision
Consumer prices, weekly retail sales, homebuilder optimism, foreign securities purchases (TIC data), NY Fed manufacturing survey
Canada: manufacturing sales
Brazil: retail sales
Peru: unemployment rate
Argentina: consumer prices
Germany: current conditions, economic sentiment
Switzerland: producer prices, expectations
Russia: industrial production
UK: retail prices, producer prices, consumer prices
China: GDP, fixed asset investment, industrial production, retail sales
India: wholesale prices, consumer prices
Singapore: retail sales
New Zealand: consumer prices
Housing starts, building permits, industrial production, capacity utilization, mortgage applications, Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations, Beige Book
Canada: foreign securities purchases
Brazil: economic activity survey
Eurozone: consumer prices
Italy: trade balance
Norway: trade balance
UK: average earnings, unemployment rate, claimant count change
South Africa: retail sales
Industrial production, capacity utilization
India: M3 money supply
South Africa: producer prices
Initial jobless claims, Philly Fed survey, Fed balance sheet, money supply
Canada: consumer prices
Brazil: unemployment rate
Chile: interest rate decision
Germany: producer prices
Russia: producer prices
China: house prices
Italy: industrial sales & new orders, wage inflation
Russia: retail sales, unemployment rate government finances
India: bank loan growth
Treasury International Capital (TIC) is a US Treasury Department measure of capital flows to and from the US.
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.
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.
Please note an investor cannot invest directly in an index, and unmanaged index returns do not reflect any fees, expenses or sales charges.
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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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