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June 30, 2014
"Keep calm, everyone. This has been studied extensively."
The week in review...
US: Two down, three up GDP for 1Q2014 declined by -2.9%; well below consensus, with the miss largely attributed to fresh information on the low level of non-farm inventory investment, the legacy of the quarter's bad weather and corporate caution. Consumer spending also disappointed, up 0.2% for May – the shortfall due to a drop in health care outlays. The good news: non-military capital goods orders ex aircraft rose 0.7%; early composite PMI figures showed robust expansion at 61.1 (61.2 for services, 57.5 for manufacturing); and new home sales reached an annual rate of 504k, up 18.6% from April, significantly ahead of forecasts and the highest rate since May 2008.
Brazil: Steady play Sporting events notwithstanding, the Brazilian real has been enjoying a welcome respite from its former crisis-driven swings in the currency markets, with 3-month volatility matching a one-year low at 10.68% on Jun 24. The pause could be related to the month's low -0.60% inflation rate and the above-expectation foreign direct investment of $5.963 bn for May, both of which may make it easier for the central bank to continue to support the currency as it trades in a narrow range between 2.4543 and 2.1523 to the US dollar over the past 12 months.
UK: Strategic obfuscation After the Bank of England (BoE) sent a clear message last week that a rate hike could come sooner rather than later, members of the policy-setting committee – including Governor Mark Carney – have gone on record with contradictory statements on the matter. With housing prices going one way (up) and the rest of the economy another (subdued), the BoE's policy of clear forward guidance may have been overtaken by events.
France: Dirigiste to a fault A new law cancels France's previous regulations, which allowed mid-season discounts by retailers. For now, discount seasons are a thing of the past. One reason: retailers found the pressure on profit margins difficult to endure. The French Federation of Retail Associations was clear on its discomfort: "We found ourselves with sales all year round, it didn't make any sense." Shoppers may have a different opinion on the matter. On a different scale, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg is now lobbying the European Union (EU) to loosen the zone's antitrust regulation, which he blames for the failure of Germany's Siemens to successfully bid for Alstom (which is being purchased by US company GE).
Signs of life: inflation and jobs: Stripping out the effect of Japan's April tax increase, consumer prices rose 1.4% in May, with core CPI rising 3.4% – in line with the Bank of Japan's forecast. The jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.09 for May, the highest level in over twenty years, and the jobless rate fell to 3.5% from 3.6%, now standing at the lowest level since Dec 1997. But consumers are staying conservative; household spending fell 8.0% from a year ago in May on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Signs of the times:
Chinese economic confidence retreating: survey – Xinhua
EU becomes world's top food exporter – Deutsche Welle
Hungary Cuts Main Rate to Record on Negative Inflation – Bloomberg
Puerto Rico Moves to Restructure Debt – Wall Street Journal
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Deutsche Welle, Xinhua, Japan Times, Nikkei.
...And the week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: June 29 – July 5
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Brazil: World Cup (all week)
Pending home sales, Chicago PMI
Argentina: bond payment on restructured debt comes due
Brazil: primary budget balance
UK: Wimbledon tennis(all week), mortgage approvals
ISM manufacturing, vehicle sales
UK: BoE meeting minutes, manufacturing PMI
Eurozone, Germany: unemployment
Eurozone: manufacturing PMI
China: manufacturing PMI
Japan: Tankan business confidence, wages
South Korea: trade data
Australia: rate decision
Job cuts, employment survey, factory orders
Brazil: industrial production
UK: construction PMI, nationwide house prices
Poland: rate decision
Japan: monetary base, inflation expectations
Monthly jobs report, weekly unemployment, trade balance, ISM non-manufacturing
European Central Bank (ECB): rate decision
UK: services PMI
Eurozone: services, composite PMI
China: non-manufacturing PMI, services PMI
Hong Kong: retail sales
Independence Day holiday
Germany: factory orders
Japan: domestic auto sales
Germany: Chancellor Merkel visits China, July 5-8
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 European Central Bank (ECB) is responsible for the monetary system of the European Union (EU) and the euro currency.
Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMI) measure the manufacturing and services sectors in an economy, based on survey data collected from a representative panel of manufacturing and services firms. PMI greater than 50 indicated economic expansion; below 50, contraction.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure the average change in consumer prices over time in a fixed market basket of goods and services.
The Tankan Survey is an economic survey of Japanese business issued by the central Bank of Japan.
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.
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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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