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July 21, 2014
"The ECB is the only central bank in the world where the balance sheet has been going down"
The week in review...
Housing: Rain, rain, go away... Home construction fell 9.3% in Jun vs. May, much worse than expected. But heavy winter and spring rainfall in the South was partly to blame, rendering home lots unfit for construction; the region's starts declined nearly 30%, vs. a 28% rise on the Midwest and 14% in the Northeast. But the industry remains upbeat; the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, reports builder optimism reaching a six-month high in July.
Industrial production, Part 1: Resurgence June saw a 0.2% increase in output vs. May. Though slightly shy of forecasts, the full Apr-Jun quarter saw 5.5% annualized growth overall, the most since 3Q2010. Car sales were the fastest in eight years, so the slight sag in auto production in the month may have been temporary. For the full quarter, factory production rose at a 6.7% annualized rate.
Industrial Production, Part 2: Importing progress One apparent source of industrial growth: Non-US machinery companies which are investing in expanded production capacity in the US, to follow their US customers as they move their own manufacturing back home. The advantage: shorter supply lines and improved responsiveness to their key US customers. One major Japanese manufacturer announced plans to enlarge a California plant by 30% by 2016 to serve the auto and construction industries; others have announced similar plans.
China growth: The old-fashioned way With official GDP growth coming in at 7.5% for 2Q14, beating forecasts, the effect of stronger fixed-asset investment (fed by credit expansion and monetary easing) are clearly being felt. June's 1.97 tn yuan ($317 bn) aggregate financing, significantly above the median estimate of 1.425 bn yuan, reflected the drive for growth – the financing measure was the highest June figure since 2009. Fixed asset investment has benefited, growing 17.3% year on year in the first six months of 2014, to 21.28 tn yuan ($3.43 tn). Investment in the agriculture sector rose 24.1%.
Japan: Growth milestone For the first time in six years, economic demand exceeded supply, according to the Bank of Japan (BoJ) – potentially providing more upward pressure on prices. BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has a stated goal of helping to increase the country's overall inflation expectations, as well as actual consumer prices, to a target level of 2%.
Germany: Investor caution Sports success notwithstanding, German investors are growing increasingly concerned about the pace of growth, as well as geopolitical risk, according to a carefully-followed survey. But though industrial production fell for a third month running in May, the Bundesbank, the German central bank, forecasts 1.9%, 2% and 1.8% economic growth for 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively – rates that could generate envy in the rest of Europe.
Signs of the times:
Foreign Demand for Euro-Based Debt, Equity Rose in 2013 –Wall Street Journal
UK Inflation Accelerates More Than Forecast to 1.9% – Bloomberg
China Unveils Measures to Regulate Banks' Wealth-Management Products – Wall Street Journal
Retail Sales in U.S. Showed Broad-Based Increase in June – Bloomberg
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Spiegel Online, Xinhua
...And the week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: July 20 – July 26
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
UK: British Open (golf)
Detroit employees vote on city bankruptcy plan, Chicago national activity
UK: housing prices
China: crude oil, gas data
Existing home sales, consumer prices
Mexico: retail sales
UK: public finances data
Hungary: rate decision
Indonesia: presidential election results (official)
Money market rules vote by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
UK: Bank of England (BoE) meeting minutes, mortgage data
Eurozone: consumer confidence
Lithuania: approval by European Union to adopt the euro in 2015
Australia: consumer prices
New home sales, initial jobless claims
Global: World economic outlook (International Monetary Fund)
UK: retail sales
Eurozone: composite PMI
Japan: trade figures
China: manufacturing PMI, Trustee Association (investment funds) report
Durable goods orders
UK: 2Q14 GDP, house price data
Germany: business confidence, consumer confidence
S. Korea: consumer confidence
Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Chile, Brazil
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, services and overall 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.
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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All investments involve risk, including possible loss of principal.
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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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