Business inventories in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of February, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday.
The Commerce Department said business inventories rose by 0.3 percent in February, matching the increase seen in January as well as expectations.
Wholesale inventories rebounded after declining in the previous month, climbing by 0.4 percent in February after dipping by 0.2 percent in January.
The report said retail inventories also rose by 0.3 percent in February after advancing by 0.9 percent in January, while manufacturing inventories edged up by 0.2 percent after rising by 0.3 percent.
Additionally, the Commerce Department said business sales crept up by 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3 percent increase in January.
Partly reflecting a notable decrease in auto sales, the Commerce Department released a report on Friday showing a modest drop in U.S. retail sales in the month of March.
The Commerce Department said retail sales dipped by 0.2 percent in March after a revised 0.3 percent decline in February.
Economists had expected sales to edge down by 0.1 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.
The decrease in retail sales came as sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers slumped by 1.2 percent in March tumbling by 1.5 percent in February.
Excluding auto sales, retail sales came in unchanged for the second consecutive month. Ex-auto sales had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.
Consumer prices in the U.S. unexpectedly decreased in the month of March, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, with prices showing their first drop in a year.
The Labor Department said its consumer price index fell by 0.3 percent in March after inching up by 0.1 percent in February. Economists had expected consumer prices to come in unchanged.
The drop by the consumer price index reflected its first decrease since February of 2016.
The unexpected decline in consumer prices partly reflected a steep drop in energy prices, which plunged by 3.2 percent in March after slumping by 1.0 percent in February.
Excluding food and energy prices, the core consumer price index edged down by 0.1 percent in March following a 0.2 percent increase in the previous month. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.
Sweden's inflation is likely to shrug off the decline in March and rise in April, prompting the central bank to signal an end to its asset purchases soon when it meets later this month, Capital Economics economist Stephen Brown said this week.
"As there is now an increasing risk that inflation will overshoot the Riksbank's target, later this month we expect the Bank to signal that its asset purchases will end in June and we think that it will raise interest rates later this year," Brown said.
In March, Swedish consumer price inflation eased to 1.3 percent from 1.8 percent in February, official data showed on Tuesday. That was much bigger than both the consensus estimate and the Riksbank's forecast of a shallower drop to 1.5 percent, the economist pointed out.
The CPIF inflation that excludes the direct effects of interest rate changes also decreased to 1.5 percent from 2.0 percent.
"The sharp drop in inflation was largely temporary," Brown said, as Easter falls in April rather than March this year.
India's remittance inflows are set to remain strong over the coming years, helping the country to keep the current account deficit at a sustainable level and withstand any upsurge in global risk aversion, Shilan Shah, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
With a substantially larger diaspora, an estimated 15 million Indian nationals, based abroad, the country is the world's largest recipient of remittances. Inflows, which are equivalent to over 3 percent of GDP or almost twice as large as net capital inflows, totaled an estimated $66 billion in 2016.
Remittances flows are tracked differently in the balance of payments from other flows such as FDI or portfolio. While the latter two are included in the capital and financial accounts, remittances are part of the current transfers section of the current account.
"This is an important point, as it is the current account that markets tend to focus on to as a gauge of vulnerability to shifts in global capital flows," Shah said. "Without support from remittances, India's current account deficit would be much wider."
In future, there are two key risks to India's remittance outlook, Shah said. The first is a fall in earnings from migrants in the Gulf, where almost half of Indian nationals living abroad are located.
China's economy is expected to grow at a steady pace in the first quarter on government spending and robust exports.
Economists expect gross domestic product to climb by 6.8 percent in the first quarter, as seen in the final three months of 2016.
The National Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to issue quarterly national accounts data on April 17.
The government had lowered its growth target for 2017 to about 6.5 percent.
China achieved 6.7 percent growth in 2016, in line with the 6.5-7 percent expansion the government had targeted. However, this was the weakest growth in 26 years.
Japan will on Friday see final February figures for industrial production, setting the pace for a light day in Asia-Pacific economic activity.
In the previous reading, output gained 2.0 percent on month and 4.8 percent on year, while capacity utilization was up 0.1 percent on year.
Also, many of the regional markets are closed for Good Friday, including New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines. Also, markets in Thailand remain off for the Songkran Festival.
by RTT Staff Writer
Flash PMI data for the US, the eurozone and Japan will provide early insights into the health of global economies at the start of the second quarter. Other key data highlights include China’s GDP for Q1, UK retail sales as well as euro area inflation.
With March PMI data adding to the picture of a slowdown in US GDP growth from the 2.1% seen at the end of last year, focus now shifts to economic trends at the start of the second quarter. Alongside flash PMI results for April, data on the housing market and initial claims will provide analysts with clues as to the direction of growth and future monetary policy.Markit US PMI and smoothed GDP Sources: IHS Markit, Commerce Department
The eurozone economy gained momentum at the end of the first quarter, with March PMI data signalling a broad-based upturn among the euro’s largest members, accompanied by the highest jobs growth for nearly a decade. The strong start to the year has raised expectations for the ECB to turn increasingly hawkish if the trend continues, although ECB president Mario Draghi is wary of the longevity of recent inflationary pressures, highlighting the need for further evidence to show that higher prices are sustainable. PMI data have already moved into territory that is historically consistent with a tightening bias at the ECB, thus increasing the focus on the release of flash PMI data for April.
China’s GDP figures for the first quarter are released next week, where expectations are for an annual GDP growth rate of 6.8%, unchanged from Q4 2016. Recent PMI data showed that expansion in the three months to March was the second-fastest in four years and a significant improvement on the same period the year before, highlighting how China’s economy has picked up momentum. Analysts will look to data on investment, retail sales and industrial production for signs of the key growth drivers.China Composite PMI and GDP Sources: IHS Markit, Caixin, NBS
UK inflation surpassed the Bank of England’s 2.0% target for the second month running in March and real wages grew at the slowest since 2014, underlying how consumer spending is being squeezed by higher prices. While the policymakers at the Bank of England may still look through the upturn in inflation and underlying wage trends, much will depend on the extent to which consumer spending will be dampened in 2017. Traders’ focus will be on retail sales and the Markit HFI to gauge the health of household spending, which has provided the main engine of growth to the UK economy in recent years.
© IHS Markit