Monday, April 4, 2011

20110404 1100 Local & Global Economic Related News.

Malaysia: Minister says no rise in RON 95 price for now
The Government will not increase the price of RON95 petrol for the moment so as not to burden the people. Domestic, Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri yaakob, said however, there was no guarantee that the ON 95 price, now at RM1.90 per litre, would not increase in the future in view of the turmoil in some of the oil-producing countries, pushing the oil price up. He was earlier asked to comment on the 20-sen increase of RON 97 petrol to RM2.70 per litre from last night following the increase in world crude oil price to USD114 (RM345.19) per barrel last week from USD105 the previous week. (Bloomberg)

EU: European unemployment fell in February, led by Germany, Italy
European unemployment fell in February as companies from Germany to Italy added workers to meet reviving global demand, offsetting job cuts in debt- burdened Spain. The 17-nation euro region’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate fell to 9.9% from a revised 10% in January, the European Union statistics office in Luxembourg said in an e-mailed statement last Friday. At 20.5%, Spain had the highest jobless rate and the Netherlands the lowest, with 4.3%. European companies may be reluctant to boost hiring as the euro-region economy shows signs of slowdown. Economic confidence dropped in March and manufacturing growth weakened. While a rebounding global economy has spurred earnings across the region, surging energy costs are sapping consumers’ purchasing power just as governments cut spending to narrow budget gaps and the European Central Bank prepares to raise borrowing costs. In the 27-nation EU, unemployment fell to 9.5% in February from 9.6%. Thirteen EU member states reported a drop from a year earlier, while 12 had an increase in unemployment. (Bloomberg)

US: Jobless rate unexpectedly drops to two-year low in March
The unemployment rate in the U.S. unexpectedly fell to a two-year low of 8.8% in March as employers created more jobs than forecast, adding to evidence the labor-market recovery is gaining traction. Payrolls rose by 216,000 workers last month after a 194,000 gain the prior month, the Labor Department said yesterday in Washington. Economists projected a March increase of 190,000, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. A separate report showed manufacturing expanded at close to the fastest pace in seven years. “It does look like things have turned the corner,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in St. Petersburg, said in an interview with Lisa Murphy on Bloomberg Television’s “Fast Forward.” “We’re finally seeing small- and medium-sized companies hiring.” (Bloomberg)

US: Construction spending in US decreases more than forecast
Construction spending in the U.S. fell more than forecast in February, indicating the economic recovery has not yet spread to the building industry. The 1.4% drop was the third in a row and brought the value of all projects down to a USD760.6bn annual rate, the lowest since October 1999, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.2% decline. Outlays on home building dropped during the month as new- home prices and sales continued to fall. In addition, deficit- strapped state and local governments are restricting funding for public works. (Bloomberg)

US: Two-year Treasuries decline on fed stimulus views, payroll gains
Treasury two-year notes fell, with the yield touching a 10-month high as Federal Reserve officials said the central bank may have to unwind stimulus measures and employers added more jobs in March than forecast. The US paid the highest yields in almost a year at government auctions this week of two-, five- and seven-year notes totaling USD99bn. Two-year note yields pared gains yesterday as New York Fed President William Dudley said before next week’s release of the Federal Open Market Committee’s March 15 minutes that the recovery is still tenuous. Yields on two-year notes increased this week seven basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, to 0.80%. The yields climbed yesterday to 0.89%, the highest level since 10 May 2010. The benchmark 10-year note yields were little changed at 3.44% after rising yesterday to 3.52%, the highest level since 9 March. (Bloomberg)

China: Manufacturing growth accelerates even as policy tightens
China’s manufacturing growth accelerated for the first time in four months, easing concern that monetary tightening may lead to a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy. The Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 53.4 in March from 52.2 in February, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a statement on its website last Friday. The reading compared with the median forecast of 54 in a Bloomberg News survey of 17 economists. A separate PMI released by HSBC Holdings Plc also gained. Today’s data indicate that Premier Wen Jiabao is succeeding in sustaining economic growth while cracking down on inflation that topped the government’s 4% target in the first two months of this year. The central bank will boost interest rates again this quarter, according to all 20 economists in a Bloomberg News survey on 22 March. (Bloomberg)

UK: BOE to hold rate next week as It gauges strength of recovery
The Bank of England will hold off raising interest rates next week as it awaits further evidence that the recovery is strong enough to withstand policy tightening to fight inflation. The nine-member Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, will leave the benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5% on 7 April, according to all 57 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. It will also keep its bond-purchase plan at 200 bn pounds (USD320bn), said all 32 economists in a separate poll. Policy makers have split four ways on whether to focus on boosting growth or curbing inflation. While consumer-price growth accelerated to the fastest pace in almost 2 1/2 years in February, the government’ fiscal watchdog cut its 2011 growth forecast this month amid the biggest fiscal squeeze since World War II, while officials are still weighing the potential impact on the global economy of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. (Bloomberg)

U.S: Manufacturing expands at close to seven-year high in March. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index was little changed at 61.2, after February's 61.4 reading that was the highest since May 2004. Figures greater than 50 signal expansion. (Source: Bloomberg)

E.U: Factory growth in March slows as World relies on China. A gauge of manufacturing in the 17-member euro region fell to 57.5 from 59 in February. Measures for the U.K., Switzerland and the Czech Republic weakened. By contrast, manufacturing growth in China, India and Russia picked up. (Source: Bloomberg)

Ireland: Cut by S&P as Fitch puts rating on watch negative after the cost of rescuing Irish banks reached as much as EUR 100b (USD 141.5b). S&P lowered the rating to BBB+ from A-, putting the country on the same level as Thailand and the Bahamas. The outlook is stable, S&P said in a statement. Fitch placed its long-term foreign and local-currency issuer default ratings of BBB+ on negative, "indicating a heightened probability of a downgrade in the near term," it said in a statement. (Source: Bloomberg)

India: March manufacturing grew for a 24th straight month, adding to the case for higher interest rates to curb price gains. The Purchasing Managers' Index was unchanged at 57.9 in March from February, when it accelerated at the fastest pace in three months, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics said. A number above 50 indicates expansion. (Source: Bloomberg)

Thailand: Inflation accelerated to a seven-month high in March, supporting the case for the central bank to raise borrowing costs further. An index of consumer prices increased 3.14% YoY last month compared to a 2.87% YoY gain in February. (Source: Bloomberg)

Indonesia: Inflation slowed for the second straight month in March as rice prices declined during the harvest period. Consumer prices in Southeast Asia's biggest economy rose 6.65% YoY last month, compared with a 6.84% YoY gain in February, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in Jakarta. (Source: Bloomberg)

Vietnam: Central bank raised borrowing costs for the second time in less than a month, boosting its repurchase and refinancing rates after inflation climbed to the highest level in 25 months. The refinancing rate was increased to 13% from 12%, the State Bank of Vietnam said in a statement on its website. The repurchase rate for the seven-day term was raised to 13% from 12%, Pham Thi Minh Hue, deputy director of the money market operations division at the central bank, said separately. (Source: Bloomberg)     

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