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Prospects Daily: Global equities surges, Ireland exits recession, South Africa’s wholesale trade growth accelerates

Financial Markets…Global equities surged on Thursday, extending yesterday’s rally, as the Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to maintain its stimulus program continued to boost market sentiment. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.7% to the highest levels in more than five years, while the benchmark Asian stock index climbed 2.2%, the biggest daily gain in a year. The MSCI Emerging Market Index jumped 2.6% with benchmark indexes in Turkey and Russia surging more than 20% from this year’s lows. U.S. equities also opened higher in morning session after the S&P 500 and the Dow reached record highs yesterday.

The dollar tumbled to near a 7-month low versus the euro, slipping 0.2% to $1.3542, as the Fed’s unexpected decision to keep its monetary policy prompted a rally in riskier assets and currencies. Rising risk appetite also pushed another safe-haven currency lower as the yen fell to the weakest level in more than 31/2 years against the euro, sliding 1.6% to 134.52. In contrast, developing-country currencies rallied with the Indian rupee and Malaysian ringgit appreciating more than 2.5% against the dollar. The Brazilian real and Turkish lira also surged more than 2%, extending yesterday sharp gains.

High Income Economies…U.S. new jobless claims rose 15,000 to 309,000 for the week ending September 14, up from 294,000 the previous week which was a seven-year low.  However, similar to the previous week, data for the latest week was also likely to be distorted due to computer system upgrades in two states.  Nevertheless, the less volatile four-week moving average continues to decrease, which dropped to 314,750 from the previous week's 321,750.  Continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell to 2.787 million from the preceding week's 2.815 million.

U.S. existing home sales rose 1.7% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million, the highest level since February 2007, and 13.2% higher than August 2012.  August sales reflect contracts signed in June and July, when mortgage rates were rising steadily, prompting buyers to rush to close deals before interest rate rise further.

Irish GDP increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% (q/q sa) in Q2, recovering from the 0.6% contraction seen in Q1.  Compared to Q1, personal expenditure increased by 0.7% (q/q sa), while government net expenditure and capital investment dropped by 1.3% and 3.4%, respectively.  In annualized terms, GDP increased 1.8% (q/q saar) in Q2 compared to the 2.3% decline in Q1. Year-on-year, GDP recorded a 1.2% decline, relative to the fall of 1.0% for Q1.

Japan’s leading economic index, which represents industry activity, including construction, agriculture, the public sector and industrial output, rose 0.5% (m/m) in July on a monthly basis to 107.9, slightly higher than June’s reading of 107.3.  The country’s coincident index, which tracks the current state of the economy, was 107.7 in July, up from June’s reading of 106.6.

Developing Economies… Europe and Central Asia: Hungary’s average gross wage growth eased in July, rising 2.1% (y/y) following June’s 3.7% increase.   Net earnings rose 3.7% (y/y) from a 5.1% increase in June. 

Sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa’s wholesale trade growth accelerated in July, rising 8.5% (y/y), faster than the 6.4% growth recorded in June. Month-on-month wholesale sales edged up 0.5% (sa), reversing June’s decline of 0.9%. In the three months ending in July, wholesale sales grew 2.1% (3m/3m) from the preceding three-month period. In the quarter ending in June, wholesale sales grew 1.6%.