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Prospects Daily: Italian consumer confidence falls to record low, China’s HSBC PMI rises to a 13-month high

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Financial Markets…U.S Treasuries rose for the first time in five days on Monday, with the benchmark 10-year yield sliding 4 basis points to 1.625% from a two-week high of 1.70% on Friday, as the looming U.S. fiscal cliff and political uncertainty in Spain boosted appetite for safe-haven assets.

The euro declined 0.6% to 106.34 yen on Monday, dropping for the first time in six days, as Eurozone finance ministers prepared to meet for a third time to seek a deal on unlocking the second aid package for Greece. The 17-nation currency fell 0.1% against the dollar to $1.2962 after rising to a three-week high of $1.2291 last Friday.

Egyptian stocks bounced back on Monday after tumbling nearly 10% on Sunday, with the benchmark EGX 30 Index advancing 2% in morning trade. The country’s stock market plunged in the wake of President Mohamed Morsi’s controversial declaration expanding his powers that set off street violence and political unrest.

High-income EconomiesGerman consumer confidence dipped slightly going into December amid concerns over the euro zone crisis and global growth, with the GfK consumer sentiment index edging down to 5.9 from November’s 6.1. However, consumers' readiness to make purchases and expectations for future earnings are still at historically high levels, underpinned by a robust labor market and low interest rates.

Italian consumer confidence fell to a record low in November, with the national statistics bureau’s headline index dropping to 84.8, the lowest since the data series started in January 1996, from 86.2 in October, battered by a bleak economic outlook after the fifth quarterly fall in GDP in Q3 2012 and squeezed family finances.

Poland’s retail sales remained weak in October, although they rose at a slightly faster pace of 3.3% (y/y) compared with the 3.1% recorded in September, as a weak labor market limited households’ purchasing power. Poland’s unemployment rate edged up to 12.5% in October from 12.4% in September.  

Singapore’s industrial production contracted for the third month on a year-on-year basis in October, with the index falling 2.1% (y/y) compared with September’s 2.8% decline. However, non-pharmaceutical sectors, including electronics, chemicals and precision engineering, expanded 0.6% (y/y).

Developing EconomiesChina’s HSBC Flash Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to a 13-month high of 50.4 in November reflecting solid credit growth, firming exports, and rising industrial output. A sub-index measuring output rose to 51.3 – the highest reading since October 2011.

central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.5% to support moderating economic activity. Inflation in Colombia remains close to the bank's 3.0% midpoint target range of 2-4% providing ample space for the policy rate cut.

South Africa’s central bank held its benchmark repurchase rate at 5.0%, balancing upward pressure on inflation against downside risks to economic growth. The bank cut its growth forecasts for 2012 to 2.5% from a previous 2.6%, and its 2013 forecast to 2.9% from 3.4%. South Africa’s inflation rate reached 5.6% (y/y) in October approaching the upper end of the central bank's 3-6% target range reflecting the weakening of exchange rate and the impact of increase in wages.

Thailand’s exports rose 15.6% (y/y) and imports increased 21.6% in October reflecting an expansion from a low, flood-hit base. On a monthly basis, exports rose 5.8% from September reflecting growing exports to the US, Japan and ASEAN countries.

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