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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 1st April 2021
01 Apr 2021

European economic optimism highest since pandemic. Economic confidence in the eurozone improved in March with a scale of growth that was the fastest since its steep recovery last summer after the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, survey data from the European Commission showed on Tuesday. The economic sentiment index for the currency union jumped to 101.0 in March from 93.4 in the previous month. The score was above economists' forecast of 96.0 and was also the highest since February 2020. However, sentiment was below its pre-pandemic level and, with virus restrictions now in place for longer, a sustained rise in the coming months seems unlikely, Jessica Hinds, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

US consumer confidence surges to pandemic high. US consumer confidence during March jumped to its highest level since the pandemic began, spurred by hopes of a strong economic recovery. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index leaped to a one-year high of 109.7, up from 90.4 in February exceeding economists’ expectations for a reading of 96.0. The upswing in consumer confidence suggests that the accelerated US vaccine rollout is lifting consumers’ morale, alongside the latest stimulus package which included $1,400 cheques for Americans. "Consumers' assessment of current conditions and their short-term outlook improved significantly, an indication that economic growth is likely to strengthen further in the coming months," said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

UK economy grew more than estimated at end of 2020. The UK economy grew more than previously estimated in the fourth quarter of the pandemic year but the overall contraction for the whole year of 2020 was the biggest on record, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed on Wednesday. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 1.3 percent in the three months to end December from the previous three-month period, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists had expected the growth rate to remain at the ONS’s preliminary one percent estimate. The figures also revealed the biggest pile of household savings on record last year, which the Bank of England thinks will stoke a recovery when Covid restrictions are lifted.

German inflation accelerates in March. Germany’s inflation rate accelerated in March to the highest level in almost two years, underpinned by a jump in fuel prices that is adding to a range of special factors that are elevating prices this year. Consumer prices based on the European Union’s measure of inflation, known as HICP, were up two percent from a year earlier, the country’s statistics office said on Tuesday. On month, the HICP gained 0.5 percent, following February's 0.6 percent rise. Inflation in Germany is partly reflecting the expiration of temporary sales-tax cuts, a boost in the country’s minimum wage and changes to the composition of the price basket.

China's manufacturing growth cools off In March. China’s factory activity expanded at the slowest pace in almost a year during Marc on softer overall domestic demand. But underlying economic conditions remained positive even as input and output inflationary pressures intensified for manufacturers. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 50.6 last month – the lowest level since April 2020 – from February’s 50.9, missing analyst expectations for an uptick to 51.3. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. The findings contrast with those in an official survey which showed manufacturing activity grew at a stronger pace as large firms ramped up production after a brief lull during the Lunar New Year holiday. 

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Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company regulated by the MFSA and is licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta) and the Investment Services Act (Cap.370. of the Laws of Malta).