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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 24th December 2021
24 Dec 2021
US economy grew at slowest pace since second quarter of 2020. The US economy grew at a slightly faster pace than previously estimated in the three months to September, revised figures by the Commerce Department showed. Real gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the nation’s total output of goods and services, increased at a 2.3 percent annualised rate in the third quarter. While that was a slight improvement over the previous estimate of 2.1 percent, it still marked the slowest rate of growth since the second quarter of 2020, when the economy suffered a historic contraction as lockdowns brought the country to a virtual standstill. The economy grew at a brisk 6.3 percent annualised rate in the first quarter of this year and 6.7 percent in the second quarter, as Covid-19 restrictions were scaled back. But the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus during the summer dampened the recovery in the third quarter.

Eurozone consumer confidence deteriorated in December amid rising inflation, Covid-19 cases. The eurozone's consumer confidence worsened for the third consecutive month in December to its lowest level since March, as rising Covid-19 cases and inflation dented sentiment. Initial results of the European Commission’s monthly survey showed that the consumer confidence indicator fell to -8.3 from -6.8 in November. Economists forecasted a level of -8.0. This month’s reading was the worst since March, when the score was -10.8. For the wider European Union, confidence dropped to -9.6 from -8.2 in the previous month. That was also the worst reading since March. Both indicators are now well below their pre-pandemic level and approaching their long-term average, the Commission said.

German consumer confidence is expected to fall in January due to Omicron fears. German consumer confidence is expected to fall sharply in January due to Covid-19 restrictions amid the fourth wave of the pandemic and rising inflation, survey results from market research group GfK showed this week. Consumer confidence, a forward-looking indicator, fell to -6.8 in January from -1.8 in December. Economists expected a reading of -2.7. Rolf Bürkel, consumer expert at GfK, said that the fourth wave of the Corona pandemic with more restrictions as well as significantly increased prices are increasingly affecting the consumer climate. The outlook for the start of next year is also weak on the back of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, Bürkel added. The survey showed that economic expectations, income expectations and propensity to buy declined significantly in December.

UK budget deficit at second highest November level. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday show that the government deficit stood at 17.4 billion British pounds in November. While that is the second highest amount for that month since records began in 1993, it is down by 4.9 billion pounds in November of last year. However, it was wider than economists' average predictions of 16 billion pounds. Current receipts grew by 4.3 percent on a yearly basis, while expenditure decreased by 6.9 percent. Public sector net debt, excluding public sector banks, stood at 2.3 trillion pounds at the end of November. That is around 96.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the highest debt-to-GDP ratio since March 1963.

China cuts interest rates to support the economy. China cut its lending benchmark loan prime rate (LPR) for the first time in 20 months on Monday, in an effort to lend support to the slowing economy, although it remains cautious of loosening conditions in the country's highly leveraged property market. The one-year loan prime rate was lowered to 3.80 percent from 3.85 percent. At the same time, the five-year LPR was maintained at 4.65 percent. The LPR is fixed monthly based on the submission of 18 banks, although the government has influence over the rate-setting. It is widely used as a benchmark for loans banks make to their customers.  Mark Williams, an economist at Capital Economics, said a further 45 basis point of cuts to the one-year LPR during 2022 is expected.
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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).