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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 22nd January 2021
22 Jan 2021

ECB holds rates and stimulus steady as it assesses risks. As widely expected, the European Central Bank (ECB) held interest rates unchanged on Thursday. The ECB said it would maintain the eurozone’s headline interest rate at zero percent and the deposit rate at -0.5 percent. The central bank also left its programme of unconventional monetary policy unchanged. The ECB last year launched a pandemic-specific bond buying programme to support the economy through the Covid-19 pandemic and has been offering cheap credit to banks in order to encourage lending. While it decided to stay on hold this time around, the ECB’s governing council signalled it would not hesitate to deploy additional stimulus in future if it deemed it appropriate.

UK house prices soar to new all-time high in November. Average UK house prices reached an all-time high of £250,000 in November as the buoyant housing market confounded wider economic gloom. The latest official figures show that UK property values jumped by 7.6 percent in the year to November 2020, the fastest annual growth rate since June 2016. In London the average sold price exceeded £500,000, Land Registry data showed, with valuations pushed upwards by a tax break for property sales and ultra-low interest rates. Analysts said prices might come down next year if the Chancellor of the Exchequer ended the stamp duty holiday as planned on 31 March.

US industrial production jumps much more than expected in December. US industrial production increased firmly in December, providing a source of strength for the US economy as consumer spending and employment gains slow. Industrial production, a measure of factory, mining and utility output, increased by a seasonally-adjusted 1.6 percent in December, according to the Federal Reserve (Fed). Economists expected a 0.5 percent rise. Production was underpinned by the utilities sector, as demand for heating picked up following warmer-than-usual November weather, the Fed said. Utilities output rose by 6.2 percent in December from the previous month. Manufacturing output, the biggest component of industrial production, climbed 0.9 percent in December from the previous month. Manufacturing, which has regained much of the ground lost earlier in the pandemic, saw production end the year down 2.8 percent.

Australia’s unemployment rate sinks to 6.6 percent in December. Australian unemployment fell in December as a big-spending government budget and a second round of central bank stimulus underpinned the economy’s recovery and encouraged firms to keep hiring. The jobless rate declined to 6.6 percent from 6.8 percent in November, beating economists’ median forecast of 6.7 percent, data from the statistics bureau showed on Thursday. Employment advanced by 50,000 in December, matching estimates, as did the participation rate at 66.2 percent. Full-time employment increased by 35,700 jobs to 12,910,800 following the increase of 84,200 jobs in November. Part-time jobs gained 14,300 jobs following the addition of 5,800 jobs in the previous month.

Malta harmonised inflation steady at 0.2 percent in December. Malta's EU measure of inflation remained stable in December, data from the National Statistics Office showed this week. The EU harmonized index of consumer prices, or HICP, rose by 0.2 percent year-on-year in December, the same level seen in November. Education costs gained 4.8 percent yearly in December. Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages, and health grew by 1.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, prices for clothing and footwear, and communication decreased by 3.9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. On a monthly basis, the HICP fell 0.3 percent in December.
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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).