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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 25th September 2020
25 Sep 2020

Eurozone private sector stagnates in September. Business activity in the Eurozone virtually came to a halt in September, with the services sector being the main drag owing to the resurgence in coronavirus cases across the currency bloc. Flash survey data from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday that the composite output index declined to 50.1 in September from 51.9 in August. Economists had forecast the reading to drop to 51.7. The bright spot is the manufacturing sector which remains unperturbed by the situation as a pickup in foreign demand is helping to bolster new orders and output. At 53.7, the manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index hit a 25-month high. Economists had forecast the gauge to rise to 51.9 from 51.7 in August. On the other hand, the services Purchasing Managers' Index dropped to a four-month low of 47.6, while economists forecast it would remain unchanged at 50.5.

US existing home sales approach 14-year high. US existing home sales reached six million in August, the highest level in 14 years, up 2.4 percent from July and up 10.5 percent from the same month a year ago as the housing market continued to outperform the overall economy. However, record high home prices could squeeze first-time buyers out of the market. August was the third consecutive month of gains, according to the report by the National Association of Realtors. The median existing-home price was up 11.4 percent from 2019. Inventory was down 18.6 percent from one year ago, and the surge in lumber prices contributed to the increase in prices. The report confirmed that home sales had recovered after slumping when the economy almost ground to a halt as businesses were shuttered in mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia private sector returns to growth in September. Australia's private sector recovered at the end of the third quarter after the coronavirus measures were loosened in parts of the country, initial survey data from IHS Markit showed Wednesday. The composite output index rose to 50.5 in September from 49.4 in August. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The recovery in overall activity was underpinned by further manufacturing production growth as services business activity was unchanged from August. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to a 29-month high of 55.5 in September from 53.6 in August. At the same time, the services PMI came in at neutral 50.0 compared to 49.0 in August. The rise in private sector activity was accompanied by renewed sales growth.

Malta inflation falls in August. Malta’s annual rate of inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index in August was 0.42 percent, down from 0.62 percent in July 2020. Figures by the National Statistics Office showed that the 12-month moving average rate for August stood at one percent. Higher prices of fruit, hairdressing services and clothes pushed up the inflation indices for food, personal care and clothing. As a result, there were increases in the Clothing and Footwear category (3.60 percent) and Personal Care and Health category (2.87 percent). On the other hand, the lowest annual inflation rates were registered in the Recreation and Culture category (-2.24 percent) and Transport and Communication (-1.76 percent).

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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).