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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 14th April 2022
14 Apr 2022
US inflation reaches decades highs. US inflation quickened in March to its highest levels since the early eighties, as prices for food, fuel and housing shot up. Data released by the Labour Department on Tuesday showed that the US Consumer Price Index, that tracks the prices that American consumers pay for everyday purchases, rose by 8.5 percent in March from the same month last year, exceeding already elevated expectations of 8.4 percent, from the 7.9 percent reading in February. This increase on an annual basis was the largest since December 1981. On a month-on-month basis, prices rose by 1.2 percent in March after climbing by 0.8 percent in February. The so-called core inflation, that excludes volatile items such as food and energy, rose by 0.3 percent month-on-month and by 6.5 percent from a year earlier. Skyrocketing inflation will give further reason to the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in the coming months. In a separate report, the Labour Department announced that its Producer Price Index rose to an annual record high of 11.2 percent in March from 10.3 percent in February.

UK unemployment rate falls to new low. The unemployment rate in the UK continued to inch downwards in the three months to February reaching its pre-pandemic level and returning to lows last seen in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics. The jobless rate fell to 3.8 percent in the three months to the end of February from four percent in the previous three-month period. The rate to end February came in line with expectations. On the other hand, job vacancies hit a record high at the start of the year reaching nearly 1.3 million. The unemployment rate in the UK has not been lower than 3.8 percent since 1974 but it may struggle to fall below this level as demand for labour is expected to slow down.

German economic confidence index weakened less than expected in April. German economic confidence continued to weaken in April, but the decline was much slower than expected, survey results from the ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research showed on Tuesday. The institute said that its economic sentiment index fell to -41.0 points from -39.3 in March. That is far better than the consensus forecast of -48. Key elements of the report were also better than expected, with the Current Situation part of the index dropping to -30.8 from -21.4 in the same period, versus market expectations of -35. “The experts are pessimistic about the current economic situation and assume that it will continue to deteriorate," ZEW President Achim Wambach, said.

China inflation accelerates. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s Consumer Price Index slightly beat expectations as prices rose to a three-month high of 1.5 percent in March from a year earlier, up from a rise of 0.9 percent in February. Economists predicted inflation to rise to 1.2 percent. A separate report showed that prices paid by producers rose by 8.3 compared to a year earlier, down from 8.8 percent in February. “The uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine is likely to keep global commodity prices elevated in the near-term”, Sheana Yue and Julian Evans-Pritchard, economists at Capital Economics, said.

New Zealand’s central bank delivered its biggest interest-rate increase in 22 years, signalling that policy makers around the world may need to step up efforts to get inflation under control. The monetary policy committee of the central bank lifted its official interest rate by 50 basis points to 1.5 percent, bringing forward a rise that it had indicated would be made this year. This was the fourth consecutive interest rate rise by the bank. "The Committee agreed that their policy 'path of least regret' is to increase the OCR by more now, rather than later, to head off rising inflation expectations and minimize any unnecessary volatility in output, interest rates, and the exchange rate in the future," the bank said.
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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).