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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 20th May 2022
20 May 2022
US retail sales show consumer still strong despite higher inflation. US retail sales grew at a solid pace in April, reflecting broad-based gains and suggesting that US consumers continue to open their wallets despite the increasing pinch from higher prices. US retail sales—a measure of spending at stores, online and in restaurants—rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.9 percent last month compared with March, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. That was the fourth month in a row of higher retail spending. Economists are watching closely to see if consumer spending can continue to outpace inflation. Slower spending would drag down the economy’s growth.

UK inflation hits 40-year high of nine percent. UK inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), soared to a 40-year high to nine percent in April, as food and energy prices spiralled upwards, data released by the Office for National Statistics revealed on Wednesday. The April figure was two percentage points higher than the seven percent level seen in March, but factionally undershot expectations of 9.1 percent. This was the first time in seven months that inflation missed forecasts to the downside The same report showed that annual core inflation, that excludes food and energy prices, rose by 6.2 percent in April from 5.7 percent in March, in line with consensus. In an attempt to tame inflation, the Bank of England raised its policy interest rate by a quarter-point to a 13-year high in May.

China cuts key interest rate to boost the economy. China’s central bank lowered its mortgage reference rate by a record margin on Friday to shore up the property market and long-term loan demand amid the faltering economy. The five-year loan prime rate (LPR) is 4.45 percent," China's central bank said on Friday, lowering the rate - on which many lenders base their mortgage rates - from the previous 4.6 percent. That was the largest reduction since a revamp of the rate in 2019. Economists had predicted a cut by five to 10 basis points.

China industrial production, retail sales fall short of expectations. China’s industrial production, a gauge of activity in the manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors, dropped by 2.9 percent in April from the same month last year, data by the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday. The figures missed expectations for a slight increase of 0.4 percent. The April decline in production, which partially reversed a five percent expansion in March, is the biggest fall since March 2020, as strict Covid lockdowns depressed economic activity in the world’s second largest economy. At the same time, retail sales plunged by 11.1 percent annually, much worse than the 3.5 percent decrease in March and the 6.1 percent fall expected by economists.

Australia’s unemployment falls to record low. Australian unemployment fell to a record low, giving a boost to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government for re-election on Saturday. The unemployment rate came in at a seasonally adjusted 3.9 percent in April, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. This was in line with expectations and the first time in this data series of unemployment data, which goes back to 1978, that the jobless rate has fallen below four percent. Tightness in the labour market is a main reason why the Reserve Bank of Australia expects wage growth to accelerate to three percent this year from the present 2.4 percent now, allowing it to extend a rate hiking cycle that began this month.
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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).