What happened this past week 22/04 – 26/04

Positives
Global
Europe: Germany raises growth forecast — The German economy is expected to grow by 0.5% this year, up from the previous estimate of 0.4%, the German Economics Ministry announced on Thursday. German GDP is still expected to grow 1.6% in 2014, unchanged from previous growth prediction.
(Xinhua, 25/04/13)

US: In the week ending April 20, the number of Americans initially applying for unemployment benefits dropped 16,000 to 339,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Meanwhile, the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, decreased 4,500 from the previous week’s revised figure to 357,500, it added.
(Xinhua, 26/04/13)

US: U.S. new home sales up 1.5% in March — Sales of new single-family houses in the United States rose in March from the prior month, evidence of sustained recovery of the housing market, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Sales of new single-family houses in March increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000 units, a gain of 1.5 percent from the revised February level of 411,000. Meanwhile, the median sales price of new houses sold in March was 247,000 U.S. dollars, lower than the figure registered in February but higher than the year-ago level. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of March was 153,000 units, which represented a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.
(Xinhua, 23/04/13)

Thailand

Smaller budget deficit expected in fiscal 2014 — The cabinet yesterday approved a plan to run a budget deficit of 1.9% of GDP or Bt250bn for fiscal 2014, down from 2.5% or Bt300bn in fiscal 2013. Government expenditure in fiscal 2014 will increase by 5.2% to an estimated Bt2.53trn, up from Bt2.4trn this fiscal year, with revenue projected at Bt2.28trn, up from Bt2.1trn.
(Bangkok Post, 24/04/13)

High government financial strength supports Thailand’s Baa1 rating: Moody’s — Thailand’s high degree of government financial strength, moderate levels of economic and institutional strength, and low to moderate susceptibility to event risk continue to support the country’s “Baa1” local and foreign currency bond ratings, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The ratings outlook is stable. After 6.4% growth in 2012, Moody’s expects real GDP growth of 5% in 2013 and 2014 for Thailand, supported by robust private consumption and investment, whereas export recovery will likely remain more subdued owing to the still fragile external demand and the rapid strengthening of the Thai baht, which is up more than 6% versus the US dollar since the beginning of the year. (The Nation website, 25/04/13)

Negative(s)
Global
U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 52.0 in April, its lowest reading in six months, according to financial information services company Markit. (Xinhua, 23/04/13)

US: U.S. existing home sales drops 0.6 pct in March on limited inventory — U.S. existing-home sales declined in March as tight inventory constrained home-buying activities, a leading industry group reported on Monday. Existing home sales, which tally completed transactions for single-family houses, townhouses and condominiums, fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92mn, 0.6% lower than the level of February but still 10.3% higher than the figure a year ago, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said in a report. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said Monday its national activity index decreased to minus 0.23 in March from 0.76 in February, indicating U.S. economic activity is below its historical trend.

(Xinhua, 22/04/13)

Europe: The euro-area composite purchasing managers index fell to 46.5 in April, lower than the level of 50 that separates contraction from expansion, Markit Economics reported on Tuesday.

The Flash Manufacturing PMI of Germany, eurozone’s largest economy, dropped to 47.9 in April from 49.0 in March, hitting a four-month low. The soft figures of the euro area fueled hopes that the ECB may cut interest rates further. (Xinhua, 24/04/13)
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed unexpectedly to 7.7% in the first quarter, down from 7.9% in the fourth quarter of 2012.
(Xinhua, 20/04/13)

China: The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slowed to a two-month low of 50.5 in April, according to figures released by HSBC Tuesday.
(Xinhua, 24/04/13)

Thailand
Budget bills key to all the govt’s ambitions — Pheu Thai Party continues to defy the Constitutional Court, signifying it will go full force in pushing constitutional amendments, causing many to fear political chaos might break out again. However, during this period of House recession, the government should, and is likely to, pay attention to financial issues. Besides the 2014 Budget Bill, which must be worked on, it has the Bt2-trillion loan bill on the table. Meanwhile, the Bt350bn budget for water and flood management approved over a year ago is also being eyed by the opposition and the people. (www.nationmultimedia.com)

Q2 export picture becomes murky — The government admits exports may fall in the second quarter on the back of continued pressure from the strong baht despite a 4.26% year-on-year expansion in the first quarter.
(Bangkok Post, 24/04/13)

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