What happened this past week (25.03.13 – 29.03.13)


  • The finance ministers of 17 eurozone countries approved an EU-IMF plan for restructuring Cyprus’s banking sector on Monday, putting their stamp on a proposal that will fundamentally overhaul the country’s two largest banks. The plan, negotiated on Sunday between Cyprus’s president and EU and IMF leaders, is seen as workable
  • US: The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago released Monday that Chicago Fed National Activity Index increased to 0.44 in February from 0.49 in January, led by gains in production-related indicators. Separately, the Texas factory activity rose to 9.9 in March from 6.2 in the previous month, indicating a slightly faster pace of output growth, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on Monday. (Xinhua, 26/03/13)
  • US: New orders for manufactured durable goods in February rose 5.7%, beating analysts’ expectations, boosted mainly by robust transportation demand, the US Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Home prices for 20 leading U.S. cities increased 8.1% YoY in January, the highest since summer 2006, following a 6.8% YoY gain in December, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Tuesday.
  • US: The U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012, higher than the previous estimate of 0.1%, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The figure indicates that the world’s largest economy continued to grow at a modest pace. Other economic data was a little negative. The number of Americans applying for initial jobless claims in the week ending March 23 increased to 357,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised figure of 341,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. And the four-week moving average, a smoother indicator, stood at 343,000, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week. The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index, considered as a leading indicator of the US economy, fell to 52.4 in March from 56.8 in the previous month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. (Xinhua, 29/03/13) 
  • Europe: Little fuss as Cypriot banks reopen — Cypriot banks reopened under armed guard yesterday after a nearly two-week lockdown but customers faced harsh curbs, including a withdrawal limit of €300, to stop them from draining the island’s coffers after its eurozone bailout. The stock market remained closed. Five shipping containers reportedly filled with billions of euros were delivered to the central bank late Wednesday, an AFP photographer said. (AFP, quoted in Bangkok Post, 29/03/13)
  • Japan: BoJ governor says Japan is on the mend — Japan’s economy has stopped weakening and should show signs of recovery by midyear, the newly appointed central bank governor said yesterday, as weaker than expected retail sales for February underscored the challenge he faces in restoring consumer confidence. But he said there was still “a high degree of uncertainty” about Japan’s economy because of the crisis in Europe, the tenuous state of the US recovery and often testy relations with China. (AP, quoted in Bangkok Post, 29/03/13)


  • Europe: Eurozone crisis puts dent in German business confidence — German business confidence fell for the first time in five months in March, data showed yesterday, as disappointing economic data, political gridlock in Italy and the Cyprus crisis dampened the business climate in Europe’s top economy. The Ifl economic institute’s closely-watched business climate index slipped to 106.7 points in March from 107.4 points in February, the first time since October that the index has fallen, countering analysts’ expectations for a further modest increase this month. (Bangkok Post, 23/03/13)
  • US consumer confidence sentiment stood at 59.7 in March, unexpectedly falling from 68.0 in February, according to the research institute Conference Board on Tuesday. Sales of new single-family houses in February dropped 4.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 411,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. (Xinhua, 27/03/13)
  • TDRI pinpoints government budget borrowing loopholes — The existing fiscal reguloations have loopholes that might allow the government to create excessive debt, says TDRI’s economists. Pakorn Vichyanon, a senior economist, said the state has no ceiling on its guarantee on debt for listed state-owned enterprises, especially basic utilities such as power, water and telecommunications, though unlisted state-owned enterprises have a restricted guarantee of 10% of the annual budget. (Bangkok Post, 26/03/13)
  • Exports tumble in February as baht rises — Thai exports in February fell by 5.8% YoY on tepid global demand, baht appreciation and declining agriculture shipments. But the government remains upbeat about achieving 8-9% export growth this year as earlier projected. Exports brought in US$17.9bn last month, down 5.8% YoY. In baht terms, exports were valued at Bt530bn, down by 11.3%. (Bangkok Post, 29/03/13)
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