Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Statistical Notes Wednesday May 25

More weakness from the U.S. economy as durable goods orders and shipments both falls, while the number for the previous month is revised down (the monthly change in March is revised up, but since the February number was revised down even more that still means that the absolute March number is revised down too).

The euro area economy also shows signs of weakening as its preliminary May PMI drops, though the numbers still suggests expansion, only at a slower rate. The official new orders statistics however showed an outright decline.

In both Britain and Germany, more detailed GDP numbers showed that terms of trade adjusted growth was lower than the headline number, presumably reflecting mainly higher oil prices. In Britain, the adjustment lowers yearly growth from 1.8% to 1.0% and in Germany it lowers yearly growth from 4.9% to 3.4%.

Greek new orders data shows a big decline in domestic manufacturing orders, but an increase in export orders, suggesting a continued recession, but a lower current account deficit. The latter is confirmed here, with the deficit falling by a fourth, but to a level that is still far too high for a country that faces severe problem getting credit.

Taiwan's labor market continues to be strong as employment is growing at a an annual rate of more than 2% in a country with barely any population growth, causing the unemployment rate to fall to 4.3%, down from 5.4% a year earlier. That is however still somewhat above the lows of 2006-07 and also higher than in Hong Kong and Singapore, but a lot lower than almost all Western countries.

Hong Kong and Singapore may have low unemployment, but inflation was high in both, 4.6% and 4.5%. By contrast, inflation in Taiwan was a relatively low 1.3%.

Sweden's labor market also strengthened, with employment increasing 2.7%. The absolute level of unemployment is however at 7.9% still a lot higher than in Taiwan.