Saturday, June 11, 2011

Statistical Notes, Saturday June 11

-Industrial production in the U.K. fell sharply in April this year, down by 1.7% compared to the previous month and 1.2% compared to April 2010. A number of special factors including the royal wedding and the inavailability of components from Japan is blamed for the drop, but given the size of the drop, it is clear that it also reflects underlying economic weakness.

-The U.S. trade deficit fell sharply in April. However, the drop was driven mostly by factors of a temporary kind, like reduced component shipments from Japan.

The federal budget deficit fell even more in May, reflecting both rising tax revenues due to an increase in inequality and slower growth in federal spending.

Meanwhile, asset values diverged during the first quarter as the value of homes fell, while stock values rose. The increase in stock values have however been reversed during this quarter.

-Canadian unemployment fell to a new low of 7.4% in May, reflecting in part an increase in employment and in part a drop in the labor force participation rate.

-Australia also had an increase in employment but the change compared to the previous month was slower than was needed to accomodate the nearly 2% population growth rate in Australia.  The yearly increase of 2.3%  was however enough to enable both a small increase in the participation rate and a drop in the unemployment rate.

-Economic activity in Germany weakened in April as both exports and industrial production fell from the previous month (though especially exports were up significantly from the previous year). Manufacturing orders on the other hand rose, but that was after a similar sized drop the previous month. All of this suggests that German growth slowed down significantly during the first quarter.

Meanwhile, German consumer price inflation slowed down to 2.4% in May from 2.6% in April, weakening the case for further ECB rate hikes.

-The labor market in Israel continued to improve as employment rose 3.2% while real wages rose a more moderate 0.2%  (that's not much, but real wages in most other countries have dropped) compared to the previous year.


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