Statistical Notes, Tuesday January 3
-The ISM manufacturing index rose from 52.7 to 53.9 in December while November construction spending rose 1.2% (driven by a 2% gain in private residential construction and a 1.7% gain in government construction, while private non-residential construction was flat), confirming that the U.S. recovery is accelarating, albeit from a near stagnation level.
-Euro area manufacturing PMI rose to 46.9 in December, but that still indicates contraction.
-Spain's current account balance swung from a deficit of €2.7 billion in October 2010 to a surplus of €500 million in October 2011. However, that improvement was partly the result of temporary factors, and for the whole January-October period, the improvement was more modest, from a deficit of €41.4 billion in 2010 to €32.1 billion in 2011.
-Germany's employment rate rose to a new high of 63.9% among people aged 15-74 in November (up from 61.6% a year earlier) while the unemployment rate fell to a new multi decade low of 5.5%, down from 6.7% a year earlier (and down from more than 10% just a few years earlier). The German labor market thus continues to be extraordinarily strong, especially considering that other data have indicated that the German economy has weakened.
-The Swedish manufacturing PMI rose to 48.9 in December, but like in the euro area and Britain, that still suggests contraction. Meanwhile, Swedish exports fell while retail sales rose.
-Both industrial production and retail sales for November suggested that Estonia's previously extraordinarily high growth rate has slowed considerably.
By contrast, both industrial production and retail sales indicates that growth in Latvia is in fact accelerating.
-According to preliminary estimates, Singapore's GDP contracted in Q4 2011 by an annualized rate of 4.9% compared to Q3 2011, lowering the yearly increase from 5.9% to 3.6%.
-Hong Kong's extraordinary retail sales boom continues, increasing by 23.5% in nominal terms and 16.9% in volume terms in November 2011 compared to a year earlier. Although that is lower than previously during 2011, it is still a lot higher than just about all other countries in the world. The gains are likely both driven by higher consumption by Hong Kong residents and by more tourists from abroad, mostly mainland China.