Economic Updates

On a seasonally adjusted basis, South Africa’sGross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a faster-than-expected annualised pace of 2.1% in 4Q12, compared to a growth of 1.2% reported in the preceding quarter.           

The leading indicator for South Africa's economic activity rose to a reading of 131.70 in December, the sixth consecutive monthly improvement and compared to a revised reading of 131.60 recorded in the previous month.

The Confederation of British Industry reported that retail sales balance in the UK fell sharply to 8.00 in February, from a reading of 17.00 recorded in January.

Paul Fisher, a member of the Bank of England’s (BoE) monetary policy committee, has urged the central bank to resume its program of asset purchases for a prolonged period and at a slower pace to support the UK economy.

BoE Deputy Governor, Paul Tucker, stated that, he is open to do more quantitative easing depending on the outlook for demand and inflation.

The employment level in Switzerland decreased to 4.12mn in 4Q12, from 4.12mn registered in the previous quarter.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, new home sales in the US surged up 15.6% to annual rate of 437,000 in January, from an upwardly revised rate of 378,000 recorded in December.

The Conference Board reported that, its consumer confidence index in the US jumped to a reading of 69.60 in February, from a downwardly revised reading of 58.40 in January.

The Standard & Poor’s with Case-Shiller reported that, on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, 20-city composite House Price Index (HPI) rose 0.9% in December, from an upwardly revised 0.7% increase recorded in the previous month.

A report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed that, on a month-on-month basis, the HPI in the US advanced 0.6% in December, compared to a downwardly revised 0.4% growth recorded in the previous month.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond reported that, its manufacturing index in the area rose to a reading of 6.00 in February, from a reading of -12.00 recorded in the previous month.

Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke downplayed speculation that the central bank is getting ready to end its controversial quantitative easing program. In semi-annual testimony before the US Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke stated that, the Fed's $85.00bn/month asset-buying programme is needed to preserve a nascent housing recovery and modest improvement in the jobs market.

Retail sales in Japan have declined 1.1% YoY in January, compared to a revised 0.3% rise reported in the previous month.

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