Here is what you need to know.
Chinese data disappointed. Industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment all missed the mark. Industrial production climbed 5.9% year-over-year, but fell short of the 6.0% gain that was expected while retail sales jumped 10.0% YoY, missing the 10.5% that economists were anticipating. Fixed asset investment slowed sharply, to up 12% YoY (+13.5% YoY in March), making for the lowest print in at least two decades. China’s yuan edged up 0.1% to 6.2046.
Japan posted its largest current account surplus in 7 years. Aided by the weaker yen and fall in oil prices, Japan’s current account surplus ballooned to 2.80 trillion yen ($US23.3 billion) in March, its largest since 2008. Economists warn seasonality may have played a part in the big number, but also believe the data is expected to remain elevated for the next several months. Japan’s yen is stronger by 0.1% at 119.73 per dollar.
The Bank of England downgraded its growth forecast. The central bank now expects 2015 growth of 2.25%, down from the 2.50% it anticipated in February. The BOE admitted it has been wrong about productivity, dropping its 2015 target to 0.25% from 0.75%. Wage growth for 2015 was also downgraded, pushed down to 2.5% from the previous forecast of 3.5%. The British pound is unchanged at 1.5670.
Euro zone growth misses forecasts. The euro zone grew at a 0.4% quarter-over-quarter clip, just missing the 0.5% QoQ print that was expected. France was the standout as its economy grew 0.6% QoQ, blowing past the 0.4% QoQ that was anticipated. What was good news for France was bad news for Germany as Europe’s strongest economy managed growth of just 0.3% QoQ, missing the 0.5% QoQ growth that was expected. Also notable was the 0.2% QoQ decline in Greece, which has dropped the economy back into recession. The euro is up 0.1% at 1.1221.
Chicago was downgraded to junk at Moody’s. The credit rating agency lowered Chicago’s rating two notches to Ba1 while assigning a ‘negative’ outlook after the Illinois Supreme Court shot down a law aimed at reducing the burden of state pension funds. Tuesday’s downgrade drops Chicago on par with Detroit as the only US cities with a ‘junk’ rating.
Japanese automakers recalled millions of cars. Toyota announced it would recall almost 5 million Corolla, Vitz and other models to replace faulty Takata airbags. Rival Nissan said it would recall more than 1.5 million cars for the same issue.
Zillow posted a mixed quarter. The online real estate listing provider announced earnings of $US0.05 per share, easily topping the loss of $US0.12 that was expected. Revenues surged 92% to $US127.3 million, but fell short of the $US135.17 that Wall Street was expecting. The Wall Street Journal notes, “The property-market database reaffirmed its 2015 revenue forecast and said it is on track to complete its integration of Trulia by year-end.”
Senate Democrats blocked President Obama’s free-trade initiative. The bill would have allowed for Congress to vote on the trade deal without making any changes, and helped the White House fast-track talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. According to AFP, “Republicans backed Obama’s bid for the trade authority, but many Democrats felt betrayed by the measure’s failure to punish currency manipulation or include protections for American workers impacted by globalization.” Senator Tom Carper was the lone democrat to vote in favour of the measure.
Stock markets around the world are mostly higher. France’s CAC (+1.2%) leads the advance in Europe after Japan’s Nikkei (+0.7%) paced the gains in Asia. China’s Shanghai Composite (-0.6%) and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (-0.6%) were notable laggards.
US economic data picks up. Retail sales, and import/export prices are due out at 8:30 a.m. ET while business inventories are set to cross the wires at 10 a.m. ET. Weekly crude oil inventory data is scheduled to be released at 10:30 a.m. ET. The US Treasury will auction $US24 billion 10-year notes at 1 p.m. ET.