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BOV Market Watch - Week ending 16th April 2021
16 Apr 2021

Fed's Beige Book says economic growth accelerated in spring. The US economy grew faster during early spring and more companies sought to hire new workers, a Federal Reserve (Fed) survey showed, but inflation also picked up and companies faced an array of shortages that are hindering production. The Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal evidence on economic conditions in each of the twelve Fed districts, highlighted improvement in a variety of areas, including consumer spending, auto sales and manufacturing activity. The Fed also noted that reports on tourism were more upbeat, bolstered by a pickup in demand for leisure activities and travel. The level of inflation, meanwhile, increased slightly from earlier in the year. Companies paid more for lots of key supplies such as metals, fuel, food and lumber. In some cases, supply shortages were also holding back production.

Eurozone industrial output falls less than expected in February. Industrial production in the Eurozone fell in February, dampening prospects for economic growth in the first quarter after a solid end to 2020 for manufacturers. According to a report by European statistics agency Eurostat, industrial production in the currency bloc decreased by one percent month-on-month in February, reversing a 0.8 percent rise in January. Economists had expected a 1.1 percent fall. Energy output decreased by 1.2 percent in February and capital goods output fell by 1.9 percent, the report showed. Production in February fell the most in France, Malta and Greece. It was also down in the Eurozone’s largest economy, Germany. On a yearly basis, industrial output declined by 1.6 percent in February, after a 0.1 percent rise in the previous month. Economists had forecast a fall of 0.9 percent.

German investor sentiment falls in April on lockdown fears, ZEW says. Investor morale in Germany fell unexpectedly in April, the ZEW economic research institute said on Tuesday, citing rising fears that private consumption could be dampened as Europe’s largest economy may extend lockdown restricts. The ZEW said that its survey of investor economic sentiment fell to 70.7 points in April, its first drop since November 2020, from 76.6 the previous month. Economists had forecast the gauge to rise to 79.0. “The financial market experts are somewhat less euphoric than in the previous month,” ZEW President Achim Wambach said in a statement. “The ZEW indicator of economic sentiment is, however, still at a very high level and the current situation is assessed much more positively than in March.”

China logs record growth in first quarter. China reported on Friday that its economy grew by a jaw-dropping 18.3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. While the figure is high, it is as much a reflection of the past - the country’s output shrank 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier - as it is an indication of how China is doing now. Quarter-on-quarter, GDP gained 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021 but weaker than the forecast of 1.5 percent.

Australia jobless rate falls in March. The unemployment rate in Australia was a seasonally adjusted 5.6 percent in March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said this week. That was lower than expectations for 5.7 percent and down from 5.8 percent in February. The Australian economy added 70,700 jobs in the month to 13,077,600, far surpassing predictions for the addition of 35,000 jobs, following the increase of 88,700 jobs in February. The participation rate came in at 66.3 percent, also exceeding expectations for 66.1 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month. 

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Bank of Valletta p.l.c. is a public limited company regulated by the MFSA and is licensed to carry out the business of banking and investment services in terms of the Banking Act (Cap. 371 of the Laws of Malta) and the Investment Services Act (Cap.370. of the Laws of Malta).