Widespread rebound continues


PBOC Peoples Bank China

SHANGHAI: China’s robust economic momentum looks likely to have carried into the second quarter as its factory-led recovery broadened to the consumer – while further adding to global inflation pressures.

Industrial output probably rose 10% in April from a year earlier, while retail sales expanded 25% in the period, according to analyst estimates for data due today.

Combined with this month’s report showing a continued export boom even amid slower credit expansion, such evidence of a more widespread rebound taking hold would point to China continuing to be one of the main driving forces for global growth this year.

The country has cemented its role as the world’s factory, producing and selling everything from oxygen concentrators and masks to cellphones and home renovation supplies.

Its swift recovery from the coronavirus crisis last year not only boosted the domestic economy but also the profits of international companies, even as sales of cars, consumer and luxury goods slumped in their home markets.

As the first major nation to have entered and exited pandemic lockdowns, China’s numbers will provide a guide as to what global data may look like as economies in the developed world normalise.

“China’s April activity data should show the recovery extending into the second quarter. Investment likely picked up, adding to strong external demand in supporting industrial production. Consumption probably rebounded further as more people traveled during a major holiday, ” says a Bloomberg economist.

Elsewhere this week, Japanese output data are set to reveal a first-quarter contraction and UK numbers will probably show inflation spiked in April. The euro area and Canada issue financial stability reviews, and central banks in South Africa, Iceland and Zambia hold rate decisions.

Central bankers will likely field intensifying questions this week about the pace of inflation after US consumer price data soared past estimates. Federal Reserve vice-chairman Richard Clarida as well as regional Fed presidents including Raphael Bostic and Jim Bullard are scheduled to speak. Investors will also pour through minutes of the Fed’s latest meeting, due to be released on Wednesday.

Other US economic data to watch include housing starts, weekly jobless claims and existing homes sales.

Meanwhile, in Canada, inflation data and a press conference on financial stability by Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem are the main highlights of the week.

Japan will find out how much the economy was rocked by a second state of emergency in the first quarter. Economists expect a 4.5% contraction, but if more resilience is shown, that’ll boost the chances of the country avoiding a double-dip recession as a renewed emergency gets extended.

Trade figures released there on Thursday should show that global demand is continuing to prop up the economy while virus restrictions limit local consumption, and inflation figures on Friday are likely to show the kind of price pressures globally that are making markets jittery remain a long way off for Japan.

Australia’s first quarter wages report on Wednesday and April jobs data due Thursday will give a pulse check on the labour market, which both the government and central bank are seeking to run hot with their stimulus double shot. New Zealand announces its budget on Thursday.

With the Bank of England now predicting a lower peak for UK unemployment as the rebound from the coronavirus crisis gathers pace, evidence of that outlook starting to materialise may be confirmed with labour-market data due tomorrow.

Consumer prices – possibly showing a temporary inflation spike – along with retail sales and an index of purchasing managers are among other reports that might provide further signs of the economy’s improving health in tandem with loosened restrictions and advanced progress on vaccinations.

Meanwhile in the eurozone, whose recovery is less ripe than that of the UK, another gauge of expansion at factories and services may help European Central Bank (ECB) policy makers determine if their assessment of a pickup in the current quarter is correct.

Monetary officials scheduled to speak include ECB president Christine Lagarde and chief economist Philip Lane, and, in addition, the institution will release its financial stability review on Wednesday at a time of mounting global concern at elevated asset prices.

Elsewhere in Europe, Iceland will deliver its latest monetary decision, while Russian data may show that the economy there contracted 1.2% in the first quarter, just as its central bank turns more hawkish against rising inflationary pressures.

Israel will also report first-quarter GDP tomorrow – the Bank of Israel has said it expects strong growth for 2021 at 6.3% in one of the world’s first economies to reopen after vaccinations.

In Africa, Zambia, with its currency at a record low, and Mozambique, after tightening aggressively in January, will probably both keep key interest rates unchanged on Wednesday. South Africa on Thursday should hold its repurchase rate as its economic recovery remains fragile. — Bloomberg

Today in Peru, the Lima unemployment report for April may show a better reading while national economic activity for March might have jumped on improving conditions and because of the annual comparison to last year’s lockdown freeze.

Argentina’s economic activity indicator for March will also likely surge due to the same so-called base effect.

In Brazil, as analysts have been marking up their 2021 output forecasts, Latin America’s biggest economy has been racking up impressive trade surpluses. Look for that trend to continue in the weekly data out today.

Later in the week, the first-quarter output data from Chile and Peru may fall short of earlier forecasts given the persistence of Covid-19 in the region. Look for a sharp rebound in second-quarter figures though a resurgence of the pandemic remains a significant downside risk.

On Friday, Mexico’s retail sales data for March may suggest that more than just the base effect is at work. — Bloomberg

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