President Donal Trump’s inauguration took place in January. The media were quick to point out that attendance figures were well below that of previous Presidential inaugurations, and this was hotly disputed by Trump’s PR team. There were several protests against Mr Trump becoming America’s next President with many arrests made.
The Bank of Japan has kept their monetary policy on hold, keeping interest rates at -0.1% and capping 10-year bonds at 0%. Unemployment rates remained steady at 3.1% and the Bank of Japan is accordingly waiting for these labour shortages to drive up wages which will therefore allow higher consumption and price increases. Inflation remains at almost 0%.
Economic growth grew and unemployment fell to its lowest in 7 years in the Euro-zone area. Inflation grew to 1.8% YoY for January. It was 1.1% for December, and the new figure is almost on target for the ECB’s target of 2%. It is the highest rate of inflation in almost 4 years. Core inflation – which, among others, does not include energy prices - remained stable at 0.9% YoY for January.
Eurostat reported GDP rose 0.5% QoQ for Q4 2016. Overall, 2016 saw GDP rise 1.7%.
US growth was reported to be 1.6% for 2016. This is the slowest growth in five years mainly due to low trade data. The growth in Q3 was 3.5%, but Q4 saw GDP increase by just 1.9%. The trade deficit for the US rose to $45.2bn in November.
US consumer spending increase by 2.5% for Q4 vs 3% for Q3. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of economic activity in the US.
The US enjoyed its lowest level of unemployment for 43 years for the period ending December 31 2016. Private employers grew their workforce by 153,000 in December.
US: Sears department stores reported a drop of 13% for sales in November and December. Overall, the holiday seasons was disappointing for retailers.
Oil prices increased in January as Opec continued their output cuts to stabilise the market. They, along with other producers, are expected to reach the 1.8m barrel a day reduction in February.
China reported a growth of 6.8% in Q4 2016, enabled by higher government spending and larger bank lending. It is the first time in two years that China has shown an improvement in growth. Overall for 2016, the economy grew by 6.7% according to the National Bureau of Statistics. It is still the slowest pace in 26 years. Property investment rose 11.1% in December – a large increase on November’s reading of 5.7%. The Fixed Asset Investment grew at its slowest rate in 17 years by 8.1%. China is expected to target economic growth of 6.5% for 2017. The current GDP ratio was 277% for 2016.
Chinese house prices in prime locations have fallen for the first time in 2 years. This marks an end to massive growth which saw some prices rise by 40% in 2016. New-build residential properties fell by 0.1% to 0.4% for December.
China’s investors spend €35bn investing in European companies in 2016 which is a 77% increase on 2015. Germany was the main target with €11bn worth of investment going towards 40 companies. Britain accounted for €7.8bn worth of investment. European investments in China for 2016 dropped for the 4th year in a row with €8bn invested.