“Confidence in the US economy slumped this month amid signs of a wobble in the housing market, sparking new fears for the health of the world’s largest economy.
“Investors in US-focused plumbing supplies giant Ferguson baulked after it warned that a run of booming sales growth was coming to an end, in another gloomy sign for the economy as the construction industry can give advanced warning signs of an impending slowdown.
“It comes at the same time as deepening worries in Germany, the eurozone’s biggest economy, which is suffering from a weakening export and employment outlook.
“Together their woes underline the threat to global growth, with a slump in China adding to fears…”
“U.S. consumer confidence declined for the fourth time in five months on dimmer assessments of present conditions, suggesting that weak first-quarter growth and slower job gains in February are weighing on attitudes and potentially spending.
“The Conference Board’s index fell to 124.1 from 131.4, the New York-based group said in a report Tuesday. That missed all economist estimates in a Bloomberg survey calling for a rise to 132.5.”
“The number of homes under construction fell 8.7 percent in February, as ground breakings for single-family houses plunged to their lowest level in nearly two years.”
“U.S. auto sales are expected to drop about 2.1 percent in March from a year earlier, partly due to bad weather, mixed economic data and lower tax refunds, according to industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive…
“The first-quarter sales are off to its slowest start since 2013, according to the industry consultants…”
“The Fed is also reducing the cap on US treasuries allowed to mature each month from USD30 billion to USD15 billion in May. Anxieties about a scarcity of reserves in the banking system are the driver.
“Regulatory shifts since the financial crisis demand banks to maintain safe capital that can be used in case of an economic shock. This has increased the demand for “safe” US T-bills. Interest rates may have peaked: this should put a floor on US equities.”
“British Prime Minister Theresa May will address her Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday, possibly to set out a timetable for her departure in a last throw of the dice to win support for her twice-rejected Brexit deal in parliament.”
“Italy can’t afford to raise taxes or cut public spending now because it would worsen the economic prospects of a country that has slipped back into recession, the nation’s finance chief said.
““We cannot tighten our fiscal policy more because we are in the middle of this recession and slowdown,” Finance Minister Giovanni Tria said Wednesday at a panel discussion at the Boao Forum in Haikou, China. “We need to increase our growth rate and embark on a path of reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio.””
“Past economic crises in Turkey – the turbulent 1990s provide the starkest example – led to changes in government.
“Snap elections provided the chance for Turks to vote in new politicians they hoped could repair financial damage and usher in better, more prosperous times. Not so in today’s Turkey. The Turkish lira slumped by more than 4 percent against the dollar on Friday in echoes of a currency crisis last year that ravaged living standards and employment.”
“The deepening of Argentina’s recession calls for the loosening of the monetary policy; however, the inflation rate is still very high and not in a clear decelerating path, thus raising the risk of extreme volatility in the local currency…
“Breaking away from the vicious cycle of high devaluation and high inflation has proven quite difficult.”
“Brazil’s government has resumed studies to build a large hydroelectric power plant in the northern border state Roraima, which currently relies on the shaky Venezuelan grid, officials at state energy planning agency EPE told Reuters.
“Roraima, the only state not connected to Brazil’s national grid, has faced repeated shortages of the electricity it buys from Venezuela, which is suffering a severe economic crisis.”
“China’s industrial firms posted their worst slump in profits since late 2011 in the first two months of this year, data showed on Wednesday, as increasing strains on the economy in the face of slowing demand at home and abroad took a toll on businesses.
“The sharp decline in profits suggests further trouble for the world’s second largest economy, which expanded at its slowest pace in almost three decades last year.”
“In a measure of how the global slowdown has caught officials on the hop, an interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve no longer sounds outlandish. As dramatic as the Fed’s pivot has been, it may not be dramatic enough.
“Just a few weeks ago, the idea that the world’s most powerful central bank should be loosening was a fringe view. Now, respected policy makers are entertaining the prospect, albeit without quite endorsing it. Substantial deceleration in Asia, principally China, and Europe are driving the re-evaluation.”