The dollar is up against its major European competitors on Friday, but is trading basically flat in comparison to the Japanese Yen. The risk appetite among investors is low at the end of the trading week, despite the better than expected Chinese GDP data.
China’s economic growth accelerated for the first time in two years in the fourth quarter underpinned by robust industrial output and investment, latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday.
Despite the rebound in the final quarter, the growth rate for the full-year of 2012 sank to a 13-year low as prolonged crisis in euro area and weak demand for developed nations in general dampened the country’s exports.
The gross domestic product grew 7.9 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, snapping seven successive quarters of slowdown. Economists had expected a 7.8 percent gain. In the third quarter, GDP expanded 7.4 percent, the weakest pace in three years.
Consumer sentiment in the U.S. has unexpectedly deteriorated in the month of January, according to a report released by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan on Friday. The report showed that the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for January came in at 71.3 compared to the final December reading of 72.9.
The drop by the consumer sentiment index came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to climb to a reading of 75.0.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde urged nations to focus on real economy and on growth that can deliver jobs.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington on Thursday, Lagarde said policymakers have more work to do to and cannot revert to business as usual, though they succeeded in avoiding an economic collapse following the global financial crisis.
She said in euro area, continued monetary easing is needed to sustain demand. Also, progress needs to be made on banking union. “For the United States, all sides should pull together in the national interest, reaching agreement on time on increasing the debt ceiling and on medium-term debt reduction,” she added.
The Bank of Italy slashed its economic forecast for this year on Friday to project a worst contraction than expected earlier, citing the deteriorating external environment and the continuing weakness in domestic activity.
The bank now expects the Italian economy to shrink 1 percent this year, which is much worse than the earlier projection of 0.2 percent contraction. Gross domestic product likely declined just over 2 percent in 2012, the bank said in its latest economic bulletin.
The dollar rose to a high of $1.3279 against the Euro on Friday, from an early low of $1.3397.
The effectiveness of the U.K. central bank’s asset purchases as a stimulus tool may have waned over the months, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee External Member Ian McCafferty said on Friday.
The confidence on the asset purchases tool, otherwise called the quantitative easing, was the strongest when it was first introduced, the policymaker said in a speech in London. “The novelty of the instrument and the MPC’s readiness to act quickly to loosen policy further at a time of ultra-low interest rates no doubt acted to lift “animal spirits”,” he said.
The buck climbed against the pound sterling throughout the trading week. The upward move brought the U.S. currency from a low of $1.6178, to a 2-month high of $1.5856 on Friday.
U.K. retail sales declined unexpectedly during Christmas season amid weak consumer demand, intensifying concerns about an economic contraction in the final quarter of 2012.
Retail sales including automotive fuel dropped 0.1 percent month-on-month in December, after staying flat in November, the Office for National Statistics showed Friday. It was in contrast to a 0.2 percent rise forecast by economists.
Confidence among British households about prices of their homes weakened for the thirty-first successive month in January, though at the slowest pace since July 2010, data from a survey by Markit Economics and Knight Frank showed Friday. The house price sentiment index came in at 47.6 in January, up from December’s reading of 47.1.
Fitch Ratings said the implementation of a credible fiscal strategy to stabilize the Japanese government debt remains the central issue for the nation’s sovereign rating. The agency said the latest JPY 10 trillion stimulus package announced by Shinzo Abe’s new Liberal Democratic Party government indicates that it is committed to support the economy.
Japan’s rating downgrade to ‘A+’ in May 2012, and the Negative Outlook on the rating, already suggest the risk posed by huge general government debt ratios.
A decline in Japan’s currency to a range of 95-100 against a dollar is not a matter of concern, Koichi Hamada, a special economic adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday. But further weakness of yen to 110 per dollar would pose a problem to the economy, he said in Tokyo.
The greenback has remained basically flat in comparison to the Yen on Friday, hovering around the Y90 level.
Japan’s industrial production decreased less than initially estimated in November, final data from the Ministry of economy, Trade and Industry showed Friday. Industrial production declined a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent month-on-month in November, slower than the 1.7 percent fall estimated earlier.