Overseas Headlines – April 21, 2017


U.S. growth to be muted as doubts rise on Trump’s policy lift
U.S. economic growth will not achieve the new administration’s 3 percent goal this year or next, even if some fiscal stimulus and changes to tax laws are implemented, according to economists in a Reuters poll. Those expectations surfaced amid doubts about President Donald Trump’s ability to push through such legislation after the defeat of the administration’s healthcare bill. Having rallied to record levels on prospects of fiscal stimulus, the U.S. stock market and dollar have lost steam, while Treasury yields recently sank to a five-month low. "Expectations around the size of the fiscal stimulus we would get in the United States were overdone coming into the year," said Ethan Harris, head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "The markets are now converging to a more skeptical view on that. "The poll of more than 100 economists during April 7-19 showed economic growth averaging 2.3 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2018. Suggesting confidence in the economy, however, economists raised their annualized forecasts for the second quarter to 2.7 percent from 2.4 percent in March’s poll. Third and fourth quarter medians held at 2.4 percent.


U.K. Retail Sales Post Biggest Quarterly Drop Since Early 2010
U.K. retail sales recorded their largest decline in seven years in the first quarter as consumers felt the pinch from accelerating inflation. The volume of goods sold in stores and online fell 1.4 percent from the previous three months, the most since early 2010, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. In March alone, sales dropped 1.8 percent, far exceeding the 0.5 percent decline forecast by economists. The figures bode ill for an economy that relies heavily on consumer spending. Growth almost certainly cooled in the first quarter and is expected to slow further this year, putting pressure on the Bank of England to keep interest rates at a record low. Retail sales last declined during a quarter in 2013. The sales weakness “seems to be a consequence of price increases across a whole range of sectors,” ONS statistician Kate Davies said. Consumers also face a period of heightened political uncertainty after Prime Minister Theresa May this week called a surprise general election in a bid to strengthen her hand in the coming Brexit talks.


China c.bank has set no limits on yuan outflows – paper
China’s central bank has never imposed controls on cross-border yuan deals to demand that banks match outflows with equal inflows, the official Shanghai Securities Journal on Friday. Banking sources on Wednesday said China’s central bank had relaxed some of the curbs on cross-border capital outflows put in place just months ago to shore up the yuan currency. Since last year, the People’s Bank of China has moved to regulate cross-border yuan transactions to help prevent risks from "abnormal cross-border flows", the newspaper said in a report on its website. "These policies do not change the existing policy framework on cross-border use of renminbi (yuan)… and (the central bank) has never set any limits on the legitimate cross-border renminbi payments," the newspaper said. Officials at the central bank are not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)