Overseas Headlines – April 26, 2017


U.S. business borrowing for equipment rises 10 percent in March: ELFA
Borrowing by U.S. companies to spend on capital investment rose last month, the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) said on Tuesday. Companies signed up for $8.9 billion in new loans, leases and lines of credit in March, up 10 percent from a year earlier. Their borrowing rose 51 percent from February. "The central bank’s recent rate hike may, in part, be responsible for the spike in equipment demand as businesses seek to lock in fixed rate financing ahead of steadily increasing interest costs," ELFA Chief Executive Ralph Petta said in a statement. Washington-based ELFA, a trade association that reports economic activity for the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, said credit approvals totalled 74.5 percent in March, down slightly from 74.8 percent in February. ELFA’s leasing and finance index measures the volume of commercial equipment financed in the United States. It is designed to complement the U.S. Commerce Department’s durable goods orders report, which it typically precedes by a few days.


Euro pulls back after France-led surge
The euro retreated from 5-1/2 month highs against the dollar on Wednesday, investors cashing in gains made on the back of the first round of France’s presidential elections and a market rethink on euro zone monetary policy. Attention was also turning to U.S. President Donald Trump’s promised announcement on tax cuts, supporting a reheating of the dollar-positive "Trumpflation" trades that dominated the end of last year but have waned since. The yen – a sufferer this week from buoyant sentiment on stock markets since the French vote on Sunday – was steadier while Australia’s and New Zealand’s dollars both fell more than half a percent after soft Australian inflation numbers. By 1110 GMT, the euro had fallen around a third of a percent against both the dollar and the yen, weakening to $1.0886 from a high of $1.0951 hit in early European trade. "There has been nothing specific driving the move this morning, we just got up to the $1.0950 area and that did seem like an obvious place to take profit," said the head of currency trading with one large international bank in London, asking not to be named.


China’s President Xi calls for increased efforts to maintain financial security: Xinhua
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Tuesday for increased efforts to ward off systemic risks to help maintain financial security, the official Xinhua news agency said. The country’s leaders have pledged to shift the emphasis to addressing financial risks and asset bubbles which analysts say pose a threat to the world’s second-largest economy if not handed well. "Financial security is an important part of national security and an important basis for the steady and healthy development of the economy," Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying. Xi’s remarks were made during a group study session for members of the politburo, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party. They follow a series of measures to more closely regulate the banking and insurance sectors amid concerns of rising risks in the shadow banking industry. "China’s financial development is facing many risks and challenges due to the influence of international and domestic economic factors," Xi said, adding that the country’s financial risks are still under control. The spill-over effect from monetary and fiscal policy adjustments in other countries could have an impact on China’s financial security, Xi said, without elaborating.