Overseas Headlines – August 24, 2017


U.S. jobless claims rise slightly as labour market tightens

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, suggesting a further tightening in labour market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Aug. 19, the Labour Department said on Thursday. Data for the prior week was unrevised. Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a robust labour market, for 129 consecutive weeks. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labour market was smaller. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 238,000 in the latest week. The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labour market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 2,750 to 237,750 last week, the lowest level since May. The dollar held gains versus a basket of currencies after the data. Prices of U.S. Treasuries were trading lower while U.S. stock index futures were higher. Low numbers of layoffs have helped reduce the unemployment rate to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent. The labour market tightness could allow the Federal Reserve to outline a plan to begin unwinding its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities at its Sept. 19-20 policy meeting.




China says will use all necessary means to defend interests against U.S. trade probe

China will use all necessary means to defend the interests of the country and its companies against a U.S. trade investigation, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday. The ministry on Monday expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the U.S. launch of the probe into China’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property, calling it “irresponsible”. The probe is the Trump administration’s first direct measure against Chinese trade practices, which the White House and U.S. business groups say are bruising American industry. “We will take all the necessary measures to resolutely defend the interests of China and Chinese firms” in the face of the unilateral U.S. actions, commerce ministry official Gao Feng told reporters at a regular news conference. Gao also said that China’s support for overseas investment by Chinese firms will not change, but that oversight of deals will increase and projects related to China’s Belt and Road initiative will be given priority. China’s cabinet released guidelines to manage overseas investments, with certain sectors encouraged and others restricted or banned outright.




Brexit fears slow British growth, hit consumers and businesses

Britain’s economy suffered weakness on all fronts in the three months to June, with shoppers pinched by the pound’s tumble, exports failing to fill the gap, and business investment frozen by Brexit uncertainty. The Office National Statistics confirmed on Thursday the economy grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter after 0.2 percent in the first — adding up to the slowest growth for any major advanced economy since the start of 2017. The data showed negligible growth in household spending and flat business investment. A separate report suggested the malaise will continue. The Confederation of British Industry said retail sales growth slowed in August at the fastest pace in more than a year. Last year Britain surprised most economists by continuing to grow strongly during the six months after the June vote to leave the European Union. The growth was powered by robust consumer spending, despite a fall of around 15 percent in the value of the pound after the financial markets downgraded Britain’s long-run prospects following the Brexit vote.