U.S. small business borrowing rose slightly in December
Small U.S. firms borrowed slightly more in December than in the prior month, data released on Wednesday showed, but more were repaying existing loans late, suggesting that default rates may rise this year. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index rose to 129.7 in December from a downwardly revised 129.1 in November. Measured from a year earlier, when the index registered 135.6, it was the sixth decline in seven months. Movements in the index typically correspond with movements in gross domestic product growth a quarter or two ahead. Since taking the top political U.S. post on Jan. 20, Trump has continued to meet with CEOs of big U.S. companies to urge them to boost jobs at home, and has signed a number of executive orders directing changes in immigration, health insurance, governments rule-writing and other policies that leave small businesses unclear on where they stand.
Euro-Area Manufacturing Picks Up as Demand Drives Prices Higher
Euro-area manufacturing expanded at the strongest pace in nearly six years, with firm order growth signalling a build-up of underlying price pressures. A Purchasing Managers’ Index climbed to 55.2 in January, IHS Markit said on Wednesday. The reading compares with a flash estimate of 55.1 and is up from 54.9 in December. A weaker euro and more expensive global commodities raised companies’ input costs, while high demand drove price growth to the fastest pace in five-and-a-half years. The report follows data on Tuesday showing euro-area inflation accelerated to 1.8 percent last month, effectively reaching a level the European Central Bank defines as price stability.
China January factory activity expands for sixth month at modest pace but risks loom
China’s manufacturing sector expanded for the sixth month in a row in January as the world’s second-largest economy continued to benefit from record bank lending and a construction boom. The improvement in the industrial sector could give the government more room to tackle high debt levels in many parts of the economy this year, though analysts are not sure if current growth levels can be sustained amid growing risks at home and abroad. U.S. President Donald Trump and a top economic adviser on Tuesday unleashed a barrage of criticism against China, Germany and Japan, saying the three key U.S. trading partners were engaged in devaluing their currencies to the harm of American companies and consumers.