U.S. Jobs, Wages Show Solid Gains in Trump’s First Full Month
U.S. employers added jobs at an above-average pace for a second month on outsized gains in construction and manufacturing, showing the labor market continued its steady growth in the new year. The 235,000 increase in jobs followed a 238,000 rise in January that was more than previously estimated, the best back-to-back rise since July, a Labor Department report showed Friday in Washington. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, and wages grew 2.8 percent from February 2016. While unseasonably warm weather may have boosted the payrolls count, the data represent President Donald Trump’s first full month in office and coincide with a surge in economic optimism following his election victory. The figures also validate recent comments by Federal Reserve officials that flagged a likely interest-rate increase this month.
German imports soar in January, current account surplus shrinks
German imports soared more than expected in January, outperforming a surprisingly strong rise in exports in a further sign that Europe’s biggest economy fired on all cylinders at the start of 2017. Data released by the Federal Statistics Office on Friday, also showed the current account surplus fell sharply on the month suggesting vibrant domestic demand is helping to slowly re-balance Germany’s traditionally export-driven economy. "Germany’s domestic demand will remain strong this year and we expect imports to rise faster than exports in 2017," said Sal. Oppenheim economist Ulrike Kastens. "This should help to contain the trade surplus, although it is likely to remain high," Kastens said, adding that German companies would have to invest more to further fuel imports and significantly reduce the trade surplus. "But many firms are still holding off investments due to a series of political risks and uncertainties," she added, pointing to the threat of a protectionist U.S. trade policy and the unclear outcome of several major elections in Europe.
China will not devalue yuan to stimulate exports – PBOC deputy governor
China will not devalue its currency to stimulate exports, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said. "China will definitely not devalue the yuan to stimulate exports, it will definitely not engage in a currency war. This is because China is a responsible major economy," Yi Gang told China’s Economic Daily newspaper on Friday. China’s exports for January and February combined rose 4.0 percent from the same period last year, while imports surged 26.4 percent, suggesting solid improvement in demand domestically and abroad. But the export outlook for China and other trade-reliant economists is being clouded by fears of growing U.S. protectionism.
Brazil’s inflation eases rapidly, paving way for sharper rate cut
Brazil’s inflation rate eased much faster than expected in February to its lowest since 2010, data showed on Friday, strengthening the case for a steeper interest rate by the central bank next month. Consumer prices rose 4.76 percent in the 12 months through February, government statistics agency IBGE said, down from an increase of 5.35 percent in January and below all expectations in a Reuters poll of economists. Yields on interest rate futures were down in early trading as investors saw a greater likelihood that the central bank would cut its benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points in April, after reducing it by 75 basis points at its last meeting. Most economists expect Brazil’s inflation to undershoot the government’s target of 4.5 percent this year as the economy struggles to recover from its worst recession on record. The IPCA index of consumer prices rose 0.33 percent in February, the lowest increase for the month since 2000.