Overseas Headlines – March 23, 2017


Claims for U.S. Jobless Benefits Increase to Seven-Week High
Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to a seven-week high, representing a departure from other data showing a solid labor market. Jobless claims increased by 15,000 to 258,000 in the week ended March 18, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for 240,000. On an unadjusted basis, applications jumped in Ohio and Kansas. Even with the pickup in claims last week, hiring managers have been slow to dismiss workers as the labor market tightens and job vacancies become harder to fill with skilled and experienced employees. Companies also have been adding to payrolls at a healthy pace and gradually increasing wages.


Euro zone survey data point to robust first quarter, ECB says
Economic recovery in the euro zone is gaining ground and some data point to robust momentum in the first quarter despite uncertainty over Brexit, China’s rebalancing and new U.S. policies clouding the outlook, the European Central Bank said on Thursday. "Incoming data, notably survey results, have increased the Governing Council’s confidence that the ongoing economic expansion will continue to firm and broaden," the ECB said in its regular economic bulletin. "Surveys point to a robust growth momentum in the first quarter of 2017." Global trade, a key contributor to growth, also seems to be picking up momentum and despite increasingly protectionist rhetoric from Washington world trade is expected to expand broadly in line with global activity, the ECB added.


China stocks inch up despite B-share slump
China stocks ended slightly higher on Thursday, despite a slump in Shanghai B shares amid worries over tight liquidity and stepped-up regulation. The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.4 percent, to 3,461.98 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent, to 3,248.55 points. The index tracking the dollar-dominated Shanghai B-shares tumbled as much as 3.9 percent, before closing 1.7 percent lower, posting its worst day in two months. Shares traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges in foreign currency are B shares, while A shares are those denominated in yuan. "The sharp drop in the Shanghai B-share market, is mainly due to investors’ concerns over tight liquidity in the country’s interbank market and stepped-up regulation on domestic financial institutions," said Yang Weixiao, an analyst with Founder Securities, adding the soured sentiment could spread to the A-share market.