U.S. Manufacturing Powers On Even as Inflation Heats Up in March
“American manufacturing continues to pour on the momentum as the first quarter draws to a close — despite supply-chain woes and surging materials costs that are driving the inflation debate. Freshly released March data show an increasing number of factory purchasing managers are reporting faster expansion. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s index of general business activity soared to an almost five-decade high, while the IHS Markit’s preliminary gauge of U.S. manufacturing was the second-strongest in data back to 2007.”
U.K. Retail Sales Post Partial Rebound After Lockdown Plunge
“U.K. retail sales posted a modest rebound in February after a brutal start to the year, when a lockdown to contain the coronavirus forced non-essential stores to close. The volume of goods sold in shops and online rose 2.1% from January, the Office for National Statistics said Friday, in line with economists’ expectations. Sales excluding auto fuel climbed 2.4%. The pickup still leaves retailers facing a sharp downturn this quarter after a third national lockdown sent sales plummeting by 8.2% in January. While businesses and consumers are adapting better to restrictions than when curbs were first imposed last spring, the economy as a whole is likely to shrink by more than 3% during the period.”
Japan’s Nearly $1 Trillion Record Budget Could Just Be the Start in Election Year
“With elections coming and the pandemic yet to be quashed, a record annual budget nearing $1 trillion passed Friday by Japan’s parliament is likely to be just the start for a government that already has the developed world’s heaviest debt burden. Japan’s 106.6 trillion yen ($975 billion) spending plan for the year beginning in April represents a 3.8% increase from 2020’s initial budget. Actual spending could rise higher, given Japan’s repeated use of extra budgets, three of which were drafted last year to fight the coronavirus, adding 73 trillion yen to the debt pile.”
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