Overseas Headlines – May 17, 2017


Euro zone expands trade surplus despite protectionist calls
The euro zone increased its trade surplus with the rest of the world in March with both exports and imports rising markedly, in a sign that global commerce has so far not been hampered by protectionist calls. The European Union statistics office Eurostat said on Tuesday the 19-country currency area recorded a 30.9 billion euro ($34.1 billion) surplus in March in its goods trade balance with states outside the bloc, according to data not adjusted for seasonal factors. The March surplus is nearly double that of February when the bloc has a positive balance of 17.8 billion euros, and also higher than a year earlier when the surplus was 28.2 billion euros. The 19-country bloc, driven by Germany, expanded its exports by 13 percent in March on a yearly basis to a total value of 202.3 billion euros, unadjusted figures show. Imports to the bloc also increased by 14 percent, although from a lower basis, showing that trade flows have not been affected by growing protectionist calls, such as from U.S. President Donald Trump. Exports of the 28 EU countries to the United States in the first quarter increased by 11 percent compared with the same quarter last year.


China deleveraging to continue as goals not yet achieved: state paper
China’s financial deleveraging will continue given that a regulatory clampdown on risky lending hasn’t “achieved its goals”, a state-run newspaper said in a commentary on Wednesday. The Economic Daily, which is run by China’s cabinet, published the article just days after Premier Li Keqiang said China is capable of maintaining stability in financial markets, and will also strike a balance between financial stability, gradual deleveraging and steady economic growth. “From what we can see now, the regulatory goals clearly haven’t been achieved and the talk of the end of regulatory clampdown is out of the question,” the newspaper said. “Different regulators are quickening the pace to collaborate on their policies to push forward financial deleveraging,” it added.


U.S. factory output surges in April; homebuilding stumbles
U.S. manufacturing production recorded its biggest increase in more than three years in April, bolstering the view that economic growth picked up early in the second quarter despite a surprise decline in homebuilding. The broad strength in factory output reported by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday added to labour market data in suggesting the growth slowdown in the first quarter was temporary. That may allow the U.S. central bank to raise interest rates next month. “The sharp increase in industrial activity is a clear sign that the first-quarter sluggishness is behind us. It comes at the right time as home construction seems to have hit a lull,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. Manufacturing production jumped 1.0 percent last month, the biggest increase since February 2014, after falling 0.4 percent in March, the Fed said. The surge, which outstripped economists’ expectations for a 0.3 percent gain, reflected a 5.0 percent rebound in the production of motor vehicles and parts. There were also healthy increases in the output of machinery, fabricated metal products, appliances and furniture, business equipment and chemical products.