U.S. retail sales surge, driven by autos and gasoline purchases
U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest increase in 2-1/2 years in September likely as reconstruction and clean-up efforts in areas devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma boosted demand for building materials and motor vehicles. The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales jumped 1.6 percent last month also buoyed by a surge in receipts at services stations, which reflected higher gasoline prices after Harvey disrupted production at oil refineries in the Gulf Coast. Last month’s increase in retail sales was the largest since March 2015. Data for August was revised to show sales slipping 0.1 percent instead of the previously reported 0.2 percent drop. Retail sales increased 4.4 percent on an annual basis. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales jumping 1.7 percent in September. Harvey and Irma ravaged parts of Texas and Florida when the storms made landfall in late August and early September. Sales at gardening and building material stores increased 2.1 percent last month, the biggest increase since February, and followed a 0.6 percent rise in August. Receipts at auto dealerships soared 3.6 percent likely as residents replaced flood-damaged motor vehicles. That was the largest rise since March 2015 and followed a 2.1 percent decline in August.
Germany’s economic upswing to lose some momentum in second year-half: ministry
Germany’s economic upswing has broadened and is set to continue in the second half of the year, but it is likely to lose some momentum after its strong performance in the first six months, the Economy Ministry said on Friday. Europe’s biggest economy is enjoying a consumer-led upswing, helped by record-high employment, moderate inflation and ultra-low borrowing costs. “The upswing of the German economy is gaining in breadth. In addition to consumer spending and construction, exports and investment in equipment have picked up,” the ministry said in its monthly report. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.7 percent on the quarter in the first three months of the year and 0.6 percent from April to June, propelled by increased household and state spending as well as high investments in buildings and equipment. “Indicators are pointing to a brisk continuation of the upturn in the second half of the year, although not quite with the momentum of the first half of the year,” the ministry said. The German government on Wednesday raised its GDP growth forecast to 2.0 percent this year, up sharply from its previous estimate of 1.5 percent. It sees growth of 1.9 percent in 2018. Adjusted for calendar effects, these figures translate into GDP growth rates of 2.2 percent in 2017 and 2.0 percent in 2018. This would be the strongest performance since 2011 when the economy expanded by 3.7 percent following the financial crisis.
China September imports blow past expectations as economy remains in high gear
China’s import and export growth accelerated in September, suggesting the world’s second-biggest economy is still expanding at a healthy pace despite widespread forecasts of an eventual slowdown. The data also suggested further improvement in the global economy, with business activity and demand having picked up markedly this year in Europe and the United States. The upbeat readings will be welcome new for Beijing ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress next week, at which President Xi Jinping is expected to tighten his grip on power and set out the government’s top political and economic priorities for the next five years. Imports grew 18.7 percent in September from a year earlier, beating analysts’ forecasts for a 13.5 percent expansion and accelerating from 13.3 percent in August, customs data showed on Friday. The gain was stronger than the most optimistic forecast in a Reuters analysts poll. Exports rose 8.1 percent, below forecasts of 8.8 percent but the most in three months and handily beating August’s 5.5 percent.