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Traveling the Globe to Report on World Markets

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The resourcesled economy of Australia recorded a trade surplus in December 2016, the first time in about three years, as the rebound in commodity prices gave a boost to export earnings and overall economic growth.


China, which saw a massive stock market selloff at the start of 2016, finished the year on a rather positive note. During the fourth quarter, the economy expanded 6.8%, beating expectations.


Low interest rates and reduced investments by the government also helped the country achieve a surplus for the first time in two decades. Thanks to the economic recovery, the jobless rate came down to 4.9% in November 2016, the lowest level in the entire European Union.


The Egyptian government continued its structural reforms program in the fourth quarter. Egypt’s core inflation surged to 30.86% in January, its highest level in more than a decade.


The French economy expanded 0.4% during the fourth quarter, picking up speed from the 0.2% growth clocked in the third quarter. Markit’s composite PMI for France, which measures both manufacturing and services activity in the country, recently reached its highest level in six years.


During the fourth quarter, Germany’s GDP rose 0.4% from the previous quarter, with nearly all the domestic growth drivers contributing to the performance. The country also reported a flurry of other positive data, signaling that it remains well-placed to cope with any headwinds this year.


Greece’s economy, which has been in recession for several years now, is expected to return to growth in 2017. According to a forecast by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, a think tank, gross domestic product is expected to grow between 1.5-1.8% in 2017.


Some economists have pointed out that a strong Hong Kong Dollar and expected interest rate hikes in the United States bode ill for the economy this year. Weak exports, slowing private consumption and a slumping property market would weigh on the economy, the South China Morning Post reported.


Among economic indicators, Hungary’s industrial output fell 2.1% year-on-year in October 2016, dragged down by the slowdown in car manufacturing, the mainstay of the economy. Like in its neighbor the Czech Republic, car production contributes about 30% of Hungary’s industrial production.


Between October and December, India’s GDP expanded 7% from the same period a year ago. This pace of growth was slower than the 7.4% expansion recorded in the third quarter but faster than forecasts and estimates.


Indonesia reported a mixed set of data in recent months, which is likely a sign that the large commodity exporter is yet to begin benefiting from the recent spurt in global commodity prices. During the fourth quarter, GDP in the country declined 1.8% from the previous quarter.


The country reported a strong set of data for the fourth quarter, ending 2016 on a significantly better note than economists had expected. Israel’s annual inflation edged up to 0.1% in January after 28 months of declining prices.


During the fourth quarter, the Italian economy lost momentum slightly, expanding 0.2% compared to the 0.3% growth it had clocked in the third quarter.


Despite the strong uptick in exports and investments toward the end of 2016, the economy expanded a meager 1% during the fourth quarter as consumer spending remained feeble. The economy had advanced 2.2% during the previous quarter.


During the fourth quarter, the country’s GDP increased 4.5% year on year, outpacing forecasts and the third-quarter growth rate of 4.3%. Exports, which had declined in the third quarter, increased 1.3%.


New Zealand’s economy expanded 1.1% in the third quarter, which came in above analyst estimates. Household consumption was the main driver of gross domestic product, supported by higher activity in manufacturing, construction, and tourism sectors.


The Philippines clocked 6.6% year-on-year growth during the fourth quarter, which turned out to be the sixth time in a row that Philippine GDP expansion exceeded 6%.


Poland’s Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the country is well-placed to make changes to interest rates to influence the course of the economy. The Polish central bank has left interest rates unchanged at 1.50% since it reduced rates by 50 basis points in March 2015.


Qatar, which is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is likely benefiting from the recovery in energy prices, but the key driver of the economy now is public spending on infrastructure.


Domestically, the worst appears to be over for the economy as wages begin to recover and capital flight is slowing down to a trickle. A Bloomberg article mentioned that capital outflow from Russia in 2016 was the lowest since 2008.


Thanks to a rebound in manufacturing powered by export demand, the economy expanded 12.3% on a quarter-on-quarter basis in the fourth quarter, exceeding analyst expectations. Compared to the year-ago period, GDP increased 2.9% during the quarter.


Private sector activity expanded in January, clocking the fifth consecutive month of growth. South Africa’s unemployment rate declined to 26.5% in the fourth quarter from 27.1% in the third quarter as key sectors, such as services, transport and manufacturing, hired more workers.


Between October and December, the nation’s GDP grew 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in seasonally-adjusted terms, losing momentum compared to the 0.6% and 0.8% growth achieved in the previous two quarters.


Spain revealed excellent data for the fourth quarter. But recent trends indicate that the country’s economic recovery, which has been robust and consistent for close to three years now, may moderate slightly in 2017.


During the fourth quarter, Taiwan’s GDP expanded nearly 2.9% year on year, recording its fastest pace of quarterly growth in 2016 and its best quarter in two years.


Between October and December, the Thai economy grew 3% from a year ago, recording its slowest pace of quarterly expansion in 2016. Public spending picked up 1.5% after contracting 5.2% in the third quarter.


The economy has been hurt by the after-effects of the failed military coup in July 2016 and a number of terrorist attacks, not to mention the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of the Erdogan administration that deter foreign investors.


Recent data and trends show an improved outlook for the UAE economy. Following the partial recovery in oil prices, the all-important oil sector is expected to contribute more to overall economic activity in the coming months.


During the fourth quarter, Britain’s GDP expanded 0.7%, clocking its fastest speed of growth since the last quarter of 2015. But, business investment declined 1% and services sector growth moderated, signaling strains on the economy ahead of Brexit negotiations.

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