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Traveling the Globe to Report on World Markets

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During the first quarter of this year, growth was supported by 3% gains in investments and higher consumer spending. The IMF expects the country’s economy to expand 2.2% this year, compared to a decline of 2.3% in 2016.


The new $55-billion infrastructure building scheme is widely seen as an attempt by the resources-led economy to kick-start growth as the mining-led investment boom fades away.


Substantially lower inflation levels are likely to allow Brazil’s central bank to reduce interest rates further. Consumer inflation dropped below 3% in July, the lowest level in nearly two decades. Growth is expected to accelerate to 1.7% in 2018, when the country is due to elect the next government.


Faster economic growth has raised expectations of an interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada during the second half of this year. The unemployment rate is at the lowest in nearly a decade though inflation remains below the central bank’s target.


The Chilean government has lowered its growth forecast for the current year to 1.5%, from 2.25% earlier. The government expects higher average copper prices for the current year, but domestic spending by households and businesses is likely to moderate.


Between January and March, GDP expanded 6.9% from a year ago, exceeding expectations and clocking its fastest pace of growth in six quarters.


The central bank expects the economy to expand less than 2% this year, as the recently implemented tax reforms could restrict economic activity. The Colombian government is planning to reduce spending by more than $1.6 billion to lower the revenue deficit in 2018.


The Czech Republic’s central bank raised interest rates to 0.25% in its meeting held on August 3rd. The hike, the first in more than nine years, comes after three years of stimulus programs by the government.


Structural reforms gained momentum. Foreign investment in Egyptian government securities touched $5.7 billion and remittances worth nearly $8 billion came into the country’s legitimate financial system.


For the January-March period, the French economy clocked 0.3% growth quarter-on-quarter, a slower pace compared to the fourth quarter’s 0.5% expansion.


Germany’s GDP increased 0.6% between January and March, clocking its fastest pace of growth since the first quarter of 2016. Adding to the cheer, all the domestic growth drivers contributed to the performance.


Greece’s return to the bond markets on July 25th is widely perceived as a sign of the steady progress the economy has made in exiting the crisis. The sale of five-year bonds followed a month after the country received $9.5 billion more in bailout funds.


Retail sales in Hong Kong rebounded in March, helped by increased domestic consumption and resumed inflow of tourists from mainland China. Retail sales, a reliable indicator of economic activity, have remained tepid over the last two years.


The Hungarian central bank, which left interest rates unchanged at its meeting on April 25th, said it plans to keep monetary policy loose until 2018 despite rising inflationary pressures.


India reported a host of rather discouraging data in recent months. Its GDP for the first quarter increased 6.1% in annual terms, a sharp deceleration from the 7% growth recorded in the previous quarter.


In the first quarter, Indonesia clocked 5% annualized growth, marginally improving its performance from the 4.9% expansion registered during the previous review period. However, GDP diminished 0.3% from the fourth quarter.


In its interest rate discussion for April, the Bank of Israel’s Monetary Committee presented a very optimistic assessment of the Israeli economy.


Between January and March, the Italian economy expanded 0.2% from the previous quarter and 0.8% from a year ago. The comparable figures for the fourth quarter of 2016 were 0.2% and 1.0%, respectively.


The rebound in consumer spending and the increase in exports helped the economy expand an annualized 2.2% in the first quarter. An increase in exports to Asia in particular contributed to economic growth.


Between January and March, Malaysia’s GDP expanded 5.6% from a year ago, beating both expectations and the previous quarter’s growth rate of 4.5%.


The economy is expected to grow 1.7% this year and 2% in 2018, according to the most recent forecasts from the IMF. The Mexican central bank increased its benchmark rate in June, but indicated that the rate is likely to be on hold for the rest of this year.


New Zealand’s economy grew a meager 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2016, the lowest growth rate recorded in two years, as dairy production fell due to weather conditions. However, the services sector expanded, driven by demand for business services.


Floods and landslides that caused extensive damage in June may have reduced the pace of economic growth in Peru during the second quarter of the year. However, construction activity should expand strongly during the coming months on reconstruction efforts.


During the first quarter, the Philippines lost a bit of its momentum but still managed to cling to its reputation as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.


Poland’s economy expanded 4% in the first quarter of 2017, while industrial orders increased 15.7% year-on-year in June and 11.4% on a month-on-month basis. The government said the economy could expand 4% in 2017 on the back of increasing investment.


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.


Russia’s economy appeared to be on a path of moderate economic recovery as it recorded a marginal 0.4% growth in the first quarter notwithstanding the recent moderation in energy and commodity prices.


Singapore’s GDP expanded 2.5% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2017, thanks to the ongoing rebound in manufacturing powered by export demand. Industrial production rose 10.2% compared to the year-ago period.


GDP diminished 0.3% between the third quarter of 2016 and the fourth. Two ratings agencies downgraded South Africa’s credit rating to junk status.


After stepping into 2017 on a disappointing note, Korea made a smart recovery in the early months of the year. The economy expanded 0.9% from the previous quarter and 2.7% from a year earlier.


At the end of March, Spain’s quarter-on-quarter GDP growth stood at 0.8%, a notch higher than the 0.7% expansion recorded in the fourth quarter.


Between January and March, Taiwan’s GDP increased nearly 2.6% year on year, with exports climbing the most in six years.


Between January and March, a solid recovery in exports propelled the Thai economy to its fastest pace of quarterly expansion in four years.


Turkey’s consumer-led growth that helped the economy stage a remarkable comeback continued during the review period, clocking 5% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2017. A reading of consumer confidence showed a growth of 1.9% in July.


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.


Britain’s GDP increased only 0.2% in the first quarter compared to the 0.7% expansion registered in the fourth quarter. Depressed services sector activity largely led to the loss of momentum.


U.S. economic growth during the first half of this year likely fell short of earlier expectations, despite the stable trends in domestic spending and the improvement in external trade. First quarter growth was revised higher to 1.4% annualized, as consumer spending exceeded initial estimates and exports accelerated.

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© Thomas White International, Ltd. 2017