German trade surplus narrows as exports continue to drop

March 10, 2016

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German trade surplus narrows as exports continue to drop. Germany posted a sa trade surplus of EUR 18.8 bln in January, down from EUR 20.3 bln in the previous month. The narrowing reflects a second monthly drop in exports, which fell -0.5% m/m at the start of the year. Imports meanwhile rebounded and rose 1.2% m/m in January, after falling -1.6% m/m in December. This is nominal data that is impacted by oil prices and forex developments, but it confirms the trend of growing imports and slowing export demand, which means the German recovery is for once not export driven, but supported by consumption and lately also investment.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) cut 25 bps to 2.25%, contrary to widespread expectations for no change. Rate cuts were anticipated this year, just not so soon. Today’s cut was due to a concern over eroding inflation expectations. And more could be in store: Governor Wheeler said “Further policy easing may be required to ensure that future average inflation settles near the middle of the target range. A further cut could come as early as next month on April 28.

China’s CPI accelerated to a 2.3% y/y pace in February from the 1.8% growth rate in January. While that left CPI expanding at the fastest pace since the middle of 2014, the gain was driven by food costs, which spiked higher during the week of Lunar New Year holidays. Colder weather also lifted food prices. Hence, the pick-up in the CPI growth rate should prove temporary. Underlying inflation remains tame, leaving ample leeway for the government to implement further monetary and fiscal stimulus this year. The PPI fell 4.9% y/y in February after the 5.3% drop in January, leaving the 48th consecutive decline.

There weren’t any real surprises from the Bank of Canada, as it left its policy rate unchanged at 0.50%. The key take-away from January, that risks to the inflation profile remained largely balanced, was repeated. Though the general tone of the announcement might have been a little more upbeat, there was still plenty of caution noted given downside global risks. Meanwhile, the S&P/TSX was the global outperformer (excluding Italy), rising almost 0.7%, doubling the gain on Wall Street, thanks to its heavy weighting in oil and commodities.

Main Macro Events Today

ECB Interest Rate Decision: The ECB is widely expected to ease policy again today when updated set of staff projections will likely bring downward revisions to growth and inflation projections. A deposit rate cut of at least 10 bps together with the introduction of a tiered system to soften the impact is widely priced in. The ECB is also widely expected to widen monthly QE purchases but without a very large deposit rate cut or a change in the pool of assets, Draghi will eventually run into supply constraints, with German bonds the bottle neck the ECB has to funnel its monthly QE spending through unless the ECB abandons the rule of purchasing paper in line with the policy key. That, however, could be interpreted as outright state financing, and such a decoupling or too “exotic” moves could bring Draghi further into conflict with the Bundesbank, but refraining from radical steps risks disappointing markets.

US Jobless Claims: Weekly US Jobless Claims (expectations 270k) and Continuing Jobless claims (expectations 2,218K) have been following a volatile downward trajectory since early October of last year. Weaker than expected data will add to the slowing path of rate hikes, better than expected will add to the NFP figures from last Friday and increase speculation regarding a move by the FED next week.

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