The European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold on Thursday. President Mario Draghi urged euro zone governments to agree a growth strategy to go hand in hand with fiscal discipline, but as thousands of Spaniards protested in the streets he gave no sign the bank would do more to address people’s fears about the economy
The FOMC’s relatively anodyne conclusions left world markets with little new to chew on Thursday, with some poor European banking results for Q1 probably get more attention. Broadly, world stocks were a touch higher while the dollar and US Treasury yields were slightly lower. European bank stocks fell 2% and dragged down European indices. Euro sovereign yields were slightly higher, with markets eyeing Friday’s Italian bond auction. Volatility gauges were a touch lower and crude oil prices nudged up.
JPMorgan profit beats expectations:
In China the annual rate of GDP growth in the first quarter slowed to 8.1 percent from 8.9 percent in the previous three months, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, below the 8.3 percent consensus forecast of economists polled by Reuters.
China’s trade balance plunged $31.5 billion into the red in February as imports swamped exports. It followed reports on Friday that inflation cooled in February while retail sales and industrial output fell below forecast, all pointing to a gradual cooling.
At this stage in the euro zone crisis, we probably don't need to be reminded how uncompetitive the peripheral economies are. (Arguably, of course, they would not be economically peripheral if they were more competitive, but that is for tautologists to debate). The United Nations, in the form of UNCTAD, has just pinpointed another weakness, however -- huge underperformance in foreign directed investing, or FDI.