Canada looks like a safe bet to be the first amongst the G8 members to hike rates. Last monthâ€™s inflation figures were a tad stronger than expected, topping Governor Carneyâ€™s +2% inflation target. Despite the small breach, no CBank in this stuttering economic environment would be rushing to raise rates. Canadaâ€™s outperforming metrics, employment, housing and manufacturing data still have to combat specific external headwinds that scream for extending domestic accommodative policies. The BoC has been very vocal about being adequately â€˜flexibleâ€™ in its inflation target mandate. The timing of any hike will be â€˜weighed carefully against domestic and global economic developments.â€™ Currently, risk aversion has not been kind to the loonie.
Below are some other highlights of the week:
- USD: US consumer prices were flat last month (+0.3% vs. +0.3%), ending three-months of price increases as falling gas costs kept inflation at bay. Core-prices have risen +0.2%, m/m, and +2.3%, y/y. The annual rate for the overall and core continue to hover above the Fedâ€™s+2% target. Despite falling gas prices easing overall inflation, rising core could limit the Fedâ€™s ability to stimulate the US economy further, even by additional bond buying.
- USD: Retail sales grew just +0.1% headline and ex-autos, below market expectations of +0.2%. Analysts note the sales print is to some extent a payback after a strong Q1 gain. Last month saw a particular weakness in building materials and gas station receipts on the back of weaker gas prices.
- USD: NY Empire State manufacturing rebounded this month. The business conditions index rallied to 17.09 after falling 14 points to 6.56 in April. Most of the sub-indexes improved like new orders, shipment, labor conditions and the employment index. However, price measures eased this month as did optimism about the future.
- USD: Housing starts beat expectations, rising to +717k vs. +680k. On the flip side building permits dropped back down from +769k to +715k after Marchâ€™s +62k surge. It remains the second highest monthly reading in just under four-years.
- USD: IP rebounded last month, jumping +1.1%, m/m, further proof of a healthy demand for factory goods. Other data showed that US Capacity utilization also rose to +79.2% from a revised +78.4%. Big picture however, operating rates remain below their long-run average, just above +80%.
- CAD: March Canadian manufacturing shipments gained +1.9%, beating expectations of a +0.4% monthly rise. The gain was led by an increase in sales from petroleum and coal products.
- USD: The weekly EIA reported crude inventories were up +2.1m barrels just above weekly expectations of +1.5m.
- CAD: Foreigners reduced their Canadian security holding for the second consecutive month (-$2b). On the flip side, Canadians bought the largest amount of foreign product in five-years last month (+$6.3b, with US equities accounting for +60%).
- CAD: Canadian manufacturing shipments rallied in March, up +1.9% vs. +0.4% expectations.
- CAD: Wholesale trade climbed +0.4% to +$49b in March, mostly on the back of motor vehicles and the parts sector. Sales volumes were also unchanged on the month.
- CAD: BoC quarterly review stated that â€œdelay or front loading of fiscal consolidation may cut global GDP 7-8% by 2015. Monetary policy may be needed to support financial stability in exceptional circumstancesâ€ In translation, Governor Carney has little concern for the Euro meltdown and is flexible for liquidity injections if required.
- USD: Level of US initial jobless claims remained unchanged, w/w, at a seasonally adjusted level of +370k. The four-week moving average falls to the lowest level in more than a month (-4.7k to +375k). The data suggests that last monthâ€™s spike is likely due to seasonal factors. The May employment report is likely to confirm the slower trend in hiring that emerged in March.
- USD: The Conference boardâ€™s leading economic indicators index slid -0.1% last month, the first drop in eight-months. Negative contributions came from last monthâ€™s contraction in building permits and a jump in initial claims. The broad softness in this monthâ€™s data implies weak growth in the latter half of Q2.
- USD: Philly Fed truly disappointed and missed all market expectations, falling from +8.5 to -5.8, the worst print in eight month. The negatives came from new orders, a big plunge in the employment and the future activity index.
- CAD: Canadian April CPI (nsa) +0.4%, m/m and +2%, y/y; core +0.4% and +2.1% y/y. The market was looking for a headline print of +0.3% and +0.2% respectively. This has the hawks wondering when Governor Carney will pull the trigger. Despite probably being the first G8 country that is going to actually hike rates, the market is beginning to price in no hike this year after a disappointing Canadian GDP print in February, and because of the continued euro-zone turmoil.