Stockholm (Ekonamik) – Data releases for leading economic indicators in France, Germany and the USA this week continued to support the view that the global economy is slowing down.
According to the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) fell from –0.25 in January to –0.29 in February. The CFNAI is an aggregate index of economic activity based on the behaviour of 85 different variables. “Thirty-eight of the 85 individual indicators made positive contributions to the CFNAI in February, while 47 made negative contributions. Thirty-seven indicators improved from January to February, while 48 indicators deteriorated. Of the indicators that improved, 16 made negative contributions,” according to the report. The Chicago Fed highlighted the negative contributions from personal consumption, housing and non-farm payrolls to the January headline figure.
In Germany, data releases suggest the economy is doing well, but not spectacularly so. Provisional consumer prices estimates for March showed an increase of 1.3%, year-on-year, equivalent to a 0.4% increase from February, according to Destatis, the German statistical office. This is the lowest increase in consumer prices since April 2018. The yearly increase was fundamentally driven by energy prices which increased 4.2% on that basis. In March 2019, the harmonised index of consumer prices for Germany, which is calculated for European purposes, is expected to increase by 1.4% year on year and 0.5% from February 2019.
During this week, Destatis also published labour market figures for February, which showed employment had increased by 1.1% from the same month last year, representing an increase of 485,000 persons in employment. The same report also reported that 1.36 million people were unemployed, 278,000 fewer than a year earlier. “However, the month-on-month increase [+49,000] was smaller than the relevant average of the past five years (+57,000 people). After seasonal adjustment, that is, after the elimination of the usual seasonal fluctuations, the number of persons in employment increased by 37,000, or 0.1%, in February 2019 on January 2019,” said the report.
In France, March CPI inflation was measured at 1.1%, year-on-year, the lowest level since September 2017, according to Insee. Tobacco and energy prices increased by 8.5% and 5.1%. The price of services increased by a meagre 0.6% while the price of manufactured products actually fell by 0.5%. This demured performance is consistent with decreases in services output and in manufacturing turnover in January.