Markets fell in Asia on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei declined 0.66 percent, breaking a three-dray streak as investors took profits at the end of the day. The Hang Seng declined 0.14 percent, while the S&P 500 was off just 0.03 percent.
Markets were also down in Europe in mid-day trading. Germany’s DAX was off 0.09 percent, London’s FTSE 100 was off 0.08 percent, and the STOXX 50 index was off 0.54 percent.
U.S. futures at 8:55 a.m.: DJIA: -0.04%, S&P 500: -0.12%, NASDAQ: -0.33%.
Here are three stories to keep an eye on:
1) Inflation Edges Up in China: China’s consumer price index edged up 0.2 percent on the month and 2.4 percent on the year. This is greater than the 2.2 percent year-over-year gain expected by economists, but still well below the full-year target of 3.5 percent set by the nation’s central bank. The index is also up 2.4 percent this year to date. Both the urban and rural CPI increased at the same rate. Overall, the increase in CPI can be pinned on a 4.0 percent jump in vegetable prices, which drove up overall food prices.
However, on the other side of the equation, China’s producer price index declined 0.6 percent on the month in April, and was down 2.6 percent on the year. This is a created decline than the 2.2 percent drop expected by economists. Prices are down 2.0 percent this year to date, driven mostly by a 4.8 percent drop in raw material prices.
2) Australian Employment Rises: Australia’s unemployment rate edged down from 5.6 percent in March to 5.5 percent in April following the surprising addition of 50,100 people to the workforce. This is well above estimates looking for just 11,000 additions, and reverses a loss of 31,200 in March. Australia’s labor-force participation rate was 65.3 percent.
3) Bank of England Keeps Rates Unchanged: As expected, the Bank of England elected to leave its benchmark bank rate at 0.5 percent and its asset-purchase program at 375 billion ($583.76 billion). A number of recent economic indicators combined with expected 0.3 percent GDP growth in the first quarter seem to have curbed fears that the region will enter another recession.
What’s more, industrial production data released on Thursday came in stronger than expected. Production increased 0.7 on the month, beating a 0.2 percent gain forecast by economists. On the year, production is off 1.4 percent, less than the 1.5 percent expected. Manufacturing output was up 1.1 percent on the month, better than expectations for a 0.4 percent gain, and off 1.4 percent on the year, compared to expectations for a decline of 1.8 percent.
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