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March 18, 2013
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  Top Stories 
  • Bottom falls out of U.S. consumer confidence
    Persistently high U.S. unemployment and scaremongering over budget issues in Washington contributed to a sharp drop in consumer confidence, which fell to its worst reading since 2011 as gauged by a University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters survey. Economists had projected a slight increase, but the index instead plunged from 77.6 in February to 71.8. Nearly a third of those surveyed predicted slowing economic growth, and nearly 4 in 10 said they expected rising unemployment. USA Today (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • High fuel costs drive up U.S. consumer prices
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    U.S. consumer prices jumped 0.7% in February, driven by large increases for gasoline. Excluding that volatile factor and food, however, prices were up a modest 0.2%, the Labor Department reported. "With gasoline prices moderating into the first half of March, next month's report should see a correction due to the volatile energy component," said Michael Dolega, an economist at TD Economics. U.S. News & World Report (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • U.S. factory output surges
    The automotive sector was a leader as U.S. manufacturing output jumped 0.8% in February from January for a 2% gain from a year earlier. The broader industrial-production gauge was up 0.7% month-on-month, with improvement seen across every industry with the exception of primary metals. "Growth has clearly picked up. This is another positive sign" for the broader economy, said Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)/Money & Co. blog (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • White House report warns of obstacles to economic recovery
    While noting dangers ahead due to budget sequestration, the White House's annual report on the U.S. economy paints a generally bright picture, beginning with a resurgent housing market. However, "in the weeks and months ahead, sequestration will begin to disrupt basic functions of government on which Americans depend, from education to emergency first-response to airport security," the report said. The Wall Street Journal/Real Time Economics blog (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • China's leaders speak forcefully about the way forward
    In his first news conference as China's new premier, Li Keqiang pledged more "walking the walk" on the way to market-oriented reforms, but these and other goals Li laid out were general in nature with few details. Separately Sunday, President Xi Jinping sounded a similarly ambitious note at the closing meeting of National People's Congress. "In face of the mighty trend of the times and earnest expectations of the people for a better life, we cannot have the slightest complacency, or get the slightest slack at work ... to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation," Xi said. The Wall Street Journal (3/17) , China Daily (Beijing)/Xinhuanet (3/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Big 2013 gains seen for global property
    After a 6% gain in the flow of cash into the global property market last year, a further rise of 14% is likely this year, predicts Glenn Rufrano, head of global agency Cushman & Wakefield. That should take the market past the US$1 trillion mark and closer to the US$1.25 trillion invested before the 2008 crash. In particular, "demand for commercial real estate has been generally robust in Asia, where markets have been driven by the wealthy getting wealthier and a desire to find safe havens due to volatility in the equity and residential markets," said James Parry, managing director of capital transactions in Australia for Knight Frank. The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) (3/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  Market Activities 
    An unexpected fall in a gauge of U.S. consumer confidence put a damper on shares in Europe and the U.S. on Friday. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.36% to 297.44, and the S&P 500 edged down 0.16% to 1,560.70. Here is a continuously update list of global stock indexes. The Wall Street Journal (3/18) , Reuters (3/15) , CNNMoney (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Asian stocks add to weekly advances
    Japanese stocks led the way in Asia last week as the new government put in place its leadership at the Bank of Japan and investors across the region reacted to favorable economic news from the U.S. On Friday, the Nikkei added 1.45% to 12,560.95, the Hang Seng eased 0.38% to 22,533.11, the Kospi lost 0.78% to 1,986.50 and the S&P/ASX rose 1.75% to 5,120.20. Bloomberg (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Economic Trends & Outlook 

  • Australia feels impact of high dollar, lower export prices
    A strong Australian dollar coupled with a slump in the prices of key commodities that Australia exports to the world are putting a strain on government revenues to such a degree that it is now one of the country's main economic challenges, Treasurer Wayne Swan said. As one possible remedy, Swan said Australia would pursue international measures to eliminate "profit shifting," in which multinational companies ascribe profits to lightly taxed venues worldwide. The Wall Street Journal (3/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Philippines seen at lower risk from hot money
    While acknowledging the current threat of hot money rushing into developing markets that can just as quickly flush out, the International Monetary Fund says the danger in the Philippines remains low. "Emerging Asia faces these same risks, including the Philippines. Our basic assessment, though, is that the risks here, so far, are low compared to those in other countries," said Anoop Singh, the IMF's Asia-Pacific director. Business World (Philippines) (3/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Capital Markets & Financial Products 
  • Japan makes case for bargain in equity market
    Even after a 46% rally since mid-November, Japan's broad Topix gauge of equity is trading at 1.2 times book value, well below 2.3 times book for the S&P 500 in the U.S. Japan's economy minister, Akira Amari, made the case for good bargains in Japanese stocks in a TV interview. "Given the potential of Japanese companies, the valuation of the Japanese market is too low compared with markets in countries like the U.S.," Amari said. Bloomberg (3/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Nonbank entities to be eligible for custody-services license
    Chinese nonbank financial intermediaries whose net assets top 2 billion yuan for three years running may apply beginning in June for licenses to offer custody services for securities investment funds. The China Securities Regulatory Commission will also require that applicants have an independent fund custody department, good security monitoring and a business operating system. China Daily (Beijing)/Xinhuanet (3/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Ping An plans bond issue
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    Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China is awaiting regulatory clearance for a 26 billion yuan issue of convertible bonds. Proceeds are earmarked for general development with a focus on banking. China Daily (Beijing) (3/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Investors wary as yen wavers after recent plunge
    Signs of a stabilizing yen after its recent sharp fall against the U.S. dollar are causing some currency traders to hedge their bets against a further drop. Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's preferred candidate for the Bank of Japan is now in place, investors said they now need to see concrete moves toward growth stimulus before the currently consolidating yen resumes its downward path. The Wall Street Journal (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Industry & Regulatory Update 

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