RIYADH: Momentum in Britain’s private sector slowed much more than expected this month, adding to recession worries as inflation pressures ratcheted higher, according to a business survey on Tuesday that showed rising pessimism.
S&P Global’s flash Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a monthly gauge of the services and manufacturing industries, slumped to 51.8 in May from 57.6 in April, its lowest level since February last year.
The preliminary reading was worse than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists, which had pointed to a drop to 57, and the scale of the fall was bigger than any seen pre-COVID-19.
“The collapse in the composite PMI in May is the clearest sign yet that demand is faltering in response to the intense squeeze on households’ real disposable incomes,” said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Until now, most surveys of British business activity had been fairly robust, despite record-low consumer confidence after inflation hit a 40-year high of 9 percent.
US new home sales fall
Sales of new US single-family homes tumbled to a two-year low in April, likely as higher mortgage rates and soaring prices squeezed first-time buyers and those in search of entry-level properties out of the housing market.
New home sales plunged 16.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000 units last month, the lowest level since April 2020, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. March’s sales pace was revised down to 709,000 units from the previously reported 763,000 units.
Sales have now declined for four straight months. New home sales dropped 5.9 percent in the Northeast and tumbled 15.1 percent in the Midwest. They plummeted 19.8 percent in the densely populated South and decreased 13.8 percent in the Midwest.
Nigeria raises interest rate
Nigeria’s central bank on Tuesday raised the benchmark interest rate by 150 basis points to 13 percent, its first hike in more than two years, to combat rising inflation, sending markets tumbling.
The move surprised analysts and traders who expected the Monetary Policy Committee to keep the rate on hold.
But Gov. Godwin Emefiele told a news briefing that the rate hike was necessary to tame inflation, which quickened to 16.82 percent in April, its highest in eight months, amid a fragile economic recovery.
Indonesia holds rates
Indonesia’s central bank announced on Tuesday more aggressive hikes in the reserve requirement ratio for banks, expecting inflation to rise slightly above its target band this year, but kept interest rates unchanged at a record low.
Bank Indonesia announced a quicker pace in RRR hikes, ordering banks to park 7.5 percent of their reserves starting July and 9 percent from September. This compared with BI’s previously announced policy path, in which BI had set three staggered RRR hikes this year from 3.5 percent to 6.5 percent in September.
BI left the benchmark 7-day reverse repurchase rate at a record low of 3.50 percent, as expected by 25 of 27 economists polled by Reuters. Its two other main rates were also unchanged.
Poland budget surplus
Poland had a budget surplus of 9.2 billion zlotys ($2.14 billion) at the end April, state-run news agency PAP quoted Finance Minister Magdalena Rzeczkowska as saying on Tuesday.
Poland had a deficit of 0.3 billion zlotys at the end of March.
Separately, a government spokesman said that the deficit at the end of 2021 was 26.4 billion zlotys, 65.1 percent of what had been planned for in the budget.
Philippines narrows growth target
The Philippines has revised its 2022 gross domestic product growth target to 7 percent-8 percent from the previous range of 7 percent-9 percent to take into account external risks, the government said on Tuesday.
It also slightly lowered the budget deficit target to 7.6 percent of GDP from 7.7 percent, among revisions that it said took into account the impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict, China’s slowdown, and monetary policy normalization in the US.
The government, however, kept the GDP growth target at the 6 percent-7 percent range for 2023 and 2024, as it expects the domestic economy to sustain its strong recovery in the medium term.
GDP would grow at the same pace in 2025, the economic managers on the Development Budget Coordination Committee said.
German inflation to reach 7%
Germany’s 2022 inflation rate will more than double from last year’s 3.1 percent as already high energy and food prices are pushed up by the war in Ukraine, the country’s Chambers of Industry and Commerce said on Tuesday.
DIHK said it now expects the inflation rate to hit 7 percent, after initially forecasting a rise of 3.5 percent in its February forecast.
Germany’s Economy Ministry said in April it saw an inflation rate of 6.1 percent in 2022 and 2.8 percent next year, citing the effects of energy prices in Europe’s biggest economy.
French business activity
French business activity slowed slightly in May compared to the previous month, a preliminary survey showed on Tuesday, as inflationary pressures took the shine off fewer COVID-19 restrictions.
S&P Global said its flash May Purchasing Managers’ Index for France’s services sector was 58.4 points — down from a final number of 58.9 in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 58.6 for the May flash reading.
Japan’s factory activity grows
Japan’s manufacturing activity expanded at the slowest pace in three months in May, as supply bottlenecks due to parts shortages and China’s COVID-19 lockdowns caused output and new orders growth to slow.
Activity in the services sector improved for the second consecutive month on stronger domestic demand due to the fading impact of the pandemic, though service-sector firms faced a drag from the sharpest rise in input prices on record.
(With input from Reuters)