Tuesday June 14, 2005 - 07:00:09 GMT
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FX Economic Release
US Producer Price Index (MoM) (MAY) (12:30 GMT, 8:30AM EDT)
Outlook: The May PPI report may affirm Greenspan's description of inflation as "contained", as expressed in last week's testimony to the Joint Economic Committee. After producer prices advanced 0.6% in April following a 0.7% rise in March, they are now expected to have subsided and decreased by 0.2% in May. Once again, energy prices are responsible for most of the drop. This can be seen in the most recent import price index which revealed that prices of petroleum imports fell by 6.5%. Even outside of petroleum, prices on other imports experienced a decline of 0.3%. The declining PPI shouldn't be any cause for alarm, however. Looking back at data from 1994-2004, the average net change in producer prices in the second quarter is merely 0.1% compared to an average of 0.7% in the first quarter. Also, this is definitely good news for the middlemen since sticky consumer prices make this a prime opportunity to recover some lost ground from the many months when producer prices were increasing at a faster pace. The Fed will be happy too since this next PPI release will mostly likely give them enough wiggle room to keep their "measured" pace of interest rate hikes.
Previous: Producer prices surprised on the upside in April by rising 0.6% while economists had forecast an increase of 0.4% compared to March. The figure for core inflation (excluding food and energy) also came in just above the estimate of 0.2% by reflecting a 0.3% expansion of prices. Both prices of foods and energy decelerated over the month which offset the acceleration in core prices. From the looks of the data, it seems as if inflation peaked in May, mostly dragged up by energy prices. Even in this report, it's already evident that prices will begin to weaken since those for raw materials, especially steel, have begun slowing or even falling in some cases. This will feed into the cost of goods at higher levels of production in subsequent months.
US Retail Sales (MAY) (12:30 GMT, 8:30AM EDT)
Outlook: Lagging sales of autos and gasoline are expected to have led the overall retail sales figure to drop 0.2% in May, as forecast by economists. According to Motor Intelligence, auto sales declined 8% in May compared to a year ago. Excluding autos, sales probably rose a paltry 0.2%. Although consumers' pay checks are continuing to grow, the impending threat of gas prices as we approach the much talked about summer driving season are really making people think twice about their purchases. This isn't helped by recent activity in the rumour mill churning concern that oil prices may push up to $60 a barrel by the fourth quarter. Even if OPEC raises their quotas, the fact remains that there may be bottlenecks at other points in the production process from crude oil to gasoline, and therefore, prices will stay elevated. Fortunately, the pinch that gas prices are putting on spending isn't too significant and as a whole, consumer expenditures are still poised for 3.5% growth this year.
Previous: April's retail sales managed to double expectations by producing a 1.4% change over the month while forecasts were for a 0.7% rise. Automobile sales made an impressive advance as they increased 2.5% following a 0.8% expansion between February and March. Despite this performance, sales in other sectors also managed to hold their own as shown by the 1.1% increase in sales excluding autos, the highest rate of increase since October. Sales at general merchandise stores, including department stores, displayed a 1.5% change after dipping -0.7% in the previous report. The US consumer is also showing resilience through the 1.9% increase in gasoline sales in the face of record prices, which hit $2.32 a gallon in the beginning of April. Overall the report was very positive and reflected a dramatic rebound from the disappointing 0.3% figure that March brought in.
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