Core consumer prices rise
The country’s core consumer prices rose for the first time in 31 months last month, government data showed yesterday, beating market expectations of a fall despite a revision to the data’s base year. The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile food prices, rose 0.1 percent from a year earlier, the first rise since December 2008, the internal affairs ministry said. The country has been plagued with a deflationary trend for years and the results came after the government changed the data’s base year to last year from 2005, which was expected to put a downward bias on the data. Analysts say last month’s rise was just temporary and expect the yen’s recent appreciation to add further downward pressure to consumer prices. The yen rose to its post-war high of ￥75.95 to the US dollar a week ago.
Economic growth slows
The country’s economy slowed in the second quarter of this year as it battled fears of a sovereign debt crisis, official figures showed yesterday. The economy expanded 0.2 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months when it grew an upwardly revised 0.4 percent, the National Statistics Institute said. The country’s economy slumped into recession during the second half of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded the collapse of a property bubble. It stabilized last year. Spain’s towering unemployment rate — 20.89 percent in the second quarter this year — has helped to whip up a nationwide “indignant” protest movement against the pain caused by the economic slump. The latest figures showed the country’s economy grew 0.7 percent in the second quarter this year when compared with the same period a year earlier, after posting annual growth of 0.9 percent in the first three months of the year.
Private sector lending slows
The rate of growth in private sector bank lending slowed slightly last month, the European Central Bank (EBC) said yesterday, which analysts took to point to risks to eurozone economic growth. Overall bank lending increased by 2.4 percent compared with the same month last year, but that was a small decline from 2.5 percent in June, the ECB data showed. A breakdown of the data showed a contraction of 2.1 percent in household credit for consumption, while loans for home purchases grew 3.9 percent. “Our empirical studies suggest that low loan growth hints at further downside risks for economic growth,” Commerzbank analyst Michael Schubert said.
JPMorgan Chase fined
JPMorgan Chase Bank is paying US$88.3 million in an agreement with the US Department of Treasury, which says the bank violated regulations that prohibit lending money for entities linked to countries engaged in illicit nuclear trade and that cover dealings with Cuba and Sudan. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the agreement on Thursday with the bank. The office said some of JPMorgan Chase’s “apparent violations” of the regulations were serious. It was the largest penalty paid in a settlement by a US bank in OFAC’s 60-year history, the Treasury said. In one case, JPMorgan Chase Bank in December 2009 made a US$2.9 million trade loan to another bank, which extended credit to a ship that had been identified as linked to the Iranian government’s shipping lines, OFAC said.