IMF sees deflation risk
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde on Wednesday said that growth in the global economy was picking up, but warned of the “rising risks” of deflation. “Momentum strengthened in the latter half of 2013, and should strengthen further in 2014 — largely due to improvements in the advanced economies,” she said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. However, she declined to put numbers on the growth rate ahead of next week’s update of the fund’s official forecasts.
Brazil raises key rate
Brazil on Wednesday raised its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 10.5 percent, as Latin America’s largest economy pursues an aggressive drive to curb inflation. Outpacing market expectations of a hike of 25 basis points, the Central Bank’s monetary policy commission increased the rate by twice that at the end of its first meeting of this year. The bank said the decision was unanimous and “continues the process of adjustment” begun in April last year, when the rate stood at 7.25 percent. The rate of 10.5 percent is the highest since March 2012.
Germany grew 0.4%
German economic growth remained subdued in the year’s final quarter, according to estimates released on Wednesday, but is widely expected to pick up speed this year. The Federal Statistical Office said Europe’s biggest economy grew 0.4 percent for the full year, less than the 0.5 percent analysts were expecting and its weakest performance since it shrank in 2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis. That means the economy expanded only about 0.25 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous three-month period, according to an initial estimate by the office — about the same as the third-quarter figure of 0.3 percent.
US growth healthy: Fed
A Federal Reserve survey shows economic growth remained healthy in most US regions in late November and last month, helped by gains in consumer spending and factory output. Nine of the Fed’s 12 banking districts described growth as moderate, according to the Beige Book survey released on Wednesday. That’s up from seven districts in October through early November. Two of those districts said growth had accelerated since the previous report. Only two districts — Boston and Philadelphia — said growth was modest, while Kansas City said it “held steady.” Three-quarters of the districts said shoppers spent more over the winter holidays. And all but Kansas City said manufacturing production grew.
EU registration numbers fall
Registrations for new cars in the EU slid 1.7 percent last year, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association data showed yesterday, although country figures were varied, with Britain showing a big increase while sales in Italy and France slumped. A total 11.8 million new cars were sold across the bloc last year — not including Malta — the association said. The 1.7 percent decline compared with 2012 confirmed a lingering morosity in the EU, which is still struggling after four years of a eurozone debt crisis. However, the decline was markedly less than the 8.2 percent dive recorded in 2012 — which was the worst result for 18 years — suggesting the overall market could be stabilizing. In the last four months of last year, registrations actually climbed, and last month saw a 13.3 percent increase.