This week we look at China PMI, US house prices, US consumer confidence, French GDP results, and Japan's unemployment and inflation situation.
1. China PMI
China recorded slightly lower PMI figures for December, with the HSBC index falling to 54.4 from 55.3 and the CFLP index falling to 53.9 from 55.2. Clearly there are a few issues bubbling away-- i.e. a spike in inflation-- and more importantly, how the authorities deal with it. That alone will be one of the biggest wildcards for 2011.
2. US Housing
The US housing market saw further weakness, with the October reading of the Case-Shiller index down both on a monthly and annual basis. There's not much else to say on this one, house prices ran ahead of themselves and the market needs to correct - further government measures may put a temporary floor under the market. The question is how long would that be necessary before the fundamentals finally came around? Another couple of years of flat house prices wouldn't be a surprise.
3. US Confidence
US Consumer Confidence dipped slightly in December, dropping to 52.5 from 54.1, with the weakness being expressed in both the current conditions and futures expectations indexes. Similar story to the housing market really -- when will the key fundamentals turn around? High unemployment and stagnant house prices will continue to weigh on this one in the medium term.
4. France GDP
France saw its economy expand 0.3% q/q vs 0.6% in Q2, with some minor downward revisions. Net exports made a negative contribution, household consumption and government consumption both made a positive contribution. Most are forecasting about 0.4% GDP growth in Q4. So it's chugging along OK for the French economy, not as fast as the Germans, but they're getting there.
5. Japan unemployment and inflation
Japan saw another month of positive inflation in November - barely, with the CPI increasing 0.1% y/y vs 0.2% in October. Meanwhile unemployment stuck around 5% with a 5.1% reading for November. Still many a challenge for Japan - but will the policy makers get it right? (Or for that matter, what else is there left for them to do?)
We saw China show a lower PMI figure on the back of uncertainty about the inflation battle. Over in the US there were no positive signs for the housing market in terms of prices in the near term, and consumer confidence is still low - also reflecting where fundamentals are currently at, but let's see what 2011 brings. Then we looked at France's GDP growth, and saw that they're chugging along out of the recession. Meanwhile, in Japan there's just barely some positive inflation, and unemployment is little changed. So there you go, the first issue of 2011, may the year ahead bring you much happiness, health and success - it's sure to be an interesting year!
1. CFLP chinawuliu.com.cn & Markit/HSBC markiteconomics.com & Yahoo Finance finance.yahoo.com
2. Standard & Poor's standardandpoors.com
3. US Conference Board conference-board.org & US Bureau of Labor Statistics bls.gov
4. OECD Statistics Database stats.oecd.org/index.aspx
5. Trading Economics tradingeconomics.com
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.