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News : International Last Updated: Mar 31, 2010 - 6:23:00 AM


Markets News Afternoon: IMF cuts growth forecasts for Germany; US home prices rise
By Finfacts Team
Mar 30, 2010 - 4:57:07 PM

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From the IMF's report on Germany.

UK: The UK economy was confirmed to have emerged from recession in the fourth quarter of 2009 at a faster growth rate than previously estimated, official data issued today showed.

The Office for National Statistics said the economy grew 0.4% compared with a previous estimate of 0.3%.  In separate data, Britain's current account deficit narrowed in the fourth quarter after earnings on direct investment abroad hit their highest level since records began in 1964. "While it is welcome to see an upward revision, recent data in the EU and elsewhere has highlighted that there are still risks and uncertainties to this recovery," a government spokesman said.

Year-on-year, GDP contracted by 3.1%, less than the 3.3% previously reported and down from the 5.3% drop in the third quarter. The statistics office attributed the upward revision to the GDP data to a combination of higher services, construction and agriculture output.

The peak to trough fall in output during the recession remained at 6.2%, the biggest since current records began.

Germany: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today cut its forecasts for growth in Germany this year and in 2011, saying that a recovery in Europe's biggest economy would only be "moderate and fragile."

Growth in Germany is forecast at 1.2% in 2010, the IMF said, revising down a projection of 1.5% made only last month.

In 2011, output is predicted to grow by 1.7%, the IMF said, compared with its February forecast of 1.9%.

The IMF said export growth is likely to be lower following the crisis. The recovery in Europe is projected to be slow, with particular weaknesses in the South. US consumers are likely to show some restraint relative to their pre-crisis spending, which will moderate global demand, especially once the effects of global fiscal stimulus and restocking subside. And while Chinese growth is expected to remain high, its overall pull remains relatively limited due to the still small share in German exports.

The IMF forecast compares with the German government's forecast of 1.4% GDP (gross domestic product) expansion or the Bundesbank's prediction of 1.6%. However, it is in line with the OECD, which last week projected German growth of 1.1% in 2010.

German GDP shrank about 5% in 2009.

Britain emerged from an 18-month recession in the fourth quarter of last year faster than previously thought. UK fourth-quarter GDP growth was revised up to 0.4% from 0.3% on Tuesday. "At least the revisions are going in the right direction," Neil MacKinnon from VTB Capital said:

France: The French economy contracted 2.2% in 2009 - -the worst economic performance since 1945 but the economy grew 0.6% in the last quarter, the State statistics office said today.

INSEE revised its growth forecast downward for this year and said GDP is expected to rise 0.2% for the first quarter this year and 0.3% for the second.

The government is expecting growth of 1.4% for the whole year.

RBS: Royal Bank of Scotland which is controlled by the UK government, was today fined £28.6m sterling for breaking UK competition law after revealing details of its loan prices to rival Barclays.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said RBS told Barclays the cost of its loans to large professional firms such as solicitors and accountants through a series of contacts between October 2007 and February or March 2008.

"Any company that discloses confidential future pricing information to its competitors risks a substantial penalty," OFT's senior director of cartels and criminal enforcement said.

The OFT is headed by Irishman, Dr. John Fingleton.

Irish Planning Permissions: Official figures published today showed another sharp drop in the number of planning permissions granted for new homes in the final quarter of last year.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, planning permissions were granted for 4,964 dwelling units, compared with 13,767 units for the same period in 2008, a decrease of 63.9%.

A look ahead to Friday's highly-anticipated US jobs report, with Michelle Girard, of RBS, and Stephen Gallagher, of Societe Generale:

US markets

On Tuesday, the Dow has dipped 19 points or 0.18% to 10,877.

The S&P 500 has fallen 0.28% and the Nasdaq Composite has declined 0.26%.

The US Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had decreased in February, rebounded in March. The Index now stands at 52.5 (1985=100), up from 46.4 in February. The Present Situation Index increased to 26.0 from 21.7.

US Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in March

Meanwhile, home prices in 20 US metropolitan areas cities unexpectedly rose in January, signalling that the housing market is stabilising as the economy recovers.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index rose 0.3% from the prior month on a seasonally adjusted basis, matching the gain in December, Standard & Poor's said today. The index was down 0.7% from January 2009, the smallest year- over-year decrease in three years.

Live US indices

In Europe, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 has fallen 0.10% Tuesday.

In Dublin, the ISEQ has dipped 0.26%.

AIB is down 8.79% in advance of a Government announcement on recapitalisations. BoI is up 4.42%.

European Benchmarks

Irish Share Prices

Euribor Rates

Oil

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, oil for May 2010 delivery is trading at $81.95 down 22 cents from Monday's close. In London, Brent crude  for May delivery is trading at $80.97 a barrel.

Currencies

The euro is trading  at $1.3407 and at £0.8881.

For live currency updates, check the right-hand column of the Finfacts home page.  The dollar traded at a record low $1.6038 per euro on July 15, 2008.

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