Economic Update – UK Retail Sales Fall, IMF Warn on Le Pen, Euro Area Growth, more…

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BBC: Biggest fall in UK retail sales in seven years

  • UK retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years in March, as the prices of everyday goods continued to climb.
  • By volume, sales in the first quarter of this year were down 1.4% on the preceding quarter, and down 1.8% compared with February 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics.
  • Keith Richardson, managing director of retail at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said that after record growth in 2016, the retail sector was slowing down. “These figures suggest that the clouds are now gathering over British consumers,” he said.

CNBC: IMF’s Lagarde: Far-right win in France would cause ‘major disorder’

  • A strong showing by far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s French presidential election would cause major problems, the head of the International Monetary Fund said Thursday.
  • “It would certainly unveil major disorder and the risk of dislocation,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNBC during an interview at this week’s meeting of the foundation and the World Bank in Washington.

Bloomberg: Euro-Area Recovery Broadens With Strongest Growth in Six Years

  • Euro-area economic momentum accelerated to its fastest pace in six years, with France unexpectedly outperforming Germany in a strong start to the the second quarter that suggests the recovery is broadening.
  • France’s composite Purchasing Managers’ Index unexpectedly advanced to a six-year high of 57.4 in April, putting it above Germany’s for the first time since 2012, according IHS Markit flash readings on Friday. The manufacturing and services index for the region as a whole also increased, exceeding economists’ forecasts and indicating job creation is rising to the highest level in almost a decade.
  • “France’s elections pose the highest near-term risk to the outlook, but in the lead-up to the vote the business mood has clearly been buoyant,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

Bloomberg: ECB Officials Inch Toward the Day They Discuss Stimulus Exit

  • European Central Bank officials signaled that they’re getting close to the point when they’ll start preparing for the end of an era of unprecedented stimulus.
  • In the last round of speeches before a week-long quiet period ahead of the next policy meeting, Executive Board members Benoit Coeure and Peter Praet agreed that the euro-area recovery has become broad-based, while diverging on whether the risks to that outlook are still skewed to the downside.
  • The 25-member Governing Council will debate the precise formulation of its stance on the economy when it decides on interest rates and stimulus settings on April 27.

Reuters: Fed’s Kaplan – Three rate rises this year ‘still a good baseline’

  • Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said on Thursday that two more interest rate hikes this year remains possible but that the U.S. central bank has the flexibility to wait and see how the economy unfolds.
  • “Three rate increases this year…is still a good baseline. If the economy develops a little more slowly, then we can do less than that and if the economy is a little stronger, we can do more than that,” Kaplan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Bloomberg: Desperate Malls Turn to Concerts and Food Trucks

  • Malls are fighting for shoppers with one thing their web rivals can’t offer: parking lots.
  • With customer traffic sagging, U.S. retail landlords are using their sprawling concrete lots to host events such as carnivals, concerts and food-truck festivals. They’re aiming to lure visitors with experiences that can’t be replicated online — and then get them inside the properties to spend some money.
  • Mall owners across the country are grappling with record store closings and declining rents. Retail property values are down 3 percent in past six months, as all other types of commercial real estate showed gains, according to the Moody’s/Real Capital Analytics indexes. A Bloomberg gauge of publicly traded mall landlords has tumbled 15 percent in the past year through yesterday, the worst performance among U.S. real estate investment trusts.

Market Watch: Goldman Sachs just abandoned one of its ‘top trades of 2017’

  • Goldman Sachs Group is advising its clients to give up on two of its long-dollar “top trades” of 2017, a sign that the investment bank is finally backing away from its call that the dollar would eventually reach parity with the euro.

CNBC: Goldman Sachs stock sinks to 4½-month low after rare earnings miss

  • Goldman Sachs stock fell to its lowest level in nearly five months Tuesday after the premiere Wall Street firm reported first-quarter earnings that missed on the top and bottom lines.
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