© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view is seen of the London skyline from Canary Wharf in London, Britain, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy is showing signs of stalling as high inflation hits new orders and businesses report levels of concern that normally signal a recession, a closely watched industry survey showed on Thursday.
S&P Global (NYSE:SPGI)’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), covering services and manufacturing firms, also showed companies raising pay and passing higher costs on to clients, a worry for the Bank of England.
The PMI’s preliminary composite index held at 53.1 in June, above the median forecast of 52.6 in a Reuters poll of economists and unchanged from May.
But the PMI’s measure of new orders effectively stagnated as it fell to 50.8, the lowest in over a year. Factory orders dipped below the 50.0 growth threshold to 49.6.
“The economy is starting to look like it is running on empty,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said.
“Business confidence has now slumped to a level which has in the past typically signalled an imminent recession,” he said, adding that the economy was likely to show a fall in output in the second quarter that could deepen in the third quarter.
Growth was being propped up by previously placed orders. Manufacturers had reported especially weak demand for exports, and service firms were seeing their post-lockdown bounce reverse as the cost of living rose, Williamson said.
The PMI’s business expectations index fell by 4.6 points in June, the largest monthly decline since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with manufacturers and service providers both reporting their lowest business optimism levels since May 2020.
Job creation was the strongest in three months, in the latest sign of the strength in the labour market.
But employers reported difficulty finding staff and pay levels rose. That helped keep increases in prices charged by firms near two-decade highs.
Companies across the board felt the need to pass on higher energy, fuel and wage costs to customers, S&P Global said.
The Bank of England is watching for signs that the recent jump in inflation, which hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in May, might turn into a permanent problem for the British economy.
The BoE said last week it was ready to act “forcefully” if it saw signs of persistent inflation pressures, suggesting it might raise interest rates by more than its standard quarter-point increase despite fears of a recession.
Italy says can exceed 3.1% growth target for 2022 despite energy prices
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk along the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping mall in Milan, August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s Treasury said the country’s economy could grow this year by at least as much as Rome’s official target of 3.1% set in April, despite the negative impact of surging energy prices.
Italy grew 0.1% in the first quarter from the previous three months, national statistics bureau ISTAT said last month, revising up a preliminary estimate of a 0.2% contraction.
This left Italy with so-called “carryover” growth of 2.6% this year, assuming gross domestic product was flat in the remaining three quarters, ISTAT said.
Announcing on Monday the bond issuance programme for the third quarter, the Treasury said it expected growth to accelerate in the second quarter, compared with the first three months.
This still makes it plausible to reach or exceed the 2022 growth target of 3.1%, it said in its debt issuance report.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government in April revised down its 2022 economic growth forecast to 3.1% from a 4.7% projection made last September.
The government has budgeted since January more than 33 billion euros ($34.90 billion) to soften the impact of sky-high electricity, gas and petrol costs.
($1 = 0.9456 euros)
French consumer confidence falls more than expected in June
© Reuters. A woman shops at a fruit and vegetables shop in Paris, France, June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier
PARIS (Reuters) – French consumer confidence fell more than expected in June, hitting a near nine-year low as concerns about the economic outlook surged in the face of high inflation and political uncertainty, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The INSEE official statistics agency said its consumer confidence index fell to 82 in June from 85 in May and the lowest level since July 2013.
A Reuters poll of 14 economists had an average forecast of 84 with the lowest estimate for 83.
Although households’ concerns about future inflation remained well above the long-term average, they eased in June for the third month in a row.
However, household sentiment about the general economic outlook continued to worsen, falling to the lowest level since May 2020 when France was in the second month of its first and most strict COVID-19 lockdown.
While surging inflation has stressed households in recent months, France’s political situation has added to uncertainty about the economic outlook since President Emmanuel Macron’s party lost its ruling majority in legislative elections this month.
Peru truckers, farmers to strike over fuel and fertilizer costs
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk next to parked trucks during a national transportation strike against fuel prices, in Lima, Peru March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Angela Ponce/File Photo
By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s truckers and some farm groups will go on strike on Monday after failing to reach agreements with the government seeking measures to reduce the impact of steep global price rises of fuel and fertilizer, sector leaders said on Sunday.
Union leaders met on Friday and Saturday with government representatives, with demands including considering freight transport a “public service” that would reduce costs and curb competition from truckers from neighbor countries.
“We are firm in plans to strike with all our bases nationwide,” the leader of the heavy load haulage and drivers union Marlon Milla told radio station RPP. The union has 400,000 cargo transport units in 14 of the 25 regions of the country.
High global fuel prices linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have stoked unrest in Peru, the world’s No. 2 copper producer, while shortages of fertilizer have raised fears over food supply with the government struggling to secure shipments.
The government of leftist President Pedro Castillo, who has seen his popularity tumble since taking office last year, has taken measures to curb the rising cost of living, but the annual inflation rate remains at around 8%, its highest level in 24 years.
Some farming unions also announced strikes on Monday, in protest at the rise in fertilizer prices and shortages.
Latin American leaders are grappling to bring down spiraling prices despite major interest rate hikes. Trucking protests over fuel costs have hit Argentina while Ecuador is being roiled by protests in part linked to gas prices. [L4N2YB27W]
“The dialogue has not been exhausted, we are in a permanent session of ministers to avoid protest,” Justice Minister Félix Chero told reporters on Sunday. The government is offering subsidies for road tolls and fertilizer costs.
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