Japan Services PMI Lowest in 5 Months
The au Jibun Bank Japan Services PMI declined to 45.7 in January 2020 from a final 47.2 in December, a preliminary figure showed. This marked the twelfth straight month of contraction in the sector and the steepest pace in five months, as the government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo due to rising local COVID-19 infections. Both activity and incoming new business declined the most since May. Meanwhile, firms recorded a broadly stable labor market. Lastly, sentiment softened for a third month in a row.
Japan Manufacturing Shrinks Again
The au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing PMI was down to 49.7 in January 2021 from a final 50.0 in the prior month, a flash figure showed. The latest reading signaled a renewed deterioration in the sector, amid rising local COVID-19 cases that forced the government to declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and reimposed tighter social restriction measures. Output fell after no change in December, employment dropped again, and export sales continued to shrink. Meantime, new orders grew for the first time since December 2018. As for prices, both input prices and output cost increased faster. Looking ahead, confidence weakened, due to fears that t the impact of the pandemic will be prolonged.
Japan Composite PMI Drops to 4-Month Low
The au Jibun Bank Japan Composite PMI fell to 46.7 in January 2021 from a final 48.5 a month earlier, a preliminary estimate showed. This was the weakest reading since September 2020, as the government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and introduced further measures to curb rising COVID-19 infections. Demand conditions weakened further as new business shrank for the twelfth straight month, weighed down by a further fall in export sales. Also, employment dropped after being unchanged in December, with backlogs of work falling faster. On the price front, output prices declined further, while input price inflation was steady. Finally, sentiment weakened.
Nikkei Drops Below 28,700
Tokyo's main stock index failed to hold above the 28,700 level on Friday, with the healthcare and real estate sectors being the main drag. T&D Holdings Inc and Dentsu Group Inc were among the biggest laggards on the index, both down more than 3%. Still, the benchmark Nikkei 225 is on track for a fourth consecutive week of gains on expectations for a vaccine and stimulus-fuelled economic recovery.
Australia Retail Sales Fall More than Expected
Retail sales in Australia declined by 4.2 percent month-over-month in December 2020, after a 7.1 percent growth a month earlier and compared with market consensus of a 2.5 percent drop, a preliminary reading showed. This was the first drop in retail trade since September, amid COVID-19 restrictions that limited household gatherings in some states and territories. Falls were recorded in five of the six retail industries, including household goods retailing, food retailing, other retailing, department stores, and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing. Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services was the only industry to rise.
Singapore Home Prices Rise at Faster Pace
Private home prices in Singapore increased by 2.1 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2020, in line with a preliminary estimate and after a 0.8 percent growth in the previous period. This was the third straight quarter of increase in private home prices, as the government reopen the economy following a COVID-19 crisis. Prices of non-landed properties surged 3.0 percent, after increasing by 0.1 percent in Q3, while those of landed property dropped 1.6 percent, following a 3.7 percent rise in Q3. For 2020 full year, private home prices rose by 2.2 percent, compared with the 2.7 percent increase in 2019.
UK Consumer Confidence Sheds 2 Points
The United Kingdom’s Gfk Consumer Confidence decreased to -28 in January 2021 from -26 in the previous month and compared to consensus of -29. The retreat comes after the biggest jump in the indicator in eight years, as the increase in daily coronavirus deaths outweighed the country's coronavirus vaccine programme.
Gold Heads for Biggest Weekly Gain Since November
Gold held steady near the $1,870 region and headed for the biggest weekly gain since late-November, prospects for additional US fiscal measures boosted the metal's appeal as an inflation hedge. Biden and his Democrat-controlled Congress are due to roll out massive spending plans that include $1,400 checks for most Americans, a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a rise in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. At the same time, lower real yields made gold a more attractive investment this week.
Japan Deflation Intensifies
Japan's consumer prices declined 1.2 percent year-on-year in December of 2020, after falling 0.9 percent in the previous month, as the pandemic continued to drag consumption heavily. The decline was bigger than expected and was the sharpest since April of 2010. Prices were mainly dragged by utilities (-6.1 percent vs -5.4 percent in November), food (-0.8 percent vs -0,2 percent), education (unchanged at -2.2 percent), transportation & communication (-1.3 percent vs -1.1 percent), and culture & recreation (-4.0 percent vs -3.8 percent). Meanwhile, prices for medical care fell again by a softer 0.4 percent compared to -0.5 percent. On a monthly basis, consumer prices dropped 0.3 percent after declining 0.5 percent. Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, dropped 1.0 percent on the year.
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