Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised to bolster the economy during a speech at the opening of China's National People's Congress, but he stopped short of promising a new stimulus package that had been widely rumored.
Equity markets on Wednesday rose around the world on the rumor China would up the amount it would invest on top of the previously announced $585 billion, but they fell overnight on disappointment that no additional funds will be added. The dollar gained on the higher yielders as equity markets and S&P futures declined.
The 2009 budget deficit was set at a record 950 billion yuan as the slowdown cuts revenue and the government keeps spending. Tax cuts already in place will save companies and households 500 billion yuan this year, the budget showed.
The deficit, up from 111 billion yuan last year, is forecast to be within 3 percent of gross domestic product, compared with a 12 percent shortfall budgeted by the U.S.
Fitch Ratings affirmed China’s long-term foreign currency debt rating at A+, the fifth-highest grade, citing “an exceptionally strong external balance sheet.”
Also hurting the euro and pound was speculation regarding the ECB and BoE rate cuts, as traders sold the euro and pound ahead of the ECB and BoE decisions.
ECB President Trichet indicated officials will cut the benchmark interest rate further after reducing it by 50 basis points to a record low of 1.5%. “We didn’t decide ex-ante that this was the lowest point that we could attain,” Trichet said during the press conference following the decision.
He also signaled that any new ECB measures are more likely to involve easing credit market tensions rather than ramping up the money supply.
“We are concentrating as regards non-standard measures very much on what is fitting on the very structure of the euro area,” Trichet said. “I would qualify them more as credit easing than perhaps quantitative easing.”
The euro fell as much as 0.6% to $1.2481 after Trichet’s comments.
In addition to making its 50 basis point rate cut to a historic-low 0.50%, the U.K. launched a £75 billion ($105.5 billion) program to pump money into the economy and implied more could be forthcoming.
The Committee judged that this reduction in Bank Rate would by itself still leave a substantial risk of undershooting the 2% CPI inflation target in the medium term, the bank said in its statement. The Committee agreed that the Bank should, in the first instance, finance £75 billion of asset purchases by the issuance of central bank reserves.
Britain's Central Bank will print money in order to finance the Bank of England’s program of private sector asset purchases through the Asset Purchase Facility. But the Bank also indicated it would monetize the British government's debt by purchasing medium and long maturity conventional gilts in the secondary market. It is likely that the majority of the overall purchases by value over the next three months will be of gilts.
Officials said they would closely monitor the supply of credit and rates of nominal spending in order to adjust the speed and scale of purchases as appropriate.