RTTNews - Wednesday, minutes from the Bank of England showed that the Monetary Policy Committee unanimously decided to hold the key interest rate at a record low of 0.5% and to increase the size of the asset purchase programme in early May.

Eurozone

Germany's Federal Statistical Office said the producer price index or PPI dropped 2.7% year-over-year in April, after falling 0.5% in March. This was the lowest annual rate of PPI since June 1987. Economists were looking for a decline of 1.3%. On a monthly basis, producer prices declined 1.4% in April, compared with a 0.7% fall in the preceding month.

Italy's current account deficit narrowed to EUR 2.27 billion in March from EUR 3.8 billion deficit in February and from EUR 6.3 billion deficit in the same month of the previous year, the Bank of Italy said.

Elsewhere, Italian statistical office Istat said industrial orders fell 2.7% month-on-month in March, taking the annual decline to 26%. Industrial turnover fell 0.8% from February, half of the expected 1.6% fall.

The National Bank of Slovakia showed that residential property prices declined in the first quarter of 2009. Price per square meter of residential property stood at EUR 1,413 in the first quarter, down from EUR 1,479 in the fourth quarter.

Slovenia's statistical office said announced that the PPI dropped 0.5% year-over-year in April, in contrast to a 0.3% increase in the previous month. On a monthly basis, output prices declined 0.5% in April, after falling 0.7% in March.

In a separate report, statistical office said Slovenia's industrial turnover dropped a working day adjusted 18.9% annually in March, after falling 24% in February.

Producer prices in Austria fell 0.1% year-on-year in March, reversing a 0.7% rise in February, the Statistics Austria said. The statistical office said this was the steepest decline in producer prices since a 0.3% fall in February 2006.

The General Secretariat of the National Statistical Service of Greece said industrial turnover declined 20.4% year-over-year in March, compared with a 1.7% drop in the previous year. Separately, the statistical office said industrial new orders dropped 27.3% on an annual basis in March, compared with a 12.6% fall in the previous year.

According to data released by the Netherlands' Central Bureau of Statistics, the consumer confidence indicator stood at minus 23 in May, up from minus 28 in April. In a separate communiqué, the statistical office said the jobless rate increased to 4.6% in the February to April period from 4.4% in the previous three-month period. Economists were expecting the rate to come in at 4.4%.

Rest of Europe

The BoE minutes revealed that all the nine members of the MPC stood united while deciding to raise the asset purchase plan by GBP 50 billion to a total of GBP 125 billion. The central bank should seek to complete the GBP 125 billion of purchases within the next three months, the members concurred. The meeting was held on May 6 and 7.

Members considered the case for increasing the size of asset purchase plan by GBP 75 billion, but they seemed to have decided that there was no pressing need for the larger extension at this meeting. The programme would be reviewed every month and based on the MPC's assessment, the amount could then be increased on decreased, the minutes revealed.

The latest monthly Industrial Trends survey from the Confederation of British Industry showed that 17% of the 575 firms surveyed expect the output volume to increase over the next three months, while 34% anticipate a fall. However, the resulting balance of minus 17% was a marked improvement on the previous month's balance of minus 32%.

Thus, firms expect the pace of decline in output to slow significantly in the next quarter, indicating that they believe the toughest phase of the recession may be behind them.

Results of the latest financial market test carried out by the Center for European Economic Research or ZEW in co-operation with Credit Suisse revealed that the Swiss economic expectations index jumped to minus 3.9 in May from minus 27.7 recorded in April.

Poland's Central Statistical Office announced that the industrial PPI rose 5.1% year-over-year in April, slower than the 5.5% increase in March, revised from 5.6% estimated initially. On a monthly basis, producer prices dropped 0.6% in April.

Separately, the statistical office said industrial production declined 12.4% year-over-year in April, compared with a 1.9% fall in March. On a monthly basis, output dropped 7.1% in April.

Latvia's Central Statistical Bureau said the jobless rate stood at 13.9% in the first quarter, up from 9.9% in the previous quarter. A year ago, the jobless rate was 6.5%.

Denmark's consumer confidence indicator decreased to minus 4.7 in May from minus 4.4 in April, the Statistics Denmark said.

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