Wednesday, buyer interest in British homes improved in March, according to survey results released by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, while official data revealed that house prices kept falling. Elsewhere, the Swedish government announced an increase in stimulus for the economy.
Germany's Federal Statistical Office said in a report that the wholesale price index or WPI dropped 8% year-over-year in March, after falling 5.7% in February. Economists had predicted a decline of 7.1% for March. The wholesale prices in March showed the strongest annual decline since January 1987, the agency said.
In other news, the Governing Council member of the European Central Bank, Axel Weber said there is still a little room to cut the main refinancing rate, but it should not go below 1%. In a speech in Hamburg, Weber said if the interest rate falls below 1%, banks will have no incentive to lend to each other, paralyzing interbank lending.
Spanish consumer prices slid 0.1% on a yearly basis in March, which was the first decline since the series started in 1961, the National Institute of Statistics or INE said. The decline in March matched economists' expectations. In February, consumer prices were up 0.7%.
Statistics Finland said retail sales declined 5.8% in February from the previous year, reflecting a 1.8% fall in the daily consumer goods trade. Meanwhile, the turnover in the service industries grew 1.6% year-on-year in the November to January period, slowing from a 7.6% growth in the previous three-month period.
Finland posted a current account surplus of EUR191 million in February, in contrast to a deficit of EUR65 million in January, the Bank of Finland said.
The Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia announced that the retail sales, without value added tax, declined a working day adjusted 15.6% year-over-year in February, in contrast to a 0.2% increase in the previous month. The office also reported that the average monthly gross earnings in nominal terms increased 4.2% year-over-year in February, slower than a 6.8% increase in the previous month.
Rest of Europe
The RICS reported that the average number of completed sales per surveyor in the UK for the preceding three month period increased in March to 9.7 from the record low February reading of 9.6, the first increase since October 2007.
On the other hand, house prices in the UK dropped 12.3% year-on-year in February, after falling 11.5% in January, a report by the Department of Communities and Local Government said.
The Swedish government allocated SEK 10 billion in its supplementary budget to active measures and unemployment insurance in connection with the 2009 Spring Fiscal Policy Bill. Along with the measures presented earlier in the 2009 Budget Bill and afterwards, the government is thus allocating a total of SEK 45 billion in 2009 and SEK 60 billion in 2010 to combat the crisis, the finance ministry said. The government sees little scope for additional reforms, the statement read.
The Czech Statistical Office announced that the industrial producer prices dropped 2% year-over-year in March, after falling 0.6% in February. This was the largest annual decline since 1991. Economists were looking a decline of 0.6%. The export price index rose 8.3% year-over-year in February, larger than the 3.3% increase in the previous month. Meanwhile, import prices rose 4.5% annually in February, after showing nil growth in January.
In a final report, the Hungarian Central Statistical Office confirmed the 28.9% year-on-year fall in industrial production in February. In January, industrial output declined 23%.
Turkey's jobless rate climbed to 15.5% in the December to February period from 11.6% in the corresponding period last year, the Turkish Statistical Institute said. The number of unemployed increased to 3.6 million from 2.6 million last year. In the November to January period, the jobless rate was 13.6%. The Turkstat also reported that industrial turnover dropped 15.5% year-on-year in February.
The Bulgarian National Bank said the current account deficit stood at EUR224.7 million in February, lower than the deficit of EUR657.8 million last year.
The Croatian Bureau of Statistics announced that the consumer price index rose 3.8% year-over-year in March, slower than the 4.2% rise seen in the preceding month.
Poland's Central Statistical Office said the CPI rose 3.6% year-over-year in March, larger than the 3.3% increase in February. Economists were looking an increase of 3.4%. The agency also said the country's trade deficit amounted to EUR 1.63 billion in the January to February period.
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