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Macro Snapshot — Canadian inflation surges to 31-year-high; US mortgage interest rates skyrockets

RIYADH: Canada’s annual inflation rate accelerated in March to 6.7 percent, a full percentage point higher than in February and well above expectations, driven by widespread price pressures, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

The rate is the highest since January 1991, when it hit 6.9 percent, and was above the Bank of Canada’s 1 percent-3 percent control range for the 12th consecutive month. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast inflation would rise to 6.1 percent in March.

“Prices increased against the backdrop of sustained price pressure in Canadian housing markets, substantial supply constraints and geopolitical conflict, which has affected energy, commodity, and agriculture markets,” Statscan said.

The CPI common measure, which the Bank of Canada says is the best gauge of the economy’s performance, rose to 2.8 percent from a revised 2.7 percent in February. CPI trim was 4.7 percent and CPI median was 3.8 percent.

South Africa’s annual inflation hits 5.9%

South Africa’s consumer inflation rose to 5.9 percent year on year in March from 5.7 percent in February, data from Statistics South Africa showed on Wednesday, driven mainly by fuel on the back of higher oil prices because of the war in Ukraine.

The increase in the headline number was slightly below analysts’ forecasts for 6 percent annual inflation, as food prices which have also been affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict rose slightly less in March than in February.

March’s month-on-month consumer inflation was 1.0 percent compared with 0.6 percent in February, in line with economists’ predictions.

The March figures mean inflation remained just within the central bank’s 3 percent-6 percent target range, at a joint five-year high along with December’s reading.

Stripping out energy prices, producer prices rose 14 percent year-on-year.

Japan March exports rise 14.7% 

Japan’s exports rose 14.7 percent in March from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance data showed on Wednesday.

That was weaker than the 17.5 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll, and followed growth of 19.1 percent in February.

March imports gained 31.2 percent year-on-year, versus the median estimate for a 28.9 percent increase.

The trade balance came to a deficit of 412.4 billion yen ($3.19 billion), versus a median estimate for a 100.8 billion yen deficit.

German producer prices at record high

German producer prices rose 30.9 percent on the year in March, reflecting the effects of the war in Ukraine for the first time, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Wednesday.

March’s figures mark six consecutive months of increasingly steeper increases, mainly due to rising energy prices, according to the statistics office.

“These results should already contain first implications deriving from Russia’s attack on Ukraine,” said the office.

The jump in factory gate costs, considered a leading indicator for consumer prices, was the biggest since records started in 1949, the statistics office said.

Producer prices registered a jump of 4.9 percent compared to the previous month.

Eurozone production rebounds as expected

Eurozone industrial production rebounded as expected in February from a January slump thanks to stronger output of consumer goods, which offset declines in the output of energy and capital goods, data showed on Wednesday.

The EU’s statistics office Eurostat said industrial output in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.7 percent month-on-month for a 2.0 percent year-on-year gain, rebounding from declines of 0.7 percent for the month 1.5 percent year-on-year in January.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the 0.7 percent monthly increase in February and had forecast a 1.5 percent annual rise.

The data comes largely from before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 — an event that severely shook business sentiment in March.

US mortgage interest rates 

The average interest rate on the most popular US home loan climbed to a 12-year high last week and fewer homebuyers sought properties in a sign that the Federal Reserve’s aim of cooling the housing market may be beginning to have an impact, data from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed on Wednesday.

The average contract rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 5.2 percent in the week ended April 15 from 5.13 percent a week earlier, the MBA survey showed. It has risen 2 percentage points from one year ago.

The bulk of the run up, however, has occurred since the start of the year, causing the fastest climb in home-financing costs in decades as the Fed abandoned a cautious approach to raising its benchmark overnight lending rate in favor of swifter and more decisive action to bring down persistently high inflation.

China keeps lending benchmark unchanged

China kept its benchmark lending rates for corporate and household loans steady at its April fixing on Wednesday, defying expectations, as Beijing has become more cautious in rolling out easing measures to aid a slowing economy.

The one-year loan prime rate was kept at 3.7 percent, same as previously, and the five-year was unchanged at 4.6 percent.

A vast majority of the 28 traders and analysts surveyed in a snap Reuters poll this week expect a reduction this month. Among them, 11, or 39 percent of all respondents, predicted a marginal cut of 5 basis points in both rates. 

Most new and outstanding loans in China are based on the one-year LPR. The five-year rate influences the pricing of mortgages.

(With input from Reuters)

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