North America

  • 2019-05-23 08:44

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canadian wholesale sales rose 1.4% to C$64.1 billion in March, a fourth straight increase and the fastest pace in two years, with gains across most sectors led by building supplies.

    The gain reported by Statistics Canada Thursday was faster than the estimates of 0.8% from Bank of Montreal and 1.1% from CIBC. However, the solid March gain followed downward revisions in both January and February. Statistics Canada lowered its estimate for February sales to a 0.2% gain from 0.3%, and for January to 0.3% from 0.4%.

    Here are some other key takeaways from the data released Thursday:

    - Six of seven major industries reported gains in March, including a 4.5% rise in building materials and supplies that followed a 5.0% decline in February.

  • 2019-05-22 08:43

    By Greg Quinn

    OTTAWA (MNI) - Canadian retail sales increased in March for the second consecutive month, up a softer-than-expected 1.1% to C$51.3 billion, led by a 6.0% price-related rise in gasoline sales. The March gain was the biggest increase in total sales since May 2018 and followed an upward revision in March to a 1.0% gain from the 0.8% rise previously reported.

    Analysts in an MNI survey had expected a 1.2% gain.

    The following are the other key points from the March data on retail sales released Wednesday by Statistics Canada:

    - Retail sales excluding motor vehicles and parts were up 1.7%, faster than the MNI expected gain of 1.4%.

    - Excluding price changes, sales in volume terms rose 0.3% in March.

  • 2019-05-22 07:00

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - The Mortgage Bankers Association Wednesday reported a modest rebound in mortgage activity in the May 17 week, with activity up 2.4% on a slight downtick in mortgage rates.

    Here are some of the key features of the report:

    - The Refinance Index rose by 8%, while the Purchase Index fell by 2% in the current week.

    - The 30-year average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell further to 4.33% in the current week from 4.40% in the previous week, hitting its lowest point since January 2018.

    - The unadjusted purchasing index was up 7% from a year earlier.

    --MNI Washington Bureau; tel: +1 202-371-2121; email:

    [TOPICS: MAUDS$,M$U$$$,MK$$$$,M$$MO$]

  • 2019-05-21 12:10

    By Jean Yung

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said Tuesday that uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations in light of otherwise healthy growth and a temporary decline in inflation calls for the Fed to be patient in raising or lowering short-term interest rates.

    "I see no clarion call to alter current policy in the near term. I view current policy as slightly accommodative and likely to be consistent with inflation returning to the Fed's 2% inflation target over time. This is likely to occur more rapidly if tariffs are imposed," he said in remarks prepared for The Economic Club of New York.

  • 2019-05-21 12:03

    By Jean Yung

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - Recent weakness in U.S. inflation was likely exaggerated by one-off price moves in isolated categories, and low rates of increases in health care prices will continue to restrain overall levels, Federal Reserve economists said in interviews over the past week.

    While President Donald Trump's latest tariff hikes on Chinese imports could result in a modest boost to inflation, the effects are difficult to pinpoint and would be viewed as transitory, they said.

    Cyclical components of the Fed's favored personal consumption expenditures inflation gauge have stayed high, in line with a healthy economy and tight labor market, said San Francisco Fed economist Adam Shapiro.

  • 2019-05-17 01:51

    By Iris Ouyang

    BEIJING (MNI) - China's macro policies to boost the economy will help maintain stability through any escalation of the trade dispute with the U.S., the country's economic planning body said Friday.

    Here are the highlights from Friday's National Development of Reform Commission press briefing in Beijing:

    -The key for China through any trade dispute is to focus on its own business, Meng Wei, NDRC spokesperson said, with measures to ensure stable growth

    -China will continue with current macro, fiscal and monetary policies to help boost the domestic economy, with added focus on consumption in rural areas, the NDRC said.

    -The commission underlined that any fallout from the trade dispute was manageable as China's economy is resilient.

    -The gove

  • 2019-05-16 12:15

    By Jean Yung

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - The Federal Reserve should move cautiously in adjusting policy, given low neutral interest rates and inflation below target, Fed Governor Lael Brainard said Thursday.

    She again called for the central bank to guard against financial imbalances through the active use of countercyclical tools such as the countercyclical capital buffer.

  • 2019-05-16 09:08

    By Courtney Tower

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - The following are the key points from the March data on Canadian manufacturing sales released Thursday by Statistics Canada:

    - Sales increased 2.1% in March, matching expectations by analysts surveyed by MNI. While sales were up in eight of the 10 provinces, and well reversed the 0.2% decline in February, they were up only in 12 of 21 industries covered, representing 56% of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Real sales were up 1.6% after decreasing by -0.3% in February.

    - Among sectors posting the largest gains was a 4.5% increase for sales of transportation equipment after three consecutive monthly declines. Their main gain was in motor vehicle sales (+6.5%), with higher sales at all Canadian motor vehicle assembly plants.

  • 2019-05-16 08:07

    By Jean Yung

    WASHINGTON (MNI) - A standing repo facility allowing banks to swap safe assets for reserves on demand could be priced at a rate equal to the top of the Federal Reserve's target range, St. Louis Fed economist David Andolfatto said in an interview.

    This pricing would enable such a facility - now under consideration by the FOMC -- to function as a ceiling on short-term money market rates, while remaining low enough to attract usage in the event of a stress scenario, Andolfatto, who has written in favor of the idea, told MNI.

    Overnight repo rates have mostly posted below the Fed's current upper bound of 2.50% in 2019, but occasional spikes have contributed to "optics that the Fed does not have full control over the policy rate," he said.

  • 2019-05-16 06:22

    By Iris Ouyang

    BEIJING (MNI) - China's Ministry of Commerce said Thursday the country is not aware of any specific U.S. plans to send trade negotiators to Beijing for further talks.

    Here are some highlights from the weekly MOFCOM press briefing:

    --"China isn't aware of any U.S. plan to come to China for negotiations," said MOFCOM spokesperson Gao Feng.

    --Gao stressed China will "have to react" if the U.S. insists on escalating the trade dispute.