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Producer Prices Index fell by 1.6% in December 2022   Published: 02 February 2023


  • For December 2022, output prices for producers in the Mining and Quarrying industry increased by 0.6% while for the Manufacturing industry prices declined by 1.6% as indicated by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).
  • The movement in the Mining and Quarrying industry index was mainly attributed to a 0.6% increase in the index for the major group ‘Bauxite Mining & Alumina Processing’. This was due primarily to the depreciation of the Jamaican dollar against the US dollar.
  • The main contributors to the decline in the Manufacturing index were the ‘Refined Petroleum Products’ group, which fell by 9.0%, and ‘Chemical and Chemical Products’ which declined by 1.1%.
  • The decline in the index for ‘Refined Petroleum Products’ was due to lower prices for crude on the international market, while the movement in the index of the ‘Chemical and Chemical Products’ group was attributed to the lower cost of raw materials. The fall in the index was, however, tempered by a 0.3% increase in the index for the heaviest weighted major group ‘Food, Beverages& Tobacco'.
  • For the period December 2021 – December 2022, the Mining & Quarrying index fell by 22.1% while the point-to-point movement for the Manufacturing index increased by 11.2%. The three major groups contributing to the movement in the Manufacturing industry were ‘Refined Petroleum Products (12.6%), ‘Food, Beverages & Tobacco’ (12.5%), and ‘Chemical and Chemical Products (9.4%).
  • The fall in the Mining and Quarrying Index was largely due to the decline in prices for Bauxite and Alumina on the international market during 2022.

(Source: STATIN)

Brazilian Growth Headed For A Slowdown In 2023 Published: 02 February 2023

  • Fitch continues to expect that Brazilian real GDP growth will slow sharply in 2023, to 1.0% from an estimated 3.0% in 2022, as elevated interest rates and weaker external demand take their toll.
  • Additionally, the agency expects that growth in Q422 will come in at 2.5% y-o-y (-0.2% q-o-q, seasonally adjusted), from 3.6% (0.4%) in Q322 a high-frequency data for the quarter suggests that activity has continued to deteriorate. In annual terms, Fitch’s 2022 estimate is down slightly from 3.1% previously.
  • Most notably, the statistics agency (IBGE)’s economic activity index slipped from 4.5% y-o-y in September to 3.7% in October and 1.6% in November, while marking three consecutive months of negative month-on-month growth.
  • However, solid fundamentals for private consumption and increased demand from Mainland China will prevent a sharper slowdown for Brazil. This bodes well for Marfrig’s performance in the near future given the increased demand from China, which is a major export market for the company.
  • The most recent data suggests that Brazil’s private consumer remains fairly healthy in the near term, reflected in Fitch’s forecast for private consumption to lead all components with a 1.0 percentage point (pp) contribution to growth. Also, Brazil’s unemployment rate slipped to 8.1% in November 2022, the lowest level since February 2015, while consumer and services sector business confidence surveys are solid by post-pandemic standards, though down from highs earlier in the year.

(Source: Fitch Solutions)

IMF lifts 2023 growth forecast on China reopening, strength in U.S., Europe   Published: 02 February 2023


  • The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday raised its 2023 global growth outlook slightly due to "surprisingly resilient" demand in the United States and Europe, an easing of energy costs and the reopening of China's economy after Beijing abandoned its strict COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The IMF said global growth would still fall to 2.9% in 2023 from 3.4% in 2022, but its latest World Economic Outlook forecasts mark an improvement over an October prediction of 2.7% growth this year with warnings that the world could easily tip into recession.
  • In its 2023 GDP forecasts, the IMF said it now expected U.S. GDP growth of 1.4%, up from 1.0% predicted in October and following 2.0% growth in 2022. It cited stronger-than-expected consumption and investment in the third quarter of 2022, a robust labour market and strong consumer balance sheets. It said the eurozone had made similar gains, with 2023 growth for the bloc now forecast at 0.7%, versus 0.5% in the October outlook, following 3.5% growth in 2022.
  • The IMF said Europe had adapted to higher energy costs more quickly than expected, and an easing of energy prices had helped the region. Britain was the only major advanced economy the IMF predicted to be in recession this year, with a 0.6% fall in GDP as households struggled with rising living costs, including for energy and mortgages.
  • For 2024, the IMF said global growth would accelerate slightly to 3.1%, but this is a tenth of a percentage point below the October forecast as the full impact of steeper central bank interest rate hikes slows demand. IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas said recession risks had subsided and central banks are making progress in controlling inflation, but more work was needed to curb prices and new disruptions could come from further escalation of the war in Ukraine and China's battle against COVID-19.

(Source: Reuters)

Eurozone Economy Unexpectedly Grows In Q4 But Weak 2023 Looms Published: 02 February 2023

  • The eurozone eked out growth in the final three months of 2022, managing to avoid a recession even as sky-high energy costs, waning confidence and rising interest rates took a toll on the economy that is likely to persist into this year. Gross domestic product across the currency bloc expanded by a tiny 0.1% in the fourth quarter, data from Eurostat showed on Tuesday, outperforming expectations in a Reuters poll for a 0.1% drop.
  • Among the biggest eurozone countries, Germany and Italy recorded negative growth rates for the quarter but France and Spain expanded, Eurostat added, based on a flash estimate that is subject to revisions. Russia's nearly year-old war in Ukraine has proved costly for the eurozone, which now spans 350 million people in 20 countries, given some members' heavy reliance on cheap energy. Surging oil and gas prices have depleted savings and held back investment while forcing the European Central Bank into unprecedented rate hikes to arrest inflation.
  • But the economy has displayed some unexpected resilience, too - much like during the COVID-19 pandemic, when growth outperformed expectations as businesses adjusted faster to changed circumstances than policymakers had predicted.
  • The overall picture nevertheless remains weak, with a meagre growth forecast for 2023 due to a large drop in real incomes and surging interest rates. "In the coming months, the noticeable tightening of monetary policy will increasingly slow down the economy," Commerzbank economist Christoph Weil said. "We continue to expect the euro area economy to contract slightly in the first half of the year, and the recovery expected in the second half is likely to be weak."

(Source: Reuters)

2022/23 Budget to Increase by $24.5 Billion   Published: 02 February 2023


  • The Government’s budgeted expenditure for fiscal year 2022/23 is being increased by approximately $24.5 billion. This will push the Central Government Budget to $998.2 billion, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, has said.
  • The details are contained in the Third Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure, which Dr. Clarke tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (January 31). The additional expenditure is primarily to facilitate payments under the public-sector compensation restructuring exercise, which accounts for $23.7 billion of the supplementary amount
  • Interest payments are also estimated to increase by $2 billion, comprised of $1.8 billion on the external side and $200 million on the domestic side, and these primarily reflect interest and exchange rate changes.
  • Capital expenditure declined by $2.3 billion and is due to the inability of the allocated expenditure to be undertaken on four projects before the fiscal year ends.
  • This additional expenditure is being financed by an expected improvement of $25.4 billion on the revenue side, primarily from tax inflows. These are expected to increase by $28 billion consequent on higher growth estimates, as well as taxes from additional wages.
  • Considering that increased expenditure is being financed by higher revenues, and there has been an increase in the allocation for debt payments, the Government of Jamaica is expected to remain on target to reduce debt and record fiscal and primary balance of 0.3% of GDP and 5.9% of GDP, respectively, at the end- FY2022/23. The debt-to-GDP is anticipated to fall to 87.3% of GDP by the end of FY2022/23 before falling further to 60% of GDP by end-FY2027/28.

(Source: JIS)

Palace Amusement Investors Agree To Stock Split   Published: 02 February 2023


  • Investors in movie theatre operators Palace Amusement Company Limited have agreed to a stock split.  The decision was made at the company’s annual general meeting last week.
  • This will see Palace's ordinary shares sub-divided into 600 additional shares and will be effective at the close of the February 28, 2023 business day.
  • Shareholders also agreed to increase the company's authorized share capital. The total number of issued Palace stocks will move from 1,437,028 ordinary shares of no par value to 862,216,800 million ordinary shares of no par value.
  • The stock closed at $2,967.86 on Monday’s trading session and has increased 100.84% since the start of the year.
  • The stock split is expected to improve the liquidity of the stock on the market, as it will appear more nominally affordable.

(Source: JSE News)

Brazil's 2022 Gross Debt Falls To Lowest Level In More Than 5 Years Published: 02 February 2023

  • Brazil's government debt as a share of gross domestic product ended 2022 at its lowest level in more than five years, highlighting a significant but not sustainable fiscal improvement as the debt dynamics should resume an upward trend this year.
  • Brazil's gross debt fell to 73.5% of GDP in December from 74.6% in November, accumulating a 4.8-point contraction in the year, to its lowest ratio since July 2017, when it reached 73.2%. The reduction was mainly led by a nominal rise in GDP, which is also affected by inflation.
  • Notably, Latin America's largest economy has shown more vigour than initially expected on the back of solid service activity, an improved job market and government fiscal stimulus ahead of a presidential election in October. However, the impressive gross debt reduction was also helped by public net debt redemptions, as the Treasury chose to reduce bond issues while Brazil's benchmark interest rate was aggressively hiked to battle inflation.
  • The country's public sector recorded a primary deficit of 11.8Bn reais ($2.3Bn) in December but a 126Bn reais surplus for 2022, its second straight positive annual print and best result for a year since 2011. The solid annual performance came just two years after the record 2020 deficit of 703Bn reais, boosted by pandemic spending.

(Source: Reuters)

Fiscal Policy To The Fore As The Tightening Cycle Comes To An End Published: 02 February 2023

  • After a sharp tightening of monetary policy over 2022, the hiking cycle is nearing an end across emerging (EMs) and developed (DMs) markets.
  • While containing inflation will remain a key priority for policymakers, Fitch does not anticipate any further hikes after Q2 2023, with a number of EM central banks – mainly in Latin America and Mainland China– cutting interest rates to support economic activity.
  • From a fiscal policy perspective, the Agency anticipates a slight widening in the aggregate DM fiscal deficit in 2023, as several governments maintain high levels of fiscal support against a backdrop of weaker growth and still-high inflation. 
  • The aggregate DM deficit is expected to widen from an estimated 4.3% of GDP in 2022 to 4.4% in 2023, before narrowing to 3.1% in 2024 as economic activity recovers and governments phase out support measures. On the other hand, Fitch projects that the GDP-weighted average of EM fiscal balances will narrow from a deficit of 5.6% of GDP in 2022 to a shortfall of 4.5% of GDP in 2023.
  • A combination of weakening economic activity and tight monetary conditions saw DM inflation slow for a third consecutive month in December 2022, coming in at a seven-month low of 6.9% y-o-y.
  • However, easing energy prices and normalising supply chains were also key factors behind the slowdown in inflation. DM inflation is projected to ease further in 2023 and 2024 to an average of 4.6% and 2.4% respectively, from 7.4% in 2022 as economic growth slows down, as the lagged impact of higher interest rates fully kicks in and energy prices continue to fall. 

(Source: Fitch Solutions)

Russia bans oil exporters from adhering to Western price caps   Published: 02 February 2023


  • The Russian government on Monday banned domestic oil exporters and customs bodies from adhering to Western-imposed price caps on Russian crude. The measure was issued to help enforce President Vladimir Putin's decree of Dec. 27 that prohibited the supply of crude oil and oil products from Feb. 1, for five months, to nations that abide by the caps.
  • The G7 economies, the European Union and Australia agreed on Dec. 5 to ban the use of Western-supplied maritime insurance, finance and brokering for seaborne Russian oil priced above $60 per barrel as part of Western sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.
  • The new Russian act bans corporates and individuals from including oil price cap mechanisms in their contracts. They also have to report to customs officials and the energy ministry any attempts to impose oil price caps. In addition, customs bodies have to prevent goods from leaving Russia if they find such mechanisms have been applied. 
  • The Western allies plan from Feb. 5 to set two caps on Russian oil products, one on products that trade at a premium to crude, such as diesel or gas oil, and one for products that trade at a discount to crude, such as fuel oil. The Russian government's act also calls on the energy ministry, with the approval of the finance ministry, to work out an approach for monitoring prices of Russian oil exports by March 1.

(Source: Reuters)

WHO: COVID still an emergency but nearing ‘inflection’ point   Published: 02 February 2023


  • The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday after a key advisory panel found the pandemic may be nearing an “inflection point” where higher levels of immunity can lower virus-related deaths.
  • Speaking at the opening of WHO’s annual executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there is no doubt that we’re in a far better situation now” than a year ago — when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.
  • But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the coronavirus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.
  • “We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.
  • “The committee acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic may be approaching an inflection point,” WHO said in a statement. Higher levels of immunity worldwide through vaccination or infection “may limit the impact” of the virus that causes COVID-19 on “morbidity and mortality,” the committee said.
  • “But there is little doubt that this virus will remain a permanently established pathogen in humans and animals for the foreseeable future,” it said. While Omicron versions are easily spread, “there has been a decoupling between infection and severe disease” compared to that of earlier variants.

(Source: CNBC)