Business activity in Europe and the US stumbled this month as high inflation, lingering supply constraints and rising borrowing costs took a bigger toll.
Retail and wholesale prices in the UK accelerated, while a key gauge of inflation in Singapore hit an almost 14-year high. Meantime, more central banks around the world continued to raise interest rates.
Euro-area economic expansion slowed sharply as surging prices curbed the rebound from pandemic restrictions and factories continued to suffer from supply snarls. An indicator for economic activity by S&P Global fell to a 16-month low in June, driven by rampant inflation, concerns over energy and rising borrowing costs.
UK inflation rose to a fresh four-decade high in May after broad increases in the cost of everything from fuel and electricity to food and beverages. The cost of goods leaving factories, meantime, rose 15.7% from a year ago, a full percentage point stronger than expected and the most since 1977.
The University of Michigan’s final June reading of longer-term US consumer inflation expectations settled back from an initially reported 14-year high, potentially reducing the urgency for steeper Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes.
Business activity took a decisive step back in June as rapid inflation reduced demand for services and led to outright contractions in factory orders and production.
Another month, another record for US single-family rents, which jumped 14% year-over-year in April, marking the 13th period of record-breaking annual gains. Supply shortages and a strong job market are driving prices up, according to CoreLogic, a provider of real estate data.
A world economy already contending with raging inflation, stock-market turmoil and a grueling war is facing yet another threat: the unraveling of a massive housing boom. The effects are being seen in countries such as Canada, the US and New Zealand, where once-hot residential real estate markets have suddenly turned cold.
Central bankers, desperate to tame the relentless march of inflation, have been sending not-so-subtle signals that they would for once welcome a stronger currency, which helps reduce the cost of imports by boosting buying power abroad. If left unchecked, this international competition threatens to handicap manufacturers that rely on exports, upend the finances of multinational companies, and shift the burdens of inflation around the world.
Iceland’s central bank raised borrowing costs again by a full percentage point to a five-year high, doubling down on its struggle to curb inflation and cool one of Europe’s hottest housing markets. Central banks in Mexico, Czech Republic and Norway also boosted rates.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to meet economic targets for the year even as the government’s zero tolerance approach to combating Covid outbreaks and a weak housing market put the growth goal further out of reach. Most economists expect Beijing will miss its gross domestic product growth goal of around 5.5% this year.
Indonesia’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low again, saying inflation remains manageable as it cemented its place as an outlier on monetary policy. The move sets Indonesia apart from most central banks.
Singapore’s key inflation gauge accelerated for a third month to the fastest in almost 14 years, bolstering the case for further monetary policy tightening and stronger action to buffer consumers from the drag of rising prices.
Mexico’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in over a year, suggesting a recovery seen at the beginning of 2022 is gathering speed. Latin America’s second-largest economy grew 1.1% in April compared to the previous month, the most since March 2021.
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