Inflation fed by high oil and gas prices hit record levels in Europe for the third month in a row, extending pain for consumers and sharpening questions about future moves by the European Central Bank.
The 19 countries that use the euro currency saw consumer prices increase by an annual 5.1 percent in January, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported Wednesday. The figure broke records of 5 percent in December and 4.9 percent in November and was the highest since recordkeeping started in 1997.
Once again, soaring energy prices played a major role, rising a painful 28.6 percent. Oil prices have spiked as the global economy recovers from the worst of COVID-19 restrictions, while natural gas prices have surged in Europe because of depleted winter reserves, lower supplies from Russia and fears of a renewed military move by Moscow against Ukraine.
Higher energy bills for consumers have quickly become a political issue in Europe as governments roll out subsidies and tax breaks to soften the blow to household budgets. Higher inflation makes it more expensive for people to buy everything from food to fuel and has been one factor holding back Europe’s recovery.
For example, gasoline prices in Germany have hit a record 1.712 euros per litre, the country’s General German Automobile Club (ADAC) said Wednesday. That is the equivalent of $7.31 per gallon.
Economic growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the eurozone in the last three months of 2021 as coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant led to new restrictions and deterred consumers from in-person activities such as eating out.
High inflation has increased the focus on Thursday’s policy meeting of the European Central Bank. Bank President Christine Lagarde has said much of the inflation is tied to temporary factors that should eventually fade.
As a result, she has said it’s “very unlikely” that the bank will raise interest rates this year, the typical antidote that central banks use against excessive inflation.
The bank might drop the “very” before “unlikely” on Thursday, but would otherwise stick to its road map based on plans to phase out the last of its pandemic stimulus by the end of 2022, said Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics.
“That would prepare the ground for the bank to raise rates, with the first hike in early 2023, though an increase at the end of this year is certainly possible,” Kenningham said.
The European Central Bank’s stance contrasts sharply with that of the United States Federal Reserve, which has signalled it could begin a series of rate increases as early as March. US annual consumer inflation hit 7 percent in December, a 40-year high.
Analysts say markets will be watching to see if there is any shift in the European Central Bank’s outlook. It thinks inflation will decline sharply this year and fall to 1.8 percent in 2023 and 2024.
It points to temporary inflation factors including bottlenecks in deliveries of parts and raw materials that limit supplies of goods and drive up prices as well as comparisons to extremely low energy prices during the worst of the pandemic slowdowns. Those comparisons will drop out of inflation statistics in time.SOURCE: AP
US stocks suffer biggest daily drop in almost two years
US stocks posted the biggest daily drop in almost two years as investors assess the impact of higher prices on earnings and prospects for monetary policy tightening on economic growth. The dollar and Treasuries gained amid a pickup in haven bids.
The selloff sent the S&P 500 down 4%, with the plunge in consumer shares surpassing 6%. Target Corp. tumbled more than 20% in its worst rout since 1987, after trimming its profit forecast due to a surge in costs. Shares of retailers from Walmart Inc. to Macy’s Inc. were caught in the downdraft. The Nasdaq 100 fell the most among major benchmarks, dropping more than 5% as growth-related tech stocks sank. Megacaps Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. slid at least 5%.
Treasuries rose across the board, sending the 10- and 30-year Treasury yields down as much as 11 basis points. The dollar rose against all of its Group-of-10 counterparts, except the yen and Swiss franc. Gold caught bids in the move into havens.
The benchmark S&P 500 is emerging from the longest weekly slump since 2011, but any rebounds in risk sentiment are proving fragile amid tightening monetary settings, Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s Covid lockdowns.
In some of his most hawkish remarks to date, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the US central bank will raise interest rates until there is “clear and convincing” evidence that inflation is in retreat. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said Wednesday he sees a half-point rate increase at next month’s meeting and “probably thereafter.”
In Europe, new-vehicle sales shrank for a 10th month in a row as the industry remains mired in supply-chain crises, while euro-area inflation plateaued at a record high. Meanwhile, UK inflation rose to its highest level since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister 40 years ago, adding to pressure for action from the government and central bank.
Netflix lays off 150 employees due to slow revenue growth and business needs
Netflix is reportedly laying off nearly 150 employees in the coming days due to disappointing earnings and slow revenue growth.
According to a Variety report, the Amazon Prime Video rival might also terminate its contract with contractual contributors.
The layoffs are about 2 per cent of Netflix’s US workforce. “As we explained [in reporting Q1] earnings, our slowing revenue growth means we are also having to slow our cost growth as a company. So sadly, we are letting around 150 employees go today, mostly U.S.-based,” a Netflix spokesperson said.
The statement further revealed that the decision was primarily driven by business needs rather than individual performance. Netflix reported $7.87 billion in Q1, which was short of Wall Street’s estimates of $7.93 billion.
The report further reveals that nearly 70 part-time employees in Netflix’s animation studio will have to pack up and leave. A report by The Verge stated that about 26 contractors working on Netflix’s fan-focused Tudum website might see a termination.
“A number of agency contractors have also been impacted by the news announced this morning. We are grateful for their contributions to Netflix,” the company said.
Netflix, in its recent earnings call, revealed that it lost thousands of subscribers, which is a first for the company in over a decade.
The company expects to lose an additional 2 million in the next quarter due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Netflix has shut shop in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dollar breaks N600/$ ceiling ahead of party’s presidential primaries
Less than two weeks to the presidential primaries of the political parties ahead of the 2023 elections, the US dollar has broken the N600/$ mark at the parallel market and set the tone for a possible uptick in the coming days.
The black market rate had traded between N570/$ and N590/$ since the beginning of the year while the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s intervention at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) has kept its rate under N420/$.
With the latest slump of the naira, the arbitrage between the parallel and NAFEX, which is regarded as the official window, is now inching close to N200/$. The spread measures the deviation of the controlled official rate from the real rate of exchange, with experts calling for liberalisation of the market to enable naira to find its true value.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also warned of the repercussions of sustaining an artificially high naira while calling on the CBN to embark on market reform.
But the CBN has maintained that Nigeria, with the current high level of importation and underperformance of the industrial sector, cannot afford to float the naira completely as the exchange rate could spill out of control.
At the Lagos street market, yesterday, naira traded between N595/$ and N600/$ band. With the presidential primaries of the two leading political parties scheduled for Abuja next weekend, there is an expectation the demand pressure has not peaked, suggesting that naira is in for a protracted pressure.
At peer-to-peer (P2P) trading platforms, the dollar has been trading above N600 in the past three weeks, which had signaled that the black market rate could break through the psychological ceiling.
With that eventually happening, naira could be on a renewed free fall.
But there is also hope that it is a season to offload warehoused hard currencies for political campaigns to possibly shore up supply.
Experts are not sure where rising demand and supply of foreign exchange would lead the naira to, but the interplay between the movements of the two variables is a key factor in predicting the value of the naira in the tense political season. Godwin Owoh, a professor of applied economics, advised Nigerians to prepare for a steeper fall of the local currency, saying partisan politics and intra-party meetings, which are highly dollarised would bring much pressure to bear.
The CBN has promised to continue to protect the naira but its ability could be constrained by the equally falling reserve. For the first time in eight months, the gross reserves dropped below N39 billion on Monday, when CBN data put the figures at N38.92 billion. Effectively, the country’s reserves have depleted by $160 billion year-to-date.
Bismarck Rewane, an economist, had projected the reserve to collapse to $32 billion in the year as he expected the CBN to spend $8 to $10 billion defending the naira, which is taking much pressure from excessive importation.
The value of Nigeria’s imports increased by 64 per cent last year to N20.84 trillion. Sadly, the value of exports increased at a slower rate – 51 per cent – to N18. 91 trillion in the same period. The falling reserves and rising imports have put the apex bank in dire straits in its efforts to continue to defend the naira.
- 2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others
- Kourtney Kardashian wears black veil and black dress with a picture of the Virgin Mary as she prepares to wed Travis Barker in Italy
- Kylian Mbappe snubs Real Madrid transfer to sign new PSG mega 3 year deal of £1m per week salary
- I won’t allow anyone steal my votes this time – Adeleke
- Confusion as APC clears Attorney-General, Malami for election, despite withdrawing from governorship race
NEWS1 day ago
Pastor injured, houses burnt as riot erupts in Bauchi over alleged blasphemy
NEWS1 day ago
MC Oluomo allegedly demands N100million to support re-election of Oshodi Rep member
NEWS16 hours ago
Gunmen behead abducted Anambra lawmaker from Governor Soludo’s constituency, hang head in motor park
CELEBRITIES16 hours ago
Kourtney Kardashian wears black veil and black dress with a picture of the Virgin Mary as she prepares to wed Travis Barker in Italy
POLITICS16 hours ago
Confusion as APC clears Attorney-General, Malami for election, despite withdrawing from governorship race
POLITICS16 hours ago
I won’t allow anyone steal my votes this time – Adeleke
SPORTS16 hours ago
Kylian Mbappe snubs Real Madrid transfer to sign new PSG mega 3 year deal of £1m per week salary
NEWS16 hours ago
2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others