Mining production increased by 18.8% year-on-year in March 2015. The highest positive growth rates were recorded for Platinum Group Metals (132.2%), manganese ore (17.3%) and nickel (15,0%). The main contributors to the 18.8% increase were Platinum Group Metals (contributing 13.1 percentage points), coal (contributing 2.5 percentage points) and manganese ore (contributing 1.0 percentage point). The Platinum Group Metals production surge is however against the backdrop of major producers being in the heart of prolonged strike activity for corresponding period (March 2014).
Manufacturing production was relatively upbeat having increased by 3.8% in March 2015 vs March 2014. Higher production in the following divisions were largely attributable to the improved figure:
- Food and beverages (8,2% and contributing 1.9 percentage points)
- Petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products (5.5% and contributing 1.2 percentage points); and
- Motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment (13.3% and contributing 1.0 percentage point)
The week gone by has been relatively light in terms of economic data when compared to the week, which preceded, although still producing a few significant high impact catalysts.
In the U.S., most of the high impact data released fell short of expectation, fueling sentiment that rates might remain at current lows for longer than initially anticipated. The dollar has weakened as a result and in turn, commodity prices have continued to gain. Retail sales data showed 0% growth m/m, while core retail sales data added 0.1% m/m. Producer Price Index (PPI) data showed deflation of 0.4% at a factory level.
In Europe, preliminary Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data from France, Germany and Italy showed marginal q/q economic growth of 0.6%, 0.3% and 0.3% respectively. The Flash GDP figure for Eurozone was reported at 0.4% q/q, slightly short of the mean of consensus estimates at 0.5% q/q. Greece managed to narrowly avoid default on the Country’s debt payment obligations to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), ironically by accessing the funds from the IMF’s “special drawing rights” fund held by the Bank of Greece.
The week ahead
The new week will see the usual monthly run of trade sales data in the retail, wholesale and motor departments as well as Consumer Price Index (CPI) data on the local economic timetable.
In Europe, we await Flash manufacturing and services PMI data with perhaps the largest focus being on the two biggest Eurozone economies Germany and France. ECB president Mario Draghi’s public address on Thursday evening will also be closely monitored.
In the U.S. CPI and Core CPI data at the end of the week will be of particular importance in light of the Federal Reserve’s assessment of inflation being one of the key indicators relative to when monetary tightening may commence.