May Market Update Overview
- The recovery in equity and commodity prices continued in April helped by reasonable economic data and commentary from central banks that implied interest rates would remain lower for longer
- Oil prices continued to move higher, up another 20% in April. Iron ore prices rose 23% over the month
- China growth figures were reasonably solid
- US economic data was on-balance somewhat mixed, in part due to the stronger US Dollar which has hurt certain industry sectors such as exporters
- Economic data in Europe has been stronger-than-expected, although inflation remains low
- Australian business conditions and employment levels have remained strong, but inflation in early 2016 was very weak
- RBA cuts the cash rate from 2.00% to 1.75%
Developed market equities rose marginally in April helped by cautious commentary from the US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank and reasonable economic data in Europe and China.
The initial estimate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the first quarter of 2016 was a little disappointing with annualised growth of just 0.5%, down from 1.4% in the prior quarter.
First quarter GDP growth came in at 1.6% for the year, which was higher than expected, with the Spanish economy continuing to grow strongly.
GDP growth in the March quarter rose to be 6.7% higher over the past year and there were stronger-than-expected rebounds in industrial production, retail sales and fixed asset investment.
In Japan, deflation pressures continued with the consumer price index falling 0.1% year-on-year in March pointing to deflationary pressures in Japan.
The RBA reduced interest rates from 2.00% to 1.75% at its May meeting and March quarter CPI was much weaker than expected.