The publication of GDP figures for the second quarter confirms the continuation of positive growth despite the tightening of monetary policy by central banks. In the United States, gross domestic product grew at an annualised rate of 2.4% quarter-on-quarter, ahead of both expectations and the 2.0% posted in the first quarter, note Guy Wagner and his team in their latest monthly market report "Highlights".
“The stronger-than-expected growth was due to the resilience of consumer spending and strong growth in business investment,” says Guy Wagner, Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of the asset management company BLI - Banque de Luxembourg Investments. Growth was also positive in the eurozone, but less robust than in the US, with GDP rising by 0.3% quarter-on-quarter. “The peripheral countries showed the strongest momentum, while the German economy stagnated and the apparently strong growth in France came exclusively from exports.”
Monetary tightening by central banks should lead to a more marked slowdown in the global economy in the third quarter. Guy Wagner
GDP growth in China slows down
In China, quarter-on-quarter GDP growth slowed in the second quarter, confirming that the post-Covid rebound is rapidly running out of steam. The government in Beijing has just announced various support measures to revitalise the property market and restore confidence in the private sector, which has been affected by over-regulation in recent years. “Monetary tightening by central banks should lead to a more marked slowdown in the global economy in the third quarter.”
The easing in inflation rates continues
The easing in inflation rates continues, extending to core price indices excluding energy and food. In the United States, headline inflation fell to 3% in June. “In the eurozone, inflation is also slowing, although inflationary pressures appear to be more persistent than in the United States,” determines the Luxembourgish economist.
Central banks raise key interest rates further
After a pause in June, the US Federal Reserve resumed raising interest rates in July, bringing the target range for the federal funds rate to 5.25% - 5.50%. Chairman Jerome Powell left open the possibility of a further increase at the next meeting in September, a decision that will depend on the progress of economic statistics published between now and then. In the eurozone, the central bank also raised its key rates by 25 basis points, increasing the deposit rate to 3.75% and the refinancing rate to 4.25%. According to President Christine Lagarde, a pause in September has become an option, with the next move depending, as in the US, on statistical developments. In Japan, the central bank slightly adjusted its policy of controlling the yield curve, raising the upper limit of the target range for the 10-year rate to 1% from 0.5% previously.
Hope for a soft landing of the global economy grows
Following their massive rebound in the first half of the year, stock markets remained buoyant in July. Guy Wagner: “More and more investors seem to be embracing the idea of a soft landing for the global economy despite the sharp rise in interest rates, given the recent easing in inflationary pressures and the continued resilience of the services sector. The corporate earnings season has also lived up to expectations so far.” In terms of sectors, energy, communication services and materials advanced the most, while defensive sectors such as healthcare, utilities and consumer staples recorded the least favourable outcome.