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Japanese Housing Starts Increase; Consumer Confidence Weakens

Japan’s housing starts increased in March and consumer confidence weakened in April, data showed on Friday.

Housing starts increased 1.5 percent year-on-year in March, after a 3.7 percent fall in February, data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism revealed.

Economists had forecast an annual 7.4 percent decline.

Annualized housing starts decreased to 880,000 in March from 808,000 in the previous month.

Data also showed that construction orders received by big 50 contractors grew 12.5 percent on year in March, following a 2.5 percent increase in February.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the consumer confidence index decreased to 34.7 in April from 36.1 in March, the Cabinet Office revealed.

All the four sub-indexes of the consumer confidence index, the index reflecting overall livelihood rose to 36.9 in April and income growth increased to 36.6.

Households’ willingness to buy durable consumer goods rose to 36.2 and the index for employment increased to 29.1.

The latest survey was conducted on April 15 covering 8,400 households.

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BNP Paribas Q1 Profit Climbs On Strong Revenues

French lender BNP Paribas (BNPQY.PK, BNP.L) reported Friday that its first-quarter net income attributable to equity holders came to 1.77 billion euros, up 37.9 percent from last year’s 1.28 billion euros.

Excluding the effect of exceptional items and the impact of taxes and contributions subject to IFRIC 21, net income was 2.82 billion euros.

Meanwhile, net income declined 7.8 percent from the first quarter 2019, prior to the Covid crisis.

Pre-tax income was 2.82 billion euros, 57.3 percent higher than last year’s 1.80 billion euros, and up 5.2 percent from 2019.

Operating income grew 79 percent year-over-year to 2.34 billion euros.

At 11.83 billion euros, revenues were up 8.6 percent from last year’s 10.89 billion euros. Revenues increased 12 percent at constant scope and exchange rates. Revenues were 6.1 percent higher than in the first quarter 2019.

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Japan’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 2.6% In March

The jobless rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent in March, the Ministry of Communications and Internal Affairs said on Friday.

That was shy of expectations for 2.9 percent, which would have been unchanged from the February reading.

The job-to-applicant ratio was 1.10, exceeding forecasts for 1.09 – which would have been unchanged.

The participation rate was steady at 61.9 percent.

Japan’s Industrial Output Climbs 2.2% On Month In March

Industrial production in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent on month in March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Friday.

That beat expectations for a decline of 2.0 percent following the 1.3 percent decline in February.

On a yearly basis, industrial production advanced 4.0 percent – again exceeding forecasts for an increase of 1.0 percent following the 2.0 percent contraction in the previous month.

Upon the release of the data, the METI upgraded its assessment of industrial production, saying that it is picking up.

Japan’s Manufacturing PMI Improves To 53.6 In April – Jibun Bank

The manufacturing sector in Japan continued to improve in April, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Friday with a manufacturing PMI score of 53.6.

That’s up from 52.7 in March and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Individually, there was quicker expansion of new orders and output as employment rose for the first time in four months.

There were further reports that rising raw material prices placed sustained pressure on average cost burdens across Japanese manufacturers in April. Input prices have now risen in each of the last 11 months, with the rate of inflation quickening to the fastest since November 2018.

Business confidence regarding activity over the coming 12 months gathered pace in April. Positive sentiment was at its second-highest level since the survey first posed the question in July 2012.

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China’s Manufacturing Sector Growth At 4-Month High

China’s manufacturing sector grew at the fastest pace in four months in April, survey results from IHS Markit showed on Friday.

The Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 51.9 in April from an 11-month low of 50.6 in March. A score above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

Driven by improved market conditions and greater customer demand, total new orders grew for the eleventh straight month in April.

Greater inflows of new work led goods producers in China to expand production volumes again in April, with the rate of expansion also improving to a four-month high.

The sustained increase in sales led to a further accumulation in backlogs of work. Consequently, manufacturers added to their staff numbers for the first time in five months.

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Norwegian Trade Balance Swing To Surplus

Norway’s trade balance swung to surplus in March from a year ago, amid a rise in exports and imports, data from Statistics Norway showed on Thursday.

The trade balance registered a surplus of NOK 25.448 billion in March versus a deficit of NOK 1.725 billion in the same month last year. In February, the trade surplus was NOK 23.552 billion.

Exports gained 45.7 percent year-on-year in March and increased 18.3 percent from a month ago.

Imports rose 5.2 percent annually in March and grew 22.4 percent from the previous month.

The mainland trade deficit increased to NOK 22.41 billion in March from NOK 19.595 billion in the previous month. In the same month last year, the trade deficit was NOK 27.911 billion.

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India’s Wholesale Price Inflation Rises In March

India’s wholesale prices rose in March, data from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry showed on Thursday.

The wholesale price index increased 7.39 percent year-on-year in March, following a 4.17 percent rise in February. Economists had expected a 5.9 percent rise.

The primary articles price index grew 6.4 percent annually in March, following a 1.82 percent increase in the previous month.

Food prices rose to 5.28 percent in March, following a 3.31 percent growth in the previous month.

Fuel and power prices gained 10.25 percent in March, following a 0.58 percent rise in the prior month.

Prices of manufactured products grew 7.34 percent in March, following a 5.81 percent gain in the previous month.

The final wholesale prices rose 2.51 percent in January.

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Germany’s Consumer Prices Rise Most In More Than A Year

Germany’s consumer prices increased at the fastest rate in more than a year in March, final data from the statistical office Destatis showed on Thursday.

Consumer prices grew 1.7 percent year-on-year in March, in line with preliminary estimate, following a 1.3 percent rise in February. A similar higher rate was last reported in February 2020.

Consumer prices increased for the third month in a row after the temporary reduction of the value added tax rates had ended.

Prices of goods advanced 1.9 percent and that of services gained 1.6 percent in March. Food prices were up 1.6 percent and energy prices advanced 4.8 percent.

Excluding energy, inflation was 1.4 percent in March.

At the same time, harmonized inflation based on the EU measure climbed to 2 percent in March from 1.6 percent in February. This was the highest rate since April 2019, when prices moved up 2.1 percent. The annual rate came in line with the preliminary estimate released on March 30.

Month-on-month, consumer prices and the harmonized index of consumer prices rose 0.5 percent each, as previously estimated.

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Today’s Tech Headlines

Coinbase is set to go public today, and analysts say excitement is driving bitcoin’s surge. The cryptocurrency climbed to an all-time high above $63,000 yesterday ahead of the hotly anticipated IPO. Here’s how the anticipation of the largest-ever listing of a crypto company is pushing bitcoin’s rally.

2. For $3 million, you can be a VIP guest on this nuclear-powered superyacht. The ship, known as Earth 300, is scheduled to set sail in 2025 with 160 of the world’s “brightest and smartest” scientists and 40 VIPs.

3. America’s top work-from-home expert is bracing for turmoil. Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford, said employees will be unhappy with the arrangements their companies offer as they try to balance remote and in-office work. His warning of the turbulence to come – and how to navigate it all.

4. Remember the “Leave Britney Alone” viral video from 2007? Well, now it’s a NFT. Chris Crocker, the creator of the iconic video, just sold it for more than $41,000. In an exclusive interview with Insider, Crocker told us about the sale.

5. Spotify quietly removed more than 40 episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. The music-streaming platform appears to be removing controversial episodes, including those that featured far-right activists Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Gavin Mcinnes.

Mark your calendars: Apple’s first major event of the year will take place on April 20. The company sent out invitations for its virtual event after Siri revealed the date earlier on Tuesday. Apple is expected to unveil new iPad Pro models .

7. Facebook is testing a video speed-dating service. The new app, Sparked, will offer “video speed dating for kind people,” where users must pledge to create a safe space, be kind – and not ghost.

8. Deepfakes are on the rise. But the more we learn about them, the more dangerous they become. Experts say the public needs to know the threat, but as people get used to them, it’ll be easier for bad actors to dismiss the truth as AI forgery. That paradox is called the “liar’s dividend.” Here’s how it works – and why it’s so dangerous.

9. Microsoft’s $16 billion purchase of Nuance is an attempt to beat Google and Amazon to the ground floor of healthcare. As healthcare workers struggle with outdated technology, big tech companies have sensed an opportunity – and have for years been competing for healthcare business. The acquisition could place Microsoft at the forefront of care delivery data.

10. Here’s how Grab’s cofounders turned it into a $40 billion “super app.” After they won a $10,000 business school prize, the cofounders transformed the Singapore-based startup into a $40 billion company that’s expected to be the largest SPAC deal in history.

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Swedish Inflation At 15-Month High

Sweden’s consumer price inflation rose to the highest level in fifteen months in March, figures from Statistics Sweden showed on Wednesday.

The consumer price index rose 1.7 percent annually in March, following a 1.4 percent increase in January. This was in line with economists’ expectation.

The latest inflation was the highest since December 2018. when it was 1.8 percent.

On a month-on-month basis, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in March, after a 0.3 percent increase in the previous month. Economists had expected a 0.1 percent fall.

Inflation, based on the CPI with fixed interest rate or CPIF, increased to 1.9 percent in March from 1.5 percent in the preceding month.

On a monthly basis, the CPIF rose 0.2 percent in March, after a 0.3 percent growth in the prior month.

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Hungarian Industrial Production Accelerates In February

Hungary’s industrial production accelerated in February, as initially estimated, final data from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office showed on Wednesday.

Industrial production rose a working-day adjusted 3.9 percent annually in February, after a 2.8 percent decline in January, as estimated.

On a monthly basis, industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted grew 4.8 percent in February, following a 0.3 percent rise in the prior month, as initially estimated.

On an unadjusted basis, industrial production rose 1.9 percent yearly in February. This was in line with initial estimate.