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G7 leaders gather in Tokyo

The leaders of the seven most advanced economies meet for a 2-day summit

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Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United States and the UK are meeting in Tokyo today for a 2-day summit. Leaders will be addressing the issue on currency wars, expanding fiscal stimulus to revive the global economy and of course Brexit. While the 2-day summit is expected to touch upon the broad matter, on May 20 - 21, the finance ministers and central bank governors will be meeting.

French unemployment rate dips in Q1

French unemployment rate fell slightly in the first quarter to 10.20% following a downward revised Q4 print of 10.20% from initial estimates of 10.30%. The unemployment rate for Q4 2015 and Q1 2016 mark the lowest unemployment rate since Q2 of 2014. The latest dip in unemployment rate matches that of the European Commission estimates which has forecasted French unemployment rate to average at 10.20% in 2016 and then fall to 10.10% in 2017 marking a 5-year low. Geo-politics and economics however continue to be inter-twined in France. President Francois Hollande had passed a controversial set of labor reforms using a presidential decree making it easier for French businesses to hire and fire employees and simplified labor rules, sparking a wide spread protest among trade unions.

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UK retail sales post a recovery in April

Retail sales in the UK rebounded in April, rising at a faster than expected pace of 1.30% on the month. The data released by the UK's Office for National Statistics on Thursday beat analyst expectations of a 0.60% increase. Not only did retail sales surge in April but also reversed the 0.50% declines in March. Excluding auto fuel, sales inched 1.50% higher after falling 0.70% in March and beating estimates of a 0.70% increase. At an annualized pace, growth of retail sales accelerated to 4.30% in April, extending the 3.0% increase previously and posting a 3-month high. The sterling jumped on the news, which already got a boost earlier this week when latest Brexit polls showed the 'Leave' camp gaining a modest lead. Despite a stronger US dollar, the sterling managed to hold its ground.

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Philly Fed manufacturing index continues to contract

Manufacturing activity in Philadelphia area continued to contract in May, data from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve shows on Thursday. The index edged lower to -1.80 in May following -1.6 reading in April. The data was lower than what economists had forecasted who expected to see the index climb higher to 3.0. The Philly Fed manufacturing index follows the Empire state manufacturing index released earlier this week which also showed a contraction. Meanwhile, the US Labor department's weekly jobless claims showed that the initial jobless claims fell to 278k a decrease of 16k from the previous week's claims of 294k. The jobless claims continue to fall back after reaching the highest level in over fourteen months a week ago.

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Canada: Retail sales and CPI in focus

Retail sales in Canada is expected to have pulled back following a strong increase in January and February this year where sales increased 2.10% and 0.40% respectively. Economists expect Canadian retail sales to have declined 0.70% on weaker auto sales. Simultaneously, inflation data will also be released. Expectations are that the headline CPI might inch higher but excluding food and energy, the core CPI is expected to remain stable. The Bank of Canada's own measure of CPI is expected to show a 2.0% increase in April, slightly lower than March's 2.10% increase.

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