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Yellen: Rate Hikes Appropriate in Following Months

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Speaks at Harvard University

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Janet Yellen sounded less dovish during her speech, joining the majority of Fed members arguing in favor of rate hikes over the coming months. She said that the Fed should raise interest rates gradually over time and that such a move would be appropriate in the coming months.

Japan CPI Falls -0.30% in April


Consumer prices fell -0.30% in April on a year over year basis, data from the ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication showed on Friday. However, the April CPI was better than what economists had penciled in, forecasting a 0.40% decline. April's CPI was lower by 0.10% from March's -0.20% decline. Within the CPI, prices for clothing increased 2.30% while recreation and education were up 2.10% and 1.40% respectively. Another gauge of CPI measured by the BoJ showed that annual inflation was at 0.90%, slipping from March and increasing likelihood of intervention.

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French Consumer Confidence Index Rises to 15-Year High


Consumer confidence – measuring economic contentedness and intention to save - increased unexpectedly in France. The consumer confidence index jumped to 98 in April, from 94 in March. The month-over-month increase marks the highest level recorded in consumer confidence in over 15 years. The April's consumer confidence jump was the first increase in more than three months. Consumers registered strong improvement on their standard of living with fears of unemployment abating considerably in May. However, confidence index in manufacturing slipped during the month.

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Swedish Retail Sales Weaken in April


Retail sales in Sweden remained unchanged in April on a monthly basis but increased 1.70% yearly, according to data from Statistics Sweden. The outcome was lower than what economists had expected, underlying the weaker sales trend which has not increased since November last year. Retail sales data was expected to show a 0.40% month over month increase and a 1.90% year over year increase. Weak sales in the month of April were attributed to the Easter holiday, Statistics Sweden said.

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US GDP Revised Higher to 0.80%


First quarter economic growth in the US was not as bad as it seemed. Data from the Commerce Department showed that the revised quarterly GDP in the first three months of the year expanded at a pace of 0.80%, better than the initial estimates of 0.50%. However, the revised GDP was lower than market expectations of a 0.90% increase. The GDP revisions were fairly modest but initial estimates of US corporate profits after tax growing at a pace of 1.90% from the fourth quarter increase optimism – especially given that the past two quarters were dismal for corporations.

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