US Q1 shrinkage?

Britain's GDP unchanged
The BBC has advised London robbers to make their getaway on a motorcycle without a crash helmet.  The Metropolitan police will not give chase in case they fall off and hurt themselves.  Sterling went similarly unprotected into yesterday's GDP data and just about got away with it.

Although there was nothing wrong with the UK gross domestic product figures there was disappointment among investors that the economy expanded by only 0.3% in the first quarter.  Analysts had led them to believe the number would be revised up to 0.4% so when it wasn't, they were inclined to sell sterling.  However, perhaps mindful of the pound's safety they did not give chase after the initial dip and on many fronts sterling was able to recover the lost ground.

It lost a third of a US cent on the day and was down by half that much on average against the other dozen most actively-traded currencies.  The Swiss franc led the way, adding more than a cent against sterling, while the NZ dollar dropped to the back of the field with a two-and-three-quarter-cent loss.  The Kiwi was hurt by a slowdown in new home sales and a near-halving of ANZ's business confidence index from 30.2 to 15.7.

Best of the rest
The -0.2% contraction of Switzerland's economy in the first quarter, reported this morning, stands in stark contrast to the 0.9% expansion announced yesterday by Spain.  Similarly, and although the two measures are not strictly comparable, Japanese household spending fell -1.3% in April while German retail sales rose by 1.7%

In other words, investors looking for a steer on the global economy are finding only apparently contradictory pointers.  Euro zone consumer confidence was steady at -5.5 while in Britain it faded from 4 to 1 in May.  The UK number was a surprise, given that most of the survey took place after the election.

Japanese inflation came in lower again this morning with core consumer prices rising by just 0.2% in the year to May despite the heroic money-printing efforts of the Bank of Japan.  In Canada raw material prices rose by 3.8% in April while industrial product prices were down by -0.9%.

Half a dozen more countries report today on first quarter GDP.  The weakest reading could well come from the United States.

Sweden and Greece announce their retail sales figures this morning and Norway reports on unemployment.  After lunch come the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment measure and the Chicago purchasing managers' index.  Just about every other ecostat relates to Q1 GDP.  Those on the list include - in chronological order - Italy, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, the United States and Canada.  

With only a week to go until Greece has to repay a short €300 million to the IMF the other thread running through today will be the progress towards an agreement between Athens and its creditors.  Greece says that agreement is nigh; its creditors disagree.  Have a good weekend.