Chinese consumer prices fall and other economics stories to read this week

Top economy stories: Chinese consumer prices fall; US trade deficit narrows; German exports fall.
Top economy stories: Chinese consumer prices fall; US trade deficit narrows; German exports fall.
Image: Unsplash/Ralf Leineweber
  • This weekly round-up brings you the latest stories from the world of economics and finance.
  • Top economy stories: Chinese consumer prices fall; US trade deficit narrows; German exports fall.

1. China consumer prices fall sharply

Consumer prices in China have fallen significantly, dropping at their sharpest rate in more than 14 years. Producer prices also rose in January.

The Chinese economy has been dealing with deflationary pressures since early 2023. The consumer price index (CPI) fell 0.8% in January compared to a year earlier, following a 0.3% decrease in December, according to National Bureau of Statistics data.

This drop in CPI is China's steepest since September 2009, largely driven by a significant decline in food prices, Reuters reports.

China CPI suffers steepest fall in more than 14 years.
China's CPI fell 0.8% year-on-year in January.
Image: Reuters

2. US trade deficit falls significantly in 2023

The United States trade deficit shrank by nearly 19% in 2023, despite widening slightly in December.

This represents the sharpest contraction in more than 14 years, driven by falling imports and the rising value of exports. In particular, the US' shift from an oil importer to an oil exporter has helped shrink its current account deficit.

The inflation-adjusted value of petroleum exports jumped 15.9% in December to a record high. Economists predict the US economy will continue to benefit from trade in 2024, although risks remain, including disruption in the Red Sea and Panama Canal, says Reuters.

The country's trade deficit declined 18.7% last year, the largest narrowing since 2009, reaching $773.4 billion. Trade added more than half a percentage point to the economic growth last year, according to data from the Commerce Department.

US trade balance and GDP.
The US trade balance.
Image: Reuters
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3. News in brief: Stories on the economy from around the world

UK house prices rose at their fastest rate since mid-2022 in January, according to Halifax, one of the country's biggest lenders.

Service activity in Japan grew at its fastest pace since September of last year, driven by strong demand and a weaker yen.

The UK's unemployment rate was much lower than originally thought, according to updated figures from the country's Office for National Statistics.

German exports fell more than had been expected in January, largely as a result of weak global demand. It comes as the country's industrial output continues to fall, with production falling in December 1.6% from November's levels.

However, German inflation did ease in January, slowing to 3.1%, down from 3.8% in December year-on-year.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Michele Bullock has warned there's still work to do for the country to reach the midpoint of its inflation target of 2-3%. She stressed the bank has not ruled out a further rise in interest rates.

The French economy is forecast to grow 0.1-0.2% in the first quarter of 2024, the country's central bank has said.

Urban consumer price inflation in Egypt fell more than was expected in January, slowing from 33.7% in December to 29.8%. Inflation had hit a historic high of 38% in September.

4. More on finance and the economy from our blog

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) come in two forms - but what’s the difference? Our latest explainer explores the differences between retail and wholesale CBDCs and the benefits of using each one.

Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, has set out her plan for a new era of partnership during a summit with African leaders. Here are the key outcomes from the recent Italy-Africa summit.

Central banks around the world are facing persistent headwinds and volatility in 2024, according to the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economists Outlook 2024. But what levers can they pull to help them navigate economic conditions?

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