G7 Outlook

Activity in much of the G-7 and Western Europe moderated at the end of last year, and this has once again triggered concern over growth going into 2016. External demand has been on a downward trend, with China slowing noticeably amid stagnating industrial output and financial volatility. The emerging markets have been hit by the resulting retrenchment in oil and commodity prices. In recent weeks, the spotlight has returned to Europe and North America amid fears of faltering growth. Weak manufacturing in particular has reined in regional activity. In the United States, despite Q4 GDP advancing slightly more than initially reported, growth still slowed compared with Q2 and Q3 2015. Moreover, inventories contributed much to the outturn, and this impetus in stock building is not expected to be sustained going forward. In Germany and the Euro area, private consumption is holding up in the face of adverse external headwinds, helped by cheaper fuel costs and some labour market improvement. However, inflation is struggling to get off the ground. The ECB acted aggressively at its March 10 meeting, cutting its policy rate to 0% and expanding its QE programme significantly.

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