The Week in Numbers: US Inflation and Retail Sales Rise

Inflation in the United States rose 2.4% in March this year, as compared to a year ago. However, on a month-on-month basis, the consumer price index (CPI), which is used to identify inflation or deflation, declined by 0.3%, the first drop in 13 months and the biggest decline since January 2015. This was amid falling oil prices and mobile phone services, which were partially offset by rising rents and food costs.

Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales slipped for a second consecutive month in March, falling 0.2%. This came after a 0.3% decrease in February, which was the first and biggest decline in almost a year. Compared to March 2016, retail sales rose 5.2% in March 2017.

Turning to Singapore, retail sales in February declined by 2.5% year-on-year. The food and beverage sector saw the largest fall, slumping 17.4%, as compared to February 2016. Retail sales at petrol service stations saw the largest increase, going up 14.6% year-on-year. Coming in second was motor vehicles sales, as it grew 9.4%. Month-on-month, overall retail sales rose 2.3%.

Advanced estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) revealed that for the first three months of 2017, our gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 2.5%, as compared to the same period last year.

The advance GDP estimates, which are subject to revision when more comprehensive data becomes available, are computed largely from data in the first two months of the quarter and are meant to be an early indication of GDP growth. Next month, MTI will release the revised GDP data for the first quarter of 2017 in its Economic Survey of Singapore.

In February this year, the MTI had released official forecasts for Singapore’s economic growth for the whole of 2017. The economy is expected to expand by between 1% and 3%.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that it foresees a more favorable outlook for the global economy this year and next, as compared to 2016. However, it is concerned about the economy beyond 2018. IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, explained:

“There is a positive short-term outlook on the horizon, which is unfortunately tainted by the risks that are still there, and that lead us to be concerned about the risk of complacency.”

And finally, a British man sold unopened McDonald’s Szechuan teriyaki and Wasabi dipping sauces for US$14,700 through eBay. The astonishing fact is not the money he got from the sales, but that the sauces are almost 20 years old! The sauces were created in 1998 to mark the release of Disney’s animated classic, Mulan.

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