The Week in Numbers: France Elects a New President

France has elected Emmanuel Macron as its next President. Macron won 66.1% of the votes against far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s 33.9%. France’s pro-Europe President-elect will be inaugurated today.

Going further west, into the US, retail sales increased by 4.5% in April 2017, as compared to April 2016. On a month-on-month basis, retail sales increased by 0.4%. Meanwhile, online shopping blossomed in April, climbing 11.9% year-on-year.

Inflation in the US, as tracked by the consumer price index (CPI), rose 2.2% for the 12 months ended April. This is a decrease from the 2.4% seen in March. For April itself, the CPI increased 0.2% after a 0.3% decline in March.  The increase in retail sales and CPI uptick point to a pickup in economic growth in the US and could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.

Closer to Singapore’s region, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had upped its growth forecast for the Asia Pacific region to 5.5% for 2017. The previous forecast, given in October 2016, was for growth of 5.4% . But, the IMF also warned that “the near-term outlook is clouded with significant uncertainty, and risks, on balance, remain slanted to the downside.” Last month, the IMF kept the region’s 2018 growth forecast unchanged at 5.4%.

Back home, the Department of Statistics announced that Singapore’s retail sales rose 2.1% year-on-year in March. This was mainly due to higher sales of motor vehicles and petrol at petrol service stations. This is a recovery from a revised 2.6% slip in February. Without accounting for motor vehicles, retail sales edged up 0.7% year-on-year.

On the stock market front, the Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI) climbed to its highest level since end July 2015 on Thursday, closing at 3,271 points. For the week, it was up 0.8%.

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