Sales at U.S. retailers fell in March for the second month in a row, marking the worst two-month stretch in two years and adding to evidence that first-quarter U.S. growth will be on the soft side.
Sales at retailers nationwide declined 0.2% last month, mostly because of cheaper gas and incentives by car dealers to drum up sales. Slower-than usual issuances of tax refunds may have also contributed to weaker spending in the early spring.
What made the decline seem even worse, though, was a government update to sales figures for February that showed a 0.3% drop instead of a 0.1% increase as originally reported.
The time has come for financial institutions to prepare for an environment with rising interest rates, a Bundesbank board member told CNBC on Thursday.
Many risk managers have focused on credit and liquidity risks, but they need to insert interest rate risks into the equation too, Andreas Dombret, an executive board member of the German Bundesbank, said.
“Let’s face it, there are quite a number of risk managers who have never seen interest rates rise and who have never seen the interest rate risk and even thought about (it) and have concentrated on credit risk and have concentrated on liquidity risk, so it’s about time to prepare for a potential change,” Dombret said.
ECB President Mario Draghi said Thursday morning that its current monetary policy stance is adequate and there is no need to start tightening. The euro moved lower against the dollar on his remarks. The currency had been trading slightly up on the day, but fell after Draghi’s comments, hitting a three-week low of $1.0629.
But, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, asked later on Thursday for an unwinding of stimulus. He told a conference in Germany that the ECB should be careful to avoid its policies making more harm than good. “I could absolutely envisage a less expansionary policy,” he said.
Ford Motor Co. hit another speed bump in a core part of its business, posting a 21% slide in auto sales in China where the company plans to ramp up production despite signs of cooling demand for passenger cars and trucks.
The sluggish performance in China comes when Ford has lost market share in its home market and seen its stock price trade at five-year lows. The company unnerved investors last month by saying it would take a $295 million charge for recalls, the second time in a year that safety-related issues with vehicles have dented its bottom line.
President Donald Trump hinted for the first time that he’s open to keeping Janet Yellen at the helm of the Federal Reserve. For markets trying to predict the future of monetary policy, that’s a change of heart that suggests continuity during an era of disruption in Washington.
“I do like a low-interest rate policy, I must be honest with you,” Trump said, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday. Of Yellen, he said “I like her, I respect her,” though “it’s very early.”