Hikes in fuel and heating oil prices pushed the Euro zone 12 months rate of inflation to an all-time high in January, but a sharper than expected drop in core inflation added weight to the view that it will fall back closer to the European Central Bank's 2% target ceiling later this year.
The United States Senate voted Thursday to extend expiring trade preferences that allow Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia to send most products to the U.S. duty-free. The ten month extension, through the end of 2008, was approved without objection.
United States economic growth fell sharply in the last three months of 2007 as the credit crunch took effect and spending on new housing slumped, revised figures released Thursday show.
The European Union said Friday it will allow some Brazilian farms to export beef to Europe again, ending a month long freeze over animal disease concerns. A total of 106 farms meet EU health standards, thus reopening trade between Brazil, the world's leading beef exporter, and its main market in Europe.
Brazil's inflation index fell to a seven-month low in February mitigating concerns about an increase in interest rates to keep prices under control, which has been one of the driving forces of the administration of President Lula da Silva.
Brazil's central bank posted a loss of 47.5 billion reais (28.5 billion US dollars) in 2007, triple the amount in the prior year, because of efforts to slow the strong real's appreciation against the US dollar.
German Bank Governing president Axel Weber warned on Wednesday that the market's consensus on interest rate expectations in the Euro zone clearly underestimates inflation risks and does not match the assessment of a central bank that holds price stability as its main goal.
China's Central Bank cautioned it's ready to raise the interest rate as early as late March to check inflation, which may surge as high as 8.7% in the twelve months to February. As a consequence of the recent blizzards that destroyed crops, food prices this month could jump 6 to 7 percentage points over January.
Nine of Federal Reserve directors thought continued deterioration in financial markets and weakened economic conditions in the housing and labor markets needed the half percentage point cut to the discount rate last month.
Wheat prices have hit a record level of 12 US dollars a bushel as supplies dwindle, raising concerns about growing food inflation. Investors fear that a shortage of high quality milling wheat will keep prices high for the cereal used in bread, pasta and other foods.