Daily Archives: September 6, 2012

Keith Fray

For market traders, economists, and data geeks alike, Friday is one of the highlights of the month – non-farm payrolls day.

For the uninitiated this is the release of data on US jobs growth over the previous month – more properly called the Employment Situation report - published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, usually on the first Friday of the month following the data (i.e Friday’s new data will be for August).

It is undoubtedly the most eagerly awaited monthly data by world markets and has attained a totemic status, perhaps beyond its real importance. Morning trading volumes are slim in European markets on the day of release as they await the afternoon release time (8.30am Eastern Time in the US).

Why do non-US markets care so much? Well if China continues to grow at current levels then the US will surrender its status as the world’s largest economy in the next decade (and probably in the current decade if measured in purchasing power parity terms). For now though, the US remains the bellwether of the world economy, accounting for a fifth of global output.

Should we care as much as the markets seem to? How important are these numbers? What should we be looking for? Read more

Valentina Romei

Italian exports to non-EU countries reached over €17bn in August, almost 10 per cent more than the same month last year. The data released today by the Italian national office of statistics reveal a growth trend largely driven by the Asian markets, the US and Japan.

Export growth to non-European markets contrasts with a stagnating or contracting trend of Italian exports to Europe since the start of this year and an underperforming trend over the last decade.

But not all regions contributed in the same way to the export rise. In the first quarter of this year Tuscany, Sicily and Emilia Romagna were among the largest contributors. In Tuscany, the export growth to non-European markets grew at an annual rate of nearly 20 per cent, while the exports of the islands to the same markets were around 50 per cent bigger than the same period the previous year.

But as the chart below shows, this is not a new trend.

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Statisticians are accustomed to presenting ministers and senior officials with hard facts, but at the annual gathering of the profession this week in Telford, they were facing tough choices themselves.

Addressing the Royal Statistical Society annual conference, Andrew Dilnot, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority delighted the audience with a robust defence of the importance of communicating quality official statistics to ministers and the public, but warned that spending cuts would prevent the Office for National Statistics from doing everything it might like.

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