Retail sales rose, if only marginally, in May according to NTC Research:
at 50.2, the PMI signalled only a marginal rise in sales as, overall, underlying market demand remained sluggish and retailers were forced to rely on promotional activity to improve their sales, which again impacted negatively on profits. Subdued demand was also highlighted by a further drop in purchasing activity and the sustained contraction of workforces in the sector.
So there is good and bad news packed away inside this number. Also interesting is the spread: The German reading of 53.4 was relatively good, the French one of 50.9 more or less neutral, and the Italian one of 44.4 absolutely appauling. For this, and all the other reasons I’ve been mentioning, we will need to keep a careful eye on Italy in the coming days.
On a methodological point, I’ve decided, following prodding from khr amongst others, to try and make a consciouss effort *not* to take material from Bloomberg, but to use Bloomberg as a kind of weather forecaster, so I know when its raining etc, and try to find a ‘clean’ original source – like NTC – (if such a thing exists, for eg the point Dave VH makes about the services number cited by NTC makes me want to doubt even them, and we certainly all know you can’t count on data from an Italian economics ministry – mind you they are better than the Greek ministry who consistently fail to provide up to date info even to the Commission: OK gripe over 🙂 ). Incidentally there are an interesting collection of links on Bonds info attached to Brad Setser’s post last Friday. Those interested in this abstruse theme could do a lot worse than follow the debate over there.