Japan’s industrial output increased the most in more than three years while retail sales slid and inflation slowed, Bloomberg said. Production jumped 4 percent in January from the previous month, according to trade ministry data. Retail sales fell 1.3 percent and household spending dropped. The central bank’s main inflation measure slowed to 0.2 percent, excluding sales-tax effects.
Annual inflation in Germany is likely to remain low in February but it looks set to be higher than in January, Reuters reported. Data from three federal states showed consumer prices rising on an annual basis. They were unchanged on the year in two states, including North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state. The HICP reading in Germany will likely push back into positive territory, with a reading of around 0.1 percent after a 0.5 percent drop last month, according to Jennifer McKeown, of Capital Economics.
There are no plans to expand BRICS, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday. First of all, the cooperation within the organization should be stepped up, he said. One of the most important tasks is the establishment of a new bank of development, Lavrov added. BRICS comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission will hold talks on gas supplies and transit in Brussels on March 2. Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that the discontinuation of gas supplies to Ukraine is possible before the trilateral meeting, unless the prepayment for March deliveries is completed, TASS reported. There has been no prepayment from Ukraine to Russia’s Gazprom, according to Novak.
The EU has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to help settle a dispute with Russia over “excessive import duties” on refrigerators, paper products and palm oil. The request for the WTO to create a panel of experts to review the dispute comes after the two sides failed to settle the issue through consultations late last year, AFP said. Brussels says Russia “has continued taxing a number of products across various sectors more heavily than agreed.” The WTO dispute settlement body will evaluate the EU’s request next month.
Moody’s has lowered ratings of six Russian financial institutions which are branches of foreign banks. They include AO Raiffeisen Bank, ING Bank (Eurasia), Rosbank, DeltaCredit, Rusfinance Bank and Intesa, RBC.ru reported. The rating agency has also lowered the credit ratings of five Russian energy and infrastructure companies with a negative outlook, including Transneft, RusHydro, Atomenergoprom, Inter RAO and Rosseti, Tass said.
Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said oil demand is growing, Bloomberg reported. “We want to see calm markets,” the minister said after a speech at a conference in the Red Sea city of Jazan in the nation’s southwest. Saudi Arabia will remain the largest oil exporter, he said. Brent crude futures have gained 7.2 percent this year after plunging 48 percent in 2014.