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Morning Market Roundup: German GDP Up, China Stock Market Exodus, Retail Sales Up

Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

Germany: Germany's economy grew slightly more than anticipated in the second quarter but a closely watched measure of investor confidence dropped unexpectedly, indicating fears are growing that the European Union financial crisis will become an increasing drag on the bloc's largest economy.

The Federal Statistical Office reported the German economy grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter, beating expectations of a 0.2 percent increase though slowing from the first quarter's 0.5 percent growth.

A clearer breakdown of the quarterly performance will not emerge until later this month.

China: A growing number of Chinese companies are pulling out of U.S. exchanges.

This week, Focus Media Holding Ltd., announced its chairman and private equity firms want to buy back its U.S.-traded shares and take the Shanghai-based advertising company private.

Smaller companies also are withdrawing from U.S. exchanges. In a sign of official encouragement, a Chinese business magazine said a state bank has provided $1 billion in loans to help companies with listings abroad move them to domestic exchanges.

The withdrawals follow accusations of improper accounting by some companies and a deadlock between Beijing and Washington over whether U.S. regulators can oversee their China-based auditors.

Some Chinese companies say they are pulling out of U.S. markets because a low share price fails to reflect the strength of their business. Withdrawing also eliminates the cost of complying with American financial reporting rules.

U.S. Retail: U.S. retail sales rose in July by the largest amount in five months, buoyed by more spending on autos, furniture, and clothing.

The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.8 percent in July from June. The increased followed three months of declines, including a 0.7 percent drop in sales in June.

Retail sales totaled a seasonally adjusted $403.9 billion in July, up 21.4 percent from the recession low hit in March 2009.

Auto purchases rose 0.8 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales also increased 0.8 percent.

Consumers also paid more for gas in July than June. Retail sales excluding gasoline station sales were up 0.8 percent, the same as the overall increase.

The retail sales report is the government's first look each month at consumer spending, which drives roughly 70 percent of economic activity.

EU Recession: Europe is edging closer to recession, dragged down by the crippling debt problems of the 17-country euro bloc, official figures showed Tuesday.

Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, revealed that the economies of both the eurozone and the wider 27-country EU shrank by a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent in the second quarter of the year. In the first quarter, output for both regions was flat. A recession is officially defined as two straight quarters of falling output.

Europe's stumbling economy is making it harder for other economies around the world to recover and policymakers from all round the world are urging more decisive action, particularly from the European Central Bank, to deal with the crippling debt crisis to restore confidence to the global economy.

The region is the U.S.'s largest export customer and any fall-off in demand will hit order books - as well as President Barack Obama's election prospects.

The eurozone is grappling with sky-high debt levels and record unemployment of 11.2 percent. Compared with the year before, the eurozone's economy is 0.4 percent smaller.

Without Germany continuing to post solid levels of growth, the eurozone would officially be in recession.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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