May 20th 2010 | From The Economist print edition
In America, the number of new houses on which construction began rose to an annual pace of 672,000 in April, 5.8% higher than in March. April’s rate of housing starts was 40.9% higher than a year earlier.
The inflation rate in the euro area was 1.5% in April, up from 1.4% in March, and much higher than the 0.6% recorded in April 2009. But a measure of inflation that excludes food and fuel prices, which are relatively volatile, fell to 0.7% in April from 0.9% in March.
Inflation in Britain rose to 3.7% in April from 3.4% a month earlier. April’s inflation rate was the highest since November 2008.
America bucked the rich-country trend of rising inflation. Prices fell by 0.1% in April from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis, making it the first month since March 2009 when prices have declined month-on-month. The annual inflation rate slowed to 2.2% in April from 2.3% in March. Excluding food and energy prices, core American inflation was 0.9% in April, the lowest in 49 years.
Spain’s GDP in the first quarter rose by 0.1% compared with the previous three-month period, but was 1.3% lower than in the first quarter of 2009.
Japan’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.9% in the three months to the end of March, beating growth of 3.8% during the previous quarter. Industrial growth in March from the previous month was revised upwards, from 0.3% to 1.2%.
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