Results of Economic Events Around the Globe

Today, the first-ever release of GDP data covering all the Group of 20 countries showed the world economy slowed to a quarter-on-quarter growth rate of 0.7% in the fourth quarter from 0.9% in the third quarter.

 Fed Chairman Bernanke today said again that the pace of the economic recovery has been “frustratingly slow.” Bernanke said that “the condition of community banks is improving” despite economic uncertainties. “Profits of smaller banks were considerably higher in 2011 than in the previous year, nonperforming assets were lower, provisions for loan losses fell appreciably, and capital ratios improved,” In his address Bernanke said. The Fed is trying to listen and understand small banks’ concerns about regulation.

The U.S. current account deficit, on trade in goods and services, income, and donations, widened to $124.1 billion in the fourth quarter, or 3.2% of gross domestic product, much larger than expected. Import prices rose 0.4% in February due to oil, the Labor Department reported . It’s the first increase in since December and biggest gain since April 2011.

U.S. consumers’ pushed up retail sales rose 1.1% to $407.8 billion.

In the FOMC statement released yesterday, the minutes stated. “The recent increase in oil and gasoline prices will push up inflation temporarily, but the FOMC anticipates that subsequently inflation will run at or below the rate it judges most consistent with its dual mandate,” and continued “But the labor market has improved at a faster pace than expected, given the current pace of growth. First-quarter gross domestic product is expected to decelerate to roughly 2% from the 3% pace in the fourth quarter.”

Business inventories climbed in January as car dealers correctly anticipated a strong pickup in demand, according to data released Tuesday.

Inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% to $1.57 trillion, the largest increase since October, the Commerce Department said. Economists polled by MarketWatch had anticipated a 0.5% gain.

Banks’ use Tuesday of the European Central Bank’s overnight deposit facility increased from Monday’s elevated level, reflecting the vast amount of excess liquidity present in the banking system in the wake of the ECB’s longest-ever loans.

 But the surprise of the day, was the number of British workers seeking jobless benefits rose by 7,200 in February to 1.61 million, the Office for National Statistics reported Wednesday. Economists had forecast a rise of 5,000. The number of unemployed persons rose by 28,000, rising well above forecasts, surprising lawmakers and economist.

Today, Euro-zone countries formally approved Greece’s second bailout, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs meetings of the Eurogroup of euro-zone finance ministers, said in a statement.

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