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Monday, June 30, 2008

Latvian Retail Sales May 2008

Well the statistical anomalies produced by the ealy timing of easter now seem to be working themselves out, and the data are getting back towards normality, which means that Latvian retail sales (working day corrected) were down by 5.1% year on year in May, and by 2.4% (seasonally adjusted) over April. Nothing more to say on this really, other than to be continued....

While I am here, the EU Economic Sentiment Index for June has now been published, and here is the principal chart for the Baltic countries.

Latvia seems to have now overtaken Estonia on the downward charge, with Lithuania still some way behind, evn if it is catching up fast.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Latvia Producer Prices May 2008

Latvian factory-gate prices, considered to be an early indicator of inflation in the economy, rose at an annual 11.9 percent in May, the second highest rate of growth in five months. Producer-price growth compared with 12.1 percent in April, according to data from the statistics office this morning. Prices rose 1.3 percent from April.

Compared with May 2007, producer-price growth was boosted by food prices and increases in the cost of electricity and natural gas, which added 9.1 percentage points to the overall figure, the statistics office said.

The worrying thing here is perhaps that the rate of increase inexport prices, after declining for several months was up again in May, rising to an annual 3.9% from 2.3% in April. Domestic prices were up a horrifying 17.4% in May.

Latvia Current Account Deficit Q1 2008

Latvia's current-account deficit, which was the widest in the European Union last year, narrowed in the first quarter over Q1 2007 as economic and import growth slowed. The Q1 2008 deficit was 19.4 percent of gross domestic product, compared with a 26.6 percent deficit in the first quarter of last year, according to the Latvian the central bank this morning. The deficit in total was 666.2 million lati ($1.48 billion).

Latvia's economy is has been slowing dramatically as lenders tighten credit and the inflation rate, at a 12-year high of 17.9 percent in May, reduces consumers' buying power. Economic growth slowed to an annual 3.3 percent in the first quarter, the lowest level since 1999, and working day adjusted retail sales fell 1.1 percent.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Latvia Inflation May 2008

Latvian inflation accelerated again in May, with the annual inflation rate rising to 17.9 percent, the highest in the 27-nation EU. Bulgaria currently has the second-highest rate, at 14.6 percent.

The already strong rate of consumer-price growth has been further boosted by rising energy costs and food prices. Despite the fact that activity is slowing - Latvia's economy expanded a revised 3.3 percent in the first quarter, compared with 8 percent in the previous three-month period - inflation continues unabated. Food prices, the biggest item in the consumer basket, rose an annual 21.6 percent, but other areas like education (20.5%) and hotels and catering (23.2%) are going up at a rapid clip, and there is no short term sign of all this abating.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Latvia and Estonia Retail Sales April 2008

Retail sales in both Latvia and Estonia perked up a bit in April, although as we the industrial output data I am still not sure how to interpret this, since moving Easter around so much has influenced the data to some extent.


In comparison with March, total retail turnover in April 2008 was up by 2.3%, according to data from the Central Statistical Bureau. This growth was recorded in almost all commodity groups.

Retail trade of food products was up 0.2%, and non-food products were up 2.9%.

Compared to April 2007, retail turnover was up in April by 1.2%2, and the main driver here was the increase in sales of non-food products (by 5.5%). Sales of food products were down by 5.8% year on year.

Compared to March, in April 2008 retail trade turnover of enterprises the main activity of which is the sale of motor vehicles, motorcycles and parts thereof increased by 10.2%1, and compared to April 2007 the increase was 4.2%.

In the months January – April 2008 the turnover of motor vehicles, motorcycles and parts thereof was down by 5.3% year on year: The volume of cars sold decreased by 10.8%, but sale of motor vehicle parts, as well the sale of motorcycles and motorcycle parts grew by 10.1%.


According to Statistics Estonia, in April 2008 compared to April 2007 retail sales were unchanged (ie 0% growth) at constant prices.

In April, the retail sales of goods of retail trade enterprises were 4.6 billion kroons. In grocery stores the retail sales of goods decreased one percent compared with the April of the previous year. Retail sales in stores selling manufactured goods increased by 2% compared with the same period of the previous year. Compared to April of the previous year, the retail sales of pharmaceutical goods and cosmetics increased 10%, the retail sales of stores selling textiles, clothing and footwear and also of stores selling household goods and appliances, hardware and building materials increased 1%. Retail sales of non-specialized stores selling industrial goods and retail sales of other specialized stores stayed at the same level compared to April of the previous year.

Compared with March, retail sales increased by 1%.

In April the revenues from sales of retail trade enterprises were 5.5 billion kroons, of which retail sales of goods accounted for about 85%. Compared to April 2007, the revenues from sales increased 9% at current prices.

Latvia Industrial Output April 2008

Latvia industrial output seems to have rebounded somewhat in April, although given the unusual calendar situation of easter I think we need to be careful before drawing any strong conclusions (although the data are in principle corrected for calendar effects). As compared to March 2007, Latvian industrial production at constant prices increased in April by 4.4%, according to the seasonally adjusted data from the Central Statistical Bureau. In mining and quarrying there was an increase of 2.5%, in manufacturing of 1.3%, and in electricity, gas and water supply the increase was 6.3%.

Compared to April 2007, in April 2008 industrial output according to seasonally adjusted data increased by 3.7%. In manufacturing there was a 2.6% increase, in electricity, gas and water supply a 9% one, while in mining and quarrying the volume decreased by 12.9% year on year.

What we can see is that in April the downward trend was broken, and now we need to see how much of this is sustained into May.

The rebound in manufacturing is (as can be seen in the above chart) spectacular, almost too spectacular, and I suspect there are statistical issues here, and that the March level is neither as low as it appears, nor the April level so high. Perhaps a better picture can be obtained by looking at the actual volume index itself, where we can see that industrial output is still well below the peak achieved last August. I think we should get a better idea of what the actual trend is when we see the May data.