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Economy in Brief

Belgian National Bank Index Improves After June Set-Back Still, No Gusto...
by Robert Brusca July 26, 2010

The Belgian National Bank index, a precursor of other EMU indicators and a relatively reliable harbinger of those reports, improved in July after suffering a set-back in June. The BNB index stands short of the two-thirds mark of its range making it neither strong nor troubled. For a relatively early stage in the expansion cycle the BNB index is not yet in the strong-recovery mode. It has risen substantially from its lows but it has also lost some momentum as it did drop outright in June but is rising again in July.

The MFG sector index improved in July with domestic orders ticking up to a barely negative reading and foreign orders going back over the hurdle into positive territory after a one-month negative reading. Domestic orders are erratically trending toward a positive result. Both total orders' and foreign orders' current assessments are gradually improving.

The wholesaling and business services indices both are positive but only the wholesaling index among these two rose in value in July. The construction index that remains negative did improve in July.

On Balance the Belgian Bank Index is showing improvement. It is slow improvement and it is erratic and it is somewhat uneven across sectors, but it is improvement. Although this index can be a harbinger of Europe it is hard to say from this mixed report what the overall message is for July. The minimal message seems to be that things are not getting worse and that MFG (at least) is more consistently getting better. Still, there is no strength in the guts of this report. There are some advances some less negative readings but there is nothing here to truly cheer about. As the old saying goes, 'it is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick' and then a bit better than that as well.

Belgium National Bank Indices
  Jul-10 Jun-10 May-10 3Mo
Total Ind -6.5 -7.7 -4.9 -4.1 0.5 16.3 61.7%
 MFG -9.5 -11.2 -7.8 -5.0 -2.3 12.4 61.5%
  Prod 4.0 -1.0 -6.0 -9.0 -3.0 10.0 69.8%
  Dom Ord -1.0 -5.0 -2.0 -5.0 3.0 9.0 66.7%
  FGN Ord 3.0 -2.0 7.0 -14.0 -5.0 10.0 63.5%
  Prices 7.0 10.0 8.0 0.0 4.0 24.0 77.8%
Current assess
 Tot Ord -25.0 -31.0 -31.0 1.0 9.0 24.0 47.0%
  Fgn Ord -26.0 -29.0 -30.0 4.0 8.0 23.0 49.3%
   Inventories -1.0 0.0 -5.0 7.0 12.0 3.0 31.6%
Wholesale& Retail 0.8 -3.6 -0.1 -0.7 9.8 18.4 71.2%
Construction -5.6 -6.1 -6.5 1.4 10.1 10.3 46.4%
Business Services 3.1 4.7 7.9 -6.6 0.0 38.6 59.2%
Comparisons:   Changes lag one month 1-Mo Lag
EU Index: Industry #N/A -6.0 -6.0 4.0 7.0 26.0 71.1%
Gy Index:Industry #N/A 2.0 -1.0 11.0 14.0 39.0 82.7%
Compare: BNB Index   -4.1 -0.7 15.9 Since Jul-96
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