France forecasts economic growth of 5% in 2021

France forecasts economic growth of 5% in 2021

France expected to see a growth in the economy in the next months, with a growth forecast of 5% despite the lockdown.

The French economy will expand by 5 percent in 2021, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said in a newspaper interview.

As a third lockdown to tackle the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a downward revision in the previous government forecast for 6 per cent growth.

The new forecast was prudent, Le Maire said in comments published on Sunday in Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD).

“Our fundamentals are sound; we will be able to bounce back,” Le Maire said.

French schools and non-essential stores such as clothing chains will now be shut for four weeks, after COVID-19 cases surged in recent weeks, edging up the number of patients in intensive care units.

Bars and restaurants have already been closed for months, while tourist travel is at a standstill, although unlike when France entered its first national lockdown a year ago.

Construction work and manufacturing are among business areas still ticking over.

Like many countries in Europe, France has ploughed billions of euros into propping up struggling companies with state-backed loans.

Help with rents and partial unemployment schemes.

The latest restrictions will force about 150,000 businesses to temporarily close, and aid measures in April will cost €11 billion, the finance ministry has said.

Le Maire has repeatedly called for the European Union to accelerate the ratification and implementation of its €750 billion economic stimulus plan.

He told the JDD that France was now unlikely to get the €5 billion disbursement from that scheme in July as planned, due to delays.

France has its own 100 billion-euro economic reboot programme, and plans to spend roughly half of that budget by the end of the year, Le Maire said.

Source: Channel News Asia

Economists raise Singapore’s 2021 GDP forecast

Economists raise Singapore’s 2021 GDP forecast

Economists have raised their forecasts for Singapore’s growth this year, anticipating a firmer improvement in the manufacturing and finance sectors.

Singapore’s gross domestic product is expected to increase 5.8 percent this year, according to the median forecast of 24 economists surveyed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

They had expected 2021 growth of 5.5 percent in the previous survey in December.

The economists’ outlook also improved for the labor market, penciling in a lower overall unemployment rate at 2.9 percent by the year-end, according to the report released by MAS on Wednesday (Mar 10).

This is slightly lower than the 3 percent forecast in the previous survey.

The Singapore economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It logged its worst-ever recession last year even with nearly S$100 billion in the stimulus.

Contraction moderated in the fourth quarter as more coronavirus-related curbs were lifted, but expectations are for a slow and uneven recovery.

For the first quarter of this year, the economy will likely remain wobbly, economists in the MAS survey said. They tipped a 1.1 percent year-on-year contraction with the construction sector remaining the biggest laggard.

As the year progresses, the construction sector is expected to recover, with economists forecasting a 22.5 percent growth for 2021. This compares with their earlier estimates of nearly 29 percent.

Their outlook also dimmed slightly for the wholesale and retail trade which is expected to grow by 4.5 percent instead of 5 percent, and for accommodation and private consumption, which is expected to rise 11 percent instead of 15 percent.

Similarly, private consumption is predicted to rise 7.9 percent, down slightly from 8.5 percent in the survey three months ago.

Expectations also improved for the finance and insurance sector at 5.8 percent, compared to the previous 5.1 percent.

Source: Channel News Asia

Australian farmers harvested their largest wheat crop

Australian farmers harvested their largest wheat crop

Australian farmers have harvested their largest-ever wheat crop, according to the latest crop report issued by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences issued Feb. 16. ABARES estimated the 2020-21 Australian wheat crop at 33.337 million tons, up 18.172 million tons, or 120%, from the drought-reduced 2019-20 outturn of 15.165 million tons.

The 2020-21 wheat crop was 5% larger than the previous record outturn of 31.819 million tons in 2016-17 and compared with the recent five-year average outturn of 21.6 million tons.

“Harvesting of winter crops (including wheat) is now largely complete,” ABARES said in a commentary accompanying its crop report. “National production is estimated to have increased 89% in 2020-21 to 55.2 million tons, 7.4% higher than the forecast presented in the December 2020 edition of the Australian crop report. The upward revision was the result of yields continuing to exceed initial forecasts as harvest progressed, particularly in New South Wales and Western Australia.”

The higher estimate for 2020-21 wheat production will be reflected in the March US Department of Agriculture World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, which will be issued on March 9.

The current USDA forecast for 2020-21 Australian wheat production was 30 million tons.

Australian harvest was predicted

Australia was poised to produce its second-largest wheat crop on record in 2020-21, more than doubling last year’s drought-affected estimate of 15.2 million tons, according to a Jan. 26 report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

This year’s projected crop of 31 million tones, if realized, would rank behind only the 2016-17 season when nearly 33 million tones-of wheat were harvested.

The report noted that GrainCorp, the major grain handler in the New South Wales region, is reporting a huge increase in wheat receivables with the company has taken in 8.4 million tons as of mid-January, compared to only 500,000 tons at the same time last year.

“This is a monumental turnaround that has strongly supported Australia’s forecast wheat production of 31 million tons,” the report said.

Source: WordlGrain.

MTI says Singapore maintains 2021 GFP forecast

MTI says Singapore maintains 2021 GDP forecast

Singapore has maintained its growth forecast for 2021 at 4 to 6 percent, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) today (Feb 15).

The economy shrank by 5.4 percent in 2020, slightly better than the advance estimate of a 5.8 percent contraction and above the Government’s forecast range of -6 to -6.5 percent.

Nonetheless, this is Singapore’s first annual contraction since 2001 and its worst recession since independence. 

Last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the bulk of Singapore’s economy is expected to recover this year but some sectors – such as transport, tourism and aviation – may take a longer time to do so.

MTI said it had taken into account developments in the global and domestic economic environment for the decision to maintain its 2021 forecast range.

For instance, there has been further progress in the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines since its last economic survey in November.

Although the speed of vaccine deployment varies, advanced economies like the US and Eurozone are likely to reach population immunity by the second half of this year, which should, in turn, spur their economic recoveries, MTI said.

On the other hand, the growth prospects for regional economies such as Malaysia and Indonesia have weakened due to the recent resurgence in infections, which has necessitated the re-imposition of lockdowns and restrictions.

“On balance, as the positive developments in the key external economies broadly offset the negative ones, Singapore’s external demand outlook remains largely similar compared to three months ago,” the ministry said in its report.

MTI says not everything is perfect

MTI also flagged several uncertainties and risks that remain in the global economy.

These include significant uncertainty surrounding the course of the pandemic and the trajectory of the global economic recovery; the risk of financial system stresses that could emerge from a protracted economic recovery and continued geopolitical uncertainty involving the major economies.

Domestically, while Singapore’s COVID-19 situation remains under control and the vaccination program is underway, the pace of border re-opening has slowed amidst the global surge in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of more contagious strains of the virus, MTI said. 

Against this external and domestic backdrop, the Singapore economy is expected to see a gradual recovery over the course of the year, although the outlook remains uneven across sectors, it added.

Source: CNA.

IGC forecasts for grain production in 2020-21

IGC forecasts for grain production in 2020-21

World total grains (wheat and coarse grains) production is forecast to rise to a record of 2.2 billion tons in the 2020-21 marketing year, according to the latest International Grains Council (IGC) grain market report released on Jan. 14.

The projection includes record harvest totals for wheat (768 million tons) and barley (158 million tons).

However, on a month-on-month basis, the IGC’s most recent projection for 2020-21 is slightly lower than the previous month’s outlook as a large reduction for corn (mainly in the United States, Argentina, and Brazil) is only partially offset by increases for wheat and barley.

Mostly reflecting downgraded expectations for South American crops, the Council’s outlook for global soybean production is cut by 6 million tons, to 359 million tons, still up by 6% year-on-year.

“Although the reduction is partially offset by a higher figure for opening stocks — linked to reluctant sales by Argentine growers — consumption is still trimmed by 4 million tons to 365 million, a 4% year-on-year gain.

IGC forecast for 2020-21

Global rice production in 2020-21 is forecast broadly unchanged from before, at 503 million tons but, due to a lower figure for opening stocks, total supplies are trimmed by 2 million tons’ month-on-month, the IGC said.

It noted that as rice consumption is lifted to a new high, world carryovers are lowered to 175 million tons (up 1 million tons year-on-year), with much of the downward adjustment due to the major exporters, notably India.

The IGC’s outlook for total grains consumption is lowered by 5 million tons, to 2.216 billion tons, with downgrades for feed and industrial uses of corn outweighing small increases for other coarse grains and wheat. Mainly linked to a downward adjustment for corn, the forecast for all-grain stocks at the end of 2020-21 is down by 5 million tons, to 611 million, representing a 6-million-tonne year-on-year contraction.

“Although the COVID pandemic continues to dampen demand in some sectors, particularly for fuel ethanol and brewing, overall consumption is predicted to grow for a fifth successive year,” the IGC said. “This includes gains of 8 million tons for both corn and wheat, and increases of 2 million each for barley, sorghum, and oats.”

With all the components higher, but with the strongest gains for corn and soybeans, the IGC Grains and Oilseeds Index (GOI) rallied by 10% since the November grain market report.

Source: World of Grain.

Grain forecast to rise in EU in 2021

Grain forecast to rise in EU in 2021

In its first forecast for 2021, COCERAL sees the total grain crop in the EU-27+UK at 307.4 million tons, a significant increase over the 295.7 million tons harvested in 2020.

The report released on Dec. 9 projects wheat production (excluding durum) will recover from 127.9 million tons to 143 million tons, driven by higher expected plantings and yields in France, Germany, the UK, and the Balkan countries where adverse weather had affected the last crop.

COCERAL forecasts EU-27+UK 2021 barley production at 61.5 million tons, down from 63.1 million tons last year. While Germany and France are forecast to see much better crops than in 2020, production is seen down in Spain, where weather during the most critical crop development stage has been excellent in 2020, and in the UK, where spring barley planting should decrease substantially as the country has planted more winter grains this year than last year.

The EU-27+UK 2021 corn crop is seen by COCERAL at 63.1 million tons, up from last year’s 62.8-million-tonne crop, with much higher crops in the Balkan countries and small reductions in several other EU member states.

The EU-27+UK rapeseed crop is forecast to recover slightly from 16.9 million tons to 17.8 million tons because of slightly higher crops in several countries, including Germany, France, the UK, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

Previous grain output forecast for the EU

The grain output was previously forecast to decline by 3% over the previous year due to extremely challenging planting conditions in France and the United Kingdom, according to a May 6 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The output is expected to reach 304 million tons, down from 315 million in 2019-20, the USDA said.

“If realized, this will be very close to both the five- and 10-year production averages but belies a reduction in the area of around 500,000 hectares and 1 million hectares, respectively, and corresponding increases in average grain yields,” the USDA said.

The projected sharp decline in grain production in the UK and France are due to “a very wet fall and a long, mild and wet winter,” which has disrupted planting and raised disease concerns, the USDA said.

With both France and the UK each projected to see a more than a 5-million-tonne reduction in their 2020-21 wheat crops, EU wheat output is forecast to fall by nearly 11 million tons’ year-on-year to 144 million tons due to a 700,000-hectare decrease in planted area.

The USDA projects EU grain exports to decline 10%, from 43.7 million tons to 39.3 million tons. EU ending stocks also will tumble, according to the USDA, to 25 million tons from 28.8 million tons, a drop of 13% year-on-year.

Source: World of Grain