Japan PM and Obama Sign New Defense Agreements
April 28, 2015
President Obama and Japanese Primer Minister Abe Signed A New Set of Defense Agreements; Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index Up 0.9% in February And Up 5% YOY; Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Fell Sharply in April; Spanish Prime Minister Says Spain’s Economy To Grow By 2.9% This Year.
- President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a new set of defense agreements on Monday that allow for greater military cooperation between the two countries as the U.S. expands its military presence in Asia due to continued pressure from North Korea and the growing power of China. The guidelines specifically target settling potential naval conflict in the East China Sea, where Japan and China have a territorial dispute. Moreover, they would allow for a permanent coordinating mechanism for collecting intelligence and providing humanitarian relief. In recent years, the U.S. has increased its footprint in the Asia-Pacific region by establishing new bases in Australia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The announcement comes during Prime Minister Abe’s official visit this week to the United States where he will give a speech in front of both houses of Congress on Wednesday and work to create enthusiasm among lawmakers for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Pact. [FT]
Economic Indicators & News
- The Case-Shiller 20-city home price index (HPI) rose 0.9% in February and is up 5% year-over-year, demonstrating strength in the housing market in the nation’s largest cities. Gains in housing prices were the largest in Denver and San Francisco, which increased 10.0% and 9.8%, respectively. The largest declines in prices were in Cleveland, Las Vegas, and Boston at -1.0%, -0.3%, and -0.2%, respectively. [HV]
- Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell sharply in April to 95.2 from a prior reading of 101.4, detailing the falling assessments of the labor market and soft consumer expectations for short-term economic growth. The expectations component plummeted 8.5 points to 87.5, while the present situation index fell to 106.8 from 109.5 last month. The number of consumers expecting wage growth decreased from 18.8% to 18.3%. [CB]
- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that his country’s economy is expected to grow 2.9% this year, up from a forecast of 2.4% made in February, which would make Spain the largest European country to achieve nearly 3% output growth in 2015. The prime minister cited his government’s conservative spending measures as reason for recent economic strength, though he did not comment on the continued high rate of unemployment in his country, which currently represents 23.8% of the labor force. Government elections will occur in Spain later this year and, despite receiving a large majority of the vote in 2011, Mr. Rajoy’s government is supported by only 22% of voters in recent polls. [WSJ]