Yet ANOTHER survey is published during this exceptionally busy Survey Season: “British employers PLAN to hire new staff at the fastest rate since early 2008, adding to SIGNS that the economy is continuing to strengthen…….These results suggest we SHOULD see further jobs growth over the summer and autumn,” The important words are in BOLD! http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/08/11/uk-britain-employment-idUKBRE97A0F720130811
LONDON | Tue Mar 5, 2013 11:46am GMT (Reuters) –
France, Spain and Italy dragged the euro zone into a deeper downturn in February, according to business surveys that showed the chasm between these countries and prosperous Germany widening yet again.
While British services companies had a slightly better month than expected, Tuesday’s purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) showed deepening fractures running through the European economy.
The divide Between Germany and France, the euro zone’s two biggest economies, grew to its widest since the currency union’s inception in 1999.
The PMIs reflected how euro zone businesses were faring mostly before the inconclusive outcome of Italy’s general election, which unsettled international financial markets.
“Two months into 2013, we’ve been somewhat disappointed with the Eurozone’s economy’s progress. The PMIs again reaffirm that,” said Victoria Clarke, economist at Investec in London.
“Germany’s doing a bit better than the rest of the pack, but in general, there’s no real sign there of stabilisation, or of the contraction at least bottoming out.”
Markit’s Eurozone Composite PMI, a broad gauge of activity at thousands of companies across the 17-nation bloc, fell to 47.9 in February from 48.6 in January. Although that was a little better than a preliminary reading of 47.3, it was still well below the 50 mark dividing growth from contraction – as the index has been for just over a year.
Euro zone retail sales for January, showing a 1.2 percent rise, were much better than expected, although economists cautioned that the underlying picture was still very weak.
British retail sales also grew at their strongest annual rate in almost two years last month.
The euro rose slightly against the dollar in response to the data. European stock markets also rallied on Tuesday, although led by strong bank results.
Britain’s services PMI, which accounts for the bulk of its economy, hit a five month-high of 51.8 last month from 51.5 in January, beating the median forecast of 51.0 in a Reuters poll.
Economists expect comparable data from the United States will show its non-manufacturing economy maintained a moderate rate of growth, slowing only slightly since January.
Growth among Chinese services companies, which comprise a smaller proportion of its economy compared with Western peers, slowed from a four-month high in February.
BETTING ON THE BANK
For the euro zone, the outlook depends largely on whether Germany can keep up its economic growth and offset struggling France, Italy and Spain, according to Chris Williamson, chief economist at PMI compiler Markit. “(That) seems a tall order, meaning hopes of a return to growth for the region by mid-2013 are now looking too optimistic,” he said.
Williamson said the latest surveys were consistent with the euro zone economy shrinking around 0.2 percent this quarter, with only German strength saving the bloc from a downturn as bad as the 0.6 percent decline at the end of last year.
The European Central Bank meets to decide monetary policy this week, although few economists expect any major announcements this month.
Whether the Bank of England will act this month to help boost the economy is a tougher call, despite Tuesday’s unexpectedly strong services PMI.
Before the data, economists polled by Reuters put a 40 percent median chance on the Bank of England adding to the 375 billion pounds it has spent so far on its asset purchasing programme.
However, the upbeat services number follows dire construction and manufacturing PMIs from the last few days. “Maybe a small glimmer of hope is showing through for the UK services sector amidst deepening gloom for the UK economy,” said David Brown from New View Economics.
He said it was far too tenuous to suggest the services PMI means there was some uplift in economic activity this quarter, taken together with the poor manufacturing data.
(Graphic by Vincent Flasseur. Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican told bishops around the world Monday that they must make it a global priority to root out sexual abuse of children by priests.
The Roman Catholic Church told bishops in a letter that they should cooperate with civil authorities to end the abuse that has tarnished its image around the world.
“This is telling the world that we mean business. We want to be an example of prevention and care,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The letter is intended to help every diocese draw up its own tough guidelines, based on a global approach but in line with local civil law. These must be sent to the Vatican for review within a year.
“The responsibility for dealing with delicts (crimes) of sexual abuse of minors by clerics belongs in the first place to the diocesan bishop,” the letter says.
It incorporates sweeping revisions made last year to the Church’s laws on sexual abuse, which doubled a statute of limitations for disciplinary action against priests and extended the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them.
The Vatican has for years been struggling to control the damage that sexual abuse scandals in the United States and several European countries, including Pope Benedict’s native Germany, have done to the Church’s image.
“This goes beyond what was done before,” the Vatican official said. “It is setting up a standard of best principles, best policy to be followed globally. It makes protection of minors a paramount principle and takes a long-term view because it talks about the formation of future priests.”
The scandal has led to the resignation of bishops in several countries. Last year, Benedict begged forgiveness from God and from abuse victims, and said the church would do everything in its power to ensure that it never happened again.
The Vatican official said that if local civil legislation requires that bishops report sex offenders directly to authorities, they are obliged to do so and the guidelines will include this.
Victims groups said they were not satisfied.
“There’s no “zero tolerance” or “mandatory reporting” requirement. There’s no insistence that bishops warn their flock about child molesting clerics. There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year,” said SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The letter tells bishops they must be prepared to listen to the victims and their families and be committed to their spiritual and psychological assistance. Bishops must be more careful in choosing candidates for the priesthood in order to weed out early those who are or could become sex abusers.
It says that while those accused of being sexual abusers have to be treated fairly and with due process, those who are known to be abusers must be excluded from the public ministry.
In many of the cases of sexual abuse around the world, local bishops allowed known abusers to be moved from parish to parish instead of being defrocked.
By Philip Pullella
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Mark Heinrich)