What's Important in the Financial World (9/6/2012)

OECD Outlook on Europe

The OECD reports that the recession in Europe has begun to become an irresistible drag on the economy throughout much of the balance of the developed world. And, the problem could worsen. It cut GDP forecasts for a number of nations for the rest of 2012. As part of its analysis:

The Assessment, presented in Paris by Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan, says that the G7 economies are expected to grow at an annualised rate of just 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012 and 1.1 percent in the fourth.

That puts the current expansion dangerously close to a recession throughout the G7. The OECD's assessment of the eurozone's three largest countries - Germany, France and Italy - is particularly depressing. They are expected to have economic contraction of 1% in the third quarter and of 0.7% in the final quarter of 2012. The only G7 nation that is expected to do well at all, at least relatively, is the United States, where third-quarter growth is expected to be 2% on an annualized basis and 2.4% in the final quarter of the year.

The Number of Video Gamers Dwindles

The total number of people who play video games in the United States fell from 2011 to 2012. This represents another challenge to major console manufacturers, particularly Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and Nintendo. It is also a threat to the businesses of companies that make games for these platforms.

NPD reports:

According to Gamer Segmentation 2012: The New Faces of Gamers, the latest report from leading market research company, The NPD Group, there are an estimated 211.5 million gamers in the U.S. that play video games, a 5 percent decline, or loss of close to 12 million gamers, when compared to 2011.

Of the six gamer segments in the report, only Mobile Gamers and Digital Gamers saw increases in the number of gamers when compared to 2011, with Mobile Gamers up 9 percentage points to 22 percent and Digital Gamers up 4 percentage points to 16 percent. All other gamer segments, which include Core Gamers, Family+Kid Gamers, Light PC Gamers, and Avid PC Gamers, experienced declines, with Family+Kid gamers experiencing the most significant decline of an estimated 17.4 million gamers.

Christmas Shipping Forecast

Bloomberg points out the shipping prices show that the Christmas season should be good for retailers in the United States but bad for those in Europe.

The shipping lanes of the Pacific and Indian Oceans show the diverging fortunes of U.S. and European consumers ahead of the busiest shopping season of the year.

A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S (MAERSKB), the world's biggest container line, is among carriers raising rates on Asia-U.S. routes as three-month-high consumer confidence and job growth at the quickest pace in five months tempt retailers to stock up ahead of the holiday-shopping rush. By contrast, shipping lines are cutting capacity to Europe.

"Christmas will come to America, but probably not to Europe," Soeren Skou, chief executive officer of A.P. Moeller-Maersk's container-shipping arm, said in an interview.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: MSFT, SNE