The consumer confidence index this month fell 0.93 points to 73.33 amid concerns that consumer price hikes would erode household income, while boosting the appeal of durable goods, a survey released yesterday by National Central University showed. The consumer sentiment gauge softened for the fourth month in a row to the lowest level since February, although the nation has emerged from a local COVID-19 outbreak. The reading on household income for the next six months reported the biggest drop of 5.15 points to 81.95, the lowest in 13 months, as people worried that rising consumer prices would weaken their financial standing, said Dachrahn Wu (吳大任), director of the university’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, which conducted the survey. The level of public confidence in consumer prices for the next six months also fell, retreating 3.35 points to 35.5, the survey showed. About 95 percent of the respondents believe items would become more expensive and add to their financial burdens, Wu said. Confidence in the nation’s economic outlook in the next six months fell 2.2 points to 86.7, the lowest in 10 months, even though the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics on Friday raised its forecast for GDP growth this year by 0.21 percentage points from its August projection to 6.09 percent. That is because a global recovery is benefiting local exporters of tech and non-tech products, but service providers that rely on domestic demand are not yet out of the woods, Wu said. The sub-index on purchases of durable goods — including real estate and home appliances — picked up 3.7 points to 120.5, the highest since December last year, the survey showed. Concern over inflation has driven funds to the housing market, Wu said, adding that government-backed stimulus vouchers valued at NT$5,000 bolstered purchases of home appliances. The confidence gauge on stock investment rose 1.4 points
The government’s Invest in Taiwan initiative would be extended due to demand from Taiwanese businesses and an anticipated wave of reshoring amid an increasing threat of political pressure facing Taiwanese firms in China, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) confirmed yesterday. “There are still many projects awaiting approval in the pipeline and we are getting feedback from the business community that they would like the project to be extended,” Wang said. The initiative offers businesses returning to Taiwan or seeking to upgrade their manufacturing facilities favorable loan terms, and assistance in seeking land and talent. Details of the extension are pending cross-departmental discussions, Wang said. Afterward, it would be sent to the Executive Yuan for approval, she said. Wang’s remarks came after Chinese authorities last week hit Taiwanese conglomerate Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) with hefty fines for allegedly contravening regulations on environmental protection, land use, employee health, safety, tax and product quality. National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) yesterday said at the legislature that power restrictions in China and other factors have also caused changes in the investment environment there, which might accelerate the realignment of Taiwanese companies’ supply chains. The council is discussing with the ministry the extended time frame and the extent of government assistance under the initiative, Kung said. However, National Central University professor of economics Dachran Wu (吳大任) said the biggest wave of reshoring has probably already occurred amid US-China trade tensions. Aside from Taiwanese manufacturers, the government should be looking to attract investors from around the world so that they can bring not only manufacturing, but services and financial invigoration to Taiwan, he said.
Shares of the nation’s two leading airlines plunged yesterday as investors worried that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 would prompt more countries to tighten border controls, curbing the already sluggish recovery of international travel. The US, Canada, the UK and the EU have announced bans on flights from southern Africa, where the Omicron variant was first detected, while several Asia-Pacific countries, such as the Philippines, Australia, Japan and Singapore, have also tightened their border controls. Shares of EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) fell 8.12 percent to NT$23.75 and China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) declined 7.3 percent to NT$24.75, compared with a dip of 0.24 percent in the broader market, Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) data showed. Their shares were also the most actively traded among stocks listed on the TWSE yesterday, with 717 million CAL shares being traded for a total turnover of NT$17.9 billion (US$643.7 million) and 301 million EVA shares being traded with a turnover of NT$20 billion, exchange data showed. Prior to the advent of the Omicron variant, EVA Airways had said it would add new services to Milan, Italy; Munich, Germany; and Clark, the Philippines, next year, but the company has yet to finalize the launch dates of the new services. Starlux Airlines Co (星宇航空) has announced that it would add new direct flights from Taiwan to Fukuoka, Japan, from February next year, but whether the service would start as scheduled remains unknown, as the Japanese government yesterday banned all foreign tourists from entering the country. Separately, CAL received an Airbus SE A321neo jet, which would also carry cargo and help raise the airline’s cargo capacity by at least 10 percent. The plane would be used in routes in Northeast and Southeast Asia, and between Taiwan and China, CAL said. CAL would take delivery of another A321neo jet by the end of this year, and 10 more
GOVERNMENT FUNDS? The main board saw technical support near 17,165 points and bargain hunters moved in to pick up technology stocks, helping the index recover
The local stock market remained relatively resilient yesterday, despite concerns over the newly detected Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in multiple countries, dealers said. The main board saw strong technical support at around the 60-day moving average of 17,165 points, with bargain hunters shifting to the buy side, picking up select large tech stocks to help the broader market recoup most of its earlier losses, they said. The TAIEX ended down 41.3 points, or 0.24 percent, at 17,328.09. The benchmark index tumbled 1.61 percent on Friday amid concern over the variant, which was first detected in southern Africa. Turnover totaled NT$318.17 billion (US$11.44 billion), with foreign institutional investors buying a net NT$6.07 billion of shares on the main board, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed. “The local market reacted badly to renewed COVID-19 concerns on Friday,” Concord Securities Co (康和證券) analyst Kerry Huang (黃志祺) said. “So, after an initial dive this morning, many heavyweights appeared resilient, recovering from the losses, as the TAIEX moved closer to technical support at around the 60-day moving average.” “Bargain hunters rushed to buy into large-cap tech stocks, boosting the bellwether electronics sector and limiting the losses,” Huang said. “I suspect government-led funds played a role in helping the TAIEX recover from its low today as they did on Friday.” Huang said it was too early to say whether the main board had turned stable, as investors still have to watch how infectious and fatal the new virus is. In addition, OPEC and its allies are to meet on Thursday and a decision on their output could move global financial markets, he said. Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮) told reporters at the legislature that the NT$500 billion National Stabilization Fund would keep a close eye on market movements. If necessary, the fund commission would hold a special meeting to discuss whether
The US-based e-commerce platform iHerb should follow import regulations, the Customs Administration said yesterday, after the online retailer suspended services in Taiwan due to what it called stringent customs procedures. The agency said its customs enforcement system has remained unchanged and that iHerb should work with licensed customs brokers and courier services to have its goods cleared through customs. iHerb, which offers more than 30,000 health and natural products, last week announced without warning that it was suspending its services in Taiwan. It said that Taiwan’s new customs clearance processes, customs checking flows and rigorous inspections have had a major adverse effect on its time-sensitive shipments to the nation. The company said it is working to find a solution and would resume its services in Taiwan once the issues are resolved. However, the agency said iHerb’s complaints did not address the main issue. The problem occurred last month, when iHerb improperly used a simplified customs declaration procedure to clear six batches of more than 10,000 products, it said, adding that the goods were intercepted at customs. Imports of health foods and medicines must be cleared using regular customs procedures, rather than the simplified process used by some courier services, and have all related documents attached, the agency said, citing regulations. The regulations have not been changed, and iHerb’s shipments were not intercepted because of new customs enforcement measures, it said. The agency said that it had asked express couriers to convey the message to iHerb that Taiwan has not changed its customs regulations and that if it used licensed customs brokers that file import declarations in accordance with relevant regulations, its shipments would be cleared smoothly. However, if the company insists on improperly declaring the goods being imported, similar incidents would likely happen again, it said. People who buy health food or health supplements in the form of capsules and tablets
YeaShin International Development Co (亞昕國際開發) yesterday said that it expects its earnings to improve in the next three years with NT$54 billion (US$1.94 billion) worth of projects on hand and sales rates of 70 percent. The Taipei-based developer reported NT$230.59 million in net income in the first three quarters of the year, or earnings per share of NT$0.67, company data showed. The results came after it reported net profit of NT$285.84 million in the first quarter, but incurred losses of NT$41.22 million and NT$14.03 million in the second and third quarter respectively as a level 3 COVID-19 alert dampened business. However, buying interest and sales rates have picked up after locally transmitted infections diminished, it said. YeaShin has NT$54 billion worth of projects that could generate stable income upon their completion in the next three years, it said, adding that the projects are in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan, Miaoli County and Taichung. A project comprising 555 apartment units in Taoyuan has reached a sales rate of 70 percent following its launch early this month, the company said. In addition, YeaShin has NT$28.53 billion in land and house inventory, enough for development for three years, it said. Shares of YeaShin closed down 0.23 percent at NT$22.05 yesterday, better than the sector’s 0.51 percent decline, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed.
Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien, right, tries out a robot exoskeleton at Wistron Corp’s headquarters in Hsinchu City yesterday. The lower-body exoskeleton, called Keeogo, is designed to provide assistance for people who experience difficulty walking due to muscular or neurological reasons. It was developed by Wistron’s subsidiary, Wistron Medical Technology Corp, in collaboration with Canadian biorobotics firm B-Temia Inc.
UNEVEN RECOVERY: International arrivals rebounded during the summer in the northern hemisphere, but some Asian and Pacific countries hardly saw any tourists
The COVID-19 pandemic will cost the global tourism sector US$2 trillion in lost revenue this year, the UN’s tourism body said yesterday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow.” The forecast from the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) comes as Europe is grappling with a surge in infections and as a new heavily mutated SARS-CoV-2 variant, dubbed Omicron, spreads around the globe. International tourist arrivals would this year remain 70 to 75 percent below the 1.5 billion arrivals recorded in 2019 before the pandemic hit, a similar decline as in last year, the body said. The global tourism sector already lost US$2 trillion in revenues last year due to the pandemic, according to the UNWTO, making it one of sectors hit hardest by the health crisis. While the UN body charged with promoting tourism does not have an estimate for how the sector will perform next year, its medium-term outlook is not encouraging. “Despite the recent improvements, uneven vaccination rates around the world and new COVID-19 strains” such as the Delta variant and Omicron “could impact the already slow and fragile recovery,” it said in a statement. The introduction of fresh virus restrictions and lockdowns in several nations in the past few weeks shows how “it’s a very unpredictable situation,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili told reporters. “It’s a historical crisis in the tourism industry, but again tourism has the power to recover quite fast,” he added ahead of the start of the UNWTO’s annual general assembly in Madrid on Tuesday. “I really hope that 2022 will be much better than 2021,” he said. While international tourism has taken a hit from the outbreak of disease in the past, COVID-19 is unprecedented in its geographical spread. In addition to virus-related travel restrictions, the sector is also grappling with the economic strain caused by the pandemic, the spike in oil prices and
Singapore office rents might overtake those of Hong Kong for the first time since 2009, a sign that the Southeast Asian city-state is gaining an edge over its rival financial hub. Average office spot rents in Singapore could rise 5 to 10 percent next year on the back of a limited new supply, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report. Hong Kong’s prime office vacancy rate might exceed 12 percent by the end of next year following a supply boom in decentralized districts, analysts Patrick Wong and Kristy Hung wrote. The contrasting office market outlook reflects the impact of different pandemic management strategies adopted by the cities. While Singapore is cautiously reopening and work from home remains the default arrangement, it has stopped targeting zero COVID-19 cases and begun easing border controls. Hong Kong remains closed off to the rest of the world and has strict quarantine rules due to its elimination strategy, which has garnered criticism from global companies. Singapore’s office market is also benefiting from the “stay-at-home” sectors given the shift in tenant profile in the past few years from financial services to technology, said Christine Li (李敏雯), head of research for Asia Pacific at Knight Frank in Singapore. Hong Kong has been less competitive in attracting new tenants due to its perceived high costs, she said. “With the COVID-zero approach on Hong Kong’s part, multinational companies might continue to find challenges in hiring cross-border talent to its shores,” Li said. “That could have weakened the potential recovery trajectory in the occupier market.”
US-listed Chinese microblogging platform Weibo Corp (微博) is seeking to raise up to US$547 million in a share offer in Hong Kong, documents showed yesterday, the latest Chinese tech company to list closer to home as tensions with the US rise. Several US-listed Chinese tech firms, such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), have held initial public offerings in Hong Kong over the past two years as the US has stepped up scrutiny of Chinese companies. Listing in Hong Kong is seen as a hedge against the risk of being removed from US exchanges and a way of accessing an investor base closer to their home markets. China also has been encouraging its big tech players to list either in Hong Kong or Shanghai. Yesterday, NASDAQ-listed Weibo said in a filing that it plans to sell 11 million shares for as much as HK$388 each. Shares are expected to start trading on Wednesday next week. Weibo, which launched in 2009 and is among the earliest social media platforms in China, had 566 million monthly active users as of June, it said in a filing. Its shares have traded on the NASDAQ since 2014. Weibo is among the most widely used social media platforms in China, where authorities have blocked major international players such as Facebook Inc. Weibo said it plans to use the funds raised from its Hong Kong listing to grow its user base, and for research and development. However, it said that it is “subject to changing laws and regulations regarding regulatory matters, corporate governance and public disclosure” that have increased both its costs and risks of non-compliance. In the past few months, Chinese regulators have launched a wide-ranging clampdown on tech companies like Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) and Meituan (美團) — clipping the wings of major Internet firms.
‘BREAKTHROUGH’: The automaker is investing in solid-state batteries, which it said are cheaper and more powerful than existing batteries, and can be used in trucks
Nissan Motor Co yesterday said that it is investing ￥2 trillion (US$17.6 billion) over the next five years and developing a cheaper, more powerful battery to boost its electric vehicle (EV) lineup. Chief executive officer Makoto Uchida said 15 new electric vehicles would be available by fiscal 2030. Nissan is aiming for a 50 percent “electrification” of the company’s model lineup, under what Uchida called the “Nissan Ambition 2030” long-term plan. Electrified vehicles include hybrids and other kinds of environmentally friendly models other than just electric vehicles. The effort is focused mainly on electric vehicles to cut emissions and meet various customers’ needs, Uchida said. Nissan would also reduce carbon emissions at its factories, he added. The company has been struggling to put the scandal of its former chairman Carlos Ghosn behind it. Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, after he was sent to Japan by French alliance partner Renault SA, was arrested in Tokyo in 2018 on various financial misconduct charges. Uchida made no mention of the scandal, but referred to “past mistakes” he promised would not be repeated at Nissan. Nissan’s “electrification” rests on developing a new ASSB, or all solid-state battery, that it categorized as “a breakthrough” for being cheaper and generating more power than batteries now in use. That means electric powertrains can be more easily used in trucks, vans and other heavier vehicles because the batteries can be smaller. The ASSB would be in mass production by 2028, Nissan said. The costs of electric vehicles would also fall thanks to the battery innovation to levels comparable with regular gasoline vehicles, Uchida said. “Nissan has emerged from a crisis and is ready to make a new start,” he said. All top automakers, including Nissan’s Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp, are working on electric vehicles, amid growing
INFRASTRUCTURE: The CEOs of 13 European firms urged big tech to chip in to cover network costs, while criticizing EU governments for high spectrum auctions
US tech giants should bear some of the costs of developing Europe’s telecoms networks because they use them so heavily, chief executives of Deutsche Telekom AG, Vodafone Group PLC and 11 other major European telecoms said yesterday. The call by the CEOs comes as the telecoms industry faces massive investments for 5G, fiber and cable networks to cope with data and cloud services provided by Netflix Inc and Google’s YouTube and Facebook Inc. Investments in Europe’s telecom sector rose to 52.5 billion euros (US$59.4 billion) last year, a six-year high. “A large and increasing part of network traffic is generated and monetized by big tech platforms, but it requires continuous, intensive network investment and planning by the telecommunications sector,” the CEOs said in a joint statement seen by Reuters. “This model — which enables EU citizens to enjoy the fruits of the digital transformation — can only be sustainable if such big tech platforms also contribute fairly to network costs,” they said. The CEOs did not mention any tech firms by name, but Reuters understands that US-listed giants, such as Netflix and Facebook, are companies they have in mind. Signatories to the letter include the CEOs of Telefonica SA, Orange SA, KPN NV, BT Group PLC, Telekom Austria, Vivacom, Proximus SA, Telenor ASA, Altice Portugal SA, Telia Co and Swisscom AG. The CEOs also criticized high spectrum prices and auctions, used by EU governments as cash cows, saying that these artificially force unsustainable entrants into the market. EU lawmakers’ attempts to scrap surcharges on intra-EU calls also got short shrift from the CEOs who see this sector as a source of revenue from business users. “We estimate that they would forcibly remove over 2 billion euros revenues from the sector in a four-year period, which is equivalent to 2.5 percent of the sector’s yearly investment capacity for mobile infrastructure,”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday said that his government would ensure legal certainty for investors, offering continuity guarantees amid jitters and confusion over last week’s court ruling against a controversial job creation law. The Indonesian Constitutional Court, ruling on Thursday a case brought by labor unions, said there were procedural flaws in the formation of the legislation passed last year, which the government had touted as potential a game-changer in luring foreign investment to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. The court told the government to make necessary amendments within two years. The “omnibus” law saw the revision of more than 70 existing laws, in an effort to reduce red tape and streamline new business permitting. The president said that the court had ruled that the law would remain in effect pending the changes, which his Cabinet would address as quickly as possible. “I assure businesses and investors, both domestic and international, that the investments that have been made and investments that are being and will be processed, will remain safe and secure,” he said in a video statement. “I will make sure that the government guarantees the security and certainty of investment in Indonesia.” The assurance by Widodo comes as economists warn the ruling could dim Indonesia’s investment outlook and as business groups seek clarity and guarantees. Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto yesterday said operations of the Indonesia Investment Authority, its sovereign wealth fund, would remain unchanged, despite the ruling.
TELECOMS BT Group shares rise BT Group PLC shares advanced as much as 9.5 percent following a report that India’s Reliance Industries Ltd is weighing up a possible offer for the UK’s biggest telephone company. Reliance could make an unsolicited offer to buy into the company or even stake a claim for a controlling stake, with some strategic shareholders open to cashing out at the right price, the Economic Times reported. A BT spokesman declined to comment. Separately, the Mail on Sunday reported that private equity firms and investment funds are assessing BT’s infrastructure division Openreach at valuations as high as ￡40 billion (US$53 billion). ENERGY Gazprom profit hits record Russia’s Gazprom yesterday reported its highest-ever quarterly net profit at 581.8 billion rubles (US$7.8 billion) for the third quarter, reflecting high natural gas prices. The Kremlin-controlled company, which a year earlier suffered a loss of 251 billion rubles, benefited from record-high natural gas prices in Europe, its key source of revenue. Gazprom said its average gas price in Europe and other regions jumped to US$313.40 per 1,000 cubic meters in the third quarter from US$117.2 a year earlier. The company said its July to September revenue rose to 2.4 trillion rubles, also a quarterly record high, from 1.4 trillion a year earlier. CEMENT MAKERS PPC sets net-zero target PPC Ltd, the biggest South African cement maker, has set a target of attaining net zero emissions by 2050. The company aims to cut emissions by 10 percent by 2025 and 27 percent by 2030, it said in its inaugural climate change report yesterday. PPC produces 11.6 million tonnes of cement a year. PPC and other South African industrial companies are under increasing pressure to reduce emissions in a country that is the world’s 12th-biggest producer of greenhouse gases. Across Africa, cement accounts for 32 percent of
PRE-EVENT SALES: Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September, as supply-chain congestion has kept them from quickly reordering stock
US shoppers spent slightly less online during “Black Friday” this year, with many venturing back to physical stores, despite COVID-19 fears, tight supplies and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases. For the first time, spending online during Black Friday — traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the US — fell, reversing the growth of the past few years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe Inc’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 US retailers. Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September, because supply-chain congestion has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was about US$8.9 billion, less than last year’s US$9 billion, Adobe said, adding that spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at US$5.1 billion. The sluggish two-day performance was a “sign that consumers started to shift their spending to earlier in the season, responding to promotions and deals from retailers that started in October,” Adobe said. Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did last year, amid a labor shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits were 47.5 percent higher than last year, but 28.3 percent lower than 2019, the last year before the pandemic, data released on Saturday by Sensormatic Solutions showed. Retailers did not gain as much this year because they spread out traffic peaks by starting holiday deals early, Sensormatic global retail consulting senior director Brian Field said. During the holiday season as a whole this year, in-store visits are expected to lag 2019 levels by only 10 to 15 percent, said Sensormatic, a unit of Johnson Controls International PLC. Despite virus concerns, people are prioritizing in-store shopping to avoid shipping delays, Field
HIGH COMPARISON BASE: TIER research fellow Arisa Liu said that this year, the market is still supported by low interest rates in a market awash in liquidity
Home transactions and housing prices could remain unchanged or rise slightly in the first half of next year due to a relatively high comparison base this year, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台灣經濟研究院) research fellow Arisa Liu (劉佩真) said on Thursday. This year, the property market continues to be supported by historically low interest rates in a market awash in ample liquidity, while many equity investors have chosen to lock in their gains and reallocate money to real estate, Liu said. Many people buy homes to fend off inflationary pressure, Liu said, citing a survey in which 66 percent of respondents preferred to invest in real estate, while 37 percent preferred equity markets. The preference for investing in real estate is expected to continue to shore up the local property market next year, she added. Business sentiment among property developers last month weakened from September, TIER data showed, as few new projects were launched, while the delay of projects by some property developers also made the industry cautious. However, property sales in Taiwan remained strong, Liu said, citing a sequential increase of 11.3 percent in commercial and residential property transactions to 23,810 units in the nation’s six special municipalities last month. Transaction growth was largely due to eased concerns over a domestic outbreak of COVID-19 cases, which prompted many property investors and home buyers to jump into the property market, and helped to keep home prices at relative highs, she said. The central bank is likely to follow the US Federal Reserve in an expected cycle of rate hikes in the middle of next year, although local rates are expected to remain lower than the US Fed’s, while the hikes’ effects are likely to be acceptable to the property market, Liu said.
Mortgages extended by domestic banks last month increased NT$70.25 billion (US$2.52 billion) from September, while construction loans increased by NT$23.95 billion, data released on Thursday by the central bank showed. The monthly increases were higher than September’s increases of NT$60.96 billion in mortgages and NT$19.21 billion in construction loans. It was also the largest monthly growth for mortgages since July, as people resumed buying houses after the easing of a COVID-19 outbreak that started in May. Housing transactions also picked up speed after Ghost Month, which this year took place from Aug. 8 to Sept. 6. The central bank data showed that mortgages and construction loans have increased every month this year, pushing their outstanding balances to historic highs of NT$8.61 trillion and NT$2.73 trillion respectively last month. However, their annual growth has gradually slowed, an indication that the central bank’s selective credit control measures for the market might be working, the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported on Friday, quoting central bank officials. Last month, mortgages increased 9.37 percent year-on-year, down 0.01 percentage points from September and the fourth consecutive monthly drop, while construction loans increased 15.25 percent, the smallest expansion since July last year, the data showed. Since March last year, the central bank has implemented several measures to rein in rising housing prices, such as increasing the cost and limiting the source of funds for property buyers through loan-to-value ratio caps, while the central bank and the Financial Supervisory Commission have conducted special inspections of domestic banks to determine whether they are exercising solid risk management on real-estate lending. However, it remains to be seen whether the downward trend in the annual growth of mortgages and construction loans is to continue, as housing sales appear to remain robust and the market is entering its peak season, central bank officials said.
Gasoline prices this week are to fall by NT$0.2 per liter, while diesel prices are to fall by NT$0.3 per liter, CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油) and Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) said separately yesterday. Effective today, gasoline prices at CPC stations are to fall to NT$29.6, NT$31.1 and NT$33.1 per liter for 92, 95 and 98-octane unleaded gasoline respectively, while the price of premium diesel is to fall to NT$27.7 per liter, the state-run refiner said in a statement. Formosa said that its prices for 92, 95 and 98-octane unleaded gasoline would fall to NT$29.6, NT$31.0 and NT$33.1 per liter respectively, while the price of premium diesel would fall to NT$27.5 per liter. CPC said that global oil prices last week fell from the previous week due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in Europe, which led to weaker demand for oil. The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has also triggered market panic, leading to the restart of travel bans or border controls, it added. The US’ announcement that it would release 50 million barrels of crude oil from its strategic reserves and Washington’s call to Asian countries to release their strategic reserves pushed down international oil prices, Formosa said.
PharmaEssentia Corp (藥華醫藥) shares have jumped 80.56 percent since the company obtained a US polycythemia vera (PV) drug license for its new interferon drug Besremi (ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft) on Nov. 12. Shares on Friday closed at NT$195 in Taipei trading, up from the stock’s closing price of NT$108 on Nov. 12. PV is a rare, chronic and life-threatening blood cancer linked to a stem cell mutation in the bone marrow that results in an overproduction of blood cells and places sufferers at risk of having a blood clot, stroke or heart attack. PharmaEssentia is preparing to make Besremi available in the US in the coming weeks, which is expected to contribute sales and earnings to the company going forward, Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting Co (元大投顧) said in a note on Thursday. “Besremi is the first first-line PV drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and can be used on any PV patients regardless of prior treatments,” Yuanta said. “We see a positive outlook for Besremi sales in the US going forward, despite that the new drug’s pricing of US$180,000 per person per year is higher than previously expected.” In the US, the number of people with PV who are administered Besremi is projected to rise by 800 per year after the drug is launched there, with US sales of Besremi likely to reach US$100 million next year and increase by US$100 million every year after that, Yuanta said. “Besremi might also cut into the sales of other first and second-line PV drugs, with an estimated revenue of US$900 million in the US in 2030,” it said. PharmaEssentia last week reported revenue of NT$42.4 million (US$1.52 million) for last month, up 53.2 percent month-on-month and 10.65 percent year-on-year. Cumulative revenue in the first 10 months of the year totaled NT$318.9 million, an increase of 5.13 percent
Local life insurers reported a combined pretax profit of NT$375.3 billion (US$13.48 billion) for the first 10 months of the year, up 80 percent from last year, on the back of higher investment gains and lower foreign-exchange hedging costs, data released on Thursday by the Financial Supervisory Commission showed. During the 10-month period, their net investment income totaled NT$1.1 trillion, up NT$192 billion from last year, as many insurers booked capital gains from equity market investments, the data showed. They had combined foreign-exchange hedging losses of NT$182.8 billion, an improvement of 22.6 percent on last year’s NT$236.4 billion, while their foreign-exchange losses fell 42 percent to NT$252.6 billion, the commission data showed. The New Taiwan dollar appreciated 2.4 percent against the US dollar in the first 10 months, less than the 3.9 percent rise in the same period last year. With the improvement in profitability, life insurance companies reported a combined book value of NT$2.61 trillion as of the end of last month, up 22.4 percent from a year earlier, the data showed. Separately, property insurers registered a combined pretax profit of NT$21.4 billion for the first 10 months, up 47 percent from a year earlier, backed by higher investment gains, the commission said.