S Korea places new limits
South Korea’s financial regulators will limit the number of derivative equity contracts an investor can hold as authorities continue investigating the cause of a plunge in the KOSPI on Nov. 11. Institutional investors will be allowed a maximum 10,000 futures and options contracts in any “speculative” or open and unhedged transaction, the South Korean Financial Services Commission said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, without saying when the new rule will become effective. While institutions are now limited to 7,500 futures contracts and individuals can hold 5,000 futures contracts, there are no limits on options. “The measures are aimed at sounder and more efficient markets by easing risks stemming from derivatives investments,” it said.
Prius ranks No. 1 in Japan
Toyota Motor Corp’s Prius hybrid ranked as Japan’s top-selling car last year, with annual sales hitting an all-time high, bucking the fallout from a series of massive global recalls, an auto industry group said yesterday. Toyota sold a record 315,669 Prius cars in its home market last year, up 51 percent from 2009, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said. The world’s No. 1 automaker has recalled more than 11 million vehicles worldwide, including the Prius, since late 2009 because of acceleration and braking problems.
Sales up at Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer Group PLC, the UK’s largest clothing retailer, said pre-Christmas revenue increased as the company sold more items, including Fair Isle knitwear, accessories and sleepwear. Sales at UK stores open more than a year increased 2.8 percent in the 13 weeks to Jan. 1, the company said yesterday in a statement. UK food sales on the same basis rose 1.8 percent, while general-merchandise sales increased 3.8 percent. The median estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 1.9 percent rise in same-store food sales and 3.2 percent for general merchandise.
AMD seeks new CEO
Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD) is looking for a leader to replace ousted chief executive Dirk Meyer who can do a better job combating Intel Corp and getting chips into new devices. Under Meyer, directors were frustrated with AMD’s lack of progress in gaining market share and entering the tablet-computer industry, according to people familiar with the board’s deliberations. The company announced on Monday that Meyer had resigned and that it had formed a committee to find successor. “They need someone who has the passion to disrupt the market,” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates in St Petersburg, Florida.
European openings rise
European job advertisements on the Internet held at the highest in two years last month, online-recruiting company Monster Worldwide Inc said. The Monster Employment Index Europe was at 122 for a third month, indicating a 22 percent increase from a year earlier, New York-based Monster said in a report yesterday. Last month’s reading is the highest since December 2008, when the index was at 132. “This shows that although the employment market is more positive than last year, a degree of uncertainty remains,” Andrea Bertone, head of Monster Europe, said in the statement. “It seems that many employers are waiting to see a clearer picture emerge before embarking on wider staff expansion.”
UNDERESTIMATED: The agency said that as its previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis, it did not adequately account for disruptions caused by the pandemic The nation’s economy might grow just 1.67 percent this year squarely on the back of government expenditure and private investment, as exports and consumer spending have stalled, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. The forecast is a sizeable retreat from an estimate of 2.37 percent growth made in February before the COVID-19 outbreaks became a pandemic. “The previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis in 2003 and therefore underestimated the ongoing pandemic, which is hitting economic activity hard at home and abroad,” DGBAS Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a media briefing in Taipei. The agency now expects exports
‘SUSCEPTIBLE’: The timing of an intervention, rather than the amount of money injected to the market, is more important, the deputy minister of finance said The National Stabilization Fund would remain on stand-by to shore up the local bourse until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided worldwide, Deputy Minister of Finance Frank Juan (阮清華) said yesterday. Although Taiwan has stopped the virus’ spread, the fund would remain active in light of fragile financial markets across the world, said Juan, the state-run fund’s executive secretary. The government activated the fund on March 20 after the TAIEX slumped from 12,000 points to 8,600 in a short period amid a panic selloff. The main board has since recovered, yesterday closing at 10,997.21 points on turnover of NT$180.767 billion (US$6.03 billion), Taiwan
‘EXTERNAL VULNERABILITY’: The city-state’s economy in the first quarter shrank 4.7 percent quarterly due to worsening external demand outlook amid the pandemic Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent this year, which would be the worst reading since independence in 1965, with the government saying yesterday that the COVID-19 pandemic had throttled the key export sector. The Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry’s forecast — which was a downgrade from the 4 percent contraction predicted in March — came as official data showed that the economy shrank 0.7 percent year-on-year in the first three months of the year, while it contracted 4.7 percent from the previous quarter. The ministry said the new estimate was made “in view of the deterioration
South Korean prosecutors yesterday summoned Samsung Electronics Co vice chairman Jay Y. Lee for questioning in an investigation into alleged accounting fraud and a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, dealing another legal blow to the country’s largest corporation. While expected, the decision marked a deepening of a long-running probe into the billionaire scion and his shipbuilding-to-smartphones Samsung Group conglomerate. The company’s de facto leader was called into Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office at 8am in relation to allegations over illegal acts in succession plans, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Lee has been at the center of a years-long scandal