Germany sets record
A pick-up in global trade saw Germany post record exports and imports in March, official data showed yesterday, while its trade surplus climbed more than 11 percent on a yearly basis to 18.9 billion euros (US$27 billion). Germany recorded exports worth 98.3 billion euros, a monthly increase of 7.3 percent, and also received a record amount of imports, worth 79.4 billion euros, for a monthly increase of 3.1 percent, the figures showed. “That was the highest monthly figure recorded for both exports and imports since the collection of foreign trade statistics had started in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1950,” the national statistics service said. Citing data provided by the German central bank, it said the current account of the balance of payments came to 19.5 billion euros in March, up from 18.8 billion a year ago.
UK housing prices plunge
British house prices suffered their biggest annual fall in one-and-a-half years last month, as worries about the economic outlook deterred buyers, mortgage lender Halifax said yesterday. The Halifax house price index fell 3.7 percent in the three months to last month compared with a year ago, the biggest decline since October 2009, and leaving the average price of a home at ￡160,395 (US$262,350). On the month, prices were 1.2 percent lower, the biggest fall since September last year and confounding forecasts for a 0.1 percent gain. Prices had been flat in March. Britain’s economy has not grown at all since last September, raising concerns that the recovery is stalling even before government spending cuts start to bite.
Reserves for protection: PM
The country will need to ensure it has sufficient reserves as global uncertainties will be the “new norm” in the next decade, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said. The city-state will need to buffer its economy “against volatility and storms by accumulating adequate reserves,” Lee, who is also deputy chairman of Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC, 新加坡政府投資公司), said yesterday at the sovereign wealth fund’s 30th anniversary conference. It will invest its reserves “prudently and shrewdly, with a long-term view,” Lee said. GIC, manager of more than US$100 billion of the nation’s reserves, will need to ensure it has “sufficient ammunition” to tackle future crises and meet long-term spending needs, Lee said in his speech. GIC is ranked the world’s eighth-largest state investment company by Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
Toshiba in black, slightly
Toshiba yesterday said it returned to the black for the year to March, but warned the outlook remains uncertain because of the impact of the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Toshiba, whose business spans consumer electronics and nuclear reactors, reported a net profit of ￥137.8 billion (US$1.7 billion) for the financial year, reversing a bottom line loss of ￥19.7 billion a year earlier. The company’s operating profit nearly doubled to ￥240.3 billion on revenue of ￥6.4 trillion, up 1.7 percent from the previous year, it said. The electronics giant said the profit and sales gains were mainly because of strong demand for TV sets and its memory chips, which are used in smartphones and tablet computers. For the year to March next year, it forecast a net profit of ￥140 billion, an operating profit of ￥300 billion on revenue of ￥7 trillion.