Unemployment rate rises
The country’s jobless rate rose for the second straight month last month, while household spending fell, the government said yesterday. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate climbed to 4.7 percent last month, edging up from 4.6 percent in June. However, the actual jobs picture may be worse because the data do not include the three prefectures hardest hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Separately, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said real average household spending fell 2.1 percent last month from a year earlier to ￥280,046 (US$3,640). The figure is a main indicator of Japan’s private consumption, accounting for more than half of GDP.
Savings rate to be raised
The government on Monday announced that it would boost its savings rate to protect itself from international financial strains and encourage lower interest rates. President Dilma Rousseff’s government increased this year’s budget surplus target — savings on public spending that is to be put toward paying off interest on debt — by 10 billion reais (about US$6.25 billion) or about 0.25 percent of GDP, Finance Minister Guido Mantega told a news briefing. The country had a surplus target of about US$73 billion for the public sector as a whole, of which about US$56.6 billion was federal government spending. The government’s surplus target now has been increased by that US$6.25 billion, Mantega said.
Hyundai wins coal plant deal
Hyundai Engineering and Construction, South Korea’s largest builder, yesterday said it had won a US$1.46 billion bid to build two power plants in Vietnam. The deal with the Vietnamese government calls on Hyundai Engineering to complete the coal-powered plants at Mong Duong, 250km northeast of Hanoi, by August 2015, the company said in a statement. The plants, with a total capacity of 1,000 megawatts, will help resolve chronic power shortages, it said, adding the project would be mostly funded by the Asian Development Bank.
ANZ may buy Aozora
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) is considering buying Japan’s Aozora Bank Ltd as part of a plan to expand in Asia and broaden its funding sources, according to a person familiar with the matter. An assessment by ANZ Bank, Australia’s third-largest lender by market value, of Tokyo-based Aozora is in the early stages and there is no guarantee a deal will proceed, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Melbourne-based ANZ Bank’s interest in Aozora was reported by the Australian Financial Review newspaper on Monday. The bank has about ￥3 trillion in deposits. It has 20 branches and a market value of about ￥348 billion.
Gazprom profit jumps 44%
OAO Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas producer, said first-quarter profit jumped 44 percent, more than analysts forecast, after gas prices and export volumes rose. Net income climbed to 468 billion rubles (US$16 billion) from 325 billion rubles a year earlier, the Moscow-based natural-gas exporter said in a financial report posted on its Web site yesterday. Revenue increased 38 percent to 1.32 trillion rubles. Sales volumes to Europe and other countries outside the former Soviet Union advanced 12 percent to 46.6 billion cubic meters in the first quarter, the Russian gas export monopoly said.