June trade surplus rises
The nation yesterday reported its biggest trade surplus in 21 months as rising exports to the Middle East and Southeast Asia offset falling demand from the US and Europe. Exports last month rose 1.3 percent from a year ago to reach US$47.4 billion, after shrinking for three straight months. Imports fell sharply by 5.4 percent to US$42.4 billion, the Knowledge Economy Ministry said in a preliminary tally. That resulted in a trade surplus of US$4.96 billion in June — the biggest since US$6.34 billion posted in October 2010, the ministry said. Economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected exports to grow 1 percent and a trade surplus of US$3 billion. Increased sales of cars, machinery and semiconductors as well as solid demand in emerging economies in Latin America and Asia helped offset shrinking sales in advanced markets, particularly debt-hit Europe.
Softbank plans solar plant
Softbank Corp, Japan’s third-largest mobile phone company, said it would build the nation’s biggest solar plant as the country begins an incentive program for “clean” energy. The facility in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, will start operations in fiscal 2014 and have the capacity of 111 megawatts, Softbank spokesman Naoki Nakayama said yesterday. The Tokyo-based company held a ceremony yesterday to mark the start of operations at a 2.1 megawatt solar plant in Kyoto, Nakayama said. The carrier also announced plans to build solar plants in Tottori, Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures as well as a wind power power plant in Shimane Prefecture, he said. Under the incentive plan, Japan’s utilities are required to buy electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal at above-market rates to increase the country’s clean power use and diversify its energy mix.
Central bank trims rates
The central bank said it would trim key interest rates beginning yesterday, its fifth cut so far this year as inflation cools amid signs of weakening economic growth. The State Bank of Vietnam said it would lower the refinancing rate — charged on loans to commercial banks — to 10 percent from 11 percent. Other measures include lowering the discount rate from 9 percent to 8 percent, and the overnight inter-bank lending rate to 11 percent from 12 percent, the bank said in a statement posted on its Web site following the decision on Friday. This is the fifth time this year the bank has cut rates, following similar reductions in March, April, May and last month. By repeatedly hiking rates last year, Hanoi successfully reined in double-digit inflation, which peaked at 23 percent in August last year, but was down to 6.9 percent year-on-year last month, its lowest rate in three years. Standard & Poor’s revised the nation’s outlook to stable from negative last month, citing the government’s successful fiscal tightening measures.
Bombardier sells eight jets
Canadian planemaker Bombardier announced on Saturday it had received an order for eight large business aircraft worth US$507 million from an undisclosed customer. The client, who according to Bombardier asked not to be named, ordered three Global 6000 and five Global 8000 jets. “Sales momentum for the Global product line is strong and we are experiencing tremendous success with the new Global 7000 and Global 8000 jets,” Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said in a statement.