Unemployment edges down
Unemployment fell slightly in June while households loosened their purse strings, offering a glimmer of hope for the nation’s fragile economy. Yesterday, official data showed that unemployment hit 4.3 percent in June, down from 4.4 percent in May and beating market forecasts that the jobless rate would remain unchanged, Dow Jones Newswires said. Separate data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed average household spending in June came in at ￥269,810 (US$3,450), up 1.6 percent from a year earlier, but lower than the 2.9 percent rise forecast by economists.
Industrial output tumbles
Industrial output fell month-on-month in June for the first time since March as the global slowdown took its toll on the export-led economy, figures showed yesterday. Production in manufacturing and mining declined a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent from a month earlier following a revised 1.3 percent rise in May, Statistics Korea said. Year-on-year the June output figure was up 1.6 percent, compared to a revised 2.9 percent rise in May. The government last month cut its growth forecast for this year from 3.7 percent to 3.3 percent, citing tougher conditions in overseas markets.
Household spending dips
Household spending fell by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of the year, but rose slightly in June, while new housing starts continued to fall sharply, official data showed yesterday. Household spending was up 0.1 percent in June following a 0.5 percent increase in May, the INSEE national statistics office said. Meanwhile, data published by the Ministry of Housing showed new housing starts were down 14 percent between April and June, after plummeting 19.9 percent between March and May.
Pyramid scheme probed
Prosecutors in Mannheim, Germany, said they have evidence that 1,295 investors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland lost at least US$37 million in a pyramid scheme allegedly run by a German man arrested in Las Vegas last week. “The actual damages are expected to be higher,” the Mannheim prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Monday. Ulrich Felix Anton Engler, 51, was arrested in Las Vegas on Wednesday last week for violating US immigration law.
Bayer’s Q2 earnings fall
Bayer AG says its second-quarter earnings were a third lower than last year because of one-time charges that included money set aside to deal with litigation linked to a contraceptive, but its revenues rose 10 percent and the company raised its full-year outlook. The pharmaceutical and chemical company yesterday reported net earnings of 494 million euros (US$606 million) for April to June — down from 747 million euros a year earlier. Revenues climbed to 10.18 billion euros from 9.25 billion euros.
BP records big Q2 loss
British energy giant BP said yesterday that it plunged into a net loss in the second quarter of this year, hit by lower oil prices and a huge impairment charge. BP made a loss after taxation of US$1.385 billion in the three months to the end of June, it said in a results statement. That compared with a net profit of US$5.915 billion in the same period of last year.