Economy expands 0.8%
The economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in the first quarter of this year, but marginally slower than originally estimated, the central Bank of Korea said yesterday. Asia’s fourth-largest economy expanded a revised 0.8 percent quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period, slightly down on the bank’s April estimate of 0.9 percent. It was still a marked improvement from the 0.3 percent growth recorded in the fourth quarter of last year. Year-on-year, the economy grew 1.5 percent in the first quarter, matching the central bank’s April forecast and unchanged from the previous quarter.
GDP expected to increase
The central bank, or Bundesbank, forecast a “brighter outlook” for the economy, Europe’s biggest, even if it pared back its growth forecasts for both this year and next year. “The outlook for the economy has become brighter again following the slowdown towards the end of 2012,” the Bundesbank wrote in its monthly report this month. The Bundesbank predicted that GDP would expand by 0.3 percent this year and 1.5 percent next year. In its previous forecasts published in December last year, the central bank had been penciling in growth of 0.4 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.
Factories cut production
Factories cut production for the 20th straight month in April, official data showed yesterday, sharply braking output of durable goods such as cars or washing machines in the midst of a recession. Factories and utilities lowered overall output by 1.8 percent over the year to April, after correcting for seasonal variations such as the number of working days in the month, the National Statistics Institute said in a report. Industrial production has now fallen on an annual basis every month since September 2011 as the economy struggles in a double-dip recession, still unable to recover from the implosion in 2008 of a decade-long property bubble.
Suit filed against Monsanto
US wheat farmers and a food safety advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Thursday against biotech seed developer Monsanto Co, accusing the company of failing to protect the wheat market from contamination by its unauthorized wheat. The petition seeks class-action status to represent other farmers it says were harmed by lower wheat prices as some foreign buyers have shied away from US wheat. The suit follows a similar action filed on Monday by a Kansas farmer, alleging that growers have been hurt financially by the discovery of an unapproved biotech wheat that Monsanto said it stopped testing and shelved nine years ago.
Indian brothers reach deal
India’s billionaire Ambani brothers yesterday announced a US$2.1 billion agreement to share telecoms tower infrastructure, cementing a reconciliation in the once-warring family. Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecoms unit of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries, signed the agreement with Reliance Communications, the flagship firm of the Anil Ambani group, to share the latter’s telecoms tower equipment, a joint statement said. The move will help Reliance Industries to accelerate the roll-out of its high-speed fourth-generation (4G) telecoms services, the companies said. The aggregate value of the deal is more than US$2.1 billion for the duration of the agreement, which was not specified, the statement added.