Consumer confidence up
A survey has found that low unemployment and solid wage increases have helped push consumer confidence to a nearly six-year high. The GfK research institute said yesterday that its forward-looking consumer climate index rose to 6.8 points for next month from 6.5 this month. That is the highest level since a reading of 7.3 in September 2007. The unemployment rate was 6.8 percent last month, a contrast with rates above 20 percent in the European countries worst-hit by the debt crisis. Industrial workers and others in the country, which has Europe’s biggest economy, have secured wage raises well above the inflation rate this year.
Superfast network takes off
SK Telecom yesterday announced the launch of a new-generation mobile network that offers speeds twice that of its existing long-term evolution (LTE) network and 10 times that of 3G services. The new LTE-Advanced, which will be immediately available in Seoul and 40 other cities, will allow users to download an entire movie in about 40 seconds. The network was launched in conjunction with a new LTE-A capable version of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone, and SK Telecom said half a dozen other compatible smartphones were expected to be offered in the second half of this year.
Ford leads the pack in China
Ford Motor Co, the fastest-growing major foreign automaker in China this year, said its sales gain will outpace the industry this year as customers buy new models. “We don’t see the growth rate backing off for the rest of this year,” John Lawler, head of Ford in China, said yesterday in Shanghai, without giving figures. “We’re seeing great reception of our new vehicles.” Ford sales surged 48 percent in the first five months of the year in China, beating foreign peers including Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG, on demand for the Focus compact and EcoSport and Kuga SUVs.
Mail carrier slashes jobs
New Zealand Post yesterday said it was slashing 120 jobs as its traditional mail services continue to decline by 8 percent a year in the face of alternatives such as e-mail and text messaging. The state-owned postal service said the jobs will go as part of a plan to halve the number of mail processing centers it operates from six to three. Chief executive Brian Roche said New Zealand Post was now carrying 200 million less items of mail a year than a decade ago and volumes were slipping at a rate of 8 percent annually.
World bank to lend a hand
The head of the World Bank said on Tuesday that the global lender stands ready to help developing countries cope with a rise in interest rates as a result of the US Federal Reserve’s plan to scale back its stimulus program. “There’s a tremendous amount of concern about what could happen,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim told reporters after a talk on the bank’s goal of reducing extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030. “We just have to be ready to move and try even harder to make sure that capital is available for the kinds of infrastructure investments developing countries need,” Kim said, adding that interest rates have already risen in some developing countries.