Home prices rising faster
Increases in home prices accelerated further last month, an independent survey showed on Tuesday, while showing some signs of stabilization as authorities fine-tune policies to keep prices in check. The average price of a new home in 100 major cities rose 11.51 percent year-on-year to 10,833 yuan (US$1,800) per square meter, according to the China Index Academy, which compiled the survey. That outpaced gains of 10.99 percent in November, 10.69 percent in October and 9.48 percent in September, said the academy, the research unit of real-estate Web site operator Soufun Holdings Ltd (搜房網). Prices last month also rose 0.7 percent from the previous month, the data showed, in line with November’s 0.68 percent gain.
GDP growth beats targets
The city-state’s trade-sensitive economy exceeded forecasts that it would expand 3.7 percent last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said on Tuesday, as it benefited from a stabilizing global economic environment. In a New Year’s message e-mailed to the media, Lee said the growth rate was “better than initially expected.” It topped a previous forecast he made in August of 2.5 to 3.5 percent growth, amid global uncertainties. He said the economy, which is seen as a bellwether for the region, is expected to achieve 2 to 4 percent growth this year.
Revlon exiting China
US cosmetics company Revlon on Tuesday said it was shutting down its operations in China to cut costs, eliminating about 1,100 positions. Revlon said its China business represented about 2 percent of total sales, which topped US$1.4 billion worldwide in 2012, and that the move would lead to savings of about US$11 million a year. It said most of the 1,100 jobs cut will be in China, including approximately 940 beauty advisers that were hired indirectly through a third-party agency. The company will incur about US$22 million in pre-tax charges due to the restructuring, of which US$20.9 million was being recorded as a charge last month.
Seoul’s surplus widens
South Korea’s trade surplus widened to a new high of US$44.19 billion last year, helped by steady growth in exports, government data showed yesterday. Total exports last year rose 2.2 percent from a year ago to a record-high US$559.72 billion, while imports fell 0.8 percent to US$515.53 billion, according to the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The trade balance has been in the black since February 2012. Last month, exports climbed 7.1 percent year-on-year to US$48.05 billion, while imports rose 3 percent to US$44.38 billion. Economic officials said Asia’s fourth-largest economy would remain on track for recovery. The government has predicted the economy would grow 2.8 percent last year and 3.9 percent this year.
Ownership rules tightened
A government ban on foreigners owning a majority stake in a host of businesses from bakeries to beauty salons was to go into effect yesterday, Minister of Indigenization Francis Nhema said on Tuesday. Foreigners will only be allowed to own minority stakes in the businesses if they have local partners and will be given between four and five years to comply with the new law. The ban will also include estate agencies, grain mills, retail outlets, milk processing plants, transport and valet services.