Exports make good start
South Korea’s exports got off to a good start last month as signs of economic recovery in the EU and Southeast Asia offset the risks from a weak yen, the trade ministry said yesterday. Exports came to US$45.584 billion last month, down 0.2 percent from last year as there were two less working days in the month compared with the previous year due to the Lunar New Year holiday that began on Thursday. Imports came to US$44.849 billion last month, down 0.9 percent on-year, mainly due to smaller crude oil imports, leaving a US$735 million trade surplus, up from US$400 million a year earlier.
Listed firms gain traction
Nearly 70 percent of listed Japanese companies are likely to post sales and profit growth this business year, a sign they are gaining traction after years of deflation, a report said yesterday. More than 1,000 companies out of about 1,500 firms listed on stock markets are on track to log annual rises in both sales and recurring profits for the business year ending in March, the Nikkei business daily said. The 1,500 companies are expected to post a combined 10 percent rise in sales and a 28 percent increase in recurring profit, the daily said, citing its tally of the companies’ forecasts.
Dubai projects worry IMF
The IMF is warning that Dubai’s megaprojects could increase the risk of a real estate bubble. The city, part of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, has proposed a large area around a new airport with hotels, housing and a new conference center to host the world Expo 2020. However, the IMF cautioned that if these projects are not “implemented prudently” they could exacerbate the danger of a bubble and create additional risks for government-owned companies and the banking system, still recovering from a 2009 financial crisis.
Deficit hits four-year high
Brazil’s fiscal deficit rose to 3.28 percent of the country’s GDP last year, the highest level in four years, the central bank said on Friday. That was sharply up from 2.39 percent in 2012, as economic growth in Latin America’s largest economy continued to slump despite government efforts to stimulate it. The deficit reached 157.5 billion reais (US$65 billion) last year, nearly one-third more than in the previous years.
MasterCard earnings up 3%
MasterCard Inc’s fourth-quarter earnings climbed 3 percent as rising payment volume countered a jump in expenses, but the results fell short of financial analysts’ expectations. Net income grew to US$623 million, or US$0.52 per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31, compared with US$605 million, or US$0.49 per share, a year earlier. Revenue climbed 12 percent to US$2.13 billion, as consumers hit stores for holiday shopping.
IBM top brass ditch bonuses
IBM CEO Virginia Rometty and the rest of her senior management team are relinquishing their bonuses for last year as penance for the technology company’s lackluster performance. The decision disclosed in a Friday regulatory filing will result in a substantial pay cut for the affected executives, whose annual bonuses often exceed their salaries. IBM’s revenue slipped 5 percent last year. The Armonk, New York, company’s earnings dipped by less than 1 percent, thanks to cost cutting. Rometty still received a US$1.5 million salary last year.