Australian inflation slows
Inflation was weaker than expected in the first quarter, data showed yesterday, easing pressure on the central bank to hike interest rates as it tries to support the economy in its transition from a mining-driven boom. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.6 percent in the January-to-March period from the previous three months, when it climbed 0.8 percent, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. In the year to last month, the CPI was up 2.9 percent, within the central bank’s growth target of 2 to 3 percent. The main drivers of price rises were tobacco (up 6.7 percent), gasoline (up 4.1 percent) and pharmaceuticals (up 6.1 percent), while the cost of high-school and university education also recorded rises of 6 percent and 4.3 percent respectively, the bureau said.
Thailand expects Q1 dip
The Bank of Thailand left its benchmark interest rate unchanged yesterday, as expected, but said full-year growth may come in weaker than forecast due to the toll from prolonged political unrest. The export-reliant economy is set to post its first quarterly contraction in a year in the January-to-March quarter as consumption and investment fall, the central bank said at its policy meeting. Its Monetary Policy Committee voted 6-1 to hold the one-day repurchase rate steady at 2 percent, a level last seen in December 2010. Bank of Thailand Assistant Governor Paiboon Kittisrikangwan told a news conference that this year’s growth would likely fall short of its 2.7 percent forecast.
BOJ not buying bonds
Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will not buy bonds just to keep down government debt-servicing costs after it achieves its goal of stable 2 percent inflation. “If we reach our target and prices are stable, we have no intention of moving away from our goal and implementing policy to reduce debt-servicing costs,” he said in parliament yesterday in response to a question from opposition lawmaker and former economics minister Seiji Maehara, who said the central bank could be smacked around and told to do something if yields rise.
Deutsche mulls job cuts
Germany’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank, is trimming its equities team in Latin America and is considering shutting its equities business in Chile, two people familiar with the matter said. The bank is trimming headcount in locations that serve Latin America, such as Sao Paulo and Santiago, as well as New York. No details on the number of staff to be cut were reported. However, the bank does not plan to cut jobs in Mexico, a location it considers a priority along with Brazil, one of the sources said. The company will continue to invest in more profitable businesses in Latin America.
Barclays may lay off 7,500
Barclays PLC may have to eliminate 7,500 jobs at its investment bank to improve returns at its securities unit, a report by Sanford Bernstein said. The European fixed-income, currencies and commodities business might be the hardest hit with about 5,000 job losses, analysts led by Chirantan Barua said in a note on Tuesday. Cuts of 6,500 to 7,500 equate to about 25 to 30 percent of the unit’s employees, the report estimated. London-based Barclays should eliminate managing directors first, followed by more junior positions, Barua said.