WPI drops to 5.5-year low
The national wholesale inflation rate fell to a five-and-a-half-year low last month, driven by ongoing falls in fuel and food prices, data showed yesterday, boosting hopes of an interest rate cut early next year. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) — the national inflation measure with the biggest basket of goods — slipped to a lower-than-expected zero percent last month from a year earlier, official data showed. The latest WPI compares with a five-year-low of 1.77 percent recorded in October and came below analysts’ estimates of about 1.1 percent. The country, which relies heavily on fuel imports, is seen as benefiting from tumbling global oil prices.
Big strike paralyzes nation
The country ground to a halt yesterday as the biggest national strike in years saw unions halt all flights and sever international rail links in protest at the new government’s austerity policies. The strike that began at airports and train stations late on Sunday has halted bus, tram and metro services, as well as most schools, businesses, factories and government offices. The protest is the climax of a union movement involving the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions, General Federation of Belgian Labor and the General Confederation of Liberal Trade Unions of Belgium that began last month with a march of more than 100,000 people and violent protests in Brussels. The respective Christian, socialist and liberal unions went ahead with the strike after the right-of-center government of Prime Minister Charles Michel refused to budge on plans to save 11 billion euros (US$13.7 billion) over five years. Unions oppose a decision by the coalition government to scrap plans for a usually automatic cost-of-living raise next year. They also reject public sector cutbacks and plans to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 starting in 2030.
H&M sales beat forecasts
Hennes & Mauritz AB, Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, increased its sales for last month faster than analysts predicted, contributing to a 17 percent jump in fourth-quarter revenue. Sales last month in local currencies — including value-added tax — increased 10 percent from a year earlier, Stockholm-based H&M said in a statement yesterday. That topped the 8.4 percent gain anticipated in a survey by SME Direkt. H&M is investing in new formats and expanding its online business as the retailer faces competition from low-cost clothing retailers such as Primark.
Takata tightens up quality
Takata Corp has begun enforcing tighter quality controls on a group of parts suppliers as the auto safety equipment maker boosts production to replace millions of air bags recalled for a potentially deadly defect, according to people involved. Japan-basedTakata, whose exploding air bags have caused five deaths and a recall of more than 20 million vehicles globally, has come under investigation by US safety regulators and federal prosecutors and intense scrutiny from US lawmakers. Over the last two months, the company has launched a series of “urgent” inspections across its supply network and dispatched managers to parts makers in Japan and Asia to announce the changes, according to those involved, who asked not to be identified. Takata said its representatives would inspect 40 suppliers of key parts before the end of the year, one of those involved said.
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Taipei Times: When do you think the hospitality industry can return to how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic? How does Formosa International Hotels Group (FIH, 晶華酒店集團) fare this quarter and beyond? FIH chairman Steve Pan (潘思亮): The virus outbreak will have a serious impact on business travel, driven mainly by meetings, incentive travel, conferences and exhibitions over the past three decades. For the past six months, many businesspeople have grown used to exchanging information on the Internet, where more people can participate. The trend might sustain for three to five years until people are vaccinated and it is safe to
DIGITAL COMMERCE: In 2016, only 2 percent of orders were delivered in Taiwan, but that has risen to 10 percent, Foodpanda Taiwan Co operations director Nick Yu said Online food delivery platforms have seen explosive growth in Taiwan this year, helped by business opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, company executives said at a digital commerce conference in Taipei yesterday. When the threat of COVID-19 kept people from going out to eat, more people experimented with ordering food deliveries online, Foodpanda Taiwan Co Ltd (富胖達) operations director Nick Yu (余岳勳) said. Foodpanda started operations in Taiwan in 2012. “We experienced 5,000 percent growth in the past 24 months,” Yu said. “That’s more than the previous six years combined.” In 2016, only 2 percent of food orders were delivered in Taiwan, but that