Wed, May 03, 2017 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

CHINA

PMI at seven-month low

The nation’s factory sector lost momentum last month, with growth slowing to its weakest pace in seven months as domestic and export demand faltered and commodity prices fell, a private survey showed yesterday. The findings reinforced views that the nation’s economic growth remains solid, but is starting to moderate after a surprisingly strong start to the year. The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.3 last month, missing economists’ forecasts of 51.0 and a significant decline from March’s 51.2. The index remained above the 50.0 mark which separates expansion from contraction on a monthly basis, but only just, and grew at its slowest pace since September last year. The survey suggested growth faded at a sharper pace than the official reading, but economists largely attributed the softening to a pullback in global commodity prices and signs of the property market moderating.

AUSTRALIA

Interest rates unchanged

The central bank kept its interest rates unchanged as faster inflation and signals of looming fiscal stimulus combine with an upswing in global growth. “Above-trend growth is expected in a number of advanced economies,” Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement announcing the decision yesterday. “The improvement in the global economy has contributed to higher commodity prices, which are providing a significant boost to Australia’s national income.” The central bank also left the cash rate at a record-low 1.5 percent — as expected by all 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg — to allow regulatory rules targeting riskier property loans to take effect amid hot property markets in Sydney and Melbourne.

TRUCK-SHARING

Huochebang eyes US$156m

Truck Alliance Inc, an Uber-type service for trucks in China known as Huochebang (貨車幫), is near an agreement to raise about US$156 million, people familiar with the matter said. The investment is to be led by Baidu Capital (百度資本), the investment arm of China’s largest Internet search engine, and could be announced as soon as this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The infusion comes on the heels of a US$115 million fundraising in December last year which pushed Huochebang’s valuation to about US$1 billion. The investments are both part of the start-up’s B round of funding and it is close to raising a third tranche, the people said.

UNITED KINGDOM

PMI unexpectedly hits 57.3

Manufacturing unexpectedly grew at the fastest pace in three years last month as the domestic market strengthened and the British pound’s depreciation boosted exports. A measure of factory output rose to 57.3 from 54.2 in March, according to IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). That was far better than the 54 forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey and above the 50 level dividing expansion from contraction. The report reinforces the view that exporters are in what Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent has called a “sweet spot,” since the currency’s decline has increased competitiveness, while the kingdom still enjoys free trade with the EU. The drop in the currency “helped manufacturers take full advantage of the recent signs of revival in the global economy, and especially the eurozone,” IHS Markit senior economist Rob Dobson said. “The big question is whether this growth spurt can be maintained.”

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