China’s forex reserves rise
Chinese foreign-exchange reserves rose for a third month last month, beating estimates, as tighter capital controls kept money from flowing out of the country and the yuan was stable. Reserves climbed US$20.45 billion to US$3.03 trillion, the People’s Bank of China said on Sunday, compared with a median estimate of US$3.02 trillion in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The onshore yuan declined 0.2 percent against the US dollar last month, the third month in a row in which it has not moved by more than 0.22 percent. It has appreciated 0.6 percent against the greenback so far this year. A gauge of swings in the onshore yuan against the US currency is at the lowest level since August 2015.
Business confidence jumps
Australian business confidence surged to the highest level since 2010 and companies’ conditions advanced further, signaling economic growth could accelerate. The sentiment index jumped 7 points to 13 last month, according to a National Australia Bank Ltd’s survey of more than 400 firms conducted from April 21 to 28. The business conditions gauge — a measure of hiring, sales and profits — climbed to 14 from a revised 12, driven mainly by employment, the bank said.
Russia backs output cut
The Russian Ministry of Energy yesterday voiced its support for a suggestion from Saudi Arabia that OPEC and its allies extend their oil output cuts into next year, doubling down on an effort to eliminate a supply surplus and boost prices. Russia and Saudi Arabia, the largest of the 24 nations that agreed to cut production, are reaffirming their commitment to the deal amid growing doubts about its effectiveness against surging US production. Oil has surrendered almost all its gains since their deal late last year. Ministers are to meet again in Vienna on May 25 to make the final decision on any extension.
UK quarterly prices drop
UK housing prices recorded their first quarterly decline in more than four years, adding to signs that the property market is cooling. In the three months to April, prices fell 0.2 percent compared with the previous three months, lender Halifax said in a report yesterday. Last month alone, prices slipped 0.1 percent, meaning they have not risen for the past four months. Almost every UK gauge is now pointing to a housing slowdown. Annual growth based on data from Nationwide Building Society is at the weakest in almost four years, while gains in asking prices for homes have also lost momentum. Mortgage approvals fell to a six-month low in March, the Bank of England said.
German factory orders rise
German factory orders expanded for a second month as Europe’s largest economy picked up speed. Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, rose 1 percent in March, after expanding an upwardly revised 3.5 percent in February, data from the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in Berlin showed yesterday. The typically volatile reading compares with a median estimate for a 0.7 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey. Orders were up 2.4 percent from a year earlier, when adjusted for working days. The Bundesbank said the German economy probably gathered momentum in the first quarter on the back of strong consumer spending and a brightening outlook for manufacturers.
UNDERESTIMATED: The agency said that as its previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis, it did not adequately account for disruptions caused by the pandemic The nation’s economy might grow just 1.67 percent this year squarely on the back of government expenditure and private investment, as exports and consumer spending have stalled, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said yesterday. The forecast is a sizeable retreat from an estimate of 2.37 percent growth made in February before the COVID-19 outbreaks became a pandemic. “The previous forecast was guided by the SARS crisis in 2003 and therefore underestimated the ongoing pandemic, which is hitting economic activity hard at home and abroad,” DGBAS Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a media briefing in Taipei. The agency now expects exports
‘SUSCEPTIBLE’: The timing of an intervention, rather than the amount of money injected to the market, is more important, the deputy minister of finance said The National Stabilization Fund would remain on stand-by to shore up the local bourse until the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided worldwide, Deputy Minister of Finance Frank Juan (阮清華) said yesterday. Although Taiwan has stopped the virus’ spread, the fund would remain active in light of fragile financial markets across the world, said Juan, the state-run fund’s executive secretary. The government activated the fund on March 20 after the TAIEX slumped from 12,000 points to 8,600 in a short period amid a panic selloff. The main board has since recovered, yesterday closing at 10,997.21 points on turnover of NT$180.767 billion (US$6.03 billion), Taiwan
‘EXTERNAL VULNERABILITY’: The city-state’s economy in the first quarter shrank 4.7 percent quarterly due to worsening external demand outlook amid the pandemic Singapore’s embattled economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent this year, which would be the worst reading since independence in 1965, with the government saying yesterday that the COVID-19 pandemic had throttled the key export sector. The Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry’s forecast — which was a downgrade from the 4 percent contraction predicted in March — came as official data showed that the economy shrank 0.7 percent year-on-year in the first three months of the year, while it contracted 4.7 percent from the previous quarter. The ministry said the new estimate was made “in view of the deterioration
South Korean prosecutors yesterday summoned Samsung Electronics Co vice chairman Jay Y. Lee for questioning in an investigation into alleged accounting fraud and a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, dealing another legal blow to the country’s largest corporation. While expected, the decision marked a deepening of a long-running probe into the billionaire scion and his shipbuilding-to-smartphones Samsung Group conglomerate. The company’s de facto leader was called into Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office at 8am in relation to allegations over illegal acts in succession plans, the Yonhap News Agency reported. Lee has been at the center of a years-long scandal