Four banks downgraded
Moody’s Investors Service has cut the long-term credit rating of Australia’s four biggest banks, saying surging home prices, rising household debt and sluggish wage growth pose a threat to the lenders. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank Ltd and Westpac Banking Corp were all downgraded to “Aa3” from “Aa2,” Moody’s said in a statement released yesterday. Residential mortgages account for more than 60 percent of the four banks’ loan books. The banks have recently tightened lending standards under pressure from regulators. The combination of soaring house prices and stagnant wage growth has pushed the ratio of household debt to disposable income to 189 percent — one of the highest levels in the world.
Fewer cities post increases
China’s home prices increased in fewer cities last month in the wake of cooling measures imposed by local authorities. New home prices, excluding government-subsidized housing, gained from the previous month in 56 of 70 cities tracked by the government, compared with 58 in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Prices fell in nine cities and were unchanged in five. In Beijing, prices of new homes were unchanged from the previous month while prices of existing homes fell 0.9 percent, the first decline since February 2015. It was the second straight month that the number of cities with price increases fell, as officials persist with curbs to take the froth out of bubbly markets. A deepening property slowdown could trim the nation’s economic growth rate, with UBS Group AG forecasting that sales would “lose more steam” in the second half of the year. In Shenzhen, the nation’s hottest market early last year, new home prices fell 0.6 percent from April, the sharpest decline in three months.
HK to maintain peg
Hong Kong’s pegged exchange rate should stay as it has served the territory well through financial crises for more than 30 years, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan (陳德霖) said yesterday. “Hong Kong is a small and open economy,” he said in a statement. “Keeping a stable exchange rate between the Hong Kong dollar and the US dollar is the most suitable arrangement. We have no need and no intention to change such an effective system.” Hong Kong linked its currency to the greenback in 1983.
Thailand boosting scrutiny
Thailand aims to buy software to boost the military government’s ability to track online networks and monitor online activity while planning a cyberlaw that would expand powers to pry into private communications. The beefing up of powers over the online world comes as authorities are increasingly targeting social media for violations of a law that makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the king, queen, heir to the throne or regent. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Society aims to spend 128.56 million baht (US$3.8 million) on software, including a “social network data analysis system” to monitor and map individuals and relationships between more than 1 million online users, a ministry document showed. New York University researchers have also found various US jurisdictions had spent more than US$5.82 million on social media monitoring software.
DEVELOPING TALENT: The electronics contractor is looking to recruit people to work in core tech fields and emerging industries like electric cars and robotics Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has launched a recruitment drive, offering a monthly salary of no less than NT$45,000 (US$1,485) to university graduates. For those with a master’s degree, the starting pay would be NT$52,000 per month at the minimum, while doctorate degree holders would receive at least NT$60,000 a month, Hon Hai said a statement issued early this week. The latest recruitment drive is aimed at attracting talent in core technology fields — artificial intelligence, semiconductors and next-generation mobile communications — and emerging industries — electric vehicles, digital healthcare and robotics, the
MRT TRAVEL FALLS: In February, ridership on the Taipei MRT System fell 8.96 percent from an average of 2.01 million per day in January Scooter sales jumped 13 percent last month as more commuters turned to two-wheelers to avoid public transportation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest statistics showed. Sales expanded to 74,493 units last month, compared with 65,913 units in February, statistics released on Wednesday by Kwang Yang Motor Co (光陽工業) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications showed. In the first quarter, aggregate sales slid 0.51 percent year-over-year to 186,627 units, from 187,580 units, data showed. Kwang Yang, the nation’s biggest scooter manufacturer, continued to lead the market by selling 24,136 vehicles last month, growing 6.12 percent from 20,785 units in the previous month, while
Asustek Computer Inc (華碩), the nation’s leading PC vendor, yesterday launched its first dual-screen gaming laptop powered by Intel Corp’s latest central processing units (CPUs). The PC manufacturer’s announcement closely followed the US chipmaker’s unveiling of its 10th Generation Core H-series, the fastest commercial mobile processors with speeds of up to 5 gigahertz. Although Asustek’s Zephyrus Duo 15, the highlight of its Republic of Gamers line, is not the company’s first laptop with two screens, it is its first designed specifically for gaming. Nestled between the primary display panel and the keyboard, the secondary display, which Asustek calls the ScreenPad Plus, is angled
NO ILL EFFECT: Last month’s data mainly reflected deals made in February, when the spread of COVID-19 was still relatively mild in Taiwan, housing brokers said Housing transactions in the six special municipalities totaled 19,824 units last month, up 7.8 percent from a year earlier, brokers said, citing government data. Last month’s data mainly reflected deals made in February, when the pinch of the COVID-19 pandemic was not yet evident, they said. Taoyuan posted the largest improvement, with housing transactions soaring 36.6 percent year-on-year to 3,676 units, local government data showed. Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋) attributed the pickup to the completion of two presale residential projects in the municipality. Houses in Taoyuan have increasingly gained in popularity in the past few year years due to relatively affordable home prices and