Lagarde examines US tax cut
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said on Friday the US President Donald Trump administration’s US$1.5 trillion tax cut could prompt other nations to follow suit, fueling a “race to the bottom” that risks hemming in public spending. The effects of the package passed by Congress in December last year are likely to include increased consumption and “hopefully the payment of higher wages,” Lagarde said on a panel at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. It also will fuel inflation, she said.
US housing starts up 9.7%
Groundbreakings on new US homes jumped 9.7 percent last month to the highest level since October 2016, welcome news for a housing market struggling with a shortage of homes for sale. The US Commerce Department said on Friday housing starts came in at an annual pace of 1.33 million last month, up from 1.21 million the previous month and 1.24 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, building permits, an indicator of future construction, rose 7.4 percent last month, it said.
Fitch upgrades Greece
Fitch Ratings on Friday upgraded Greece’s sovereign debt grade, citing budget surpluses, greater political stability and the growing economy. The agency raised the debt rating one notch to “B” from “B-,” leaving the country in the “highly speculative” category, but with a positive outlook. The decision followed a similar move last month by S&P Global Ratings, which said the economy’s improving fiscal situation was coinciding with growing employment.
UK consumers cautious
UK retail sales barely grew last month, more evidence consumers are reluctant to splash out amid a squeeze from rising prices. Sales increased 0.1 percent from the previous month, far below the 0.5 percent gain forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey. From a year earlier, sales rose 1.6 percent, the weakest for a January in four years, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday. One of the bright spots was sales of sporting equipment, reflecting the traditional New Year enthusiasm for workouts and a pickup in gym membership. Food sales fell 0.4 percent on the month.
Kuroda tapped for new term
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda was nominated on Friday to serve a second five-year term as the head of the central bank. The proposal on Friday to a parliamentary committee was expected to gain approval before Kuroda’s term expires at the end of March. The challenge for Kuroda, many in Japan believe, will be in finding ways to ease out of the Bank of Japan’s current stimulus regime without disrupting markets given its outsized holdings of Japanese government bonds.
MSCI warns on India move
A move by Indian exchanges to stop all licensing deals with their foreign counterparts is anti-competitive and could jeopardize the country’s standing in indices tracked by global funds worth trillions of dollars, MSCI Inc said. “If the changes are put into effect, the result will be disruptive and harmful to international institutional investors in Indian equities,” MSCI said in a statement on Thursday. It said it is monitoring the situation and warned India’s market classification could change unless the “restrictive measures” are removed.
Delrahim rejects speculation
The head of the US Justice Department’s antitrust division, who is suing to block AT&T Inc’s proposed takeover of Time Warner Inc, said on Friday he did not discuss the proposed merger with US President Donald Trump, whose criticism of the entertainment company’s CNN has sparked speculation that he influenced the decision to seek to block the deal. US antitrust chief Makan Delrahim denied further comments on the case to reporters after speaking at a conference in Paris.
US fines, bans trader Little
Former Barclays PLC trader Peter Little, a member of “the Cartel” chatroom where bank traders allegedly manipulated foreign-exchange rates, is being fined US$487,500 by the US Federal Reserve and permanently banned from US banking. Little, who led the Barclays FX spot desk in New York, used electronic chatrooms to manipulate currency pricing benchmarks and failed to properly supervise subordinate traders, the Fed said in a statement on Friday.
Coca-Cola swings to loss
Coca-Cola Co swung to a fourth-quarter loss after being hit with a US$3.6 billion tax charge tied to a sweeping overhaul of the US’ tax laws. The Atlanta company on Friday reported a loss of US$2.75 billion, or US$0.65 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs like the tax hit, came to US$0.39 per share, which was a US$0.01 better than analysts had expected. Revenue fell 20 percent to US$7.51 billion, also topping Wall Street projections for revenue of US$7.36 billion.
Crude recovery boosts Eni
Italian oil and gas company Eni SpA said on Friday the recovery in global crude prices along with record production helped it swing back into profit of of 3.4 billion euros (US$4.3 billion) last year, compared with a loss of 1.46 billion euros in 2016. In the fourth quarter of last year alone, the company recorded a net profit of 2.1 billion euros, six times the level of last year and more than three times the amount expected by analysts. The rise in crude prices helped swell sales by 20 percent to 66.92 billion euros, Eni said.
FAO Schwarz eyes China
FAO Schwarz is setting its sights on China as part of an expansion begun late last year. The toy retailer said on Thursday it will open locations in Beijing and Shanghai this year through a collaboration with China’s largest toy distributor, Kidsland Group (凱知樂). Kidsland is to also open 30 smaller FAO Schwarz stores and shops in 200 department stores across China over the next five years, in addition to launching a chain of FAO Schwarz-branded airport shops in the US and Canada.
Caribbean weathers storms
A record 30 million people visited the Caribbean last year, despite two devastating hurricanes that hit a region still struggling to recover, regional tourism officials said on Thursday. Visitors spent a record total of US$37 billion, up nearly 3 percent compared with the previous year, according to Ryan Skeete, acting research director for the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization. The majority of visitors came from the US, and there was a surge of travelers from Canada and Europe.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
STAYING AHEAD: TSMC expects its sales this year to grow 14 to 19 percent and could spend up to US$3.52 billion on research and development, leaving its rivals far behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) reported that the US last year approved 99 percent of its patent applications, which placed the tech giant among the top patent holders in the US. In its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, TSMC said it last year secured about 3,600 patents worldwide, including more than 2,300 in the US. As of the end of last year, TSMC owned more than 39,000 patents, the report said. The company last year filed almost 6,500 patent applications worldwide and ranked among the top 10 patent applicants in the US. In Taiwan, it was the largest patent applicant for the fourth