Inflation far below target
Consumer prices edged up 0.9 percent last month, government data showed yesterday, but inflation was still far below a longstanding target of 2.0 percent. Government data showed the core inflation rate stood at the same pace as the previous two months. That was largely in line with market expectations of a 0.8 percent rise in prices, data compiled by Bloomberg News showed. When volatile fresh food and energy were stripped out, prices rose by even less — just 0.4 percent, the Ministry of Finance said.
Growth slows on Brexit
The economy grew at its slowest rate in five years during last year as consumers and businesses were held back by factors directly related to Brexit. Armed with more information following an initial estimate, the Office for National Statistics on Thursday said that the economy expanded by only 0.4 percent in the October-to-December period last year, down from 0.5 percent before. The downgrade reduced overall growth to 1.7 percent for last year, its lowest since 2012.
Swiss Re predicts benefits
Swiss Reinsurance Co Led said it expects to benefit from rising prices even as natural disasters all but wiped out its full-year profit. The Zurich-based reinsurer yesterday reported a slump in net income to US$331 million from US$3.6 billion a year earlier, following one of the most costly hurricane seasons in history. Still, that beat the US$287 million average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. It also said it would raise the dividend to 5 Swiss francs (US$5.35) and would authorize a new share buyback program.
RBS turns post-crisis profit
State-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS) yesterday announced its first annual post-tax profit since 2007, or the eve of the global financial crisis, following a huge drop in litigation costs. RBS, saved a decade ago by the UK government in the world’s biggest banking bailout, posted a net profit of US$1.05 billion last year following nine straight annual losses, the Edinburgh-based lender said in a statement.
First Solar scores industry win
While most of the US solar industry has blasted US President Donald Trump for slapping tariffs on panel imports, one company still managed to score a quantifiable win. First Solar Inc on Thursday raised sales for this year to as much as US$2.65 billion from an estimate of as much as US$2.5 billion made in December last year, a statement on Thursday said. However, the boost to the sales outlook comes at the same time that First Solar got knocked with a US$408 million charge attributable to the tax overhaul Trump signed late last year.
Ford appoints new US head
A veteran executive who has led Ford Motor Co’s Lincoln luxury brand is now to head US operations, replacing an executive who was ousted this week over allegations of inappropriate behavior. Kumar Galhotra, 52, is to replace Raj Nair on Thursday next week, the company said. Ford said in a printed release that Galhotra is to lead all aspects of the North American business, the company’s primary source of revenue and profits. Galhotra has been with Ford for 29 years in a number of senior engineering and product strategy positions.
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be
Yageo Corp (國巨), the world’s third-largest supplier of multilayer ceramic capacitors, has formed a strategic alliance with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) to develop key electronic components for electric vehicles and digital healthcare, it said yesterday. The alliance is to help Yageo boost its revenue from high-end components for vehicles and industrial, medical and aerospace devices, as well as those used in 5G and Internet-of-Things devices, the company said. The companies signed the strategic alliance agreement at Yageo’s headquarters in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店). Their cooperation is to start this quarter, the companies said in a joint statement. “Through the cooperation
SUPPLY CONSTRAINTS: The transferred orders might not provide an immediate revenue boost given local chipmakers’ high utilization rates, a senior analyst said Shares of local contract chipmakers yesterday rose as much as the 10 percent daily limit, as investors bet on orders being transferred from Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際) after the US imposed export restrictions on the Chinese chipmaker. United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) shares soared 10 percent to close at NT$27.5 as 380 million shares changed hands on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. UMC is the world’s No. 3 foundry by revenue, followed by SMIC, according to data from market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技). UMC has product and customer portfolios similar to those of SMIC, TrendForce said, adding that UMC offers 14-nanometer and