Factories boost production
Factory activity last month expanded at its fastest pace for eight months, official data showed yesterday, as demand at home and overseas improved, despite brewing trade tensions with the US. The purchasing managers index came in at 51.9, up from 51.4 the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics said, in line with a Bloomberg News survey. The reading was well above the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction. The bureau said that high-tech manufacturing and improved export orders contributed to the growth.
Industrial output slows
Factory output in April rose less than forecast, adding to concerns about the strength of the economy following a contraction in growth during the first quarter. A sharp drop in production of electronic components and devices was cited as a factor. Government data showed that industrial production rose 0.3 percent from March, when it gained 1.4 percent. April output grew 2.5 percent year-on-year, compared with a 2.4 percent rise in March.
The Federal Reserve’s latest survey of business conditions found manufacturing activity accelerating in many parts of the nation in late April and early last month, even as some businesses expressed concern about uncertainty caused by rising trade tensions. The Fed said in the Beige Book survey released on Wednesday that the economy is expanding at a moderate pace. More than half of the central bank’s 12 regions reported a pickup in industrial activity and a third of the districts described manufacturing conditions as “strong.”
Firms upbeat on growth
The economy started the year with faster-than-expected growth, and investment figures suggest that companies are upbeat about their prospects. The expansion of 0.6 percent in GDP exceeded economists’ 0.5 percent median estimate. Consumer-spending growth rose at its fastest pace since 2016, while investment in equipment hit a six-year high. Risks related to Italian politics and US foreign policy have fueled a renewed appreciation of the Swiss franc, which might undermine one support for the economy, economists said.
Property market still slowing
House prices last month rose less than expected, figures from mortgage lender Nationwide showed yesterday, adding to evidence of a slowing property market since the 2016 Brexit vote. House prices were up by 2.4 percent in the year to last month, down from a rise of 2.6 percent in April and below all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists. Prices fell by 0.2 percent from April, the third time this year that they have declined on a monthly basis, Nationwide figures showed.
Investors dump ruble bonds
Foreign investors offloaded about 200 billion rubles (US$3.23 billion) worth of local-currency bonds since fresh US sanctions imposed in April created uncertainty about how vulnerable the market is to more penalties. Non-residents now own about 31 percent of the government’s outstanding ruble securities, known as OFZs, Bank of Russia First Deputy Governor Ksenia Yudaeva told a news briefing in Moscow on Wednesday. That is down from a record of more than 34 percent earlier this year.
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
NEW CONSIDERATIONS: An airline manager said the idea is tempting, as demand for air cargo is strong, but issues such as training loaders would need to be addressed Taiwanese airlines might repurpose passenger jets to carry cargo in their cabins to offset lost revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines are considering applying to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) for permission to transport cargo in passenger cabins after StarLux Airlines Co (星宇航空) last month became the first among the nation’s airlines to offer cargo-only flights using the normal cargo holds of its three Airbus SE A321neo passenger jets. “We are considering whether to increase our capacity by putting cargo on passenger seats,” Starlux spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) told the Taipei Times by telephone. “The advantage is that we can improve revenue,
GLOBAL CUTS: CEO Warren East said the firm’s focus was on strengthening financial resilience, so it would likely reduce salary costs by at least 10% this year Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC is scrapping its targets and final dividend to shore up its finances as the British aero-engine maker’s customers around the world ground planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rolls-Royce, one of Britain’s most historic industrial names, which before the pandemic struck was trying to emerge from a multiyear turnaround plan, has suspended its dividend for the first time since 1987. The company’s engines power Airbus SE and Boeing Co’s widebody jets, but more than 60 percent of that fleet is now grounded, according to aviation data provider Cirium. Rolls-Royce is paid by airlines based on how many hours they fly. Over
PAINFUL CONTRACTION: Passenger loads in February on flights between Taiwan and China, Hong Kong and Macau fell by more than 90 percent compared with December Even with more than NT$450 billion (US$14.85 billion) in financial aid from the Executive Yuan’s expanded relief package, local tourism-related businesses are unlikely to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic any time soon, a central bank report released last month said. The NT$1.05 trillion relief package includes NT$472 billion in financial assistance for tourism and transportation sectors, such as airlines, hotels, travel agencies, taxis and tour buses. However, a March 20 central bank report said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global and domestic economies are far greater than that of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, despite any benefits from delayed purchases