Consumer confidence robust
Confidence among consumers should resist fears of a trade war between Washington and Brussels next month, a survey published yesterday showed. A forward-looking barometer by pollsters GfK stood at 10.7 points for next month, the same level as this month and 0.1 points lower than last month. However, there are signs that Europe’s largest economy has lost momentum since the unexpectedly strong growth seen late last year.
Low interest rate maintained
The New Zealand Reserve Bank yesterday held interest rates at a record low, but signaled it is prepared to cut them if needed as economic growth slows and inflation remains below target. “The official cash rate will remain at 1.75 percent for now,” bank Governor Adrian Orr said in a statement in Wellington. “However, we are well positioned to manage change in either direction — up or down — as necessary.”
Japanese sales fell in May
Japanese retail sales fell last month by the most in nearly two years, pointing to weaker consumption that could restrain any rebound in the economy following a contraction in the first quarter. Retail sales fell 1.7 percent last month from April, but increased 0.6 percent from a year earlier, government data showed. Sales at department stores and supermarkets fell 2 percent from the previous year. Sales of automobiles fell 2.8 percent from a year earlier, while clothing and apparel sales dropped 4.1 percent on year.
BP to buy charging network
BP PLC plans to acquire the UK’s largest electric vehicle charging company, the latest in a string of acquisitions by major oil companies in the growing market for greener transport. The British oil major entered into an agreement to buy Chargemaster, which has 6,500 charging points across the UK. It did not disclose terms of the deal, but BP has previously said it plans to spend about US$500 million a year on clean energy. Customers will see the new chargers in its forecourts over the next 12 months.
H&M profits disappoint
Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) reported profit that missed analyst expectations and said that its inventory levels increased further as the Swedish retailer suffered from logistics issues that snarled shipments. Pretax profit slumped 22 percent to 6.01 billion kronor (US$666.7 million) in the three months through last month, H&M said yesterday. “The first half of the year has been somewhat more challenging than we initially thought, but we believe that there is a gradual improvement and that we will see a stronger second half,” chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said.
Togo launches new policy
The Togolese government on Wednesday launched a new energy policy that aims to provide universal access to electricity in the small West African country by 2030. The “electrification strategy,” which relies heavily on renewable energy, is to unroll in three phases over 12 years and cost 1,000 billion CFA francs (US$1.76 billion), of which half will come from private investment. African Development Bank Vice President Amadou Hott said that the bank pledged 20 billion CFA francs to finance private operators.
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