Jobless rate hits 26-year low
The jobless rate last month slumped to a 26-year low, while the jobs-to-applicants ratio hit a new record high as the nation struggles with labor shortages, official figures showed yesterday. The unemployment rate fell to 2.2 percent from 2.5 percent in the previous three months, according to a survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the lowest level since August to October of 1992. The jobs-to-applicants ratio stood at its highest rate in 44 years, with 160 job offers going for every 100 job hunters, the Ministry Health, Labor and Welfare said in separate data.
<>bGDP growth revised down
Economic growth in the first quarter was revised down to a lackluster 2 percent — a sharp deceleration and the poorest showing in a year. The Department of Commerce on Thursday said in its final estimate for the first quarter that GDP was even weaker than previously thought. Lower numbers from consumer spending and business inventories helped trim 0.2 percentage points off last month’s estimate that GDP had grown 2.2 percent in the period, but recent economic reports, including consumer spending, have looked strong and point to far better growth in the second quarter.
Economy grows 6.8 percent
The economy posted steady growth in the second quarter, underpinned by solid foreign investment and exports. GDP rose 6.8 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the General Statistics Office said in Hanoi yesterday. The economy expanded 7.1 percent in the six months through this month compared with a year earlier, the office said.
Australia not inhibiting trade
A WTO dispute body has ruled that Australia did not unfairly inhibit trade by requiring plain packaging for tobacco products, sending a message that tough-on-tobacco rules do not necessarily contravene fair trade rules. The WTO’s dispute settlement body said complainants did not successfully demonstrate that Australia had contravened its obligations to ensure fair trade following its adoption of path-breaking legislation in 2012 requiring plain packaging as a way to reduce health risks.
Novartis to spin off Alcon
Novartis AG is to spin off eye-care company Alcon as the company’s new chief executive officer refocuses the Swiss drugmaker on prescription pharmaceuticals. Novartis is also to buy back up to US$5 billion of shares, using proceeds from the sale of its consumer-health joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the Basel-based company said in a statement yesterday. The spinoff of Alcon is subject to final approval by the board and by shareholders at next year’s annual meeting.
Nike earnings up 12.8%
Nike Inc shares on Thursday surged as the company reported higher earnings, announced a new share buyback program and talked up its ambitious digital investment program that emphasizes direct selling to consumers. Nike reported earnings of US$1.1 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, up 12.8 percent from a year earlier. Revenue also rose 12.8 percent to US$9.8 billion. The company beat analyst expectations in both earnings per share and revenue. China was the firm’s strongest region in terms of revenue, where sales jumped 35 percent.
STEPPING UP: The firm has also asked employees to work in split shifts from this week and to halt all but essential overseas business travel from next month Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) has implemented a remote work policy for employees not on production lines in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, the world’s largest contract chipmaker said yesterday. This is the first time in the Hsinchu-based company’s history that it has launched a large-scale remote work policy, joining global technology companies, such as Apple Inc and Google, that encourage employees to work from home. The chipmaker has also asked employees to work in split shifts from this week, it said. As the number of virus infections continues to climb worldwide, TSMC has urged employees to halt unnecessary
A two-hour drive south of Amsterdam in Veldhoven, workers decked out head-to-toe in protective gear toil in vast assembly halls. Before entering the inner sanctuary of the facilities, they meticulously layer on masks, gloves and special socks. A single speck of dust or a hair can have devastating effects on production. The result of all this painstaking process is an environment that is 10,000 times more purified than outside. As COVID-19 grips the world, it might just be the safest place to work right now. The teams belong to ASML Holding NV, which holds a de facto monopoly on the industry of
DBS Bank Ltd yesterday hacked its GDP growth forecast for Taiwan this year to 0.9 percent, down from its estimate of 2.3 percent two months earlier, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing financial market volatility. The bank’s latest forecast was even lower than London-based IHS Markit Ltd’s estimate of 1 percent, while other research institutes’ projections range from 1.6 percent to 2.6 percent. Taiwan’s economic momentum is being negatively affected by the pandemic, DBS said. The rapid spread of the disease from Asia to Europe and the US has dampened the bank’s previous expectation of a “V-shaped” global rebound in the
DOWNSIDE RISKS: Firms have a ‘very low’ chance of boosting investment returns in the next two years, making it hard for them to improve their capitalization, an analyst said Taiwanese life insurers wanting to improve their capital structure face strong headwinds this year, given prolonged low interest rates and economic impacts derived from trade protectionism and the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan Ratings Corp (中華信評) said on Friday. The local life insurance sector also still has high asset risks and such risks are susceptible to market volatility, the local arm of Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings said. Since last year, major financial holding companies — including CTBC Financial Holding Co (中信金控), Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控) and Shin Kong Financial Holding Co (新光金控) — have announced plans to raise fresh capital to