Aid could influence planting
The latest round of farm aid by US President Donald Trump’s administration might fail in its aim to avoid influencing US planting decisions. The US$16 billion package — offered to help producers struggling in the wake of a US-China trade war — would include direct payments to farmers. To get them, growers must plant crops such as soybeans, corn and wheat. That seems simple enough, except that after heavy rains and flooding in the nation’s heartland this spring, farmers were expected to discontinue their planting plans. Speculation was mounting that growers would instead opt to make claims for so-called prevented plant insurance. As of Sunday, corn sowing was at the slowest pace on record for this time of year. The US Department of Agriculture just “effectively extended” the spring planting season, said Sam Hudson, an agriculture marketing consultant at Cornbelt Marketing in Brimfield, Illinois.
Moody’s cuts Nissan rating
Moody’s Investors Service yesterday cut Nissan Motor Co’s credit rating by a notch, citing Nissan’s weakening profitability and margins over the past two years. The issuer rating was lowered from “A2” to “A3,” the ratings company said in a statement. Moody’s had placed the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker on negative watch in February. The latest downgrade came days after S&P Global Ratings placed the automaker’s rating on negative watch, saying that there is a more than a one-in-three chance of a further delay in Nissan’s profit recovery. Earlier this month, Nissan cut its full-year earnings forecast after third-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates, adding to fallout from the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn. It would take several years to gauge the success of Nissan’s strategy of emphasizing margin over unit sales growth, refreshing old models and lowering discounted bulk sales, Moody’s said.
Russia to take back dirty oil
Russia plans to take back about 1 million tonnes of contaminated oil from Belarus as it cleans up the Druzhba export pipeline section leading to Poland and Germany, four industry sources familiar with the plan told reporters. The plan was discussed at talks in Warsaw on Thursday between Russian, Belarussian and European companies. Another roughly 1 million tonnes stuck in Poland and Germany would be left there to be dealt with by those countries, the sources said. The plan for contaminated crude in the pipeline further west, in Poland and Germany, is that it would be taken off by local refiners, three of the four sources said.
British sales flat last month
British shoppers last month paused for breath after months of strong buying, according to official data that showed continued underlying strength of consumer spending during the Brexit crisis. Monthly retail sales volumes were flat last month, the British Office for National Statistics said, compared with a median forecast for a 0.3 percent decline in a Reuters poll of economists. However, in the three months to last month, sales increased 1.8 percent, the fastest growth by this measure since August last year. Consumer spending has been a relative bright spot for the British economy, contrasting with businesses cutting on investment throughout last year and slower global growth. Compared with April last year, sales were up by 5.2 percent after a 6.7 percent annual rise in March, better than expected in the Reuters poll.
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
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
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