Interest rate unchanged
The central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.75 percent yesterday, saying the global economy continued to recover while growth this year could be higher than thought and inflation was stable. The bank said its seven-member Monetary Policy Committee unanimously agreed to hold the one-day repurchase rate for the second straight meeting after a surprise quarter-point cut in October last year. The central bank has forecast economic growth of 4.7 percent this year after 5.8 percent for last year. Due to the floods, growth in 2011 was only 0.1 percent.
No change in unemployment
The nation’s overall unemployment rate remained steady at 3 percent last month as growth in the number of people finding jobs slowed from the previous month, official data showed yesterday. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate has been unchanged since it fell to a 56-month low of 3 percent in October last year, according to Statistics Korea. The unadjusted jobless rate stood at 2.9 percent last month, compared with 2.8 percent the previous month. The number of employed people rose by 277,000 last month from the same month a year earlier — decelerating from November’s 353,000 increase — to 24.402 million.
Association lowers forecast
India’s automakers’ association lowered its full-year domestic car sales forecast for the third time in six months as slowing economic growth and high interest rates continue to keep buyers from showrooms. The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers forecast as little as no change in car sales in the year ending March 31, Sugato Sen, the deputy director general of the industry group, said in New Delhi yesterday. Car sales increased 0.2 percent in the year ended March 2009, according to the group. The annual forecast for growth in local car sales was cut to as low as 1 percent in October after being reduced in July. The forecast underscores the challenge carmakers from Suzuki Motor Corp to Toyota Motor Corp will face to win customers in Asia’s third-biggest auto market. New models and variants are being introduced and discounts offered as automakers seek to spur sales as high gasoline prices and borrowing costs discourage buyers.
Firms unveil super-thin TVs
South Korean consumer device makers Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Inc unveiled curved, super-thin televisions on Tuesday, hoping to become early market leaders in new organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV technology. Considered the future of consumer electronics displays, OLED technology is more energy efficient and offers higher-contrast images than LCD, and is so thin that future mobile devices will be able to fold like paper. Both firms LG unveiled 55-inch OLED TV a year ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, and this year they advanced their technology with a curved panel, which allows the distance between the user and TV screen to be the same from any angle. LG, now the sole seller of the technology, started taking orders for OLED TVs last week. They will not be available for delivery until February. Samsung said it plans to launch both curved and flat OLED TVs in the first half of this year. Due to high production costs, OLED TV is expected to take a fraction of the global TV market for the next two to three years. LG is selling its 55-inch OLED model for US$10,300.