Economy to expand: Cabinet
The government yesterday said the world’s No. 3 economy was on track to expand 2.5 percent in the fiscal year starting in April, thanks to fresh stimulus and a recovery in overseas markets. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved the forecast — higher than an estimate of 1 percent growth for the current year to March — yesterday morning, government officials said. Last week, the central bank raised its growth forecast for the same fiscal year to 2.3 percent from a previous 1.6 percent estimate, as it announced an open-ended asset-buying program and new inflation target aimed at ending the deflation that has haunted the economy for years.
High investment target set
The government is targeting as much as S$13 billion (US$11 billion) of investment commitments in manufacturing and services this year, even as the city-state struggles with rising business costs amid curbs on the hiring of foreign workers. The country lured fixed-asset investments of about S$16 billion last year, the Economic Development Board said yesterday in its annual review. The government is also targeting as much as S$8 billion in business spending this year from manufacturing and services industries such as information and communications, education and healthcare. Investments this year should help generate between 19,000 and 22,000 skilled jobs and add as much as S$18 billion to GDP annually when completed, the board said.
Consumer sentiment up: poll
Consumer confidence climbed to its highest level in eight months as president-elect Park Geun-hye pledged to boost economic growth and increase welfare spending. The sentiment index rose to 102 for this month from 99 last month, the Bank of Korea said yesterday. A reading above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists. The consumer confidence index is based on responses from 2,013 households across the nation.
EADS representative named
The government on Sunday named Anne Lauvergeon, the former boss of nuclear group Areva, to represent it on the board of European aerospace giant EADS. The Ministry of Economics announced that the group had proposed naming both her and former European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet to the board. Shareholders must still approve the decision, the ministry said. Earlier on Sunday, Le Journal du Dimanche, citing a source close to the government, reported that Lauvergeon was President Francois Hollande’s choice for the group’s presidency. It also reported that Germany backed the government’s choice.
Traded deficit reduced
The nation has trimmed its record trade deficit, Minister of Trade Nicole Bricq said yesterday in a press interview, thanks to resistant exports of agricultural, aeronautical, pharmaceutical and luxury products. Asked by the daily Figaro if last year’s trade deficit would be smaller than the record high of more than 73 billion euros (US$98.2 billion at current exchange rates) seen in 2011, Bricq replied: “Yes,” adding that: “In 2012, our exports were underpinned mainly by agrofood, aeronautics, pharmaceuticals and luxury goods.” Like Germany, the country would have to look beyond the eurozone for growth prospects, even though the 17-nation bloc currently represents 60 percent of the nation’s foreign trade.