Jobless rate to stay high
The nation’s jobless rate is unlikely to reach more normal levels for several years, US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday as he again defended the central bank’s forceful easing of monetary policy. One lawmaker asked Bernanke when the economy might produce enough jobs to bring the unemployment rate, currently at 7.9 percent, down to 6 percent — the top of the Fed’s long-term forecast range. “A reasonable guess for 6 percent would be around 2016, about three more years,” Bernanke told the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.
Industrial output shrinks
Industrial output shrank for the first time in five months in January, official figures showed yesterday, dampening hopes for a robust recovery for Asia’s fourth-largest economy. Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries shrank a seasonally adjusted 1.5 percent compared with December last year, marking the first monthly fall since August, state-run Statistics Korea said. Compared with a year earlier, January’s reading was up 7.3 percent, compared with a revised 0.5 percent decline in December.
Manufacturing picks up
The nation’s manufacturing showed signs of recovery in January, with industrial production up 1 percent from the month before, but down 5.1 percent from a year earlier. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said yesterday that the figures, the second straight monthly increase, suggested the slump in output had “bottomed out.” However January’s figure was below economists’ forecasts for a 1.5 percent month-on-month increase. Industrial output rose a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent in December last year from November.
Mylan set to buy Agila
US generic drugs specialist Mylan Inc said yesterday it would buy a unit of Indian pharma firm Strides Arcolab for US$1.6 billion, boosting its presence in the high-growth injectable drugs market. Pennsylvania-based Mylan said the all-cash buyout of Agila Specialities, which makes injectables, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of the year subject to regulatory approvals. The sale of Bangalore-based Agila ends months of speculation.
Australian dollar overvalued
The Reserve Bank of Australia said the country’s currency is held by as many as 34 central banks from Reykjavik to Santiago, and models suggested the Australian dollar was as much as 15 percent overvalued, documents showed. The central banks of Slovakia and Slovenia were recent additions to a list of 16 economies that publicly hold the Australian currency, according to papers prepared in the second half of last year and released yesterday under a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News.
RBS’ losses almost tripled
British state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said yesterday that net losses almost tripled to ￡5.97 billion (US$9.05 billion) last year, when it was hit by compensation payouts and a London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) fine. The vast loss after taxation compared with a shortfall of ￡1.997 billion in 2011, the lender announced in a results statement, adding that last year had been a “chastening” year during which it sought to “put right past mistakes.”