Chronic deflation persists
Authorities report that the nation’s chronic deflation persisted in January, with consumer prices falling 0.2 percent from a year earlier, though the employment situation showed a modest improvement. Among other mixed signals, the government reported that non-financial corporate investment dropped 8.7 percent in the final quarter of last year from a year earlier, the first such decline in five quarters, as weak exports cast a pall on business sentiment. The government also said unemployment declined to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December last year.
Trade balance shows surplus
Exports and imports fell last month from a year earlier, but the trade balance showed a surplus for the 13th straight month, government data showed yesterday. Exports totalled US$42.33 billion, down 8.6 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. Imports slipped 10.7 percent on-year to US$40.27 billion, leaving a US$2.06 billion surplus.
Inflation hits 20-month high
Inflation last month hit a 20-month high after government measures to limit commodity imports pushed up consumer prices, an official said yesterday. Inflation rose 5.31 percent year-on-year, edging closer to the target range cap of 5.5 percent, while month-on-month inflation was 0.75 percent, slower than the four-year high recorded in January of 1.03 percent. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food prices, slowed to 4.29 percent from 4.32 percent in January.
Retail sales increase
Retail sales showed an unexpectedly strong increase in January, wiping out the decline seen the previous month, official data showed yesterday. Retail sales rose by 3.1 percent in January compared with December in price, seasonally and calendar-adjusted terms, according to provisional figures by the federal statistics office Destatis. On a 12-month basis, retail sales were up by 2.4 percent in January.
Firm to adhere to testing ban
Japan’s Shiseido yesterday said it was mostly dropping animal-tested cosmetics, as the EU gets set to finalize a sweeping ban on the sale of such products later this month. However, the company said exceptions to the policy meant it would still allow animal testing when that was the only way of proving the safety of products already being sold in the market, and in some countries where animal testing is legally required.
WPP posts annual growth
WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, recovered from third quarter weakness to post annual growth of 2.9 percent in organic revenue, ahead of expectations. WPP, whose portfolio includes Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, works for clients including Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Shell, said headline operating margins rose 0.5 points to 14.8 percent, in line with expectations.
Facebook agrees to buy Atlas
Facebook agreed on Thursday to buy Atlas Advertiser Suite from Microsoft as part of an effort to boost ad revenues at the massive social network. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Atlas was part of the aQuantive group acquired by Microsoft, which ended up in a writedown and loss for Microsoft last year.