NZ inflation at 14-year low
Inflation in New Zealand slipped to a 14-year low in the past quarter, rising only 0.2 percent from the first quarter, official data showed yesterday, with cheaper telecoms bills helping contain the cost of living. On an annual basis, consumer prices rose 0.7 percent in the second quarter, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said. That was the slowest growth since 1999 and undershot the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s 1 percent to 3 percent target for a fourth straight quarter. SNZ said increased housing costs were a key contributor to the annual inflation rise, which was partially offset by falls in the prices of telecom services and audio-visual goods.
US retail sales still weak
The US economy appears to be weaker than many economists had thought after a report on Monday showed consumers spent cautiously last month at retail businesses. Americans bought more cars and trucks, furniture and clothes, but they cut back almost everywhere else. They spent less at restaurants and bars, reduced purchases at home improvement stores and bought fewer computers and electronics. Overall retail spending rose 0.4 percent last month from May, the US Department of Commerce said. However, excluding volatile spending on autos, gasoline and building supplies, core retail sales rose just 0.15 percent — the weakest since January. Economists said the deceleration in retail sales could slow economic growth in the April-to-June quarter to an annual rate below 1 percent, weaker than many had thought, and down from a tepid 1.8 percent rate in the January-to-March quarter.
Pena Nieto unveils plans
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Monday unveiled plans for US$309 billion in private and public investments to improve the nation’s infrastructure during his six-year term, including the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors. Pena Nieto, who took office in December, said the flow of investments from this year to 2018 would depend on the approval of a fiscal reform that would be sent to the Congress in September. He said the funds would go toward building new ports, improving airports and providing universal access to telecommunications.
Tokyo, Osaka bourses merge
The Tokyo Stock Exchange yesterday officially absorbed the smaller Osaka bourse, creating the world’s third-largest stock market, on a par with London. The move inflates the combined market to about 3,400, up from Tokyo’s previous 2,300 stocks, and values the market at about US$4.4 trillion, according to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The total also includes hundreds of firms listed on the JASDAQ start-up market. Derivatives markets and their trading systems will be consolidated in Osaka by March next year, fully completing the merger.
Citi beats profit forecasts
US banking giant Citigroup on Monday reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings as strong securities and investment banking revenues helped offset weaker mortgage business and continued US consumer caution. Net income came in at US$4.2 billion on revenues of US$20.5 billion in the second quarter, an increase of 42 percent from US$2.9 billion on revenues of US$18.4 billion a year earlier. Citi reported earnings of US$1.25 per share, topping analysts’ expectations of US$1.18.