German exports rise
Germany’s exports rose in August over the previous month and its trade surplus widened, but it was lower than a year ago amid weak global demand. The Federal Statistical Office reported yesterday that August exports, adjusted for seasonal and calendar differences, totaled 91.5 billion euros (US$124.1 billion), up 1 percent from 90.7 billion euros in July. Imports rose a more gradual 0.4 percent to 75.9 billion euros for a trade surplus of 15.6 billion euros.
Indonesia forecasts deficit
Indonesia’s current account deficit is likely to be 3.4 percent of GDP this year, central bank Governor Agus Martowardojo said yesterday. The deficit hit 4.4 percent of GDP in the second quarter, helping drive down sentiment about the rupiah, currently Asia’s worst-performing currency. However, Martowardojo said the current level of the rupiah reflected economic fundamentals. GDP growth is widely expected to be below 6 percent this year.
Global demand to grow
Global steel use is expected to grow 3.1 percent this year, up from 2 percent last year and to expand 3.3 percent next year, industry experts said on Monday. A report released by the World Steel Association, which groups 170 steel producers, said global use should rise to 1.475 billion tonnes, up 3.1 percent following growth of 2 percent last year. It forecast a 3.3. percent expansion to 1.52 billion tonnes next year.
Vodafone to up India stake
Britain’s Vodafone plans to invest as much as US$2 billion to buy out minority shareholders in Vodafone India, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Vodafone will file an application this month with India’s foreign investment promotion board to seek clearance for the investment, the Times reported, citing two people familiar with the situation. Vodafone could not immediately be reached for comment. The Times said the size of the investment suggested that the world’s second-largest telecom operator will not up its stake to 100 percent.
Lockheed furloughs workers
Lockheed Martin said on Monday that it is furloughing about 2,400 workers due to the US government shutdown — 20 percent less than the defense contractor had initially planned. The US company said it adjusted its initial figure because the US Department of Defense recalled most of its civilian employees to work. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced on Saturday that most of the nearly 400,000 civilian defense department workers are considered essential for national security.
Bank ties with gangsters
Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group has declined an award it was set to receive for transparency after getting told off by regulators for lending money to gangsters. Mizuho Bank, Japan’s third-biggest, has been under fire since it came to light that it had processed hundreds of transactions worth about ￥200 million (US$2 million) for “anti-social forces,” a common term for Japan’s yakuza mobsters. A group of securities analysts had selected Mizuho Financial Group as the best banking firm for information transparency, saying “the company was praised for its attitude for proactively disclosing information that may not necessarily benefit the firm or even about the company’s weak points.”