Dollar's decline is fine
The dollar fell to its weakest against the euro in more than four years after Treasury Secretary John Snow suggested the US isn't concerned with the dollar's 21 percent slide in the past 12 months. Snow yesterday told ABC television's This Week program the decline in the dollar "helps exports, and I think exports are getting stronger as a result." The US currency slid to US$1.1559 per euro at 2:20pm in Tokyo from US$1.1487 late in New York May 9. It traded as low as US$1.578, its weakest since January 1999. The dollar also fell to ?116.86 from ?117.40. "The fact that Snow seemed to endorse the dollar's level, saying it was good for exports, is something we haven't heard before," said Paul McNee, chief currency trader at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.
US stores have tiny gains
Target Corp, Kohl's Corp and other US retailers are expected to report the smallest quarterly profit gain in 18 months after blizzards, the war in Iraq and rising unemployment suppressed sales. First-quarter profit probably increased 3.2 percent, according to a Thomson Financial survey of analysts' estimates for 137 retailers. That's down from 26 percent a year earlier and is the lowest since the third quarter of 2001, when retailers were coping with the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Ken Perkins, a Thomson Financial analyst. Many US retailers operate on a February to April quarter and will release results this week. Several stores have already said profits fell after snowstorms shut stores in February and shoppers stayed home to watch televised coverage of the war.
■ Trade barriers
China takes on dumpers
China said it will require importers of polyvinyl-chloride, or PVC, to pay extra charges for all shipments of the material from the US, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan to protect domestic producers from cheaper imports. Domestic producers charged that companies such as LG Chem Ltd, South Korea's largest chemical maker, and Formosa Plastics Corp, Taiwan's biggest PVC maker, are selling products in China below production cost, a practice known as dumping, causing losses to local producers. Importers are now required to pay cash deposits to the Ministry of Commerce for each PVC shipment from the areas named. The deposit will be returned if the importer proves the product doesn't violate anti-dumping laws. PVC is a resin used in a wide variety of manufactured products, including pipes, cables, rainwear, window frames and floor tiles.
■ Fiscal policy
Workers lose pay for Bush
President Bush planned to speak yesterday at a plastics factory in Omaha, Nebraska, to sell his message that his tax-cut plan will put money in workers' pockets. But some workers at the Airlite Plastics factory are comp-laining that Bush's speech will have the opposite effect. They are unhappy because Airlite's chief executive, Brad Crosby, has announced that about 340 hourly workers will lose all or part of a day's pay unless they work to make up the time lost when the plant closes for the speech. Crosby told the workers that they would have four options when the plant is closed for one and a half shifts: make up the work on Saturday, use a vacation day, work a regular shift at a nearby Airlite plant that will stay open during Bush's visit or take an unpaid day off.