US companies expect to increase spending as the economy expands 3 percent to 4 percent in the first six months of the year, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). \nMore than half of respondents, 51 percent, forecast growth within that range and 29 percent said it may rise 2 percent to 3 percent. Sixty percent of those surveyed expect to spend more this year, compared with 55 percent who projected an increase in October, the last time the survey was taken. \nAt 60 percent, most executives surveyed have the same outlook for growth they did three months ago. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect gross domestic product to rise 3.6 percent this year after increasing 4.4 percent last year. The projected pace is faster than the average 3.1 percent from 1973 to 2003. \n"Our panelists see continued solid growth over the first half of the year," said Kevin Kliesen, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and one of the conductors of the survey. \n"The fourth quarter was one of faster growth for wages and salaries, employment, profits and capital spending, while inflation and growth of material input costs edged lower," Kliesen said. \nTwenty-one percent of respondents said they are "somewhat more optimistic" about growth for the first six months of this year, up from 16 percent. In October, 71 percent said the economy would grow between 2 percent and 4 percent in the last half of 2004. \nA regional survey by the Federal Reserve released last week showed the US economy expanded from late November through early January, with most of the 12 Fed districts reporting "modest" inflation pressures and increased consumer spending. The Federal Open Market Committee will use the survey, known as the "beige book," to help decide rate policy at its next meeting on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. \nAt the meeting, Fed policy makers are expected to raise the benchmark overnight bank lending rate by 25 basis points to 2.5 percent, the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. \nCompanies surveyed by the NABE said costs for the materials they use increased at a slower pace in the fourth quarter than the third. Sixty-three percent said costs were rising, down from 70 percent in the third quarter. In the same period last year, 39 percent had reported rising costs. \nForty-six percent of survey respondents expect input prices to hold steady in the next three months and the same amount expect them rising less than 5 percent. That compares with 34 percent and 54 percent, respectively, who said the same in October. \nUS wholesale prices fell 0.7 percent in December, the biggest decline since April 2003, as energy costs declined, the Labor Department said on Jan. 14. \nCrude oil prices are down 12 percent since closing at a record US$55.17 a barrel on Oct. 26. Crude rose US$1.22, or 2.6 percent, to US$48.53 Jan. 21 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Two US senators were critical of the WHO after a senior WHO official appeared to hang up on a Hong Kong reporter who asked about Taiwan’s membership status in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. During a video interview with Radio Television Hong Kong’s Yvonne Tong (唐若韞) on Saturday, WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward first claimed not to have heard her question on whether the WHO would consider giving Taiwan membership. When Tong repeated the question, he asked her to “move on to another one.” The video then showed the line disconnecting after Tong said she would like to hear more about Taiwan.