Key exports tumble
Singapore’s key exports fell more than expected in December from a year ago, as recession-hit US and European consumers bought fewer goods from the city-state, the government said yesterday. Non-oil domestic exports tumbled 20.8 percent, faster than the 17.5 percent decline in November and worse than the average 20 percent slide tipped by analysts in a Dow Jones Newswires poll. It was the eighth straight month of contraction for the NODX, a closely watched barometer of the health of Singapore’s open, trade-driven economy. Total trade dropped 18.7 percent to US$58.93 billion.
Sony Ericsson suffers loss
Mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson said yesterday it swung to a net loss in the fourth quarter, pressured by lower volumes due to the global financial crisis. The Sony Corp. and LM Ericsson AB joint venture said net loss came to 187 million euros (US$245 million), compared with a previous profit of 373 million euros. It also reported a loss for the full year 2008, at 73 million euros, from a previous profit of 1.1 billion euro. The company said it expected the market conditions to continue to deteriorate this year.
Wii sets new game record
Nintendo sold 10.17 million Wii consoles in the US last year, setting a new video game record despite dismal economic conditions gripping the country, according to NPD Group statistics. Nintendo’s DS handheld game devices sold nearly as well, with US consumers snatching up 9.95 million of them last year, the NPD figures released on Thursday indicate. The four top-selling video games last year are Wii titles, and Nintendo’s retail success is credited with helping video game industry revenues last year rise 19 percent from the previous year.
Hitachi set to report loss
Japan’s Hitachi Ltd expects to report a net loss of more than US$1 billion for the current business year to March because of falling demand for microchips, the Nikkei daily reported yesterday. If confirmed, it would become the latest Japanese company to find itself in the red due to the global economic crisis, which has badly hit foreign demand for key Japanese exports such as electronics and cars. Hitachi expects to incur a group net loss of more than ¥100 billion (US$1.1 billion), a reversal of the ¥15 billion profit projected earlier, the economic daily added without identifying its sources. The electronics and engineering group would thus remain in the red for the third straight year, it said.
Thailand may waive fees
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government may waive visa fees for all tourists for three months in a bid to boost visitor numbers following last year’s siege of Bangkok’s airports. Abhisit — who has come under fire for including in his government members of the protest group that seized the airports in November — said late on Thursday there could also be discounts on aircraft landing fees. “The plan to revive the tourism sector will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting next Tuesday and will include a three months waiver for visa fees and discounting landing fees,” he told a seminar. “I hope these measures will help the tourism sector one way or another.”