Australia sheds more jobs
Australia’s unemployment rate jumped to a five-year high last month, official figures showed yesterday, with a warning of further job cuts to come. The jobless rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 5.7 percent last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed, and analysts said the economy was now in recession. The figure was well up on expectations of 5.4 percent unemployment, with the bureau saying the economy shed 34,700 jobs over the month on a seasonally adjusted basis.
No recovery this year: ECB
European economies can only expect to begin their recovery next year, the European Central Bank (ECB) predicted yesterday. “This year, global demand is likely to remain very low since global economies including the eurozone are “in a serious downturn,” the ECB wrote in its monthly newsletter, published yesterday. The ECB responded to the economic downturn last week with a 0.25-basis-point rate cut to 1.25 percent, the lowest interest rate since World War II.
HK to use yuan for trade
Hong Kong is ready to become the first region outside China’s mainland to use the yuan for trade, the territory’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) said yesterday, as Beijing expands the reach of its tightly controlled currency. “We, in Hong Kong, have completed the necessary technical preparations for becoming the first place outside the mainland to benefit from the scheme,” Tsang said in comments released by his press office. The mainland Cabinet announced approval on Wednesday for companies in Shanghai and four southern cities near Hong Kong to use yuan in foreign trade.
Sharp, Pioneer join forces
Japan’s Sharp Corp and Pioneer Corp said they would set up a joint venture to merge their optical disc businesses, aiming to beef up one of their focus operations and take a leading position in the growing Blu-ray disc market. The new joint venture, which aims to start operations in October, will develop, produce and sell optical disc drives, recorders and players. Demand for Blu-ray machines has been picking up since last year, when Toshiba Corp gave up on its HD-DVD format, allowing the entertainment industry to back a rival optical disc format developed by the Sony Corp-led Blu-ray camp.
Russia to limit investment
Russia plans to restrict foreign investment in “strategic” Internet portals and Web sites as a national security measure, the daily Vedomosti reported yesterday. The communications ministry is in the process of developing “security criteria” that will determine which firms will be prohibited from seeking foreign investment, the newspaper said, quoting a ministry spokeswoman. “The Internet has de facto become a strategic resource,” spokeswoman Elena Lashkina was quoted as saying.
Sumitomo expects loss
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, one of Japan’s top three banks, said yesterday it expected a net loss of ¥390 billion (US$3.9 billion) for the past year to last month. The bank blamed turmoil on global markets for the huge loss, which was much worse than the group’s earlier forecast for a profit of ¥180 billion. The group also announced a plan to issue new shares worth up to ¥800 billion to help it ride out the turbulent economic times.