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Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■FUTURES

CFTC set to impose limits

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was yesterday due to consider setting trade limits on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) to keep fund managers and other “speculative” investors from wielding too much influence in the market. The limits proposed by the CFTC would cap how many contracts traders could buy. Violators likely would be told to get rid of especially large positions. Speculators have flooded the NYMEX in recent years. They got most of the blame when crude soared above US$147 a barrel in 2008.

■GOLD

GFMS predicts record prices

Gold prices will likely hit new historic peaks this year, thanks to a wave of investment money that will pour into the market, consultancy GFMS predicted on Wednesday. “A growing weight of investment money is poised to enter the gold market in the first half of 2010 and is likely to push gold prices to fresh records,” the London-based group said in an update to its annual survey. Gold, whose two main drivers are jewelry and investment buyers, hit a record pinnacle of US$1,226.56 an ounce on Dec. 3.

■UNITED STATES

Economy sees improvement

The US economy is seeing a broader improvement in activity even if conditions are still sluggish, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report on Wednesday. The report, to be used by policymakers at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting from Jan. 26 to Jan. 27, said data from the 12 Federal Reserve districts showed modest improvement in key areas such as consumer spending, manufacturing and housing. Ten districts reported some increased activity or improvement in conditions, while the remaining two — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Richmond, Virgina — reported “mixed conditions.”

■SOUTH KOREA

Trade surplus hits high

South Korea’s trade surplus hit a record high of US$40.4 billion last year as exports recovered faster than expected from the global recession while imports shrank, the customs service said yesterday. Exports totalled US$363.5 billion last year, down 13.9 percent from a year earlier, while imports dropped 25.8 percent to US$323.1 billion, the service said. Exports led by ships and flat panels for TVs recovered fast in the latter part of last year, the customs service said.

■AUSTRALIA

Unemployment falls

Australia yesterday said unemployment dropped to an eight-month low of 5.5 percent, stunning analysts and boosting confidence that the economy’s recovery is on track. Last month’s seasonally adjusted figure was down 0.1 points from the revised 5.6 percent in November, smashing economists’ forecasts of a rise to 5.8 percent. The better-than-expected result was driven by a 27,900 rise in part-time jobs, while another 7,300 people found full-time work, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

■japan

Core machinery orders fall

Japan’s core machinery orders, a leading indicator of corporate capital spending, fell 11.3 percent in November from the previous month, official data showed yesterday. The figure was worse than the monthly drop of 4.5 percent in October and was below market expectations of a small rise. The core orders are seen as a key barometer of business investment.

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