Business sentiment in all industries last month weakened further as the number of COVID-19 infections escalated, threatening to push the global economy into a recession, the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台經院) said yesterday.
The business confidence gauge for local manufacturers fell 5.31 points to 88.73 from a month earlier, the lowest since January last year, a monthly survey by the Taipei-based institute indicated.
Only 19.3 percent of manufacturers remained upbeat about their business outlook in the coming six months, 6 percentage points lower from a month earlier, while companies with a gloomy outlook rose 9.8 percentage points to 36.9 percent, it said.
“The picture for this month should be bleaker, as the virus outbreak seems not to have peaked yet in light of an increasing number of infections in Europe and the US,” TIER president Chang Chien-yi (張建一) told a media briefing in Taipei.
Unlike the 2003 SARS outbreak, which mainly affected consumer confidence, the COVID-19 pandemic is not only disrupting global supply chains, but is also hurting demand, Chang said.
All manufacturing sectors were hit by the weakening sentiment except for companies that supply the materials used in masks and those that manufacture the machinery needed to produce masks, the survey said.
Food makers also received a boost, after seeing flat business last month, as people fearing a lockdown stormed grocery stores and hoarded canned food.
The number of infections in Taiwan has increased considerably since European countries, the US and others closed their borders, driving up the number of Taiwanese returning home.
The gauge for service-focused firms fell to 86.09 points — the lowest since September 2016 — with most banks, hotels, restaurants and other companies likely to face sluggish business ahead, the survey said.
The confidence measure for real-estate companies declined to 90.02 points, the lowest since June 2017, it said.
Developers and builders have postponed next week’s introduction of pre-sale projects for the spring sales season over concern that the coronavirus is keeping people at home, it said.
If the pandemic continues, the damage to economic activity would surpass belief, Chang said, adding that the local bourse might continue its plunge, despite rebounds this week.
From India to China to the US, automakers cannot make vehicles — not that no one wants any, but because a more than US$450 billion industry for semiconductors got blindsided. How did both sides end up here? Over the past two weeks, automakers across the world have bemoaned the shortage of chips. Germany’s Audi, owned by Volkswagen AG, would delay making some of its high-end vehicles because of what chief executive officer Markus Duesmann called a “massive” shortfall in an interview with the Financial Times. The firm has furloughed more than 10,000 workers and reined in production. That is a further blow
MOBILE SMART: The Dimensity 1200 is 22 percent better in terms of performance than its predecessor, and 25 percent more power-efficient, the handset chip designer said MediaTek Inc (聯發科) yesterday unveiled its premium 5G processors — the Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 — as it vies for a larger slice of the world’s rapidly growing 5G smartphone market. Manufactured using Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (台積電) 6-nanometer process technology, the Dimensity 1200 processor performs 22 percent better than the previous generation Dimensity 1000+ processor, and is 25 percent more power-efficient, MediaTek said. Chinese smartphone brands Xiaomi Corp (小米) and Realme Mobile Telecommunications (Shenzhen) Co (銳爾覓移動通信) are to be the first adopters of the latest Dimensity chips, the companies said during a virtual media briefing. Xiaomi plans to equip its first
Answering to a reported request by Germany to help address a chip shortage in its auto industry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that it was in talks with domestic chip suppliers. Foreign media over the weekend reported that German Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier had sent a request to Taipei to ask Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) to cooperate more closely with German automakers to provide microchips and sensors, to bridge a shortage that has emerged over the past few months. The MOEA said that it had not yet received the request and could therefore not elaborate
FOCUS ON FOUNDRIES: An analyst said that some investors would be disappointed because they were expecting a larger announcement of a partnership with TSMC Intel Corp’s incoming chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger on Thursday pledged to regain the company’s lead in chip manufacturing, countering growing calls from some investors to shed that part of its business. “I am confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally,” Gelsinger said. “At the same time, given the breadth of our portfolio, it’s likely that we will expand our use of external foundries for certain technologies and products.” He plans to provide more details after officially taking over the CEO role on Feb. 15, but Gelsinger was clear that Intel is sticking with its once mighty