Jobless rate tops forecast
The unemployment rate rose by more than expected to 4.5 percent in the three months to August, the highest in more than three years, even before the end of the government’s broad COVID-19 pandemic job protection plan. Economists polled by Reuters had expected the unemployment rate to rise more slowly, to 4.3 percent from 4.1 percent in the three months to July. The number of people in employment fell by 153,000, much higher than a median forecast for a fall of 30,000 in the poll, and the Office for National Statistics revised up sharply its estimate for employment losses in previous months. “Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in those out of work and job hunting, but more people telling us they are not actively looking for work,” Deputy National Statistician Jonathan Athow said.
Maersk lifts earnings outlook
The world’s biggest container shipping line, Maersk A/S, yesterday said that demand was recovering faster than expected and lifted its earnings outlook, while also announcing plans to cut 2,000 jobs as it streamlines to reduce costs. Maersk, which handles about one in five containers shipped worldwide, said that although cargo volumes were still down from last year, they had picked up more than forecast after falling sharply at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic a few months ago. “A.P. Moller — Maersk is on track to deliver a strong Q3 with solid earnings growth across all our businesses, in particular in Ocean and Logistics & Services,” chief executive Soren Skou said in a statement. “Volumes have rebounded faster than expected, our costs have remained well under control, freight rates have increased due to strong demand,” Skou said.
Economy to shrink 8.5%
The country expects its economy to shrink a record 8.5 percent this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, worse than its previous estimate of 6.9 percent, according to the government’s latest spending plans. “Gross domestic product will see its biggest fall since the war,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement late on Monday. However, the economy should bounce back strongly next year with growth of 5.4 percent, up from the previous estimate of 4.3 percent. The country also expects to do better on the public finances, with a budget deficit — the shortfall between spending and revenue — equal to 4.3 percent of GDP next year, compared with 7.3 percent this year. Unemployment should fall from 8.7 percent this year to 8.2 percent next year, according to the government’s plans.
PC shipments surge
Personal computer shipments rose in the third quarter of this year, with the US market having its best performance in a decade, on demand from consumers working and studying remotely. PC makers shipped 3.6 percent more devices in the three-month period compared with a year earlier, for a total of 71.4 million units, preliminary data released on Monday by researcher Gartner Inc showed. Shipments of Chromebooks, cheaper Web-based laptops that run Google’s Chrome operating system, soared about 90 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier. That lifted overall market growth to 9 percent, Gartner said. The firm usually excludes these machines from its reports, but Chromebooks now represent about 11 percent of the overall market.
MOMENTUM: While next-generation smartphones feature more semiconductors and vendors increase their inventory, the chipmaker remains focused on production in Taiwan Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the sole chip supplier for Apple Inc’s iPhone series, yesterday raised its revenue forecast again, saying that robust demand for 5G smartphones and high-performance-computing (HPC) would help boost revenue this year by 30 percent in US dollar terms. Three months ago, the chipmaker estimated that revenue would grow 20 percent this year from last year, reaching its long-term growth target of 15 to 20 percent annually. “Moving into the fourth quarter, we expect our growth in revenue to be supported by strong demand for our industry-leading 5-nanometer technology driven by 5G smartphone launches and HPC-related applications,”
WIN-WIN SITUATION: Customers, products and client portfolios of the companies are complementary, allowing for inroads into new fields, Chipbond’s chairman said Chipbond Technology Corp (頎邦) yesterday said it plans to acquire about a 31 percent stake in Orient Semiconductor Electronics Ltd (華泰電子) in a cash-and-share deal, aiming to make inroads into flash memory-chip packaging. Chipbond said the strategic alliance would open the door for the company to enter the flash memorychip packaging and testing market, which is a new business for the Hsinchu-based company. Chipbond primarily provides testing and packaging services for driver integrated circuits that are used in flat panels. BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY “Except for flash memory chips, we also saw a lot of new businesses that require the technologies of Chipbond or Oriental
India’s COVID-19 economic gloom turned into despair this week, on news that its per capita GDP for this year might be lower than that of Bangladesh. “Any emerging economy doing well is good news,” Kaushik Basu, a former World Bank chief economist, said on Twitter after the IMF updated its World Economic Outlook. “But it’s shocking that India, which had a lead of 25% five years ago, is now trailing.” Ever since it began opening up the economy in the 1990s, India’s dream has been to emulate China’s rapid expansion. After three decades of persevering with that campaign, slipping behind Bangladesh hurts
BROADER STANCE: While growth in its core consumer electronics assembly business is decreasing, the manufacturing giant aims at a 10 percent gross margin Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) said it aims to secure a 10 percent share of the world’s electric vehicle market by 2025, with about 3 million vehicles potentially using its platform. The electronics giant yesterday unveiled the plan to expand its nascent automobile business, saying that it seeks to offset slowing growth in its core consumer electronics assembly business. The company also outlined plans to release a solid-state battery by 2024 that could potentially displace the more commonly used lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles. Hon Hai plans to achieve its ambitious target by making its software and hardware platforms “open,” Hon Hai