GDP turns corner, up 7.8%
The economy finally turned the corner after posting its fastest growth since 2010 yesterday, as the territory makes a stronger recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest before that. After declining for a record six quarters, GDP surged 7.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data showed, beating all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists. While that is partly distorted by the low base a year ago when the economy was in lockdown, the quarter-on-quarter expansion, a better reflection of growth momentum, also outperformed, reaching 5.3 percent, well above an estimate of 0.7 percent. Financial Secretary Paul Chan (陳茂波) said that the economy would expand 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent this year.
Siemens raises outlook
Siemens Healthineers AG yesterday raised its full-year guidance amid strong sales of COVID-19 testing equipment and rebounding demand for hospital treatment. The company said it expects 2021 revenue growth of 14 percent to 17 percent, up from a previous projection for an 8 percent to 12 percent increase. The company also lifted its adjusted earnings per share outlook to 1.90 euros to 2.05 euros, compared with 1.63 euros to 1.82 euros. The company’s stock has gained 13 percent since the start of the year.
Short selling returns
Short selling resumed yesterday on 351 stocks on the KOSPI 200 and KOSDAQ 150. That came after a 13-month ban that was imposed during the market crash in March last year. Investors rushed to sell shares of some Korean biopharmaceutical companies which surged 67 percent last year. The healthcare sector slumped 4.9 percent, the biggest loser among KOSPI 200’s sub-gauges. Foreign investors shorted 738 billion won (US$658 million) worth of KOSPI stocks during regular trading hours yesterday, while local institutional investors shorted 63 billion won of shares, according to Korea Exchange.
Forty stocks still suspended
More than 40 stocks worth a combined HK$140.9 billion (US$18.14 billion) remain suspended from trading after failing to release their earnings for last year, the highest number of such halts in at least five years. The group is part of 51 companies that missed an initial reporting deadline for preliminary results by the end of March and were forced to suspend trading on April 1. Ten companies have since reported earnings and have resumed trading, including Hainan Meilan International Airport Co (海南美蘭國際機場), an airport operator in China’s southern province of Hainan.
IPOs surge despite virus
A sharp surge in COVID-19 cases would not prevent the country’s markets from setting a record for initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, as a cohort of technology companies make their much-anticipated debuts later in the year, according to UBS Group AG. Last year companies amassed US$4.6 billion from IPOs, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and Anuj Kapoor, head of investment banking at UBS India, said that the figure would be easily eclipsed. “I would say we will surpass twice the money we raised in 2020 through IPOs,” Kapoor said. So far this year, IPOs have raised nearly US$3 billion, the best start to the year since 2018, the data show.
The rise of the cryptocurrency dogecoin has reached a new level after the token was used to pay for a lunar satellite launch. SpaceX, Elon Musk’s commercial rocket firm, is to embark on a moon voyage next year carrying a so-called cubesat — a mini-satellite used for space research — from Geometric Energy Corp that has been paid for entirely in dogecoin. The development is the latest twist in the saga over the digital token, which started as a joke in 2013, but is now a dominating Internet meme and sitting on a 21,000 percent rally in the past year. Musk has
CAPACITY EXPANSION: Construction of the site, which is to be the firm’s first mRNA production facility outside of Europe, is to begin this year and likely finish in 2023 COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech SE yesterday said it would build a Southeast Asia headquarters and manufacturing site in Singapore to produce hundreds of millions of messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines per year. Construction of the site would start this year, and it could become operational by 2023, the German company said in a statement. “With this planned mRNA production facility, we will increase our overall network capacity, and expand our ability to manufacture and deliver our mRNA vaccines and therapies to people around the world,” BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin said. The vaccine produced by BioNTech jointly with Pfizer Inc of
OUTBREAK: About 200 of the airline’s 1,200 pilots are not able to work. Most of them have been quarantined to prevent further infection, but 12 have COVID-19 China Airlines Ltd (CAL,中華航空) yesterday confirmed that it would temporarily reduce its cargo flight services to cope with a pilot shortage, as one-sixth of its pilots have been sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak. “We are working out a new schedule,” the airline said in a statement after local news media reports on Saturday said that it would be reducing its cargo services from Wednesday, primarily affecting US destinations. CAL declined to give details about its new operating plan, but the reports said that it would be suspending its cargo flights to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and
The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗台灣) NT$10 million (US$357,194) and DBS Bank Taiwan (星展台灣) NT$6 million for breaches of the nation’s anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. The NT$10 million fine is the highest penalty that it has imposed on a domestic bank, the commission said. Citibank Taiwan failed to set up a sound mechanism for evaluating clients’ risk of money laundering and for detecting suspicious transactions, Banking Bureau Deputy Director-General Huang Kuang-hsi (黃光熙) told a news conference in New Taipei City. The bank based its AML policies on those of its US-based parent company, Citigroup Inc, but the policies