Household spending falls
Households pared back their spending in January during the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and renewed restrictions on activity, adding to the risk that the economy will shrink this quarter. Outlays fell 1.2 percent from December last year for the sixth drop in the past nine months as people cut spending on entertainment, clothing and extra schooling, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported yesterday. Compared with the low levels of a full state of emergency a year ago, spending rose 6.9 percent. Economists had forecast a 3.4 percent gain. The fall in spending from the prior month could contribute to the nation’s recovery slipping back into reverse this quarter. Household spending accounts for more than half of GDP.
Economy beats expectations
The economy surged at the strongest pace in seven months in January, surpassing levels prevailing before the COVID-19 pandemic. GDP rose 0.8 percent, recovering from an 0.2 percent in December last year, Office for National Statistics figures showed yesterday. The gain was much stronger than the 0.1 percent pace expected by economists. The increase left output about 0.8 percent higher than in February 2020, with all parts of the economy expanding. The figures might embolden the Bank of England to raise interest rates for a third time next week to control inflation, which has leaped to its strongest pace in three decades.
Uranium spot prices soar
Uranium spot prices soared to the highest level since the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster on concern that potential sanctions aimed at Russia are poised to roil an already tight market. The price for benchmark Ux U3O8 uranium jumped to US$59.75 per pound on Thursday, data compiled by UxC LLC showed. That is the highest since March 2011, when meltdowns at the Fukushima facility shut Japan’s fleet of nuclear plants, sent a shockwave across the atomic industry and dashed demand for uranium — the fuel used in reactors. The White House is considering sanctions on Russia’s state-owned atomic energy company, Rosatom Corp, intensifying concerns over disruptions to uranium exports from Russia. Rosatom is a delicate target, because the company and its subsidiaries account for more than 35 percent of global uranium enrichment. Russia accounted for 16.5 percent of the uranium imported into the US in 2020.
Didi HK listing denied
Didi Global Inc (滴滴) has suspended preparations for its planned Hong Kong listing after failing to appease Chinese regulators’ demands that it overhaul its systems for handling sensitive user data, people familiar with the matter said. The Cyberspace Administration of China informed Didi executives that their proposals to prevent security and data leaks had fallen short, the people said. Its main apps, removed from local app stores last year, will remain suspended for the time being, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The company and its bankers have halted work on the Hong Kong listing by way of introduction originally slated for around the summer of this year, the people said. In addition to dealing with the cyberspace agency’s review, Didi is also working to finalize its fourth-quarter results as required for a listing prospectus, they said. Didi’s American depositary shares plunged as much as 20 percent in US pre-market trading yesterday.
UNCONVINCING: The US Congress questioned whether the company’s Chinese owners pose a national security risk and how the app might influence young users TikTok chief executive officer Shou Chew (周受資), confronted with an unforgiving, distrustful US Congress, tried to give answers in his testimony on Thursday that avoided offending either the US government or China. However, his evasiveness left Congress unsatisfied, with representatives hungrier than ever to punish TikTok for ties to its parent company ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動), based in Beijing. He did not bring his company any closer to a resolution. Politically, TikTok is in a tougher spot. Its executives had been discussing divesting from ByteDance to resolve US national security concerns, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. However, China this week said
Sanofi SA’s drug Dupixent succeeded in a late-stage trial for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), raising the odds that the blockbuster would be the first biologic medicine cleared to treat the lung disorder. Dupixent, which is already prescribed for asthma and some skin conditions, showed a 30 percent reduction in the rate at which patients’ COPD worsened compared with those who received a placebo during the stage-three Boreas trial, the company said in a statement yesterday. The positive data could herald a new era of cutting-edge treatments for the life-threatening respiratory affliction and provide another major boost in demand for the French
SEMICONDUCTOR EQUIPMENT: The international trade group said the sector would recover from a slump, with spending expected to rise 4.2 percent to US$24.9 billion Taiwan is to retain its position as the top spender on semiconductor front-end equipment and facilities next year, with spending expected to increase 4.2 percent year-on-year to US$24.9 billion, international trade group SEMI said yesterday. The spending forecast matches an expected recovery in global semiconductor equipment and facilities investment next year, it said. International equipment spending is to return to growth next year, SEMI said in a report, forecasting 21 percent growth to US$92 billion. The expansion would manly be driven by robust demand for semiconductors in the automotive and high-performance computing segments, the association said. “This quarter’s SEMI World Fab Forecast update
Taiwan’s semiconductor industry faces multiple challenges, from the need to conduct further research into forward-looking technologies to a shortage of talent, an industry executive said on Wednesday. Advancing forward-looking semiconductor research and nurturing talent require long-term joint efforts by the industry, government and academia, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) corporate research director Marvin Chang (張孟凡) said. Chang outlined the challenges in a speech at a semiconductor forum organized by the National Science and Technology Council (NTSC) in Hsinchu. Noting that manufacturers have been deploying fin field-effect transistor (FinFET) technology for more than a decade to develop advanced microprocessors, Chang said nanosheet is