German production falls
German industrial production fell more than expected in March, partly due to a weak performance by the automotive sector, spurring recession fears in Europe’s largest economy. Production decreased by 3.4 percent on the previous month following a slightly revised increase of 2.1 percent in February, the Federal Statistical Office said yesterday. “After a buoyant performance by industrial production at the beginning of the year, there was an unexpectedly sharp decline in March,” the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action said. The manufacture of motor vehicles and automotive parts fell by 6.5 percent on the previous month. Production in machinery and equipment fell by 3.4 percent, and output in the construction sector decreased by 4.6 percent from a month earlier. In the first quarter, production was 2.5 percent higher than in the final quarter of last year, the statistics office said.
Chinese ratio hits 279.7%
The Chinese economy’s debt ratio reached a record high in the first quarter of this year, with bank loans to companies surging as the nation emerged from its “zero COVID-19”policy. The macro leverage ratio — or total debt as a percentage of GDP — soared to 279.7 percent in the first quarter, Bank of China and National Bureau of Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg showed. That was an increase of 7.7 percentage points from the previous quarter, the biggest jump in three years. The debt ratio held by non-financial corporates rose 5.8 percentage points. Leverage ratios for the household and government sectors were each up by about 1 percentage point. The data does not include bank loans to local government financing vehicles.
Plant gets rules extension
Malaysia granted a six-month extension to Australian miner Lynas Rare Earths Ltd to get its rare earth plant in line with environmental requirements. The deadline for the plant to be radiation-free has been extended to January next year, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang (鄭立慷) said. The Lynas rare earths refinery in Malaysia is the largest outside China, but has been dogged by environmental concerns and community opposition. The government in February issued a new three-year license to Lynas’s plant in the state of Pahang, with one of the conditions requiring that “cracking and leaching” of lanthanide concentrate move to an area outside of Malaysia by July 1. The business unit generates radioactive waste, authorities said.
Venture announces funds
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc plans to start two debt funds alongside Liquidity Capital with as much as US$400 million to provide financing for middle and later-stage start-ups in Japan and Europe. The funds would be established under Mars Growth Capital Pte, a joint venture between Japan’s largest bank and the Israeli tech lender, the companies said in a statement. The Japan fund would have a maximum of ￥20 billion (US$14.8 million) and the European fund up to US$250 million, they said. The move is the latest by Japan’s biggest banks to ramp up start-up finance, where they increasingly see potential for new business. Mars Growth Capital, based in Singapore, launched in 2021 and has been providing debt finance to start-ups in Asia and elsewhere.
Intel Corp has landed Microsoft Corp as a customer for its made-to-order chip business, marking a key win for an ambitious turnaround effort under chief executive officer Pat Gelsinger. Microsoft plans to use Intel’s 18A manufacturing technology to make a forthcoming chip that the software maker designed in-house, the two companies said at an event on Wednesday. They did not identify the product, but Microsoft recently announced plans for two homegrown chips — a computer processor and an artificial intelligence (AI) accelerator. Intel has been seeking to prove it can compete in the foundry market, where companies produce custom chips for clients. It
AI EFFECT: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang moved up to 21st on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Thursday after his wealth skyrocketed by US$9.6 billion to US$69.2 billion The artificial intelligence (AI) mania sparked by Nvidia Corp’s sterling results has given a lift to Asia’s major chipmakers, but it has not closed the valuation gap with their US peers. A Bloomberg gauge tracking Asia’s top semiconductor firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Samsung Electronics Co, widened its under-performance against the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index this week. While the Asian index trades at 17 times forward earnings, the US measure is at 27 times, pushing the gap close to a record after Nvidia’s blowout revenue outlook reinforced investor conviction in the boom in generative AI use. Nvidia’s 8 percent
The arrival of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture marks the regaining of the area’s pivotal position established during the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, a local business leader said in an interview with CNA. The first fab of Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc (JASM), TSMC’s majority-owned manufacturing subsidiary in Kumamoto, is set to open today. After the 1868 Meiji Restoration, Kumamoto was of key importance as it was home to a major garrison national defense. However, that position was ceded to Fukuoka after World War II as Japan turned to foreign trade for post-war economic development,
OVERSEAS: The company is expanding with OSAT development in India, an EV factory in Thailand and possibly an 12-inch fab in Malaysia, Young Liu said Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the world’s largest contract electronics maker, is expected to forge deeper and more comprehensive collaborations with its main customer Apple Inc, the company’s chairman said on Tuesday. Speaking before a dinner banquet on Tuesday to mark the company’s 50th anniversary, Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉) said that the two companies would forge a deeper and more extensive partnership. “Everything that should be there will be there and nothing will be missed,” Liu said, when asked about the progress made in Hon Hai’s collaborations with Apple in the artificial intelligence and electric vehicle (EV) fields. Hon