HONG KONG - Asia-Pacific's gaming industry is betting on good times ahead. Standard & Poor's expects the industry's revenue and earnings growth to remain relatively robust in the rest of 2013. It says casino operators have generated stronger cash flows from their existing assets so far this year, which is helping to underpin the sector's credit quality. “They are also seeking new opportunities to expand their gaming operations,” S&P says in a new report, adding that such expansion carries risks.
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SINGAPORE - The Japanese yen decline of the past few months should be positive for the rest of Asia, at least at the macro level, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor's, which says that, because most of the economies in the region are net importers from Japan, a weaker yen means cheaper imports. Net exporters to Japan, however, will lose out. "Although the recent steep decline in the yen has negative connotations for neighbouring economies' export competitiveness, we view the recent weakness of the yen as retracing the sharp gains seen during the depths of the 2008 global financial crisis," says Paul Gruenwald, S&P Asia-Pacific Chief Economist. "During the financial crisis, the yen appreciated sharply due to its status as a safe haven currency."
TAIPEI – Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade has urged caution in response to an upturn in Taiwan's exports in May, which rose an anaemic 0.9% annually, despite the Board expecting continued growth in exports during the (northern) summer. The uptick in May exports was driven by 13.9% growth in shipments of cell phones and mobile devices, which had shrunk by between 11.9% and 20.5% in the three previous months, according to Ministry data. Total exports in May were 5.2% higher than in April, but officials called for caution amid uncertainties in the global economic recovery.
BEIJING – With China’s activity data in May indicating that growth has slowed further, ANZ Bank has revised its forecast for China’s GDP growth downwards - to 7.6% this year and 7.8% next year, from previous forecasts of 7.8% and 8.0%, respectively. “For this year specifically we think GDP will rebound somewhat to 7.9% in Q2 due to base effects, but moderate to 7.6% and 7.2% in Q3 and Q4 respectively,” ANZ says. “Meanwhile, tepid inflation in May also reflects a weak domestic demand. China’s CPI inflation was only 2.1% y/y in May, much lower than expected. For the whole year, we forecast CPI inflation could be at around 2.5%, which is 1ppt lower than this year’s 3.5% target.”
BEIJING - China’s export growth crashed to just one per cent in May, after an apparent surge in recent months which was boosted by over-invoicing and round-tripping to use trade to bring in hot money. ANZ Bank says the trade slowdown largely reflects Chinese Government efforts to crack down on trade activities that seek financial gains on large offshore and onshore interest rate differentials and RMB’s appreciation. The one per cent export increase in May compared with 14.7% in April and market expectations of a 7.4% increase.
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s export growth for April has surprised on the down side, with import growth stronger than expected, bringing the trade surplus to the lowest level since November 1997. Export growth fell 3.3% y/y from -2.9% y/y the previous month, the third consecutive month of contraction On a product basis, weakness was fairly broad-based, with manufactured goods down 1.5% y/y driven by reduced shipments of electrical and electronic products. Commodity shipments of crude and petroleum products, LNG, and palm oil were also notably weaker on a volume basis compounded by their decline in value.
SYDNEY - A weaker recovery in Asia, a persistently high Australian dollar, and a slower-than-expected rebalancing from mining to non-mining led growth are weighing on Australia's growth prospects, according to HSBC, which has revised downwards its growth forecasts for 2013 from 2.9% to 2.5% and for 2014 from 3.1% to 2.8%. “The recent AUD depreciation should help support growth, but another RBA cut may also be needed,” says Paul Bloxham, HSBC Chief Economist for Australia and New Zealand. www.hsbc.com.au (ATI).
TAIPEI – Taiwan’s President, Ma Ying-jeou, has called for three-way talks with China and Japan on fishing and development of natural resources in the East China Sea, and the shelving of their sovereignty disputes over the Diaoyutai Islands. In an interview with Japan's Kyodo News, Ma said he hopes the East China Sea can become "a sea of peace and co-operation." Disputes in the area cannot be resolved unless Taiwan, China and Japan are all part of the process, said Ma.
TAIPEI - Taiwan hopes to sign an investment agreement with Japan to enhance bilateral trade ties. In an interview with Kyodo News, Taiwan’s President, Ma Ying-jeou, pitched a trade deal with Japan, saying that investment from both sides would increase. Some Japanese companies also have intentions to move their overseas businesses to Taiwan, Ma said.
BEIJING – Australia’s Compumedics Limited (ASX: CMP) has completed a $500,000 funding round into the Company with Beijing Bestmed, its long-term distributor in China. Beijing Bestmed becomes one of Compumedics’ top 10 shareholders with a 2.9% holding. The investment is split between equity and short-term debt. David Burton, Chairman and CEO of Compumedics, says Compumedics and Bestmed have built a significant footprint in China that will further develop as the sleep diagnostics and neurology markets there continues to develop.
SYDNEY – Australia’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), has signed an agreement with Tsinghua University's People's Bank Graduate School providing for the exchange of postgraduate management students - the first agreement of its type signed between an Australian university and the prestigious Chinese graduate school. Prof. Alex Frino, the new Dean of MGSM, said the agreement would allow Australian and Chinese students unprecedented access to tomorrow's business and government leaders.
TAIPEI - The Government of Taiwan has called a national referendum on the fate of Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant to help the public “think about the future. ”Describing energy as a matter of national security, President Ma Ying-jeou said a referendum would help people realise the situation Taiwan would face if they voted to terminate the fourth nuclear power plant, which has been under construction since 1999. Some 98% of the energy Taiwan uses is imported.
CANBERRA — Australia’s Federal Government has been urged to make negotiation and completion of comprehensive free trade agreements with Japan and South Korea a priority. A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Trade said in its report published today that Australian exports face considerable barriers, especially in the agricultural sector, in these two export markets — Australia's second and fourth largest. Together, they account for about 24.6 per cent of Australia’s goods and services exports.
TOKYO - Industrial production in Japan rose for a fifth consecutive month in April, by 1.7% month-on-month, beating expectations (consensus of 0.6%; prior 0.9%) on improving exports.
TAIPEI - Taiwan has downgraded the level of travel warning issued for several Chinese provinces and municipalities, except Beijing, from today, due to an easing of the spread of bird flu.The Mainland Affairs Council said the travel warning level for Shanghai and provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Henan, Shandong, Jaingxi, Fujian and Hunan will be adjusted from yellow to gray, which suggests visitors to these areas should remain cautious during their trip, given the recent outbreak of H7N9 bird flu virus.
HONG KONG - After adjusting for seasonal factors, the HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index – a composite indicator designed to provide a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing economy – posted at 49.2 in May, down from 50.4 in April. This signalled the first deterioration in operating conditions in seven months. HSBC says that despite operating conditions worsening, manufacturing output rose for the seventh month in a row during May, albeit marginally.