TOKYO - Japan recorded its eighth consecutive monthly trade deficit in February, at 777.5 billion yen, as exports dropped by a more-than-expected 2.9% y/y. Exports to China declined by15.8% y/y due to the Chinese New Year holiday; those to Europe fell by 9.6%, while shipments to U.S. rose 5.7%. Meanwhile, imports rose by 11.9% y/y on higher energy imports, as a result of both the weaker yen and the shutdown of Japan’s nuclear plants. (ATI).
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LONDON – In an update of its Global Forecast, the Economist Intelligence Unit says it now expects GDP in the 17-nation Eurozone to shrink by 0.4% in 2013, doubling its previously forecast - contraction of 0.2%. The EIU says Government austerity will continue to dent consumer demand, and that bank lending remains weak in most countries. “Nonetheless, Germany's economy is reviving. Manufacturing in February expanded for the first time in a year and business and consumer sentiment are rising steadily,” the EIU says.
BEIJING – China’s Ministry of Commerce has announced that it will hold three rounds of trade talks this year with South Korea and Japan, as well as increasing talks with other trading partners. The first set of trade talks for a three-way free trade agreement (FTA) between China, South Korea and Japan will be held in Seoul at the end of March.
BEIJING – China’s overseas investment increased 147% year-on-year during the first two months of 2013, surpassing inbound investment from abroad. The total amount invested was US$18.39 billion, attributed to an increase in the acquisition of energy resources abroad. Outbound investment grew 30% in 2012 compared to the year before. Overseas direct investment is predicted to overtake foreign direct investment over the next few years.
TAIPEI – Taiwan’s February export orders fell by 14.5% y/y after an 18.0% jump in January. More than half of the decline was accounted for by a fall in orders from China and Japan of more than 20% y/y. The out-turn is a reminder of the still-weak external demand environment, despite improving export trends in China (which rose by 23.6% y/y in January/February).
BEIJING - Local news media is reporting that PBoC Deputy Governor Liu Shiyu has outlined a roadmap of financial reforms for the next 10 years. Highlights include: i) interest rate and exchange rate liberalisation to be completed within 10 years (in the absence of external shocks), including enhancement of RMB convertibility and capital account opening; ii) further opening of the banking sector to domestic and foreign investors; and iii) development of the capital market. www.bbva.com (ATI).
BEIJING - FDI inflows for February surprised to the upside at 6.3% y/y (consensus: -4.8%), marking the first year-over-year increase since June 2012. Together with the out-turn in January, the FDI inflow of the first two months declined by 1.3% y/y, indicating modest stabilisation. Investment from the EU increased notably (34% y/y) during January-February, while investment from US (-5.4%) and Japan (-6.7%) remained weak. At the same time, FDI outflows more than doubled in January/February over the previous year’s period. www.bbva.com (ATI).
NEW DELHI - As anticipated, the Reserve bank of India (RBI) today reduced its benchmark repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.5% while maintaining the Cash reserve ratio at 4.0%. The move follows a 25 basis points cut at the RBI’s last policy meeting in January, and aims to stimulate investment activity as inflationary pressures abate and the Government executes much-needed fiscal reforms.
SINGAPORE - Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell by -30.6% y/y after a small increase in January. The decline was attributable to weak demand from Europe (-52.2% y/y) and the U.S. (-52.1%). BBVA Bank says that while Singapore’s monthly data are notoriously volatile (and may be distorted by the shift in this year’s Chinese New Year timing), the disappointing out-turn is a reminder of the weak external environment, as seen recently in weak export figures from Taiwan and Korea, in contrast to a surge in January/February exports from China.
HONG KONG – The renminbi is already more convertible than many think - with just four of 40 items under the capital account still non-convertible, according to HSBC. In a new research report, HSBC says 22 items are now partially convertible, including transactions in the bond market, stock market, real estate market and personal capital transactions – while another 14 areas are basically convertible, including credit operations, direct investment and the liquidation of direct investment.
BEIJING - China’s local fiscal revenue growth for January and February was “too fast” because of more property transactions, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, suggesting that the Chinese authorities are deeply concerned about surging property prices. China’s local fiscal revenue rose 12.9% in the first two months of 2013, while the national fiscal revenue grew only 7.2% during the same period. Car sales in January and February expanded by 14.7% y/y, while car industry output grew 14.1%, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
BEIJING – According to reports here, China’s current Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, is likely to be promoted to State Councillor for Foreign Affairs, China’s top diplomatic position. This would see a continuation of recent trends in foreign policy, including current policies towards Japan. The reports say Yang is likely to be replaced as Foreign Minister by Wang Yi, a former Ambassador to Japan.
SYDNEY - Australian managers are ill equipped for the Asian Century because they are working at only 70% of their capabilities, study by the Australian Institute of Management. "Our latest Australian Management Capability Index (AMCI 2013) shows managers across the economy underperform in key business areas," says incoming AIM National President, Brian Nye.
MANILA - International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has reported revenue for the year ended December 31 from port operations of US$729.3 million, 10% up from the previous year; Earnings before tax were US$307.4 million, up 9% and net income attributable to equity holders US$143.2 million, up 10%. ICTSI handled consolidated volume of 5,628,021 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the year, and increase of 8%.
MUMBAI - Citi India has acted as a Qualified Depository Participant, custodian as well as the execution broker for an investment made by Sanlam, one of South Africa’s largest financial services groups, through the Qualified Foreign
PERTH – Thiess has signed an AUD212 million contract to deliver further civil works for the Chevron-operated Gordon gas project in Western Australia. The prject is operated by the Australian subsidiary of Chevron (47.3%) in hoint venture with the Australian subsidiaries of ExxonMobil (25%), Shell (25%), Osaka Gas (1.25%), Tokyo Gas (1.0%) and Chubu Electric Power (0.417%). www.theiss.com.au (ATI).