MANILA - The Philippines reported weak exports in January (-2.7% y/y; consensus: 6.0% y/y) on subdued demand for electronics, particularly from the US and China. Together with weak February export outturns in Korea and Taiwan, the data underscore uncertainty in the outlook for external demand even as the global economy appears to be improving (although China’s exports have showed surprising resilience).
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TAIPEI - Taiwanese computer maker Acer Inc. plans to unveil its first phone-tablet hybrid handset at the Computex Taipei tech fair in June, hoping to gain traction in this fast-growing market. Acer Corporate President Jim Wong says the "phablet" category, which is defined by Acer as a mobile device larger than 5 inches that still can be held with a single hand, has become very popular among female and elderly consumers.
BANGKOK - Thailand's sovereign credit rating has been upgraded by Fitch by one notch to BBB+, bringing it in line with the ratings issued by S&P and Moody's. Fitch emphasised improved policy predictability and social stability (ATI).
MANILA - The ASEAN Economic Community will focus on financial integration as it moves towards the realisation of its goal by 2015, but it is not pursuing the creation of a single currency, according to Asian Development Bank economists. Ramesh Subramaniam, the ADB’s senior director at the Office of Regional Economic Integration (OREI), says cross-border asset holdings have been on the rise, and that "there is active engagement of the private sector through the ASEAN+3 Bond Market Initiative, for example”.
TAIPEI - Taiwan and the United States have issued a joint statement on principles for international investment following new talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Both economies are committed to the principles of "open and non-discriminatory investment climates" and "legal certainty and protection", according to a statement issued by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO).
BEIJING - While retail sales growth in China for the January-February period came in weaker than expected, investment data were quite strong for the first two months. Data released today (Saturday) continued to show that the current recovery is driven mainly by investment and a rebound in heavy industry, according to ANZ Bank. ANZ says that while monetary policy has tightened recently and new property curbs are being put in place to reign in the property market, it believes the impact on the whole economy will be largely mitigated by a proactive fiscal policy.
TOKYO – Japan’s fourth quarter GDP has been revised upward to 0.2% q/q, saar compared to the preliminary estimate of -0.4%, ending Japan’s technical recession after the previous two quarters’ negative growth. Private consumption and public investment led the pickup. Tne new data also shows that Japan recorded a third straight current account deficit of -¥364.8B (Prior: -¥264.1B, Consensus: -¥611.5B) as exports have yet to see a boost from the weakening yen. The Bank of Japan has now upgraded its economic outlook.
TOKYO – The central banks of both Japan and Indonesia have kept interest rates on hold. Bank of Japan has kept the size of its asset purchase programme at 101 trillion yen and the policy rate unchanged at 0-0.1%. It did, however, upgrade the outlook for the domestic economy, which it now says “has stopped weakening” as exports and industrial production appear to be stabilising.
BEIJING - China has relaxed its RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) rules to further develop the offshore RMB market in Hong Kong. Under the new rules, the RQFII quota can be invested in a wider range of products. Hong Kong units of Chinese commercial banks, insurers, and other financial institutions that are registered and with major operations in Hong Kong will now be allowed to participate in the pilot programme. Previously, participants were restricted to Hong Kong units of Chinese fund management and securities companies.
TAIPEI – Media reports indicate that offshore RMB (CNT) deposits among domestic banking units (DBU) of qualified Taiwanese banks have surpassed RMB 10 billion in the first month of CNT business, which kicked off on February 6. The size of the CNT market is much smaller than the CNH market (which was RMB 624 billion at the end of January), but the market’s growth momentum is impressive given that it took about 10 months for offshore RMB deposits in Hong Kong to surpass RMB 10 billion when the CNH market was launched in February 2004.
HONG KONG - Standard & Poor's says highly expansionary monetary policies being seen in advanced global economies are spurring very strong capital flows into Asia Pacific - but they could just as quickly exit if conditions improve in the Asia-Pacific region.
SYDNEY - Despite drumming rhetoric on both sides in their dispute over the Senkaku-Daioyu Islands, Japan and China have agreed to keep their differences out of economic activities, according to Hiroshi Watanabe, Chief Executive of Japan Bank of International Co-operation (JBIC). He says Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and China’s President, Xi Jinping, are making efforts to improve relations.
ADELAIDE - Flinders Mines Limited (“Flinders”) has executed binding, non-exclusive Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with four Chinese steel mills. The agreements will allow potential customers of the sinter fines product from the Pilbara Iron Ore Project to undertake technical and commercial evaluations of ore in order to assess its suitability for their iron-making operations. Flinders says it expects this will ultimately lead to Letters of Intent with a number of foundation customers.
BEIJING – China’s key economic targets for 2013 are GDP growth of 7.5%, average inflation of 3.5%, M2 growth of 13.0%, and a fiscal deficit of 2.0% of GDP. The targets are broadly in line with market expectations. Of special significance is that the growth target is unchanged from last year, while the inflation and M2 targets have been lowered (from 4.0% and 14.0%, respectively).
BEIJING - The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) annual banking indicators show overall profit growth of 19% for the banking system, notwithstanding headwinds from the economic slowdown and narrowing interest margins. The indicators are for the overall banking system, consisting of both listed and non-listed banks - full-year financial results for the listed banks will be released at end-March.
SINGAPORE - Employers across Singapore’s professional sectors remain reasonably confident about domestic business conditions and many plan to increase staff numbers during the first six months of the year, according to the H1 2013 Michael Page Singapore Employment Index. More than half of the employers (58%) responding to the survey, which takes a predictive six-month view and focusses on anticipated trends, reveal they expect business conditions to either be stable or to improve during the first six months of the year.