HONG KONG - Better-than-expected unemployment outturns reported by two of the region’s more open economies – Korea and Hong Kong – underscore the region’s relative resilience. Despite slowing economic growth, Korea’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.1% in July (consensus: 3.3%) from 3.2% in June, on strong growth in self-employed workers. BBVA Bank says the out-turn was a welcome sign for Korea, where the labour market has tightened (unemployment has fallen from 3.7% in February) even as the participation rate has increased (to 62.2% in July, from 60.0% in February).
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CANBERRA - The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is monitoring a recall of some 23,000 Great Wall and Chery motor vehicles with engine and exhaust gaskets containing asbestos. The Chery J1 model and newly-imported stock of both brands are unaffected by the recall. The ACCC says the asbestos is bound into gaskets in the engine and exhaust system and does not present any risk to consumers during use of the vehicle. However, consumers should not perform do-it-yourself maintenance that might disturb the gaskets.
BEIJING - Coal prices are likely to rebound later this year as inventories decline and demand recovers along with the economy, according to leading Chinese producers, Shenhua Energy and Yanzhou Coal. Shenhua, China’s largest coal producer, said domestic coal inventory, which soared in May and June, has decreased to a "reasonable" level from a peak caused by economic issues leading to weak demand.
TAIPEI – Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on currency settlement between
TAIPEI - Taiwan’s central bank (CBC) today signed an agreement with the People's Bank of China to establish RMB clearing in Taiwan, allowing both China and Taiwan to set up a clearing bank. The announcement paves the way for direct CNY/TWD trading, but technical details are still to be worked through.
SEOUL - Major private money lenders in South Korea were ordered Thursday to suspend their operations for six months for reaping illegal profits through "unfair" interest rates, officials said.
Seoul's Gangnam Ward office informed four private lenders, including market leaders A&P Financial and Sanwa Money, to halt their business operations between March 5 and September 4, according to industry officials.
The move comes after the local financial regulator vowed to overhaul the private money market amid growing public outcry over its notoriously high interest rates.
WASHINGTON - The United States plans to expand the presence of its Marines in Asia in tandem with a diplomatic pivot towards the region, US Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, said.
Speaking at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta said US military power in the Asia-Pacific area would not be weakened by envisioned steep budget cuts. "That's obviously a primary concern for us, because we do believe it is important to maintain a strong presence in the Pacific," he said.
SEOUL KT Corp., South Korea's top fixed-line operator, has limited high-speed network access Internet-enabled TVs produced by Samsung Electronics Co. (KSE:005930), potentially hurting the tech firm's push to increase sales of smart sets.
CANBERRA - Australia's top diplomat has expressed frustration with the slow progress of free trade talks with China, suggesting there is unlikely to be a deal for many years to come.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Dennis Richardson says despite 17 rounds of negotiations since April 2005, a final free trade agreement is still a very long way off.
"Quite frankly, the progress has been frustratingly slow," he said.