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South Korea Nov exports fare better than expected, surplus at all-time high
South Korean exports fell for an 11th straight month in November over a year earlier, but were still better than expected - building on hopes that exports may increase in the new year.
[SEOUL] South Korean exports fell for an 11th straight month in November over a year earlier, but were still better than expected - building on hopes that exports may increase in the new year.
Exports fell 4.7 per cent on-year to US$44.43 billion in November while imports dropped 17.6 per cent to US$34.07 billion, trade ministry data showed on Tuesday. November exports fell at the slowest pace since July this year.
The trade surplus surged to US$10.36 billion in November from a revised US$6.7 billion surplus in October, the biggest surplus on record.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 8.3 per cent drop in exports and a 12.8 per cent fall in imports. "Once oil and raw material prices stabilise next year we'll see better performance in exports but only to a limited extent. Next year's growth will also depend heavily on consumption," said Oh Suk-tae, economist at Societe Generale in Seoul.
The average value of exports per working day was US$1.93 billion in November, more than a revised US$1.89 billion in October, Reuters calculations showed.
The government will release more details later on November trade performance, including shipments by destination.
Meanwhile, separate data earlier in the day showed inflation in November rose to its highest in a year as consumption sticks to its recovery course, undermining a view in financial markets favouring central bank interest rate cuts.
Societe Generale's Oh said the central bank was unlikely to move towards cutting interest rates as consumer spending has been improving.
The data showed services prices rose 2.2 per cent in November on-year, the highest since a 2.3 per cent rise in February 2012.
It was an echo of output data out on Monday, which showed services and retail sales improving in October, although manufacturing lagged.
South Korea is the first major exporting economy to report monthly trade data, and may provide an early indication of global demand.
Japan Q3 capex points to upward revision to Q3 GDP, may dodge recession
Japanese capital expenditure rose at the fastest pace in more than eight years in July-September from a year earlier, in an encouraging sign that economic performance over the summer was not as weak as initially thought.
[TOKYO] Japanese capital expenditure rose at the fastest pace in more than eight years in July-September from a year earlier, in an encouraging sign that economic performance over the summer was not as weak as initially thought.
The data suggest that revised gross domestic product (GDP) on Dec 8 may show that Japan narrowly avoided a technical recession, easing some of the pessimism surrounding the government's efforts to energise domestic demand.
A preliminary estimate had showed the economy contracted an annualised 0.8 per cent in July-September as capital expenditure and inventories slumped.
The 11.2 per cent increase in capital expenditure followed a 5.6 per cent annual gain in April-June, data by the Ministry of Finance showed on Tuesday. That marked the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2007.
Accelerating capital expenditure is a welcome sign for the government as it launches a renewed effort to get companies to increase domestic investment to create more jobs, raise wages and increase worker productivity. "We still need to revise our estimates, but my initial impression is GDP could be revised to show slight growth," said Norio Miyagawa, senior economist at Mizuho Securities. "With capital expenditure numbers as strong as this, there's no need for policymakers to change their scenario for the economy." Excluding spending on software, capital expenditure rose a seasonally-adjusted 5.4 per cent from the previous quarter, after falling 2.7 per cent in April-June, finance ministry data showed.
Compared to the same period a year earlier, corporate profits rose 9.0 per cent, slower than a 23.8 per cent annual increase in the previous quarter.
Japan's economy contracted in the second and third quarters, which meets the definition of a technical recession.
Some economists remain cautious on the outlook, arguing that companies could easily curb capital expenditure as China's slowdown hits export demand.
Japanese policymakers are offering companies corporate tax cuts in exchange for assurances that profitable firms will increase capital expenditure, but it remains uncertain whether this trade-off will produce the results the government is hoping for.
Australian government spending for consumption rose 0.7 per cent in the third quarter to an inflation-adjusted A$73.34 billion (S$74.9 billion), the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday.
[SYDNEY] Australian government spending for consumption rose 0.7 per cent in the third quarter to an inflation-adjusted A$73.34 billion (S$74.9 billion), the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday.
Investment spending by the government and public enterprises fell 9.2 per cent to A$16.18 billion. This series has been greatly distorted in recent years by the transfer of assets between the public and private sectors.
The data will feed into the gross domestic product (GDP) report for the third quarter due on Wednesday.
Real median income in Singapore jumped strongly by 5.4 per cent this year, thanks to the still-tight labour market and negative inflation.
ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO
REAL median income in Singapore jumped strongly by 5.4 per cent this year, thanks to the still-tight labour market and negative inflation.
But the softer economy is starting to weigh down on jobs; employment growth eased in the first half of the year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) cautioned at the release of its Singapore Workforce 2015 report on Monday.
This slower pace of increase in jobs - slower than in the past five years - is expected to continue for the rest of the decade as growth in the resident labour force eases and economic restructuring continues, the ministry said in a statement.
The report said that this year, the nominal median income from work for full-time resident workers - that is, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents - went up by 4.7 per cent from a year ago to S$3,949 in June.
The consumer price index for all items is tipped to dip by around 0.5 per cent for the year. "After adjusting for negative inflation, real median income grew at a faster pace of 5.4 per cent (preliminary)," the report said.
Resident workers have enjoyed sustained median income growth in the past five years, improving their monthly income from S$3,000 in 2010. This works out to a 32 per cent hike, or 5.7 per cent annum in nominal terms.
In real terms, their income jumped 16 per cent or 3.1 per cent yearly.
Lower-income earners, whose incomes have been given a boost in recent years, recorded a continued rise in their incomes over the same period, said the report.
"Income (including employer CPF contributions) at the 20th percentile of full-time employed residents rose by 26 per cent from S$1,600 in 2010 to S$2,012 in nominal terms, or 4.7 per cent per annum," it said.
The real increase was 11 per cent, or 2.1 per cent annum.
Job growth has been faster for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (known as PMETs) than for individuals outside this group. The proportion of PMETs among employed residents rose from 49 per cent in 2007 to 54 per cent this year.
Part-time employment has stabilised, after an uptrend in earlier years, the report said. Some 10.4 per cent of employed residents were part-timers in 2015, no big difference from 2014, when it was 10.5 per cent.
Contract employment shrank, after an uptick in 2014. Some 11.3 per cent of resident employees were on term contracts this year, down from 11.8 per cent in 2014.
"This resumed a general downward trend in incidence of term contract employment from the peak in 2009," the report said.
The employment rate of residents aged 25 to 64 rose from 79.7 per cent in June 2014 to 80.5 per cent in June this year, helped by strong job gains in the second half of last year.
"This continued a broadly consistent uptrend from 75.5 per cent in 2006," the report said.
But the increase in employment rate has moderated in the past three years, after the spike from 71.3 per cent in 2006 to 79.7 per cent in 2012.
The resident jobless rate stayed low, at 2.8 per cent in June, similar to a year ago. Unemployment climbed for older resident workers - those aged 50 and over - and non-degree holders as job growth eased in the first half of this year.
More women continued to join the workforce, raising their labour force participation rate from 43 per cent in 2006 to 46 per cent in 2015, but the participation rate for men has been relatively stable.
There were 2.23 million residents in the labour force in June this year, with 1.22 million men and 1.02 million women. Reflecting an ageing population, about one in three of the resident workers were aged 50 and over, up from one in four in 2006.
But the quality of the resident labour force has improved, with 52 per cent of the resident workers tertiary-educated, up from 39 per cent in 2006.
Association of Banks in Singapore issues alert on malware targeting Android phone users
The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) is warning mobile phone users against a software update for WhatsApp, not initiated by the app maker, that is targeting mobile banking customers here.
PHOTO: UNITED OVERSEAS BANK
[SINGAPORE] The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) is warning mobile phone users against a software update for WhatsApp, not initiated by the app maker, that is targeting mobile banking customers here.
A malicious malware hidden in the update has infected Android smartphones over the past few months, ABS said in a briefing on Tuesday morning.
China orders factories shut as smog nightmare continues
China has ordered thousands of factories to shut as it grapples with swathes of choking smog that were nearly 24 times safe levels on Tuesday, casting a shadow over the country's participation in Paris climate talks.
[BEIJING] China has ordered thousands of factories to shut as it grapples with swathes of choking smog that were nearly 24 times safe levels on Tuesday, casting a shadow over the country's participation in Paris climate talks.
A thick grey haze shrouded Beijing, with the concentration of PM 2.5, harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs, climbing as high as 598 micrograms per cubic metre.
The reading, given by the US embassy, dwarfs the maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation, which is just 25 micrograms per cubic metre Levels in Jinan, a provincial capital hundreds of kilometres away, reached over 400.
Authorities in Beijing ordered the closure of 2,100 highly polluting businesses, the state-run China Daily said, and advised citizens to stay indoors.
Airlines cancelled over 30 flights from Beijing and Shanghai, many to highly polluted Shaanxi province, a key coal producer.
The environmental woes came after Chinese President Xi Jinping took the stage at crucial international talks aiming to limit dangerous climate change.
He vowed "action" on greenhouse emissions, repeating existing pledges and telling the summit that poor nations should not have to sacrifice economic growth.
Most emissions come from coal burning which spikes in winter along with demand for heating, which also causes smog.
China is estimated to have released between nine and 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013, nearly twice as much as the United States and around two and a half times the European Union.
Beijing pledged last year that carbon dioxide output would peak by "around 2030" - suggesting at least another decade of growing emissions.
Social media users in China were sceptical about the chances of a clean up, with many circulating a picture of a Beijing newspaper front page from 1999.
It cited officials as proclaiming: "We absolutely will not let big pollution enter the new century."
The Singapore government will extend the special wage offset for hiring older workers which is set to expire by year-end until the new re-employment age of 67 comes into effect in 2017, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a joint press release on Tuesday.
THE Singapore government will extend the special wage offset for hiring older workers which is set to expire by year-end until the new re-employment age of 67 comes into effect in 2017, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a joint press release on Tuesday.
The ministries said the extension is given "to show our continued commitment and support toward re-employment of older workers''.
During this year's Budget, the government had introduced an additional wage offset of up to 3 per cent of an older worker's wages for one year, to encourage employers to hire workers who are above 65 years old and earning up to S$4,000.
The ministries said tripartite partners - MOM, NTUC and The Singapore National Employers Federation - are currently in discussion on the effective date of the new re-employment age of 67. In the meantime, employers are encouraged to continue to re-employ older Singaporeans aged 65 and above.
China says no basis for the yuan to continue to devalue: PBOC
[BEIJING] China's central bank said on Tuesday there was no basis for the yuan to continue to devalue and it would keep the currency basically stable.
Inclusion of the yuan into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) would make the yuan more stable, Yi Gang, vice governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The International Monetary Fund admitted China's yuan into its benchmark currency basket on Monday, alongside the dollar, euro, pound sterling and yen. Some traders have expected Beijing will start to allow the currency to weaken soon after to reflect China's slowing economy.
Inclusion in the SDR also will make yuan cross border investment more convenient, he said.
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The inclusion of China's yuan into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket is not a one-off move, he said, and reforms will continue.
The inclusion of the yuan into the SDR shows that international society has acknowledged China's economic development, he said.