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February 18, 2013
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  Top Stories 
  • G20 edges away from currency war; Japan gets a pass
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    Japan was not singled out for censure as Group of 20 ministers met in Moscow and pledged not to use exchange rates in a bid to boost their economies. The ministers also moved to establish a global set of guidelines for currency manipulation, although some analysts saw the outcome as clearing the way for a further weakening of the yen. "The U.S. could tolerate the yen depreciation, but clearly this is a potential problem insofar as China could interpret it as a possible green light to make its currency weaker," said Domenico Lombardi, a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (2/16) , The Wall Street Journal (2/16) , Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan) (2/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Obama targets US$1.5 trillion in tax boosts, spending cuts
    President Barack Obama's plan to avoid upcoming automatic cuts amounts to US$1.5 trillion in higher taxes and budget cutbacks, the White House says. Separately, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the automatic cuts take effect March 1, it will lower U.S. GDP growth this year by 0.6 percent and cost the economy 750,000 jobs. Bloomberg (2/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • U.S. consumer confidence holds steady
    A January survey of U.S. consumer confidence revealed no improvement from December, despite the absence of imminent "fiscal cliff" worries. "People have tended to be cautious about the economy for a long time. We haven't seen much change in that sentiment for a while," said Matt Towson, a spokesman for the Discover US Spending Monitor survey. New York Post (2/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • New U.S. indicators are expected to point upward
    A new indicator for the U.S. economy this week is expected to reveal continued strength in the housing market as measured by home construction. Meanwhile, a business-outlook gauge is projected to turn modestly positive this month from negative last month. MarketWatch (2/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Major EU-U.S. trade accord gets German boost
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    Philipp Roesler/Reuters
    The U.S. proposal for a trade agreement with Europe received major backing from Germany, which is calling for a wide-ranging accord rather than a narrower agreement favored by southern EU nations. "We're striving to achieve a major breakthrough and we're not just looking for a minimal consensus. It would be damaging to put limits on the agenda for the talks beforehand and exclude certain sectors," said Economy Minister Philipp Roesler. Reuters (2/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • China's economy is weak but poised for growth, economist says
    Accelerated construction spending helped China avoid a sudden deceleration in economic growth, and "reasonably fast" growth can be expected to resume soon, Li Daokui, an economist at Tsinghua University and former adviser to the central bank, said in an interview. Nonetheless, it's "still a poor economy. So there's a long way to go for the Chinese economy to catch up," Li said. Bloomberg Businessweek (2/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • North Korea is reported preparing more nuclear tests
    South Korean markets avoided any major consequences from North Korea's nuclear test last week, but more tests and belligerent gestures may be in store, according to a source privy to exchanges between Pyongyang and Beijing. "It's all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year," the source said. Reuters (2/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Europe drags down world in 2012 manufacturing
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    World manufacturing output took a hit from Europe's struggling economies last year, finishing 2012 with a gain of 2.2% that was sharply below the midyear forecast of 3.1%. The figure included a meager 0.3% growth in manufacturing value added in the world's industrialized countries, while developing and emerging industrial economies had a combined 35% share of manufacturing value added. (China) (2/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Major U.S. deal-making may portend sounder recovery
    The return of large-scale deal-making in the U.S. indicates economic recovery may be gaining traction as markets regain their animal spirits. "Shareholders in these [deals] feel like they're getting a fair deal because stock prices are back close to record levels. So [mergers and acquisitions] activity are back to levels that we haven't seen since before the Great Recession, and I think that means the country is getting back to normal," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. CBS MoneyWatch (2/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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  Market Activities 
    Disappointing results for utilities and banks weighed on European shares Friday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 ending the day down 0.16% at 287.34. In the U.S., shares changed marginally after an extended runup, with the S&P 500 off 0.10% at 1,519.79. Here is a continuously updated list of global stock indexes. The Wall Street Journal (2/18) , Reuters (2/15) , CNNMoney (2/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Asian shares end week lower
    Shares dropped in Japan on Friday, weighed down by disappointing results for Nissan, but across the rest of Asia markets were mixed as they ended the week lower, snapping a two-week winning streak. The Nikkei lost 1.18% to 11,173.83, the Hang Seng edged up 0.13% to 23,444.56, the Kospi added 0.08% to 1,981.18 and the S&P/ASX slipped 0.06% to 5,033.90. Bloomberg (2/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  Economic Trends & Outlook 

  • Former leader defends Malaysia's debt level
    Malaysia's current national debt equivalent to 53% of GDP is not out of line, says former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, particularly in light of the country's increasing trade and revenue. His defense comes as ratings agencies and the nation's political opposition raise alarms, mainly because of the rapid increase in debt rather than its current magnitude. The Business Times (Singapore) (2/16) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Capital Markets & Financial Products 
  Industry & Regulatory Update 
  • Taiwan easing cross-strait transaction rules for securities firms
    In a move in line with Taiwan's pursuit of easier cross-strait ties, the Financial Supervisory Commission is amending rules governing securities transactions by Taiwan securities firms in China. "The move will provide securities firms and investors with more overseas investment channels while helping expand cross-strait financial businesses for securities firms," the commission said. The Taipei Times (Taiwan) (2/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  People & Personalities 
  • S. Korean finance minister-designate is expected to exercise caution
    Hyun Oh-seok, selected by South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye to be finance minister, is widely expected to be cautious in applying fiscal stimulus. "Hyun will not open the floodgates for aggressive fiscal spending, as he can't compromise the country's fiscal health," said Jeong Young-sik of the Samsung Economic Research Institute. Bloomberg Businessweek (2/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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