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February 11, 2013
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  Top Stories 

  • Japan posts record-thin current-account surplus
    For the second year running, Japan's current-account surplus shrank, narrowing 50.8% in 2012 to the smallest margin since comparable data began to be compiled in 1985, the Finance Ministry reported. Japan also posted a record trade deficit of ¥5.81 trillion, up sharply from ¥1.62 trillion yen in 2011. Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan) (2/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Economy to be focus of Obama's agenda-setting speech
    The U.S. economy will come to the fore in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday as the president lays out plans for a wide range of investments, including infrastructure, an administration official said. On the pressing subject of the need to raise the U.S. debt ceiling by March, Obama says he is willing to accommodate Republicans on cutting entitlement benefits if they will agree to eliminate some tax breaks on businesses and the wealthy. Reuters (2/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Economists predict U.S. growth will pick up by summer
    The U.S. economy is poised to accelerate beginning at midyear, generating enough growth to produce a self-sustaining recovery, according to economists surveyed by USA Today. Meanwhile, a consensus is growing among economists that the minor fourth-quarter shrinkage reported for the U.S. economy will be revised to reveal growth, albeit at a sluggish pace. USA Today (2/10) , Bloomberg Businessweek (2/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • U.S. retail figures due this week should be telling
    U.S. retail sales figures due Wednesday should reveal much about the direction of the economy early in the new year. On the downside are higher taxes that took effect at the beginning of the year. But economists say a stronger job market during the month should help on the upside. MarketWatch (2/10) , Bloomberg (2/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Bank of England to offer gloomy outlook
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    Coming sharp on the heels of fresh signs that the U.K. may avoid a triple-dip recession, the Bank of England is preparing to report that the nation's economy remains so fragile that any attempt to restrain inflation could undermine it. The central bank also is expected to point to the potential threat posed by a resurgent crisis in the eurozone. The Telegraph (London) (tiered subscription model) (2/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • U.K. wealth gap splits top 1%, lower 50%
    One factor restraining the U.K. economy is a sharply growing wealth gap since the mid-1990s, particularly between the upper 1% of society in terms of income and the bottom half, according to a new report. "The growing gap in incomes is pronounced when you look at the top 10th of households and overwhelming when you consider the position of the top 1%. The rest of society hasn't kept up. It's the squeezed majority, not just the squeezed middle," said Matthew Whittaker, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank, which issued the report. The Guardian (London) (2/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • G20 to focus on likelihood of currency war
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    The Group of 20 meeting this week is expected to focus on the potential for a global currency war, generated in part by Japan's recent moves. Teeing up for the gathering in Moscow, European finance ministers meeting earlier will discuss the high value of the euro and the damage this may be doing to European exports. The Taipei Times (Taiwan)/Agence France-Presse (2/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • U.S. multinationals in China fear lack of transparency
    U.S. investment is China is the subject of increasing worry that the shadowy financial and other practices associated with China's domestic economy are filtering into the business of multinationals. Fears are amplified by the fact that U.S. auditors are barred from the mainland. Reuters (2/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Market Activities 
    European investors were cheered Friday by strong Chinese export figures, and U.S. investors keyed on surprisingly good corporate results to lift markets on both sides of the Atlantic. The Stoxx Europe 600 jumped 1.22% to 287.34, and the S&P 500 ended the day 0.57% higher at 1,517.93. Here is a continuously updated list of global stock indexes. The Wall Street Journal (2/11) , Bloomberg (2/8) , CNNMoney (2/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Asian shares show mixed results
    Indications that action may be taken to restrain the strength of the euro and an unexpected loss posted by Sony weighed on shares across Asia on Friday, although some market indexes ended the day with gains. The Nikkei, however, was down a sharp 1.80% to 11,153.16 while the Hang Seng edged up 0.16% to 23,215.16, the Kospi added 0.99% to 1,950.90 and the S&P/ASX added 0.72% to 4,971.30. Bloomberg (2/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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CFA Institute report: Investors need better disclosure of derivatives and hedging activities

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  Economic Trends & Outlook 
  • Taiwan exports jump, but economists are wary of data
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    Economists see evidence of accelerating exports from Taiwan in coming months in figures that show a 21.8% rise in January exports and a 22.3% gain in imports. The gain was distorted, however, by last year's Lunar New Year, which fell in January. "We will have to wait until March data is released [in early April] to see how the tech cycle's recovery path is progressing," said Katrina Ell, an associate economist at Moody's Analytics. The Taipei Times (Taiwan) (2/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Australia's central bank cool on economy; rate cut may be coming
    After electing to leave rates unchanged only last week, Australia's central bank is indicating growing concern over the weakness of the economy, prompting economists to predict a rate cut next time around. The bank "has downgraded its economic growth outlook to a greater extent than we expected, as it continues to see inflation as remaining consistent with its target," said Alvin Pontoh, Asia-Pacific macro strategist at TD Securities. The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) (2/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Capital Markets & Financial Products 

  • South Korea trails only U.S., Japan in quantitative openness
    South Korea stands behind only the U.S. and Japan by the measure of quantitative openness, or net overseas investment divided by GDP, in the foreign-exchange market, according to data from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Korea's 149.2% compared with 295.6% for the U.S. and 195.5% for Japan. (South Korea) (2/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Industry & Regulatory Update 
  • China's 4 AMCs post US$6.1 billion combined profit
    Combined profits for China's four asset management companies in 2012 came to US$6.1 billion, with one company, Huarong, reporting a 140% gain from a year before. The AMCs have been restructuring to become joint stock companies since 2006, after they concluded their mission of dealing with the toxic assets of China's four big state-owned banks. (China) (2/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  People & Personalities 
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