India projects lowest-growth year in a decade | U.S. jobless claims tick down; consumer confidence improves | U.S. worker productivity declines in 4th quarter
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February 8, 2013
CFA Institute: Financial NewsBrief - Aisa Pacific Edition
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European Central Bank chief sends up warning signal over euro
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Reuters
In comments described as a "verbal intervention" designed to halt the euro's climb, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the common currency's strength could sabotage prospects for a eurozone recovery by undermining exports. A strong euro could also thwart the central bank's efforts to drive up inflation to a little less than 2%. "The market is reading the comments as generally downbeat. That and the comments about the risks to inflation have pushed the euro down," said Adam Cole, head of global foreign-exchange strategy at Royal Bank of Canada in London. Bloomberg (2/7)
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India projects lowest-growth year in a decade
India is now predicting the country's slowest growth in a decade for the fiscal year ending next month. The 5% growth forecast dims hopes for India as a source of strength in a global economic turnaround and was termed disappointing by the government's chief economic adviser, C. Rangarajan, who held out hope the final figure might be revised upward. At India's central bank, Governor D. Subbarao said the lower projection would be taken into account as the bank sets policy in March. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2/7), LiveMint.com/The Wall Street Journal (India) (2/7), LiveMint.com/The Wall Street Journal (India)/Reuters (2/7)
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U.S. jobless claims tick down; consumer confidence improves
The slow hiring pattern in the U.S. continued last week as reflected in a small decline in the number of Americans filing initial claims for jobless benefits. Consumer confidence, however, picked up during the week for the first uptick since higher payroll taxes came into effect at the beginning of the year, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. CNNMoney (2/7), Bloomberg (2/7)
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U.S. worker productivity declines in 4th quarter
U.S. worker productivity fell in the fourth quarter, extending a two-year trend that may point to more hiring in the future. Economists generally expect little pickup in productivity through this year. CBS MoneyWatch/The Associated Press (2/7)
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U.K. manufacturing returns to strong growth in December
Fears of recession eased in the U.K. with a 1.6% gain in manufacturing output in December, reversing a 0.3% decline the previous month. The increase was much stronger than forecast by economists, and the Bank of England decided against further stimulus. "Furthermore, with the PMI for January also showing growth, this offers further indication that the U.K. will probably avoid the fate of dipping into recession three times in the space of five years," said James Knightley, an economist at ING Bank in London. Bloomberg Businessweek (2/7)
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Nouriel Roubini changes tune, turns bullish on U.S. stocks
Pointing to the U.S. Federal Reserve's quantitative easing and the prospects for more into the foreseeable future, New York University economist Nouriel Roubini says the outlook for U.S. stocks is bright. But "some of the improvement in the markets is not because growth is picking up. ... Certainly, easy money implies asset inflation," Roubini said. AdvisorOne (2/6)
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Market Activities
INTERNATIONAL MARKETS OVERVIEW
Remarks by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi on the dangers of a strong euro helped drive down the currency and lifted shares in Europe before they slid back later Thursday. In the U.S., shares were generally lower on a lackluster jobs figure and lower productivity numbers. The Stoxx Europe 600 ended the day down 0.22% at 283.88, and the S&P 500 lost 0.18% to 1,509.39. Here is a continuously updated list of global stock indexes. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2/8), MarketWatch (2/7), CNNMoney (2/7)
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Asia shares decline in pre-holiday trading
Asian shares eased Thursday ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. The Nikkei was down 0.93% to 11,357.07, the Hang Seng lost 0.34% to 23,177.00 and the Kospi edged down 0.23% to 1,931.77 while the S&P/ASX added 0.30% to 4,935.70. MarketWatch (2/7)
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Economic Trends & Outlook
Japan's leading indicator index picks up in December
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Reuters
Leading, concurrent and lagging indicators for Japan's economy all improved in December, the Cabinet Office reported. However, the leading indicator of 93.4 -- up from 92 in November -- was a bit lower than economists had expected. RTT News (2/7)
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China extends trend toward balanced current account
More balanced foreign trade helped to narrow China's ratio of current-account surplus to gross domestic product last year. The 2.6% figure was the lowest in eight years and down from a high of 10.1% in 2007. China Daily (Beijing)/Xinhuanet (2/7)
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Slowing job market, low consumption weigh on S. Korean economy
While some of South Korea's economic indicators remain strong, a cooling jobs environment and lagging consumption are significant factors that require the government to extend stimulative measures, the finance ministry says. "We will keep close tabs on internal and external economic situations while at the same time strengthen our monitoring on markets and continuing policy efforts to enhance the overall economic vitality," the ministry said. The Korea Herald (Seoul)/Yonhap News Agency (2/7)
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Taiwan exports rise 21.8% in January
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Reuters
Taiwan recorded its biggest year-to-year jump in exports in nearly two years in January. The 21.8% gain, marking the third consecutive month of growth, was credited to a modest rebound in the global economy, though shipments were down 1.6% from December due to seasonal factors. The Taipei Times (Taiwan) (2/8)
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Australian business conditions worsen; jobless rate steadies
Australian business conditions and confidence declined in the fourth quarter, according to a survey by National Australia Bank, which cited "weak indicators of future demand, global concerns, a still high Australian dollar and fiscal consolidation" as contributing factors. Separately, the government reported Australia's jobless rate remained at 5.4% in January, although the number of employees in part-time work was up. Xinhuanet.com (China) (2/7), The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) (2/7)
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With a global rebound, Indonesia projects 7% growth in 2014
Indonesia's projected economic growth rate of 6.8% this year should pick up to 7% in 2014 if the global economy turns around, said Hatta Rajasa, the country's coordinating minister for the economy. Indonesia has recently suffered from declining exports, a factor that has dragged on an economy otherwise buoyed by robust domestic demand and increasing investment. Xinhuanet.com (China) (2/7)
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Economist sees need for far more investment in Philippines
Noting that the Philippines depends on strong domestic consumption for growth -- a reverse of the pattern in China -- Bloomberg economist Michael McDonough says the biggest constraint on the Philippine economy is a dearth of foreign direct investment. While investment accounted for about half of China's economy last year, in the Philippines it was only a fifth, "far below the average for a country in its stage of development," McDonough said. Business World (Philippines) (2/7)
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Capital Markets & Financial Products
Goldman executive says investors positive on China
Pronouncements by the new leadership in China are winning the confidence of international investors, a Goldman Sachs executive says, adding that the country is entering a new era of equities. "More pro-growth policies like a bigger fiscal budget and more fixed-asset investments are already anticipated by investors," said Goldman's Helen Zhu, managing director of global economics, commodities and strategy research. But she noted that investors will "keep an eye on the introduction of new ministers" before analyzing the situation and deciding on future strategy. China Daily (Beijing) (2/7)
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Abe government generates '80s-like market euphoria in Japan
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Abe/Reuters
High expectations and a lower yen generated by the new government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have been the driving force behind a 32% ascent in the Nikkei Average since November, recalling the market euphoria of the 1980s. While some investors remain skeptical of the sudden runup, more are taking the plunge. "The stock story has mostly been a yen-driven phenomenon, no question. Some investors are finding that they can't afford to remain on the sidelines," says Naoki Fujiwara, fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2/6)
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Index charts 50% jump in yuan globalization
An index of the yuan's worldwide usage soared 50% last year despite a lagging global economy, and another 50% surge is projected for this year. The Standard Chartered Renminbi Globalization Index was up 2.8% in December alone, touching a record high of 748. Among the major yuan markets last year, the ratio was 81:11:8 for Hong Kong, Singapore and London. China Daily (Beijing) (2/7)
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S. Korea's stock-fund assets reach lowest point in 5 years
Reflecting the lagging performance of South Korea's stock market, the combined assets managed by the nation's stock funds fell last month to the lowest total in more than five years, the Korea Financial Investment Association reported. The average return so far this year for stock funds with assets topping 1 billion won is minus 2.43%. MK.co.kr (South Korea) (2/7)
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Regulatory Update
Shinhan Financial's 2012 profit slides 23.8%
South Korea's Shinhan Financial Group posted a 23.8% drop in net profit for 2012, to US$2.18 billion. "The year-on-year fall was attributable to a reduction in the net interest margin and accumulation of loan loss provisions," Shinhan said. The Korea Herald (Seoul) (2/7)
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