- Govt to boost infrastructure spending to B4tn — The cabinet on Wednesday endorsed a master plan to develop various infrastructure projects over the next seven years. The plan will allow the Finance Ministry to borrow Bt2.2tn for the projects. Mr. Kittiratt, however, said that sum will only be enough to finance major transport routes within the master plan. The government will need another Bt2tn to finance the rest, he said. Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt said logistic costs stand at 15.2% of gross domestic product (GDP). The infrastructure development plan will eventually help lower the cost to 13.2% of GDP.
- Exports surge on industrial recovery — Thai exports surged 16.1% in January from the same month last year as a global recovery boosted demand.
- BoT mulls raising GDP estimate — This year’s economic growth projection looks set to improve as the central bank may revise up its 4.9% figure in line with the improving local and regional economies, says governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul.
- US: US pending home sales jump to highest level since 2010 — The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said its index of pending home sales, which measures the number of contracts to buy previously-owned homes that have been signed but not yet closed, rose 4.5% to 105.9 in January, the highest since April 2010. The estimate last month was 9.5% higher than the level in January 2012.
- US: US consumer confidence rebounds in February — US consumer sentiment rebounded in February after its decline in January, according to a report released by the research institute Conference Board Tuesday. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index reached 69.6 in February, up from 58.4 in January. The index for present situation increased to 63.3 from 56.2, while the expectations index improved to 73.8 from 59.9 last month.
- Bernanke restored confidence by reaffirming the Fed’s commitment to QE3, saying the program will continue until employment shows signs of improving, with unemployment below 6.5% (January was 7.9%). He said he did not signal a slowdown or an end to QE3 at the end of this year at the previous FOMC meeting
- US: U.S. economic growth rate was upwardly revised to an annual rate of 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from the previous estimate of a 0.1% decline, the U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday. US real GDP grew 2.2% for 2012 overall, better than the 1.8% growth rate in 2011 but slower than the 2.4% growth pace in 2010.
- NESDB: Liquidations soared 26% in fourth quarter – The number of companies reporting shutdowns surged in last year’s fourth quarter, prompting the government’s planning unit to worry about lay-offs in the foreseeable future.
- US durable goods orders down 5.2% in January — New orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods shed 5.2% in January from the previous month, U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Orders for durable goods dropped US$11.8bn to US$217bn last month caused by a decrease of transportation equipment, following a revised 3.7% gain in December 2012.
The Italians are singing Mama Mia as election results are inconclusive