What happened this week 09/10 – 13/10

Thailand

  • Mixed response to duty cut plan – While winning support from importers and tourism operators, the Finance Ministry’s plan to axe the import tariffs on some designer goods has drawn strong opposition from many local manufacturers of luxury products. (The Nation, 10/09/13)
  • Start-ups jump 19% in 8 months; closures down – In spite of many risk factors, new business start-ups in the first eight months of the year surged 19% to 49,115 from 41,261 in the same period last year, while closures fell 4% to 8,039 from 8,333. (The Nation, 10/09/13)
  • Microfinance rate may top 28%- Microfinance lenders may be allowed to charge interest at more than 28% a year, as such rates are still far below what loan sharks collect, says a senior central bank official. (Bangkok Post, 10/09/13)
  • Fund to help over 500 SMEs with export – The Commerce Ministry has approved Bt67.5mn from the SME Proactive fund to help 506 small and medium-sized enterprises cope with export difficulty this year. (The Nation, 09/09/13)
  • Manager confidence index down — A survey of CEOs in Thailand shows that for the period for Aug-Sept the managers’ confidence index has fallen to negative levels for the first time due to concerns about the slowdown in the second half. The index in August dropped to -2 and is expected to stand at -1 in Sept. (Kom Chad Luek, 09/09/13)
  • Duty cuts to make Thailand a shopping paradise – Thailand is on its way to becoming a shopping mecca like Hong Kong and Singapore, as the Cabinet is expected to cut import duties on designer goods in a couple months. (The Nation, 09/09/13)
  • FPO set to trim growth forecast to 4% – The Finance Ministry has estimated economic growth will be in a range of 3.8-4%, down from its earlier projection of 4.5%. (Bangkok Post, 11/09/13)
  • Debtors sink into trouble – Loans overdue by 30-90 days have risen significantly by 100,000 to 600,000, indicating an erosion of Thai consumers’ ability to repay debt, says the National Credit Bureau (NCB). (Bangkok Post, 11/09/13)
  • PDMO to raise up to US$1.5bn for rail, water projects via global bonds – The Ministry of Finance’s Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) will raise US$1.1-1.5bn (Bt35-47.5bn) for rail and water-system projects through an issuance of global bonds in FY2014, conceding that the government’s funding costs could edge up 1 percentage point. (The Nation, 13/09/13)
  • Industry experts call for greater domestic use of rubber – Academics have urged Thailand to increase local usage of rubber from 13% to 20% within five years for increases in the value chain and more job creation, while suggesting that the government accelerate promotion of the rubber-processing industry. (The Nation, 13/09/13)
  • Some foreign firms plan to hike Thai investment: survey – Most foreign investors in Thailand are bullish on the outlook of their operations here, according to a survey by the Board of Investment. (The Nation, 13/09/13)

Global

  • Globe: WTO cuts 2013 world trade forecast to 2.5% – World trade is expected to grow by 2.5% this year and 4.5% in 2014, the World Trade Organization’s new chief, Roberto Azevedo, said on Monday, revising down previous estimates of 3.3 percent and 5 percent. (Reuters, 09/09/13)
  • US: On the economic front, U.S. consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 4.4% in July, according to the Federal Reserve. Revolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 2.6%, while nonrevolving credit rose at an annual rate of 7.4%. (Xinhua, 10/09/13)
  • More positive employment trends, quicker end to fed quantitative easing – The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index rose in August to 113.54 from an upwardly revised 112.80 in July. While the number on the surface is small, it should stand out that the Employment Trends Index report for August is actually 4.5% higher than the report for August of 2012. The Conference Board also sees employment expanding moderately through the fall of this year. (24/7 WallSt, 09/09/13)
  • Japan: A study by Tokyo Shoko Research shows that the number of companies that filed for bankruptcy in Japan came down 15.3% YoY to 819 companies in August, decreasing for the tenth consecutive month. (IQ Biz, 09//09/13)
  • Japan service-sector mood worsens in August – An index measuring business confidence of workers in the service sector such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant staff stood at 51.2 in August, down 1.1 points from the previous month, the Cabinet Office said on Monday. The outlook index, which indicates the level of confidence in future conditions, was at 51.2, down 2.4 points from July, the data showed. (Reuters, 09/09/13)
  • US: Weaker jobs picture than anticipated — The U.S. Labor Department said that the country’s employers added 169,000 jobs in August, fewer than market expectations of 180,000 jobs. Meanwhile, unemployment rate dropped to 7.3% in August, the lowest level since December 2008. The labor force participation rate fell to 63.2%, its lowest since August 1978, said the department. (Xinhua, 07/09/13)
  • China:China’s exports rise 7.2% in August – China’s exports rose 7.2% YoY to Bt190.73bn in August, according to customs figures released on Sunday. The growth rate was 2.1 percentage points higher than July. (Xinhua, 08/09/13)
  • Britain:Britain’s trade deficit expands in July – Britain’s trade deficit in goods and services expanded to £3.1bn (US$4.8bn) in July from £1.3bn in the previous month, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday. The July figure marked the biggest monthly trade deficit since October 2012. (Xinhua, 06/09/13)
  • EU: EU current account surplus rises to €35.9bn in Q2 — The European Union (EU) registered a trade surplus of €35.9bn (~US$47.4bn) in the second quarter of this year, up from a surplus of €5.9bn in the second quarter of last year, the EU statistical office Eurostat said Friday. In the second quarter of 2013, the goods account turned into a surplus of €19.9bn from a deficit of €10.6bn in the second quarter of 2012. (Xinhua, 06/09/13)
  • UN Syria session canceled as Russia rejects French proposal – In fast moving events, the UN Security Council canceled on Tuesday an emergency late-afternoon session on Syria following Russia’s reported rejection of a tough French proposal for international control of Syria’s chemical weapons. Paris had said it would introduce a draft resolution to the 15-member panel based on a Russian proposal for Syria to allow inspection and control of its chemical weapons. Also Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem was reported to have endorsed the Russian proposal. (Xinhua, 11/09/13)
  • U.S. small business confidence little changed in August – U.S. small business confidence was little changed in August, a leading industry association said Tuesday. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that its Small-Business Optimism Index edged down 0.1 point to 94 in August, below the one-year high hit in May with a reading of 94.4. The index has fluctuated between 86.5 and 94.5 since the latest recession ended in June 2009. (Xinhua, 10/09/13)
  • China: China’s industrial production gained traction in August, according to a statement by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. Its total industrial value-added output grew by 10.4% YoY last month, marking the fastest growth since April 2012 and beating market consensus. Chinese customs figures also showed Sunday that China’s exports rose 7.2% YoY to US$190.61bn in August, also topping analysts’ forecasts. (Xinhua, 11/09/13
  • China auto exports down 5.5% YoY in Jan-Aug – China exported 638,600 motor vehicles in the first eight months of this year, a drop of 5.5% YoY, according to the latest statistics released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). (Xinhua, 11/09/13)
  • News: Syria’s Assad agrees to hand over chemical weapons – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that he agreed to put chemical weapons under international observation ” upon the request of Russia and not because of the American threats,” the state-run SANA news agency reported Thursday. (Xinhua, 12/09/13)
  • US: The number of Americans who initially applied for unemployment benefits declined sharply last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. In the week ending Sept. 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims decreased 31,000 to 292,000, the lowest level since 2006, it said. However, “the drop reflects new computer systems in two states, which likely meant a significant number of claims were not processed,” FTN Financial Chief Economist Christopher Low quoted the department as saying in a note on Thursday.
  • Among other data, prices for U.S. imports stood flat in August, after ticking up 0.1% in July, the department said in a separate report Thursday. In August, higher fuel prices were offset by falling nonfuel prices. U.S. export prices dropped 0.% in the month following a 0.1% decrease the previous month. (Xinhua, 13/09/13)
  • China: China sets national coal use target to tackle air pollution – China will aim to cut total coal consumption to below 65% of total primary energy use by 2017 as part of a comprehensive new plan to tackle air pollution, the government said on Thursday. (Reuters, 11/09/13)

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