What happened this week 17/02 – 21/02

Thailand

  • Taxes miss target during slowdown — Tax collection fell 3.8% short of target in the first four months of FY2014 due mainly to the tepid economy and effects from the political turbulence, says a Finance Ministry source. The ministry’s revenue figure is a fresh clue that the economy is faltering. (Bangkok Post, 14/02/14)
  • Ministry upbeat on budget dispersals – The Finance Ministry remains optimistic that state enterprises’ investment budgets can help shore up the stuttering economy even though the government cannot yet fully disburse it, says a senior ministry official. (Bangkok Post, 17/02/14)
  • GSB stunned by Bt30bn deposit run – The Government Savings Bank (GSB) has decided to suspend further lending to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) after experiencing a Bt30bn deposit run amid concerns the loan is being used to pay for the loss-ridden rice-pledging scheme. (Bangkok Post, 18/02/14)
  • BAAC pulls plug on B5bn loan – The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has halted its plan to use the Bt5bn loan it recently secured from the Government Savings Bank (GSB) through the interbank market to pay rice farmers, as it is worried it will suffer the same fate as its state-run peer. (Bangkok Post, 18/02/14)
  • NESDB cuts GDP growth forecast to 3-4% – The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) has cut its forecast for this year’s economic growth to 3-4% after the fourth quarter of 2013 saw gross domestic product expand by a mere 0.6% YoY. (Nation, 18/02/14)
  • Public debt up to 45% — The PDMO reports that the level of public debt reached 45.71% of GDP in December last year. The figure jumped by over Bt56.3bn from previous period. (Thai Post, 18/02/14)
  • Farmer-related businesses suffering, with cash flow problems with several farm machinery distributors. Tractor distributors are the most effected as many farmers cannot keep up with their payments. (Kom Chad Leuk, 18/02/14)
  • State banks resilient but risks increasing, says Fitch – The Government Savings Bank (GSB) and other state-run banks are resilient to the recent deposit pull-out from GSB branches, but risks in the financial system are increasing due to unclear sources of funding for the rice-pledging scheme, says Fitch Ratings. (Bangkok Post, 20/02/14)
  • Rating safe for now: S&P. But revision possible if political outlook worsens – Thailand’s sovereign credit rating should remain unchanged over the next two years despite the country’s political upheaval, said Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services. (The Nation, 20/02/14)
  • Commerce sets 3-prong plan to pay farmers – The Commerce Ministry yesterday launched a plan to raise funds to pay growers under the rice-subsidy project after the recent fiasco over lending by a state-run bank. (The Nation, 20/02/14)
  • Outflows driven by US policy no concern: BOT governor – IIF conference hears 3% Thai GDP growth expected in H2 on balanced economy. Attending an international conference, the governor of the Bank of Thailand said he was not concerned about capital outflows after the US Federal Reserve reduced its monetary stimulus, while he expected Thailand’s gross domestic product to post 3% growth in the latter half of this year. (The Nation, 21/02/14)
  • Industries Sentiment Index hits 55-month low in January – The Federation of Thai Industries has urged the government to resolve the political unrest quickly to restore investor confidence after the Thai Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) for January fell for the 19th straight month to its lowest level in 55 months. (The Nation, 21/02/14)

Globally

  • US: U.S. industrial production down in January due to severe weather – U.S. industrial production decreased in January for the first time in six months, as manufacturing output recorded its biggest drop since 2009. Industrial production decreased by a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in January, the first decline since July 2013. It followed a revised 0.3 percent increase in December. (Xinhua, 15/02/14)
  • U.S. consumer sentiment unchanged in February – The preliminary reading of the consumer sentiment index in February held steady at 81.2, according to the monthly Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumers. That was slightly better than economists’ expectation of 80.2 for this month. (Xinhua, 15/02/14)
  • U.S. import prices rose for the second consecutive month in January, advancing 0.1%, the Labor Department said Friday. Meanwhile, U.S. export prices also rose for the month, rising 0.2%. (Xinhua, 15/02/14)
  • US: U.S. home construction sharply down in January – The privately-owned housing starts in January were at 888,000 units, 16% below the revised December estimate of 1.05 million, and 2% below the January 2013 rate. New home constructions continued to fall in January due to severe winter weather. (Xinhua, 19/02/14)
  • Moreover, U.S. mortgage applications slipped 4.1% for the week ending Feb. 14 from a week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Among other data, the U.S. Producer Price Index for final demand increased 0.2% in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, which followed a 0.1% rise in December and no change in November, the Labor Department said. (Xinhua, 20/02/14)
  • US: U.S. initial jobless claims fall slightly – The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid fell slightly in the second week of February. In the week ending Feb. 15, initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 3,000 to 336, 000, nearly in line with economists’ expectation of 335,000. (Xinhua, 20/02/14)
  • U.S. CPI rises 0.1% in January; core prices inch up 0.1% – Consumer price inflation in the U.S. rose in line with expectations in January, while prices excluding food and energy costs also inched up modestly, official data showed on Thursday. (NASDAQ, 20/02/14)
  • The Conference Board Leading Economic Index in January advanced 0.3%, following no change in December, and a 0.9% increase in November. The reading exceeded the market consensus. (Xinhua, 20/02/14)
  • U.S. Markit flash PMI jumps to 56.7 in February – U.S. manufacturing jumped to its highest level in almost four years in February from the prior month, Markit reported Thursday. The U.S. flash purchasing managers’ index rose to 56.7 in February, up from January level of 53.7, the fastest overall improvement in conditions since May 2010. (WSJ, 20/02/14)
  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve reported that manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic region contracted unexpectedly in February as new orders plunged, but failed to affect the stocks. (Xinhua, 21/02/14)
  • EU: Eurozone gross domestic product increased at a more-than-expected rate of 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013. (Xinhua, 15/02/14)
  • Eurozone manufacturing PMI falls to 2-month low of 53.0 in February – Manufacturing activity in the euro zone expanded at a slower rate than expected in February, underlining concerns over the health of the region’s economy, preliminary data showed on Thursday. (Investing, 20/02/14)
  • German economy on upswing in winter: Bundesbank – The German economy experienced an upswing in the winter months, the country’s central bank said Monday, indicating that the euro zone’s largest economy, a bellwether for the monetary bloc, is likely to see further growth in the first quarter. (WSJ – 17/02/14)
  • Germany to Support Fed Tapering at G20 – Germany will support the Federal Reserve’s tapering policy during the upcoming meeting of Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers in Sydney and urge other countries to respect central banks’ independence, according to a German finance ministry official. (WSJ, 19/02/14)
  • German manufacturing PMI falls to 2-month low of 54.7 in February – Manufacturing activity in Germany expanded at a slower rate than expected this month, dampening optimism over the health of the euro zone’s largest economy, preliminary data showed on Thursday. (Investing, 20/02/14)
  • Center-left leader Renzi appointed as new Italian PM – The leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), Matteo Renzi, was appointed as new Italian Prime Minister on Monday. Renzi is the youngest Italian prime minister ever. (Xinhua, 17/02/14)
  • British unemployment rate up to 7.25 in Q4 – British unemployment rate rose to 7.2% in the 4Q13 after a surprising drop to 7.1% in the previous three months. (Xinhua, 19/02/14)
  • Japan: Existing home sales in Tokyo area hit record highs in 2013 – Sales of existing homes, both condominiums and single-family houses, rose to record highs in 2013 in Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures on the back of the improving national economy. (Kyodo, 15/02/14)
  • Japan’s industrial output grows 0.9 pct in Dec. – Japan’s industrial output rose by 0. 9 percent in December, compared with the previous month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Monday. The figure was revised down from a previous estimate of a 1.1 percent increase. (Xinhua, 17/02/14)
  • Prices “rising moderately” for 1st time in 5 yrs, Japanese gov’t says – The government said Wednesday in its monthly economic report for February that prices are “rising moderately” for the first time since October 2008 with domestic demand growing, indicating progress in its effort to beat nearly two decades of deflation. (Kyodo, 19/02/14)
  • Japan’s Oct.-Dec. GDP growth much weaker than expected – Japan’s economy grew a much weaker-than-expected annualized 1.0% in real terms during the last quarter of 2013 amid sluggish exports, the government said Monday, sparking fears the country may face a sharp economic downturn after a sales tax hike in April. (Kyodo. 17/02/14)
  • China Jan. auto exports down 7% YoY at 68,500 units – China exported 68,500 motor vehicles in January, a drop of 7% YoY, according to the latest statistics released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). (Xinhua, 17/02/14)
  • China’s new yuan loans hit four-year high – China’s new yuan-denominated lending reached 1.32 trillion yuan (216 billion U.S. dollars) in January, up 246.9 billion yuan year on year, the central bank said Saturday. (Xinhua, 17/02/14)
  • China targets 9.5% for 2014 industrial output growth – China plans to achieve about 9.5% growth in its industrial output this year, said Mao Weiming, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), at a press conference on Tuesday. (Xinhua, 19/02/14)
  • Indian gov’t presents budget, cuts taxes on cars, mobiles to boost economic growth – The Indian government Monday presented an interim budget in which indirect taxes on cars, two-wheelers and mobile phones have been slashed in a bid to boost economic growth. (Xinhua, 17/02/14)
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