What happened this week 24/02 – 28/02

Thailand

  • Economy in danger of stalling — Credit rating agencies have voiced concerns that the political impasse could take a toll on investment if it continues, says a Finance Ministry source. Public investment under the caretaker government cannot proceed at full throttle, while the Bt2trn infrastructure and the Bt350bn water management projects have been temporarily stalled by the court. (Bangkok Post, 22/02/14)
  • Foreign attendance at fairs down — The Ministry of Commerce reports that foreigner visitors at investment fairs in Thailand are down by 10% as they fear political risks. However, it insists that total exports will not be affected as it will aim for more regional trade partners. (ASTV Manager, 25/02/14)
  • TDRI urges budget audit, transparency – The government should address loopholes in auditing its annual fiscal budget, as they are a source of problems hindering transparency, appropriate budget allocation and financial prudence, say academics. (Bangkok Post, 25/02/14)
  • NESDB warns of jobless rise, falling pay – Higher unemployment and a drop in incomes are highly likely due to an expected drought, state investment delays, political protests and weakened confidence among consumers and businesses, warns the government’s planning agency. (Bangkok Post, 25/02/14)
  • Private business still show strong 1Q14 as most are surviving on backlog and pre-orders from the previous year. However, prolongation of the political conflict will start to erode bottom lines from 2Q14. (Krungtep Thrurakit, 25/02/14)
  • China posts service trade deficit in Jan. – China’s foreign trade in services had a deficit of 81.4 billion yuan (US$13.3bn) in January. The country’s income from trade in services stood at 113.6 billion yuan in the first month of this year, and expenditure reached 195 billion yuan, according the data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • S.Korean president vows to boost growth with three-year economic plan – South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed Monday to speed up growth to around 4% through a three-year economic innovation plan, which focuses on resolving structural and chronic problems inherent in the export-driven economy in the course of rapid growth. (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • Red shirts lay siege to graft body’s HQ – Red shirts blocked entry to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) headquarters in Nonthaburi yesterday, and have vowed to stay there until all members of the anti-graft body resign. (Bangkok Post, 27/02/14)
  • EGAT likely to put off 2 major projects – The current political deadlock and lack of an elected government are likely to affect two major projects of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), said its governor Soonchai Kumnoonsate. (The Nation, 27/02/14)
  • ASEAN agrees to push integration beyond AEC launch – ASEAN permanent secretaries have agreed to continue promoting ASEAN trade and economic integration even after the full realization of the ASEAN Economic Community next year. (The Nation, 27/02/14)
  • Unions block funding attempt — The caretaker government’s push for state enterprises to join a bid for BAAC promissory notes has hit a wall after the plan was strongly opposed by state enterprise labor unions. (Bangkok Post, 27/02/14)
  • New company registrations drop 35% in January – The number of new companies registered in Thailand dropped dramatically last month compared with January 2013, mainly because of the impact from the political unrest, the Business Development Department reported. (The Nation, 28/02/14)
  • FPO: January levels take a faceplant – The Thai economy showed broadening deterioration in January, evidence that the political turbulence is taking a toll on an already-sluggish economy. (Bangkok Post, 28/02/14)
  • BoI reports minimal outflows – Despite last weekend’s political violence, capital outflows were not unusually excessive, as investors have already priced in risks coming from the uncertain scenario, says a senior Bank of Thailand official. (Bangkok Post, 28/02/14)

Globally

  • G20 pledges ambition tempered with realism – G20 central bankers and finance ministers may have found common ground in Sydney this weekend by signing off on a targeted increase in global growth, but conceded that there remains no clear roadmap to achieving such an increase. Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s 20 leading economies set the growth goal — representing at least two percentage points over the next five years or US$2trn in economic activity — following two days of closed-door negotiations. (Xinhua, 23/02/14)
  • US: The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago informed that the National Activity Index dropped to -0.39 during January, down from December’s -0.03 (revised). (FXStreet, 24/02/14)
  • U.S. existing home sales fall to lowest in 18 months – Existing-home sales fell in January to its lowest level in 18 months, but ongoing inventory shortages continue to shore up prices in much of the United States, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 5.1% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62mn in January, the slowest since July 2012. It was also 5.1% YoY below the 4.87mn unit pace in January 2013. (Xinhua, 22/02/14)
  • US: U.S. house prices rose 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index. This was the 10th consecutive quarterly price increase in the purchase-only, seasonally adjusted index.
  • Meanwhile, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released by S&P Dow Jones Indices showed that U.S. home prices lost momentum in December, with the 10-City Composite remaining relatively unchanged while the 20-City Composite down 0.1% for a second consecutive month. (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • U.S. consumer confidence declines moderately in February – US consumer confidence, which had increased in January, dropped moderately in February. The Consumer Confidence Index stood at 78.1 in February, down from 79.4 in January. The fresh figure came in below analysts’ expectation of 80. (Xinhua, 26/02/14)
  • US: Oil prices rise on U.S. crude inventories – U.S. crude stockpiles rose 0.1 million barrels to 362.4 million barrels last week, said the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its latest weekly report. The figure missed market expectation of a 1.28-million-barrel increase. (Xinhua, 26/02/14)
  • U.S. new home sales hit five-and-a-half year high in January – Sales of new single-family homes in the United States surged to the highest level in more than five years in January, easing concerns over the resilience of the housing market. Home sales in January jumped 9.6% from revised December rate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units, marking the fastest pace since July 2008, data showed. It rose 2.2% compared with January 2013. (Xinhua, 26/02/14)
  • US: U.S. initial jobless claims rise to one-month high – The number of Americans initially applying for unemployment aid rose to a one-month high in the third week of February. In the week ending Feb. 22 initial claims for jobless benefits increased by 14,000 to 348,000, the highest level in a month, the data showed. (Xinhua, 27/02/14)
  • U.S. reports falling orders in durable goods in January – New orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods dropped last month but business investment rebounded, U.S. Commerce Department reported Thursday. Orders for durable goods fell US$2.2bn, or 1%, to US$225bn dollars in January. (Xinhua, 27/02/14)
  • U.S. Fed to monitor upcoming economic data for weather impact: Yellen – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Thursday that some recent economic indicators have pointed to weaker consumer spending than had been expected, but the central bank needs more time to judge how much the weather has played a role. (Xinhua, 27/02/14)
  • Spain’s trade deficit falls by 48.1% in 2013 — The Spanish trade deficit dropped by 48.1% in 2013 to €15.955nm (US$1.93bn) according to the data released Friday by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. (Xinhua, 22/02/14)
  • German business confidence rises for fourth consecutive month – The Ifo Business Climate Index for industry and trade in Germany rose to 111.3 in February, Ifo said on Monday. (Xinhua, 24/02/14)
  • Draghi: ECB Prepared to Add Stimulus on Deflation Risks – ECB President Mario Draghi said policy makers are ready to add to stimulus if the outlook for prices deteriorates, though there are currently no signs of deflation in the euro area. (Bloomberg, 24/02/14)
  • EU foresees continuation of economic recovery – The European Commission in latest economic forecast issued Tuesday foresaw a continuation of the economic recovery in most European Union (EU) Member States and in the EU as a whole. Following real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 1.5% in the EU and 1.2% in the euro area. In 2014, activity is seen accelerating in 2015 to 2.0% in the EU and 1.8% in the euro area. (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • German economy sends stable signals – Germany achieved another fiscal surplus in 2013 and kept its moderate economic growth at the end of last year. German economy expanded by 0.4% over the whole year of 2013, mainly supported by domestic consumption. The German government expects investment to be another pillar for the growth in 2014 and the economy to grow by 1.8% in the new year. (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • Ukraine names pro-West cabinet amid looming economic disaster, division – A new cabinet in favor of anchoring Ukraine in the West emerged Thursday with a tough mandate to steer the country away from a looming economic collapse and find a way to mend its division. Arseny Yatsenyuk, one of the prominent figures leading the anti- government protests to demand the country’s European integration, was named as the new Prime Minister. (Xinhua, 27/02/14)
  • EU economic confidence increases slightly in Feb – The economic sentiment indicator (ESI) across the European Union in February remained broadly unchanged, marking a marginal increase of 0.2 points in both the euro area (to 101.2) and the EU (to 105.0), according to a statement released Thursday by the European Commission. (Xinhua, 27/02/14)
  • China Unaffected by US Stimulus Taper Says Finance Minister Lou Jiwei – Attempts by the US Federal Reserve to withdraw its ultra-loose monetary policy are good for China because it shows the world’s leading economy is improving, said China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei. (IB Times, 24/02/14)
  • China posts service trade deficit in Jan. – China’s foreign trade in services had a deficit of 81.4 billion yuan (US$13.3bn) in January. The country’s income from trade in services stood at 113.6 billion yuan in the first month of this year, and expenditure reached 195 billion yuan, according the data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • S.Korean president vows to boost growth with three-year economic plan – South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed Monday to speed up growth to around 4% through a three-year economic innovation plan, which focuses on resolving structural and chronic problems inherent in the export-driven economy in the course of rapid growth. (Xinhua, 25/02/14)
  • BOJ policymaker concerned about effects of slowing growth in ASEAN – Bank of Japan policymaker on Wednesday voiced concern about slowing growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its possible adverse effects on Japan’s trade at a time when a recovery of exports lacks momentum despite the weakening yen. (Kyodo, 26/02/14)
  • Shanghai FTZ lifts foreign-currency deposit rates – China’s central bank will remove interest rate ceilings on smaller foreign-currency deposits in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) from March 1, the latest in a spate of long-anticipated financial reforms. (Xinhua, 26/02/14)
  • Chinese steel industry unlikely to shrug off overcapacity problem shortly, assoc – The overcapacity problem of China’s iron and steel industry is unlikely to be resolved in a short period, said Li Xinchuang, vice secretary general of China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), at a recent industry conference. (Xinhua, 26/02/14)
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