What happened this week 24/03 – 28/03

Thailand

  • Exports rebound, up 2.43% in Feb — Thailand’s exports in February rose 2.43% YoY to US$18.36bn, supported by growth in the shipment of industrial goods, the Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday. Exports were also up on January, when the value fell by 1.98% YoY to US$17.9bn. Imports in February totaled US$16.60bn, down 16.62%, for a trade surplus of US$1.77bn. Exports of industrial goods rose by 6.8% in February, but shipments of agricultural products dropped by 5.7%. For the first two months of 2014, Thailand’s exports totaled US$36.2bn, 0.20% higher than the same period of 2013. Imports during the period totaled US$37bn, down 16% YoY. The ministry still maintains its export target for 2014 at 5% growth on the assumption that the global economy will expand 3.7% and an exchange rate of 31.50. (Bangkok Post, 27/03/14)
  • Budget delayed — The Bureau of the Budget says it expects the FY2015 budget to be delayed by at least five months since there is no government. In the worst case scenario where there is no government until next year, it said it can just roll over the current budget. (Krungtep Thurakit, 27/03/14)
  • Exports expected to rebound in 2nd half – The Commerce Ministry projects Thai exports will grow by 4% in the second quarter and 7% in the second half of the year, thanks to signs of recovery witnessed last month. (The Nation, 27/03/14)
  • Kittiratt says Bt20bn will be found soon – The caretaker government has pledged to find additional funds of nearly Bt20bn to pay suffering rice farmers by April, a senior official said after a cabinet meeting in Bangkok yesterday. (Bangkok Post, 26/03/14)
  • Exports recovering in February — The Department of Trade Promotion said Thai exports began to show signs of recovery in February, in line with global economic recovery. It said exports will show growth in February and it maintains its 2014 export growth forecast of 5%. (Matichon, 26/03/14)
  • Unabated chaos could fuel rise in overseas investments; other ASEAN nations stand to gain: UTCC – The number of medium-sized and large companies planning to invest in other ASEAN countries, especially Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam, could triple to more than 1,440 due to mounting concern over the fractured political picture at home, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC). (The Nation, 26/03/14)
  • Govt works to end labor abuse after US claims – The Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department has undertaken steps to counter possible US trade sanctions after that country’s Labor Department claimed that some Thai industries violated international standards by using child, forced or indentured labor. (The Nation, 26/03/14)
  • Central bank cuts GDP growth projection to 2.7% – The Bank of Thailand has cut this year’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection to 2.7% due to greater downside risks to the economy but remains optimistic that exports can help to alleviate the current downturn (Bangkok Post, 22/03/14)
  • Rice prices are on a downtrend, with the price of 5% white rice dropping by 10% due to the release of government rice stockpiles. (Kom Chad Leuk, 24/03/14)
  • Unemployment rising — The NSO released the latest unemployment figure that shows an additional 78,000 were out of work (YoY), for a total of 361,000, translating to an unemployment rate of 0.9%. (Kao Sod, 24/03/14)
  • FPO lowers 2014 growth forecast again – The Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) has again revised down its 2014 economic growth forecast, this time to 2.6% from 3.1%, and warned it could be lowered further if a functioning government is not installed by the third quarter. (Bangkok Post, 28/03/14)

Globally

  • US: U.S. new orders for manufactured durable goods in February jumped 2.2% to US$229.4bn after two consecutive monthly declines, the Commerce Department said, beating analysts’ expectations. (Xinhua, 27/03/14)
  • Service sector activity growth rebounded in March, which partly reflected a catch-up effect after weather-related disruptions in the previous month, financial data firm Markit said. The Markit Flash U.S. Services Purchasing Managers’ Index registered 55.5 in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, picking up sharply from February’s four-month low of 53.3. (Xinhua, 27/03/14)
  • Meanwhile, in the week ending March 21, U.S. mortgage applications decreased 3.5% percent from a week earlier, the Mortgage Bankers Association said. (Xinhua, 27/03/14)
  • Crude inventories of the United States climbed by 6.6 million barrels to 382.5 million last week, said the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, Wednesday. (Xinhua, 26/03/14)
  • US: Housing: The growth pace of U.S. home prices slowed in January due to severe winter weather, with the 20-City Composite posting its third consecutive monthly decline of 0.1%, according to the widely-watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released by S&P Dow Jones Indices.
  • Another report released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed that U.S. house prices rose 0.5% in January on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous month, slightly better than market consensus.
  • Moreover, sales of new single-family houses in February dropped 3.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 440,000, the lowest level in five months, said the Commerce Department Tuesday. But the reading still matched market consensus. (Xinhua, 26/03/14)
  • U.S. consumer confidence data came in as a surprise on the upside. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index stood at 82.3 in March, up from the revised reading of 78.3 in February, said the Conference Board, a New York-based research organization, in its monthly survey. The fresh figure beat analysts’ expectations. (Xinhua, 26/03/14)
  • US: Financial data firm Markit said Monday that U.S. manufacturing business conditions continued to improve at the end of the first quarter. The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index registered 55.5 in March, lower than 57.1 in February, but was still the second highest since January 2013.
  • US: U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the third and final estimate released by the U.S. Commerce Department. The latest data was upwardly revised from the department’s second estimate of 2.4% but missed economists’ estimate of 2.7% and was remarkably lower than a 4.1% increase in the third quarter. (Xinhua, 28/03/14)
  • US Unemployment: the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits last week unexpectedly fell 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 311,000, the lowest level in nearly four months, said the Labor Department Thursday. Analysts had expected a rise in the claims. (Xinhua, 28/03/14)
  • U.S. pending home sales declined for the eighth straight month in February, according to the National Association of Realtors. The forward-looking indicator based on contract signings dropped 0.8 percent to 93.9 on a monthly basis, the lowest since October 2011, but still consistent with analysts’ forecast. (Xinhua, 28/03/14)
  • In addition, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose to 0. 14 in February from minus 0.45 in January, showing economic activity increased in the month, mainly thanks to improvements in production-related indicators. (Xinhua, 25/03/14)
  • US: Fitch affirms U.S. AAA rating after review – Fitch Ratings Friday affirmed United States’ long-term credit rating at “AAA” with a stable outlook and resolved the negative watch it placed on the country’s credit rating in October. (Xinhua, 21/03/14)
  • Russia: World Bank sees Russian capital flight, hit to GDP if Crimea crisis deepens – The Russian economy may contract markedly this year and the country could see record capital outflow of US$150bn if the crisis over Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea deepens and Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) might shrink by 1.8% in 2014. (Reuters, 26/03/14)
  • The Philippines: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has again hiked its growth outlook for the Philippines, with post-Yolanda reconstruction efforts expected to support economic expansion of around 6% in the near term. (Business World, 26/03/14)
  • Britain’s February inflation sinks to lowest level since 2009 – Britain’s consumer prices index (CPI) grew by 1.7% in the year to February 2014, down from 1.9% in January, and marking the lowest inflation level since October 2009, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Tuesday. (Xinhua, 25/03/14)
  • Eurozone PMIs signal continued recovery – The composite eurozone PMI for March slipped modestly to 53.2, from 53.3 in February, in line with expectations. (FT, 24/03/14)
  • Russia’s largest bank warns of recession risk – Risk of recession in the Russian economy exists, but it is too early to make precise forecasts due to high uncertainty of macroeconomic situation, head of Russia’s largest bank said Monday. (Xinhua, 24/03/14)
  • German PMIs disappoint – Germany’s flash composite PMI fell to 55 points from 56.4, with both the manufacturing and services indices disappointing. The former fell one point to 53.8, and the latter slipped from 55.9 in February to 54 in March. (FT, 24/03/14)
  • China encourages foreign capital to help battle overcapacity: vice minister – Overcapacity in some of China’s industries has created a new business opportunity for MNCs to invest in China, and the country will further loosen the market access rules for FDI and encourage foreign capital to participate in dealing with overcapacity, said Su Bo, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). (Xinhua, 24/03/14)
  • China: Moody’s expects China’s home prices continue to grow but at moderate pace – Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) said in a Thursday-released report it expected the year-on-year growth in property prices across China’s 70 major cities to moderate in the following 12 months. (Xinhua, 27/03/14)
  • China’s industrial profit up 9.4% – Chinese industrial businesses saw their profits rise 9.4% YoY in the first two months of 2014. The growth rate was lower than that for the whole of 2013, which stood at 12.2%. (Xinhua, 27/03/14)

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