Jul 262016


South Korea's economic growth stayed below 1 per cent for three straight quarters, boosting concern about the prolonged low-growth trend, central bank data showed on Tuesday.

Real gross domestic product (GDP), seasonally adjusted for inflation, reached 375.04 trillion won (328.7 billion U.S. dollars) in the second quarter, up 0.7 per cent from the previous quarter, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).

It was up from a 0.5 per cent quarterly expansion tallied in the first quarter, but the second-quarter figure marked the zero-per cent growth for the third consecutive quarter.

From a year earlier, the real GDP increased 3.2 per cent during the April-June period.

The central bank said the first-half growth met the BOK's expectations of 3.0 per cent, but it indicated an economic slump in the second half as it forecast the economy's 2016 growth at 2.7 per cent.

The ongoing restructuring, led by the government, in troubled shipbuilders and shipping lines are widely expected to pull down the economy's recovery.

The country's three major shipbuilders, including Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, had submitted a plan to cut workforce by 30 per cent and reduce overcapacity by 20 per cent by the end of 2018.

The southeastern region, where major shipyards and ports are sited, is forecast to be hit hardest by the ongoing restructuring process, with the region's unemployment rate beginning to go higher from the first quarter of this year.

Exports, which account for about half of the economy, gained 0.9 per cent in the second quarter from the prior quarter due to demand for semiconductors as well as oil and chemical products. Imports rose at a faster pace at 1.9 per cent.

Despite the growth, concerns lingered about the exports due to uncertainties such as the falling global trade, the prolonged trend of low oil prices and China's shift into a consumption-centred economy from an exports-focused.

Private consumption, another engine for economic expansion, increased 0.9 per cent in the second quarter, turning around from a 0.2 per cent reduction in the first quarter. But, it stemmed mainly from a one-off factor such as the government's cut in consumption tax for cars and the launch of new auto models.

The country's five automakers reportedly sold 812,265 cars in the first half of this year, up 10.9 per cent from a year earlier thanks to the temporary consumption tax cut.

Massive household debts and high jobless rate among youths are expected to continue to weigh down on private consumption.

Facility investment rebounded from a 7.4 per cent decline in the first quarter to a 2.9 per cent expansion in the second quarter, but there remained uncertainties over whether local companies would increase capital spending in the second half due to the restructuring process and the still weak global trade.

Investment in the construction sector rose 2.9 per cent during the April-June period, less than halving a 6.8 per cent growth in the previous three-month period.

To bolster the lacklustre economy, South Korea's government unveiled an extra budget plan, worth 11 trillion won, for the second quarter, and the BOK lowered its benchmark interest rate to an all-time low of 1.25 per cent in June.

Despite the fiscal and monetary stimulus measures, economic outlook among economic think tanks are still bleak due to the still weak global trade and the US Federal Reserve's anticipated interest rate hike as early as September as well as potentially negative impacts from the Brexit, or British referendum to leave the European Union (EU), according to a news agency.


- TS


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Jul 262016
Singapore\'s manufacturing output down 0.3pc


Singapore’s manufacturing output fell 0.3 per cent year-on-year in June, said the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB) on Tuesday.

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 2.4 per cent year-on-year in June, said EDB in the press release.

On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output declined 2.5 per cent in June compared with the same month last year. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 1.8 per cent.

The transport engineering cluster was the weakest performing sector, with output falling 17.2 per cent year-on-year in June. The aerospace segment grew 21.8 per cent in June, while the land transport and marine and offshore engineering segments posted declines of 20.5 per cent and 32.1 per cent respectively. The latter segment was affected by a lower level of rig-building activity and lacklustre demand for oilfield and gasfield equipment amidst the low oil price environment.

EDB said the output of biomedical manufacturing cluster contracted 10.2 per cent in June, compared to the same period in 2015. The medical technological segment grew 10.2 per cent, but this was offset by a 15.3 per cent decrease in the pharmaceutical segment, which was due to a different mix of active pharmaceutical ingredients being produced, as well as lower output of biological products.

The chemicals cluster’s output fell 5.1 per cent year-on-year in June. The petroleum and specialties segments registered increases in output of 14.1 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively; however, output of the other chemicals and petrochemicals segments fell 3.0 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively. EDB said that decline in the petrochemicals segment was mainly attributed to plant maintenance shutdowns.

As for general manufacturing industries, the cluster’s output decreased 4.5 per cent year-on-year in June. While the food, beverages and tobacco segment grew 6.8 per cent, the miscellaneous industries and printing segments fell 13.2 per cent and 15.3 per cent respectively.

The electronics cluster registered the best performing in June, with output increasing 19.7 per cent year-on-year. The cluster recorded higher output in the semiconductor and data storage segments. However, this was partially offset by declines in the rest of the electronic segments.

Output of the precision engineering cluster increased 4.3 per cent in June year-on-year, said EDB. The machinery and systems segment increased 8.9 per cent as a result of higher export demand for semiconductor related equipment, as well as higher volume of mechanical engineering works. The precision modules and components segment, however, contracted 3.4 per cent, according to a news agency.


– TS


Jul 262016
Oil prices rebound

Published : 26 Jul 2016, 14:43:34

Oil prices rebounded from over three-month lows on Tuesday, lifted by a drop in the dollar, but concerns of ongoing oversupply weighed on markets and many traders are raising their bets on further price falls.

Jul 262016
Dutch-Bangla chamber chief Hasan Khaled found dead
Published : 26 Jul 2016, 16:00:28 | Updated : 26 Jul 2016, 16:14:10
Dutch-Bangla chamber chief Hasan Khaled found dead

File Photo

Dutch-Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Hasan Khaled was found dead in Buriganga river on Tuesday, four days after going missing from Dhaka’s Dhanmondi.

Hasan, 55, also the chief executive officer of New Era Trading, left his Dhanmondi home around 9:00am Saturday to buy medicines from a nearby shop but did not return.

This afternoon, his body was found floating in Keraniganj area of Buriganga river, Dhanmondi Police Station Officer-in-Charge Noor-a-Azam Miah said.

Police said locals informed them after spotting a body.

The identity of the dead was confirmed with the help of a visiting card found on the body, said Keraniganj police OC Ferdous Hasan.

Khaled’s family had made a missing diary on Saturday night

Hasan Khaled, who studied at the Dhaka University in the 1980s, was Managing Director of Chemico Bangladesh Ltd.

He was residing on the third floor of the six-storey building in Dhanmondi House 45, Road 4/A over the last three years with his wife and daughter.

He was involved with export-import and plastic goods trade for the last 25 years. His office is at the capital’s New Eskaton.

Hasan, one of the founders of the DBCCI, was also a trade facilitator between Bangladesh and the Netherlands, according to news agencies. –RH

Jul 262016
Lower oil price hits BP’s second-quarter profit

Second-quarter profits at oil giant BP have almost halved from a year earlier as the company suffered from lower oil prices and weak refining margins.

Underlying replacement cost profit for the quarter fell to $720m (£550m), down 44 per cent from $1.3bn a year earlier.

BP also said it had “drawn a line” under its liabilities from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Earlier this month, the energy giant that final bill for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico would be $61.6bn.

In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and causing an oil spill that became the worst environmental disaster in US history.

BP said it had taken a further charge of $5.2bn in the quarter to cover liabilities from the disaster. Including these charges and other items, BP reported a $2.2bn loss on a non-underlying replacement cost basis, compared with a $6.6bn loss a year earlier.

The company also announced another cut to its planned investment budget for 2016 to “below $17bn”.

‘Challenging’ environment

BP chief executive Bob Dudley said, “Compared with a year earlier, the underlying second-quarter result was impacted by lower oil and gas prices and significantly lower refining margins, but this was partly offset by the benefit of lower cash costs throughout the group as well as lower exploration write-offs.”

He added that the company expected the external environment to remain challenging, but added that “we are delivering significant improvements to the business that will stick at any oil price”.

On Monday, oil prices dropped to a three-month low, hit by rising concerns that a global oversupply of both crude and natural gas will dampen prices.

US crude fell to $43.11 a barrel, its lowest level since April, while Brent crude dropped to $44.75.

BP chief financial officer Brian Gilvary said, “We continue to reset our capital and cost base and are moving steadily towards our aim of rebalancing organic sources and uses of cash by 2017 in a $50-55 per barrel oil price range.”

Richard Hunter, head of research at Wilson King Investment Management, said, “The sigh of relief emanating from BP HQ is almost palpable as the Gulf of Mexico spill is finally consigned to the history books.”

“This is not to say that the challenges are over, not least of which is an underlying oil price still markedly short of the level which would provide comfort for the company.”

BP’s second-quarter profit was slightly below analysts’ expectations, and in early trading the company’s shares were down 1.8 per cent, according to news agencies. –RH

Jul 262016
Opinion: Dhaka operation gives us confidence
Dhaka raid

Law enforcers at Road no. 5 in Kalyanpur of Dhaka where a special operation of the joint forces neutralised nine militants on July 26, 2016. Photo courtesy Prothom Alo

Kalyanpur gives us confidence.

After what we have been experiencing in the past few months – militants freely attacking and killing people one after another – a deep sense of insecurity had seeped into the society.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s quick statement that the country averted a catastrophe by busting this den of terrorists is a pointer. This is why the sudden and successful eradication of the militant den in Kalyanpur in the early hours of today was so assuring. It surely proved a few things.

First, there is no alternative to effective intelligence gathering to fight terrorism and that the people should be taken along in this task. The government should invest heavily in intelligence. It already has a lot of weapons in its armory- it has laws that enable the agencies to snoop on what the private citizens are doing. That should be applied properly and in the right direction.

It also proves that there is no scope for complacence. Because of the geopolitical situation, militants nowadays seem to be active on their Jihadi path, constantly conspiring to destabilize nations. The Kalyanpur militants are merely an obvious corroboration to that effect.

After the Gulshan café attack, security has been tightened and a lot of agencies are working to flush out the militants. Amidst that, these militants had been digging and drilling a dark tunnel leading to some big terrorist acts. The prime minister herself had said the other day that she expected more attacks apprehending that some educational institutions might just be the next target.

And with the unfolding of the latest event shows the militants are not scared by the heightening of security. So surveillance will be a key to fighting them. Such successful operations will also break the morale of the militants. Many would shun the path of destruction.

However, many would harden as well and become even more elusive. So our law enforcers will also have to be more effective and stay one step ahead of the Jihadists.

We believe busting more such militant dens would bring even more sense of security for the people who are already panicky. Restaurants and shopping malls find thin crowd because people are scared to go to public places. This is not good for economy.

So the vigil must be enhanced to bring Bangladesh to its old form. Kalyanpur operation is a sure way to that direction.

Jul 262016
Dutch-Bangla chamber chief found dead

Four days after going missing from Dhaka’s Dhanmondi, Dutch-Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Hassan Khaled was found dead in Buriganga river today.

Hassan, 55, also the chief executive officer of New Era Trading, left his Dhanmondi home around 9:00am Saturday to buy medicines from a nearby shop but did not return.

This afternoon, his body was found floating in Keraniganj area of Buriganga river, Dhanmondi Police Station Officer-in-Charge Noor-a-Azam Miah told The Daily Star.

Details have not been obtained yet.

Until yesterday, police were clueless about Hassan’s whereabouts. They went through surveillance cameras in the neighbourhood but could not reach any definitive conclusion.

Hassan is one of the founders of the DBCCI, established in November 1999, and he has been involved in advocating bilateral trade between Bangladesh and the Netherlands.

He was residing on the third floor of the six-storey building in Dhanmondi House 45, Road 4/A over the last three years with his wife and daughter.

Jul 262016
Militants shouted 'Allahu Akbar', black flags found

The militants shouted “Allahu Akbar†before they attacked the law enforcers during a special drive of the joint forces in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur today.

Police found “Allahu Akbar†inscribed black flags from the den, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said while addressing a press briefing at his office.

Nine militants were left dead during the raid and one was caught alive.

Police recovered 13 handmade grenades, one sword, one pistol, seven magazines and bullets from the den, the DMP commissioner said.

The militants had rented the apartment on June 20 and had gathered there to carry out terror attacks, he claimed.

One police man was slightly injured in the operation, Mia said.

The militants were aged about 20, wore jeans and sneakers and were highly educated, he added.

Mia further added that police suspect these attackers belong to the same group that attacked the Gulshan café because similar kind of red handkerchiefs and backpacks were found. “Black dresses were also found there,†he added.

The militant detained from the spot with bullet injuries was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. He claimed to be a member of the Islamic State, DMCH police camp sources said earlier.

Jul 262016
Messi shows off new look at training

Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. Photo taken from Lionel Messi’s official Twitter pag…

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