(CNN) – South Korea on Thursday cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in more than three years, fueling concerns that the global economic downturn is taking its toll on one of Asia's largest economies.
Seoul's move followed similar cuts in Europe, China and Brazil last week.
After lowering its rate by 25 basis point down to 3%, the Bank of Korea pointed to a slower-than-expected growth rate in trade and domestic consumption. FULL POST
(Image credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) – Samsung is predicting a record boost to its profits for the start of 2012, thanks to burgeoning smartphone sales.
The South Korean technology giant expects an operating profit of $5.15 billion for the first three months of the year - almost double the figure it reached a year ago, according to its press release. FULL POST
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Oh my! In the past 24 hours, three of Asia’s dragon economies have traded in their scales and roars for shaggy fur and whimpers. That’s thanks to the shock from S&P’s unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. debt rating last Friday.
China, Hong Kong and South Korea are now officially bear market economies. They’ve lost at least 20% of their value from their previous peaks.
Today, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng crossed into bear territory after falling 22% from its November 2010 high. China’s Shanghai Composite has fallen 20% from early April. South Korea’s KOSPI Composite has tanked 20% from its recent high in May.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Washington’s debt deadlock continued to rattle markets here in Asia-Pacific. We saw steeper declines than those on Wednesday with financial-related stocks weighing heavy on bourses across the region.
The Nikkei closed down 1.45% breaching that psychological 10,000 point mark to close at 9,901.35. Auto exporters and financials led today’s slide. Toyota and Nissan each fell more than 2%; Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui closed down about 1.5%. One of the biggest losers of the day was in the tech sector: Advantest fell by nearly 7%. The world’s largest maker of memory-chip testers announced its operating profit fell more than 50% from last year. On the flip side, Hitachi Construction jumped nearly 4% after a surge in its Q2 net profit.
The Hang Seng ended nominally higher, rising 0.13% to close at 22,570.74. It was a similar picture to that on the Nikkei with financials leading the fall. China Construction Bank closed down 0.94% while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China closed down 1.67%.
Financials dragged things down on the mainland as well. The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.54% to end at 2708.78. Beijing has also ordered new directives on loans, particularly in real estate, which soured that industry’s mood.
The Seoul Kospi followed the region lower to close 0.85% at 2,155.85. Asiana Airlines fell 4.74% after one of its cargo planes crashed earlier Thursday morning. Meanwhile, insurance companies were rattled by continued torrential rains slamming the country. LIG Insurance closed down 0.55%, Dongbu Insurance paired earlier losses to close exactly flat at 0.00% while Samsung Fire & Marine pulled out of earlier negativity to post a gain of 0.85% at the close.
Down under, the ASX 200 fell 1.62% to close at 4463.80 with financials and retailers leading the slide. Investment bank Macquarie Group closed down about 4.5%. Wesfarmers, the country’s second biggest retailer, fell about 2.39%. Retailers are worried about a possible interest rate hike in August when the Reserve Bank of Australia next meets. That follows yesterday’s higher than expected consumer price index figure of 0.9%. A reading of 0.7% was expected.
Asia-Pacific Currencies Gain
Major currencies in the Asia-Pacific strengthened against the U.S. dollar yet again as faith in the greenback – and Washington – continues to waver.
Over the past year, the U.S. dollar has weakened by almost 10% on the same-named U.S. dollar index. That measures its value against a basket of major world currencies including the Euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.
In just the past month, when U.S. debt ceiling talks began to come to a boil, the Japanese yen has strengthened by nearly 4%. That has occurred against the backdrop of growing fears about the U.S. with investors moving into the safety of the Japanese currency.
And it’s a similar story with the Australian dollar. In the past month the currency has strengthened about 4.5% against the greenback. Last October it reached 1-to-1 parity with the U.S. dollar and it has not looked back since. Just yesterday, the Aussie neared a 30-year high on fears about the U.S. debt ceiling, compounded by that higher than expected CPI.
We’ve seen the same strengthening in theSingaporedollar. In the past month it’s strengthened about 3% against the dollar.
What does this mean?
There are winners and there are losers. It hurts exporters as it reduces their profits when they repatriate their earnings back home. It impacts travelers carrying U.S. dollars as it weakens their buying power in countries with stronger currencies. However, it may give a lift to retailers as the buying power of domestic consumers strengthens as consumers get more bang for their buck.
(CNN) – Small emerging markets may pay off better in the long term than the lofty BRICS.
That’s according to State Street Global Advisors, which reports that smaller emerging market economies outperformed the BRICs by a whopping 39% in the period from 1996 to March, 2011.
Investors focusing only on Brazil, Russia, India and China may be missing out.
Compared with developed economies, the numbers are even more stunning.
For example, when you look at retail sales of licensed merchandise, emerging markets registered a 22.7% increase from 2009 to 2010.
“The Licensing Letter,” an independent trade publication, also reports a 2.2% decline in retail sales of licensed merchandise globally for the same period, and a 4% drop in the United States and Canada.
So while others shrink, the EM’s just keep growing.
Indonesia is just one of the small emerging markets cited in recent small emerging market reports; Its growing consumer class and economic growth have been the focus of special coverage on World Business today all this week.
Check out our coverage to locate the hot-spots.
SEOUL, South Korea - There are a few reasons why Kim Han-Chal calls his supercar the “Tiger.”
The first is apparent when you get behind the wheel of the Spirra. Zero to 100 kilometers per hour (0-62 mph) in 3.8 seconds with 500 horsepower, your throat hits the back of your neck as the gas pedal hits the floor. The Spirra is the definition of supercar: fast, sporty, sleep, and a six-figure U.S.-dollar price tag.
But the more important reason Kim, the creator of the car, calls it the “Tiger,” is that the animal is a powerful symbol of Korea. That’s apropos for Korea’s first venture into the supercar market, made with all Korean parts, built with Korean hands. “We were the only country that didn't have a supercar,” Kim says. Neighbor Japan has a Toyota and Honda supercar, and Germany and Italy has Porsche and Lamborghini.
The car enthusiast, who pledges if you check carefully he has gas running in his veins, dreamed of building a car on his home soil. He believed in his countrymen’s ability to produce a high-end car, not just the reliable, eco-friendly Hyundai or Kia.
For 10 years, he tinkered with designs and poured his money into concept car after concept car. But it wasn't until he partnered with Oullim motors, backed by the wealth of a high tech company, that he began production. Now Europe is his first major customer. A dealer in the Netherlands purchased 145 orders of his handmade cars over the next three years, marking the first commercial entrée of his supercar into the global market.
CLSA auto analyst Christopher J. Richter says supercars are often losing business ventures and are built to send a message. “These guys, I think the message they want say is 'Hey, we can make a super car too, high performance car too, and we can do it with all Korean components. It stirs the pot a little bit and shows that auto-making is not just about Germany or Japan, but Korean auto-makers have a valuable contribution to make.”
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