South Korea’s industrial output grew at a faster pace compared with the prior month due to solid exports, especially in the tech and auto sectors, a government report showed on Monday.
Production in the all industries, including manufacturing, service, construction and public administration sectors, increased by 1 percent in August from a month earlier, according to Statistics Korea.
It was the fastest growth in four months, Global Times wrote.
From a year earlier, the output rose 2.8 percent in August after gaining 1.4 percent in the previous month.
The faster growth was attributable to robust exports, which account for around half of the South Korean economy.
Exports expanded 7.7 percent in August from a year earlier. The August trade surplus was $4.85 billion, marking the 19th straight month of surplus since February last year.
Output in the manufacturing and mining industries grew 1.8 percent in August from a month earlier after falling 0.3 percent in the previous month.
Output in the audio, video and communications sector, including smartphones, jumped 11.1 percent on-month in August, and automobile production surged 18.9 percent. The end of labor strikes in the GM Korea boosted auto production, with auto exports soared 42.9 percent last month.
Production in the steel and chemical industries reduced by 2 percent and 1.6 percent each in August from a month earlier due to restrictions on electricity usage during the summer peak season for power demand.
Vietnam Opens Door To Foreign Investors
Vietnam’s premier pledged to subject state-owned companies to competition and allow greater foreign ownership of banks as the government seeks to revive growth and join a key trade agreement.
“Over the next five years, Vietnam’s state companies will focus on areas such as infrastructure that the private sector cannot or does not want to invest in,” Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in an interview in New York on Sept. 27, Topix wrote.
“The government plans to devalue the dong as much as 2 percent by the end of the year and let foreign companies own up to 49 percent of local banks in the near future.”
Vietnam’s economy faces its most severe slump in at least a decade, hurt by slower lending as banks strain under the weight of bad debt incurred largely by the state sector. Removing protections for state companies would help Vietnam seek greater access to the US market to strengthen its economy and underpin efforts to boost political ties.
“State enterprises will need to operate in the market economy,” Dung said in the almost hour-long interview. “We will treat them as equal to other enterprises.”
“There are plans to sell shares in companies such as Vietnam Airlines Corp., Vietnam Posts & Telecommunications Group, and Vietnam Oil & Gas Group,” he said, without giving a specific time frame for divestment.
Dung said he is considering increasing the foreign ownership limit in banks and telecommunication companies.
Total foreign ownership in any lender is currently limited to 30 percent and the holding of any single foreign investor at 20 percent. Those limits curb offshore interest in Vietnamese banks, Standard & Poor’s said last month in a research note.
Asian Stocks Fall
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That compares with 15.4 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 14.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, the data show.
Japan’s Topix index slumped 1.7 percent as the yen gained, weighing on exporters, and a report showed industrial production fell more than expected in August. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was scheduled to speak on Tuesday on his plans for a sales-tax increase and an economic-support package
South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.5 percent and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.9 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.3 percent while heading for its biggest quarterly gain in four years as record-low interest rates boost profits.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 1.2 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s markets are shut on Tuesday for a holiday, while Monday was the last day of trading for mainland markets until October 8. Taiwan’s Taiex Index fell 0.8 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 0.6 percent.
Firms Flounder in US
Futures on the S&P 500 Index slipped 0.7 percent on Monday after the gauge declined 0.4 percent on September 27.
Companies that do business in the US dropped. Toyota, Asia’s biggest carmaker, declined 2.5 percent to 6,280 yen. Honda Motor Co., a Japanese carmaker that generates 47 percent of its sales in North America, fell 2.5 percent to 3,745 yen. Techtronic Industries Co., a maker of power tools that gets 73 percent of sales from North America, lost 1.2 percent to HK$20 in Hong Kong.
A Chinese manufacturing gauge was 50.2 for September compared with 50.1 in August, according to a HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics Performance of Manufacturing Index. The reading missed a preliminary estimate. Fifty is the threshold between contraction and expansion. China releases its official manufacturing PMI on Tuesday.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell to the lowest price in almost three months, as concerns over the US budget and speculation threats to the Middle East oil supply are subsiding.
BHP Billiton lost 1.4 percent to A$35.86 in Sydney. Energy explorer PetroChina Co. slid 2.1 percent to HK$8.53 in Hong Kong.
One of the key areas of debate between the Democrats and the Republicans has been President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, popularly known as Obamacare.
Early on Sunday, the Republican-run House of Representatives passed an amended version of the Senate spending bill that removed funding from the healthcare law, raising the chances of a shutdown.
The House of Representatives voted 231-192 to stop many of the Affordable Care Act’s central provisions for one year, tying it to an extension of US government funding through December 15.
If the government does shut down on October 1, as many as a third of its 2.1 million employees are expected to stop work--with no guarantee of back pay once the deadlock is resolved, BBC reported.
National parks and Washington’s Smithsonian museums would close, pension and veterans’ benefit checks would be delayed, and visa and passport applications would be stymied.
However, programs deemed essential, such as air traffic control and food inspections, would continue.
The defense department has advised employees that uniformed members of the military will continue on “normal duty status”, but “large numbers” of civilian workers will be told to stay home.
NIDC to Train Iraqi Personnel
Iran has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Iraq’s drilling entity to hold engineering and technical training courses for its personnel in Tehran.
Hamid Reza Golpayegani, managing director of the National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC), added that Iraqi trainees will receive international certificates at the end of the courses.
Drilling industry officials of the two countries signed the MoU in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz.
“Iran’s drilling industry is one of the pillars of oil and gas production, and plays a crucial role in exploring, developing and launching oilfields,” he said.
Pointing to the achievements of NIDC and its breakthroughs, the NIDC chief said, “Precious experiences of NIDC in drilling, completing about 3,500 gas and oil wells and presenting engineering and technical services demonstrate the Iranian drilling industry’s potentials.”
The official stated that engineering and technical services of NIDC are unique and irreplaceable in the world.
“Modern equipment and facilities, capable and knowledgeable experts as well as a variety of services related to drilling industry indicate Iran’s abilities in this respect,” he said.
Golpayegani further said NIDC’s training courses meet global standards.
“The National Iranian Drilling Company is able to hold training courses for all countries in the fields of gas and oil drilling operations,” he said.
Parvizkhan Terminal Registers 45% Progress
The buildings of Parvizkhan border terminal in Kermanshah province have progressed by 45 percent, said the head of Iran’s Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization.
Shahriar Afandizadeh also told Mehr News Agency that construction operations started in August 2011. Parvizkhan terminal, by transiting over 2 million tons of commodities, is considered the busiest border in terms of imports.
He expressed hope the commercial and passenger buildings would be completed by next spring.
Afandizadeh called Bandar Abbas, Bazargan and Sarakhs as the other active borders.
“Facilities are being constructed for the welfare of transit drivers,” he said.
He noted that 2.2 million tons of fuel were transited by 82,000 trucks during March 21-Aug. 22, 2013.
“By expanding border terminals and establishing infrastructures, Iran will transit 40 million tons of commodities annually,” he said in June 2013.
Afandizadeh also said the transit sector has grown by 80 percent.
“Transit of commodities exceeded 11.6 million tons in the last Iranian year,” he said, adding that the figure reached 2.2 million tons during March 21-May 21.
“Currently, most cargo transportation, including transit, exports and imports, is conducted via routes such as the one passing through Dogharoun border to Afghanistan.”
Afandizadeh said the passenger halls of Milak Terminal in Sistan-Baluchestan province, Bashmaq Terminal in Kurdestan, Parvizkhan Terminal in Kermanshah, Lotfabad in Khorasan Razavi and Mill 78 or Mahiroud Terminal in South Khorasan will be inaugurated in the next few months.
“Expansion of terminals will expedite cargo transportation,” he added.
Afandizadeh also said the Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad-Sarakhs Railroad is an important project in the Eastern Corridor.
He said the other goal is to link Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Iran.
Siemens to Cut 15,000 Jobs
The German engineering giant Siemens plans to cut 15,000 jobs, including 5,000 in Germany, by autumn 2014. This is part of a 6-billion-euro cost-cutting program named “Siemens 2014”, which started a year ago.