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Japan's output and retail sales fall, signaling economic strains – The Japan Times

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Industrial output slipped for the second straight month in November, raising the likelihood that the economy will contract in the fourth quarter due to slowing demand abroad and at home.

Japan’s economy has cooled in recent months due to a prolonged hit to exports from soft global demand and a slide in consumer spending following a nationwide tax hike.

Official data showed factory output fell 0.9 percent in November from the previous month, a slower decline than the 1.4 percent fall in a Reuters forecast.

That followed a downwardly revised 4.5 percent decline in the previous month that was the largest month-on-month slump since the government started compiling the data in comparative form in January 2013.

“The overall economy including factory output is expected to contract sharply in the current quarter,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

“It is expected to rebound in January-March, but the issue is how much it will recover.”

Production was pushed down by a decrease in output of production machinery and information equipment, which offset a bounce back in output of cars and car engines.

“There is still uncertainty for the economic outlook as the effects from the U.S.-China trade friction will likely remain, but there are positive signals for a moderate pickup in factory output,” said Hiroaki Mutou, chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expect output to gain 2.8 percent in December and rise 2.5 percent in January, the data showed.

Separate data released Friday showed retail sales dropped a larger-than-expected 2.1 percent in November, as consumer sentiment remained depressed after October’s sales tax hike.

The weak readings could pressure the government to come up with new ways to boost growth and force the central bank to maintain its stimulus program.

“Economic sentiment has worsened overall,” said Shudai Hasegawa, a shopkeeper at a store selling rice, pickles and other foods in the Shinagawa area of Tokyo.

“There were fewer people in the shopping street here from the start of the year compared to the previous year, and also after the tax hike,” he said earlier this month.

Kota Watanabe, the manager of a store selling pillows and futon mattresses, said demand from consumers over 50 has been weak this year, partly due to warm weather.

“They say they are satisfied with cheap goods. There are also people saving money for their children instead of spending it themselves.”

The broader economy is likely to stay under pressure as weak business and consumer confidence, and a delayed pickup in global growth, hurt demand.

The government last week cut its overall view on the economy for the fourth time this year due to a downgrade in its assessment of manufacturing output.

The Bank of Japan stood pat last week, though it warned risks to the recovery remained high and offered a gloomier view on output.

Also last week the government approved a record budget for the coming fiscal year. Part of the planned spending will help finance a $122 billion fiscal package to shore up growth.

Meanwhile, Japan’s jobless rate fell in November, while the jobs-to-applicants ratio held steady, suggesting the nation’s tightest jobs market in decades is holding up.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2.2 percent in November from 2.4 percent the previous month, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications data showed.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio was unchanged at 1.57 in November from the previous month, health ministry data showed.

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Why falling immigration isn't that bad for the economy during COVID-19 – Yahoo Canada Finance

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COVID-19 travel restrictions have put a big dent in immigration, widely seen as something the economy relies on, but the negative effects aren’t as bad as they might seem.

The latest government numbers show 13,645 fewer permanent residents came to Canada in July, down 63 per cent from the same month last year. April and June were similarly weak periods, making the likelihood of reaching the federal government’s target of 341,000 less likely.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For a country like Canada with an aging population and relatively low population growth, immigration is needed to counter demographic headwinds. But the pandemic’s effects more generally, far outweigh the specific negative effects of lower immigration.” data-reactid=”18″>For a country like Canada with an aging population and relatively low population growth, immigration is needed to counter demographic headwinds. But the pandemic’s effects more generally, far outweigh the specific negative effects of lower immigration.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“I think we need to keep the incremental impact of new immigration on economic growth in perspective. Even at its maximum pace in recent years, it was adding roughly 1 per cent to population per year and roughly the same to the labour force.” BMO chief economist Doug Porter told Yahoo Finance Canada.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”19″>“I think we need to keep the incremental impact of new immigration on economic growth in perspective. Even at its maximum pace in recent years, it was adding roughly 1 per cent to population per year and roughly the same to the labour force.” BMO chief economist Doug Porter told Yahoo Finance Canada

“So, even a complete shutdown of immigration would (roughly) shave 1 percentage point from growth (or a bit less). Not small by any means, but that compares with what could be a 6 per cent drop in GDP (OECD said -5.8 per cent for this year, we are looking at -5.5 per cent).”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Around 1.1 million Canadians are still out of work, so immigrant workers aren’t exactly in high demand these days.” data-reactid=”21″>Around 1.1 million Canadians are still out of work, so immigrant workers aren’t exactly in high demand these days.

“Overall, given the realities of COVID and the now-soft demand for labour, the cool down in immigration by itself will not be particularly harmful — and certainly less so than it would have been say a year ago.” said Porter.

Long term effects without immigration

Pedro Antunes, the Conference Board of Canada’s chief economist, also thinks the effects are mitigated in the short-term but that doesn’t mean the economy will be totally unscathed.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“Some sectors will be affected because immigration drives consumer spending, demand for housing, and other services directly related to increased population,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada.” data-reactid=”25″>“Some sectors will be affected because immigration drives consumer spending, demand for housing, and other services directly related to increased population,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada.

However, he believes it’s more important to look at the long term repercussions of reduced immigration.

“Canada’s underlying capacity is dependent on private and public investment, adoption of technology and the number of workers (and the skills of those workers). We know from our prior research that without immigration, our labour force would be flat or declining (since exiting baby-boomers outnumber school leavers),” said Antunes.

“If immigration levels are reduced over a few years (we think 2020 and 2021 at least) the result is a long-lasting impact on our potential (or productive capacity).”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter&nbsp;@jessysbains.” data-reactid=”29″>Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for&nbsp;Apple&nbsp;and&nbsp;Android.” data-reactid=”30″>Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.

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EU looks to fast 5G, supercomputers to boost virus-hit economy – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday urged the 27-country bloc to work together to speed up the rollout of fibre and 5G networks to boost the region’s virus-hit economy and secure its technology autonomy.

EU countries should develop a best practices toolbox by March 30 with the aim of cutting cost and red tape, provide timely access to 5G radio spectrum and allow for more cross-border coordination for radio spectrum for 5G services, the EU executive said.

The coronavirus outbreak showed how important internet services and 5G are, European digital chief Margrethe Vestager said.

“We have seen the current crisis highlight the importance of access to very high-speed internet for businesses, public services and citizens, but also to accelerate the pace towards 5G,” she said in a statement. “We must therefore work together towards fast network rollout without any further delays.”

The Commission also proposed a recommendation to boost research and activities to develop new supercomputing technologies.

“Keeping up in the international technological race is a priority, and Europe has both the know-how and the political will to play a leading role,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement.

The Commission is investing 8 billion euros($9.46 billion)in the next generation of supercomputers.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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Charting the Global Economy: Fed Signals Rates on Hold for Years – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve signaled it will keep its benchmark interest rate near zero through 2023 to help the world’s largest economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheap borrowing costs are fueling demand for U.S. housing and leaving builders brimming with optimism in the process. In China, retail sales and industrial output are on the mend, while in the U.K., the virus-related shutdowns are having a large negative impact on youth employment.

Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week, offering insight into the latest developments in the global economy:

World

The global economic slump won’t be as sharp as previously feared this year, though the recovery is losing pace and will need support from governments and central banks for some time yet, according to the OECD.

U.S.

The Federal Reserve’s so-called dot plot, which the central bank uses to signal its outlook for the path of interest rates, shows that officials expect no change in policy this year and borrowing costs near zero through 2023.

Homebuilder optimism rose to a record in September, with low mortgage rates driving a housing boom that has boosted the pandemic economy, National Association of Home Builders data show.

Europe

The U.K.’s lockdown hit young workers particularly hard, with employment in the 16-24 age category falling by 156,000. That may reflect the share of young workers in hotels, restaurants and bars, a sector devastated by the pandemic.

Asia

China’s economic recovery from Covid-19 accelerated, spurred by a rebound in consumption as virus restrictions eased and larger-than-expected gains in industrial output. Retail sales rose for the first time this year in August, by 0.5% from a year earlier, while industrial production expanded 5.6%, against a forecast of 5.1%.

Emerging Markets

Scoring 75 emerging-market and frontier economies, Bloomberg Economics finds that Asia leads in getting closer to pre-outbreak norms, with some countries in Africa and Eastern Europe also outperforming. Latin America is still struggling to contain the pandemic, with 18 of the bottom 25 in the ranking in Latin America or the Caribbean.

Saudi Arabia’s crude exports dropped to the lowest since at least 2016 in the second quarter as it led a campaign alongside Russia to curb oil production following a coronavirus-induced price crash. While the effort yielded a stark turnaround in prices in May and June, Saudi revenue from oil sales still plunged almost 62% in the three-month period from a year earlier.

South Africa is among the countries with the highest percentage of smokers globally, with almost one in every three adults lighting up. So when the government banned cigarette sales for about five months of the nation’s Covid-19 lockdown, some 90% found a workaround.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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