Japan's prime Minister Shinzo Abe is getting backing for his Three Arrows economic reforms from the latest results from the closely followed Tankan survey. Released early Monday morning, the survey indicated that big Japanese manufacturers are feeling positive again for the first time since September 2011.
The quarterly Tankan index for large manufacturers rose to plus four in June from minus eight in March, and Bloomberg reports that large companies from all industries plan to increase capital spending by 5.5% in the year to March 2014.
Bloomberg said Japan’s gross domestic product grew an annualised 4.1% in the first quarter and is forecast to expand until the second quarter of 2014 when a planned sales tax increase may cause an economic contraction. Economists believe that confidence may have been restored by a basket of measures, including Abe's growth strategy; planned tax cuts on fixed investment; the continued impact of fiscal stimulus and a rush in demand ahead of the planned consumption tax rise. Yasunari Ueno, chief market economist at Mizuho Securities Co, wrote in a June 21 report that the economy had entered a period of moderate recovery. “In addition to the indices of industrial production and exports, consumer spending has increased because of expectations for Abenomics.”
Singapore M&A declines
Singapore volumes fell in the second quarter and first half of 2013, but bankers see private equity and cross-border deals populating a decent pipeline in the absence of 2012's monster takeovers. The Business Times reports that M&A deals involving Singapore buyers and targets fell 37.5% year-on-year to USD$11.3 billion in the second quarter of 2013, according to preliminary data by Thomson Reuters. The number of deals also shrank to 175, from 215. For the first six months of the year, total deal volume dropped 24.4% to USD$18.6 billion.
Nothing dodgy here
From today, Singapore's stronger tax regime comes into force, with tougher penalties for cross-border tax offences. Channel Asia reports that the government will now permit the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore to obtain bank and trust information from financial institutions without having to seek a court order. Singapore is also signing up to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) multilateral treaty on sharing tax details, doubling the number of jurisdictions with which Singapore can now exchange information to 83.
The man in charge of USD$500 billion
China has apparently about to appoint a new boss to head up its sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation, after the previous head stepped down in March. The Wall Street Journal says that little-known politician Ding Xuedong will be named by the government to replace Lou Jiwei, who resigned to take up a post as Finance Minister.
Big insurance potential in China
The Asian Insurance Review reports that the mainland's insurance assets are less than a tenth of total financial sector assets, compared to a third in developed Western countries, according to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, offering significant growth opportunities for insurance industry players. But, says CIRC chairman Xiang Junbo, this will require reforms such as deregulating life insurance product pricing, expanding investment channels and encouraging insurance companies to serve customer needs better.
And it's not just China...
Insurance companies are moving into the Bangladesh market en-mass, with at least 10 new companies expected to start operating this month. The Asian Insurance Review reports that 10 new operators are likely to get licences this month, including two foreign life insurers, Taiyo of Japan and Life Insurance Corporation of India. Up to 77 licence applications were submitted to the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority by the submission deadline in May this year.
Two heads better than one to drive growth
Deutsche Asia's co-CEOs Gunit Chadha and Alan Cloete have outlined their strategy to the Wall Street Journal for the bank's plans to grow income in the region. The bank has set stretch targets of 20% compound annual growth in income before interest and tax over the four years to 2015, the highest of any region where the bank operates.
DBS honcho for Hong Leong Bank?
Malaysia's The Star newspaper says Hong Leong Bank Bhd will announce its new CEO today and ex-DBS Group Holdings Tan Kong Khoon is said to be a strong contender to replace Datuk Yvonne Chia, who retired last week. Strengthening talk of Tan joining HLB was the announcement by DBS Group in March that Tan had resigned and was relocating from Singapore for personal reasons.
Four amateur filmmakers in Hong Kong have beaten Hollywood to the draw by producing the first film on Edward Snowden, a five-minute thriller depicting the intrigue surrounding the intelligence leaker when he was hiding in the city.The film was made in less than a week on a tiny budget, and stars a school teacher in the main role. The film, entitled Verax - the code name Snowden assumed - had already notched up almost 36,000 views on YouTube at the time of this post.
Follow the author on Twitter @AmandaJVB