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Beijing Gives Mixed Signals
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China is fast recovering from the financial crisis. Or so claims the country’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao. According to Wen, the Chinese economy is showing “better than expected growth”. He says that the March industrial output will rise by as much as 8.3 per cent from a year earlier. However, latest data shows the Chinese economy grew 6.1 per cent in the January-March quarter of 2009, year-on-year. This is the lowest since data began to be compiled in 1992. Wen’s recovery theory is attributed to China’s 4-trillion yuan ($585 billion or Rs 29,10,865 crore) stimulus package, which was announced in November 2008.
THE JOB MARKET
British Telecom: The London-based company is planning to slash 10,000 jobs from its 160,000-strong global workforce.
UBS: The largest Swiss bank has announced plans to cut another 7,500 jobs after it posted 2 billion Swiss francs ($1.8 billion or Rs 9,007 crore) in losses. Till now, the bank has declared more than 11,000 job cuts worldwide.
Tourism takes a hit: The global downturn seems to have affected India’s tourism industry. Tourist arrivals declined sharply in January to 487,000 people against 591,000 in the same month of last year, resulting in a drop in foreign exchange earnings from $1.38 billion to $941 million.
Green curve: Indians cornered 157,726 or 38 per cent the total H-1B work visas last year. This is a drop of 3,000 compared to 2007 when 157,613 Indian citizens were admitted to the US on H-1B visas. In 2006, the figure was 125,717.
Keep the safety belts on: The slowdown in India is likely to continue for some more time, according to the Paris-headquartered Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Retail blues: Quelling optimism that the recession may be over, US retail sales fell by 1.1 per cent in March. This is attributed to declines in all major retail categories except food and beverage stores and health and personal care stores. This is the biggest dip since December and well below the 0.3 per cent gain that economists had forecast.
Singapore shrinks: In its biggest quarterly contraction on record, Singapore’s economy shrank by 19.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the previous quarter. The country has been hit by a steep decline in exports due to the economic fallout.
6% The drop in first quarter aluminium output by Chinese state-owned mining giant Rio Tinto.
(Businessworld Issue Dated 21-27 April 2009)