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The years of periodic “will-they-won’t-they” chatter about South Korea’s potential upgrade to developed market status are over, at least for now. Index compiler MSCI has finally thrown in the towel.

But rather than bump up Korea (and Taiwan), it has instead decided to boot them off its upgrade watch list. Regardless of your view on the underlying debate, the clarity such a move offers should be welcomed. Continue reading »

PMI scores | Source: HSBC / Markit

Asian manufacturers are more positive than any point since April, according to the latest Markit / HSBC PMI surveys.

The purchasing managers index for October for six Asian economies (China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam) showed that five scored over the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction, and with none showing a decline in sentiment. It’s a big improvement on just two months ago when only China was showing any postive signs. Continue reading »

Taiwan’s growth for Q3 came in lower than expected: it was 1.58 per cent year on year, against a government forecast of 2.47 per cent.

But there are reasons to be cheerful. Continue reading »

My bubble's bigger than your bubble

Rising house prices and property bubbles are something of a UK obsession. But for all the help to buy worries, house prices rose by just 1.4 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter, according to estate agents Knight Frank.

The figure for London is much higher, of course. But for a housing boom of far greater magnitude, just take a look at Asia. Continue reading »

Taiwan’s exports slumped 7 per cent in September year-on-year, far worse than analysts had predicted. That’s the bad news.

The good news – and it’s a crumb of comfort – is that the electronic parts industry managed to squeeze into positive territory, with a smidgen of growth. Plus European demand is holding up. Those are the few positives. Continue reading »

There has been a bit of a turnaround in sentiment in Asian manufacturing from August to September. The purchasing managers index (PMI) readings for six major Asian economies paint a more optimistic picture – just.

The Asia PMI scorecard shows that August’s red is turning blue – with three indices moving above the 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction.

Source: HSBC, Markit

 Continue reading »

While attention has been focused on the demise of new chapter for Nokia as part of Microsoft, another phonemaker is in deep trouble.

Unlike Nokia, Taiwan’s HTC actually makes very good smartphones, and sold a lot of them a few years back. But sales have been dropping steadily since the 2011 heyday, and two bits of news have made the outlook for investors even grimmer. Continue reading »

After the recent emerging markets rout, any good news, however slight, is welcome. A quick look at the Asia PMI scorecard shows just one bright spot among several less encouraging numbers, but it’s the one that counts: China.

Source: HSBC / Markit

 Continue reading »

A quick look at manufacturing purchasing managers’ indices for Asia this year shows a worrying trend. From a positive start to 2013, the numbers for the six countries tracked by Markit Economics/HSBC are gradually slipping down to the 50 mark separating expansion from contraction, and below.

Source: HSBC, Markit

 Continue reading »

Tiawanese yacht makers like Horizon and Bluewater have helped push the country up the ranking of leading boat makers. The problem is that the whole industry has shrunk as a result of the global financial crisis. The FT’s Sarah Mishkin reports from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

Just a few weeks ago, Foxconn was apologising profusely for poor performance as rival contract manufacturer Pegatron was riding high on reports that it had won out over Foxconn, Apple’s main manufacturer, for a contract to make Apple’s upcoming cheaper version of its iPhone.

Things have changed. Now it’s Pegatron’s shares that are falling, battered by local reports that it is will not get as many orders as initially forecast, with Foxconn getting them instead. Continue reading »

When Transparency International reported this week that a third of Taiwanese said they paid a bribe last year to get government services, it sparked some anger in Taipei.

Many question whether Taiwan is really that corrupt – equal on that measure to Indonesia, by TI’s count. But the report has hit just as the government is trying hard to spark its flagging economy by encouraging more foreign investment. This is the kind of PR it doesn’t want. Continue reading »

And beyond that, you can see New Zealand

Taiwan has sealed an important free trade agreement with New Zealand – the two countries have no formal diplomatic relationship. It’s a big precedent for an island that almost no nation formally recognises.

New Zealand and Taiwan have agreed to start phasing out tariffs under the deal, signed on Wednesday. It will help boost Kiwi food exporters, but its greatest significance is the political boost it gives Taipei, which often finds its political interactions with other nations stifled by Chinese interference. Continue reading »

One effect of the recent turmoil in China’s financial markets is that investors are no longer surprised by gloomy news on the economic outlook.

Chinese equities barely flinched after the announcement of the official purchasing managers’ index for June and the final version of HSBC’s PMI for the same period. Even though both pointed stagnating growth in China’s factories, the often-volatile Chinese stock market was almost unmoved, with the Shanghai Composite index closing 0.8 per cent up. Continue reading »

Who's buying?

PC companies just can’t get a break.

Shipments from the Taiwanese manufactures that make most of the world’s desktop and laptop computers hit a three-year low last quarter as consumers waited for fixes to Windows and decided to buy tablets and smartphones in the meantime. For those Taiwanese companies, those disappointing stats are one more reminder of the need to diversify away from their core PC business. Continue reading »