CUTBACKS:  With demand  for coal on the wane, China is aiming to reduce  production by 500-million tonnes.  Picture: REUTERS
CUTBACKS: With demand for coal on the wane, China is aiming to reduce production by 500-million tonnes. Picture: REUTERS

China warns 1.8-million coal and steel jobs to go

BEIJING — China expects to lay off 1.8-million workers in the coal and steel sectors as part of its efforts to reduce industrial overcapacity, an official at the human resources and social security ministry said on Monday.

Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said capacity cuts would lead to some layoffs in 2016, but he was confident of keeping employment stable this year despite downward pressure on the economy.

No time frame was given for the 1.8-million figure cited.

China aims to remove about 500-million tonnes of coal production capacity within the next three to five years and halt approvals of all new projects.

Reuters

Chinese services trade deficit widens

BEIJING — China’s trade deficit in services widened to $20.7bn in January from $18.6bn in December, the foreign exchange regulator said on Monday.

January’s deficit largely reflected a gulf in spending between Chinese and foreign tourists, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said.

China had a $55.7bn surplus on trade in goods in January, according to its data.

Reuters

German retail sales rise

FRANKFURT — German retail sales, a closely watched measure of household confidence, rose in January, suggesting consumer sentiment in Europe’s top economy remained robust, official data showed on Monday.

Retailers’ sales expanded by 0.7% in January compared with December, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement. The previous month, retail sales had risen by 0.6%.

On a 12-month basis, however, business decreased, falling by 0.8% in January compared with the same month last year. But that was because January 2016 had one fewer shopping day than January 2015, Destatis said.

Last week, a leading consumer sentiment survey, conducted by the GfK market research institute, found consumer confidence was on the rise, shrugging off terrorism warnings and economic uncertainties regarding the influx of refugees.

AFP

Japan’s factory output rises fastest in a year

TOKYO — Japan’s industrial output rose the most in a year in January, tentatively signalling a pickup in factory activity, but the outlook remains far from assured given global market jitters and weakening demand both at home and abroad.

The 3.7% month-on-month gain compared with economists’ median estimate of a 3.3% gain in a Reuters poll, and followed a 1.7% drop in December, trade ministry data showed.

It was the fastest gain since January 2015, led by production of cars, electronics parts and general-purpose machinery, but manufacturers see poor prospects for industrial output in the coming months.

Retail sales fell 0.1% in January year on year and 1.1% month on month, following a contraction in fourth-quarter gross domestic product, underscoring weakness in private consumption, which accounts for about 60% of the economy.

Manufacturers surveyed by the ministry expect output to fall 5.2% in February and grow 3.1% in March. Based on these estimates, output would fall 0.3% over January-March from the prior quarter, a trade ministry official said.

Reuters