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Issue 509 | 16 May 2022
Corporate News
Toyota Motor Corp. (TYO: 7203), a Japanese automaker, announced its latest full year results. For the fiscal year ended 31 March 2022, the company posted net income of JPY 2.85 trillion (+26.9%) and sales revenues of JPY 31.4 trillion (+15.3%), helped by strong sales and yen depreciation. For the current fiscal year, the company Chief Financial Officer Kenta Kon expected the sales revenue would expand 5.2% to JPY 33.0 trillion, and warned the surging raw materials as well as logistics costs could cut profits by 20%. With surging costs and chip shortages, the company would reduce costs by working with suppliers, using fewer raw materials and switching to lower-priced parts.
Asia and Australasia
China: Export growth slows in April
The General Administration of Customs (GAC) reported that China’s exports grew only 3.9% in April, the lowest since June 2020, to US$273.6 billion from a year ago. Imports remained flat, after a 0.1% decrease in March. Overall, China saw its trade surplus standing at US$51.1 billion in April, up from US$47.4 billion a month earlier. Compared with March, exports and imports fell by 0.9% and 2.8% on a monthly basis respectively in April due to China's zero-COVID approach. The prolonged lockdowns in important cities like Shanghai undermined production, disrupted supply chains, and dampened domestic demands. Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua recently said local governments must find ways to stabilize the production and operation of foreign trade enterprises, help the companies to secure orders, and ensure the stability of supply chains.

Malaysia: BNM raises policy rate in May
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.0% for the first time since 2020. The latest economic indicators showed Malaysia’s economy expanded solidly, driven by strengthening domestic demand amid sustained export growth. The officials said that since COVID-19 became an endemic disease, the lifting COVID-19 restrictions would support economic activities and it was the appropriate time to begin reducing the accommodative monetary policy. The central bank expected the headline inflation would be in the range of 2.2% to 3.2% in 2022. Factors like slower global growth, further escalation of geopolitical conflicts, and worsening supply chain disruptions, remained the key downside risks.
France: Business activities continue to improve
Bank of France announced the results of its latest monthly survey on business conditions. The survey highlighted that business activities were stable and improved in April. The war in Ukraine and the lockdowns in China restricted the French economy. Industrial and construction sectors still faced supply chain disruptions and surging input costs. Most firms chose to raise their selling prices. The service sector continued to improve amid the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Survey respondents expected the situation would improve further in May. Looking ahead, the official expected the economy to expand by 0.2% qtr/qtr in Q2 2022 after being flat in Q1.
North America
US: Inflation eases in April but remains elevated
According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US annual inflation rate stood at 8.3% in April, down 0.2 percentage points from the record high of 8.5% in March. The decline came primarily from a slight easing of energy prices as well as used cars and trucks, while prices rose for groceries, dining out, airline travel and other services. The so-called core CPI which excluded food and energy items rose 6.2%, down from a 6.5% in the prior month. However, the inflation remained elevated and above the Federal Reserve’s long-term 2% target. President Joe Biden said that bringing inflation down was his top economic priority and the administration was considering the option of adjusting Trump's China tariffs to ease inflation.
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