RTTNews - Tuesday, Hong Kong announced an additional HK$16.8 billion stimulus package to shore up the economy, which sunk deeper into recession in the first quarter of the year. Elsewhere, Malaysia's central bank left its key interest rate unchanged.

In the latest package, the Hong Kong government raised a waiver on salary tax payments to HK$8,000 for 2008-09 from HK$6,000. The government will pay the basic rent for 700,000 public housing estates tenants for two months, while recipients of social welfare and disability allowances will receive an additional one-month payment.

On the same day, Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department announced that the trade deficit stood at HK$16.4 billion in April, narrowing from HK$18.2 billion deficit in March. Economists had expected a deficit of HK$11.8 billion.

Elsewhere, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said in a report that the value of new residential mortgage loans drawn down increased 19.3% month-on-month in April, compared with the 25.5% growth in the previous month. The value of new loans drawn down increased to HK$10.6 billion from HK$8.9 billion in March.

The Bank of Japan said corporate service prices in Japan eased 0.2% in April compared to the previous month, following the 0.9% monthly gain in March.

The contraction in Singapore's manufacturing output slowed considerably in April, owing to growth in the biomedical manufacturing output. Data released by the country's Economic Development Board revealed that the manufacturing output shrank 0.5% year-on-year in April, far better than a revised 32.8% drop in March. Economists were expecting a fall of 21%.

South Korea's consumer confidence improved in May, with the index moving up to 105 from 98 in April, the Bank of Korea said. This was the highest reading in almost two years, the bank said.

Philippines' trade deficit decreased to US$363 million in March from US$923 million last year, according to the country's National Statistics Office.

In central bank action, the Bank Negara Malaysia left its overnight policy rate unchanged at 2%. The central bank retained the rate for the second straight meeting and the decision was in line with economists' expectations.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com