RTTNews - Wednesday, the Japanese economy contracted at the fastest pace since records began in 1955. Elsewhere, the Thai central bank held its key interest rate on hold, defying expectations for a quarter point reduction and pausing the series of rate cut that begun in December 2008.

The Japanese economy contracted by a record 15.2% year-on-year in the first three months of the year after the revised 14.4% contraction in the previous three months, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report. Meanwhile, economists had expected a 16.1% contraction.

Compared to the previous quarter, GDP fell 4% in the first quarter of 2009, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of decline. That was still better than forecasts for a 4.4% decline after the revised 3.8% quarterly decline in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The monetary policy committee of the Bank of Thailand retained its policy interest rate at 1.25% per annum following reductions in the past four months. Meanwhile, economists had expected the central bank to make another cut of 25 basis points. In April, the Thai central bank had slashed the rate by 25 basis points, taking the cumulative reduction to 250 basis points.

World Bank's country Director for China, David Dollar reportedly said that stimulus spending of Chinese government helped the economy to stabilize.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia said the consumer price index rose 3% year-over-year in April, slower than the 3.5% increase in the previous month. Economists were looking for an increase of 3.2%. On a monthly basis, consumer prices declined 0.2% in April.

Meanwhile, Indonesia recorded a current account surplus of US$1.79 billion in the first quarter, reversing three consecutive quarters of deficits, a report from the Bank Indonesia showed. In the fourth quarter, the current account deficit stood at US$677 million.

Taiwan also logged a current account surplus of US$12.99 billion in the first quarter, higher than a surplus of US$8.47 billion in the same period last year, the Central Bank said.

In other news, the UAE withdrew from the proposed monetary union agreement between the states of the Gulf Co-operation Council or GCC, state news agency WAM reported, citing an official at the Foreign Ministry. At the same time, Kuwait and other Gulf countries are still part of the plan.

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