Thursday, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has approved fresh stimulus spending of JPY 15.4 trillion (USD 154 billion) to resuscitate the world's second-biggest economy from its deepest recession since World War II. On the same day, the Bank of Korea held its key interest rate at a record low level for the second straight month.
Japan's new stimulus package amounts to 3.1% of Japan's gross domestic product and will be the largest ever for a single year, surpassing former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's JPY 8.5 trillion stimulus during the Asian financial crisis in 1998. Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso has unveiled two packages totaling JPY 10 trillion since he took office in September.
Core machine orders in Japan unexpectedly rose 1.4%in February compared to the previous month, marking the first increase in five months, official data showed. That compares to analyst expectations for a 6.9% decline after the 3.2% fall in the previous month. On an annual basis, core machine orders fell 30.1%- beating forecasts for a 36.7% decline after the 39.5% fall a month earlier.
Elsewhere, the Japan Machine Tool Builders' Association said the slump in Japan's machine tool orders continued in March with an 84.5% year-on-year decline.
Japan's Ministry of Finance reported that overseas residents acquired a net JPY 44.7 billion in Japan stocks for the week ending April 4th, having been net sellers for the preceding weeks.
Bank of Korea Governor Lee Seong-tae and his board voted to keep interest rates on hold, maintaining the record low of 2%- in line with expectations. Consumer price inflation has been decelerating thanks to the stable movements of international oil prices coupled with the easing of demand-pull pressures owing to the economic downturn and this trend seems set to continue for some time, the central bank said in a statement accompanying the rate decision.
Separately, the Bank of Korea said South Korea's producer price index rose 3.5% year-on-year in March, at a slower pace compared to a 4.4% rise in the previous month. This marks the slowest rise in producer prices since a 3.1% increase in November 2007. Month-on-month, producer prices were up 0.5% in March compared to a 0.6% increase in February.
Industrial production in Malaysia dropped 14.7% annually in February, at a slower pace compared to a revised 19.8% fall in January. Economists expected production to decline only 13.5%. Month-on-month, output declined 3.7%.
India's inflation slipped to 0.26% for the week ended March 28 compared to 0.31% in the previous week, government data showed. Inflation was 7.75% during the corresponding week of the previous year.
Another official data from India showed that industrial output declined 1.2% in February from a year earlier after a revised increase of 0.4% in January.
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