Friday saw a hectic news-flow from Asian economies. Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said late Thursday that the U.S. economy needs painful measures to get out of the recession. Elsewhere, the South Korean economy unexpectedly expanded in the first quarter.

Addressing the Japan Society in New York, Shirakawa said, I think the U.S. economy needs to work out excesses, which include unsustainable financial leverage, household over-indebtedness, and perhaps the over-extension of the financial industry. This will be painful but inescapable.

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry or METI, Japan's All Industry Activity index dropped 2% month-on-month in February, on a seasonally adjusted basis, following a 1.7% decline in January.

South Korean gross domestic product unexpectedly expanded by 0.1% in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the previous three months, the Bank of Korea said, possibly averting a technical recession. Analysts had been expecting a 0.8% quarterly decline following the 5.6% fall in the previous three months.

On an annual basis, gross domestic product fell 4.3% versus forecasts for a 4.6% decline after the 3.4% contraction in the fourth quarter of 2008.

China's current account surplus rose to $426.1 billion in 2008 from $371.8 billion surplus in 2007, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, said.

Elsewhere, China increased its gold reserves by 76% since 2003 to 1,054 tons via domestic purchases and refining scrap metal.

Imports to the Philippines plummeted 31.9% on-year, the National Statistics Office said. On a monthly basis, imports were off 6.5%. Total external trade in goods for February hit $5.565 billion, representing a 35.3% decline from $8.603 billion in the same month in 2008.

Singapore's Economic Development Board or EDB announced that the industrial production dropped 33.9% year-over-year in March, compared with a 15.1% fall in February. On a monthly basis, industrial production declined a seasonally adjusted 13.9%.

Latest report from the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority showed that the prices of private residential properties dropped 14.1% sequentially in the first quarter, following a 6.1% fall in the fourth quarter.

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