Wednesday, official data revealed that Singapore retail sales logged an annual decline for the fifth straight month as consumers cut their spending amid rising unemployment and recession.

According to the city-state's Department of Statistics, retail sales were down 5.7% over a year ago in February. However, it was slower than January's 12.2% drop and 6% decline expected by economists. Excluding motor vehicles, sales slipped 10.2%.

A report by the Ministry of Commerce showed that foreign direct investments into China decreased for the sixth month in a row in March. FDI decreased 9.5% year-on-year in March to US$8.4 billion. However, the decline in March was slower than the 15.8% drop registered in February.

South Korea's National Statistical Office said the jobless rate climbed to 4% in March from 3.9% in February. The number of unemployed increased to 952,000 from 924,000 in the previous month.

South Korea's import prices, in won terms, climbed 10.6% year-on-year in March, at a slower pace compared to an 18% rise in February, the Bank of Korea said.

Japanese industrial production declined for the fifth consecutive month in February, a revised report from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. In February, production fell 9.4% month-on-month, in line with initial estimate. Output recorded an annual fall of 38.4%.

The Bank Indonesia said the economic growth is forecast to reach 6%-7% in 2014. Meanwhile, inflation is projected to slow to 4%-5% in 2014, the Economy Outlook report released by the central bank showed.

The Malaysian economy is forecast to contract at a pace of 2.2% in 2009, faster than government's expectations, as exports decline, reports said, citing the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research. The institute had earlier forecast 1.3% growth for 2009.

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