A Quick Look at World Affairs – Taipei Times


Household spending plummets

Households cut spending in January amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and renewed restrictions on activity, heightening the risk of a contraction in the economy this quarter. Spending fell 1.2% from December last year for the sixth drop in the past nine months as people cut spending on entertainment, clothing and extra schooling, the Ministry of the Interior. From low levels of a full state of emergency a year ago, spending has increased by 6.9%. Economists had forecast a 3.4% gain. Lower spending from the previous month could help push the national recovery into reverse gear this quarter. Household spending accounts for more than half of GDP.


Economy beats expectations

The economy jumped at the fastest pace in seven months in January, surpassing levels that prevailed before the COVID-19 pandemic. GDP rose 0.8%, down from 0.2% in December last year, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed yesterday. The gain was much stronger than the 0.1% pace expected by economists. This increase left output around 0.8% higher than in February 2020, with all sectors of the economy expanding. The figures could encourage the Bank of England to raise interest rates for the third time next week to control inflation, which has reached its highest pace in three decades.


Uranium spot prices soar

Uranium spot prices have risen to their highest level since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in 2011 on fears that potential sanctions targeting Russia are set to upend an already tight market. The price of Ux U3O8 benchmark uranium jumped to $59.75 a pound on Thursday, according to data compiled by UxC LLC. It’s the highest since March 2011, when meltdowns at the Fukushima facility shut down Japan’s nuclear power plant fleet, sent shockwaves through the atomic industry and wiped out demand for uranium – the fuel used in the reactors. The White House is considering sanctions against Russia’s atomic energy company, Rosatom Corp, heightening concerns over disruptions to uranium exports from Russia. Rosatom is a tricky target, as the company and its subsidiaries account for more than 35% of the world’s uranium enrichment. Russia accounted for 16.5% of the uranium imported into the United States in 2020.


Registration of Didi HK refused

Didi Global Inc (滴滴) has suspended preparations for its planned Hong Kong listing after failing to appease demands from Chinese regulators to overhaul its systems for handling sensitive user data, people familiar with the matter said. The Cyberspace Administration of China informed Didi executives that their proposals to prevent security and data leaks had failed, the people said. Its main apps, removed from local app stores last year, will remain suspended for the time being, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The company and its bankers halted work on listing in Hong Kong ahead of an IPO originally slated for the summer of this year, the sources said. In addition to handling the cyberspace agency’s review, Didi is also working to finalize its fourth quarter results, as required for a listing prospectus, they said. Shares of Didi’s US custodian plunged as much as 20% in pre-market trading in the US yesterday.

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