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Asian markets stumble over trade concerns, Brexit sentiment sinks pound

The Thaiger

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Asian markets stumble over trade concerns, Brexit sentiment sinks pound | The Thaiger
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Asian markets fell after hefty losses in New York yesterday, owing to growing China-US tensions in the next round of trade talks, while the British pound continues to be beaten down by fears the UK is on the verge of crashing out of the EU.

The downbeat mood comes as investors fret over signs the global economy is slowing down. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting the weakest growth in a decade owing to long-running tariff disputes.

Days before high-level negotiations were due to resume, the US announced restrictions on 28 Chinese entities over human rights violations in Xinjiang province and imposed visa restrictions on some officials. Then Bloomberg News reported unnamed Trump administration officials had said the White House was mulling new measures to curtail US investment in the country.

For its part, Beijing has hit out at the decisions and moved to take steps against the National Basketball Association in a brewing row over a team manager’s remarks on Hong Kong’s protest movement.

A report this week had already said China had narrowed the issues it was willing to discuss at the talks, with observers saying Chinese leaders felt in a stronger position as Donald Trump faces an impeachment inquiry at home and a weakening economy.

Andrew Balls, at Pacific Investment Management, told Bloomberg News… “It will be interesting to see how it plays out this week between the US and China.”

“The flare-up comes at a time when we already see growth pretty weak in the first half of next year and you have at least some evidence of weakness in manufacturing spilling into services”.

While economic data has been increasingly weak in recent months, hopes for this week’s talks have been providing some much-needed support. But the latest developments were a reminder that progress would likely be rocky.

On currency markets, the pound struggled to recover from Tuesday’s losses as Brexit talks between Britain and the EU teetered on the brink, with both sides blaming the other with just three weeks until the October 31 deadline.

British PM Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were unable to reach an agreement over the Northern Ireland issue during a telephone conversation. A Downing Street official quoted Merkel as saying the Brexit talks were “close to breaking down”.

With many economists warning a no-deal Brexit could be calamitous for the British economy, the pound tumbled against the dollar and euro and there were warnings it will fall even further.

Key figures this morning…

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6% at 21,456.38 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7% at 25,702.95

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4% at 2,924.86 (close)

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,144.02

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2204 from $1.2213 at 2040 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 89.81 pence from 89.69 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0960 from $1.0955

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.12 yen from 107.07 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 19 cents at $52.44 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 17 cents at $58.07 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 1.2% at 26,164.04 (close)

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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Economy

Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme

Maya Taylor

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Government considering another registration round for co-payment scheme | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The Finance Ministery is considering adding another registration round to the Khon La Khrueng (“Let’s Go Halves”) co-payment scheme, as 1.34 million rights have not yet been taken up. The government introduced the scheme last October, in an effort to stimulate the Covid-battered economy. Under the scheme, Thai citizens get a 50% subsidy on the purchase of food, drink and general products, up to 150 baht per person per day, to a maximum of 3,000 baht for the duration of the scheme. Those who sign up need to make purchases within 14 days of their registration.

The first phase got under way on October 23 and finished on December 31, with the government setting aside 30 billion baht to cover 10 million people. The second phase began on January 1 and runs until March 31, covering an additional 5 million people. The cap has also been raised from 3,000 to 3,500 baht.

Kulaya Tantitemit from the Fiscal Policy Office says that of the combined 15 million rights, 13.66 have been taken up. The Bangkok Post reports that those who have not received subsidy rights can register for the 1.34 million that remain by the end of this month.

The Finance Ministry is also considering a third phase of the scheme, based on the success of the first 2 phases, according to Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Thailand’s rich not eligible for 3,500 baht government handout

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s rich not eligible for 3,500 baht government handout | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Thailand’s Finance Ministry has confirmed that wealthy citizens are not eligible for the government’s monthly cash handout of 3,500 baht. The Rao Chana (“We Win”) scheme consists of 2 monthly payments of 3,500 baht for those struggling with the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Those with savings above a certain, unspecified threshold, will not qualify.

The ministry has not specified what this figure might be, in a bid to stop people transferring funds out of their accounts in order to fall below the required threshold. The Rao Chana scheme is aimed at farmers and the self-employed and is similar to the previous Rao Mai Thing Kan (“We Won’t Leave Anyone Behind”) scheme. That scheme consisted of 3 monthly payments of 5,000 baht and also excluded those with savings above a certain amount.

“The government spent 390 billion baht (on Rao Mai Thing Kan), but people still protested in front of the ministry after their applications to receive 5,000 baht remedial payments were rejected. A government official found that 1 protester had more than 10 million baht in his account, which is why he was not eligible.”

Kulaya Tantitemit from the Fiscal Policy Office, says screening under the new scheme will also reject government officials, employees in state enterprises, and people already in the social security net. The eligibility criteria are expected to be submitted for Cabinet approval soon, with registration for the scheme opening at the end of January and first payments made in early February.

“We want to help low-income people affected by Covid-19, so those outside the social security system such as freelancers or farmers will be eligible. But anyone with a high income will be disqualified.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

PM announces the distribution of 3,500 baht to help during Covid outbreak

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PM announces the distribution of 3,500 baht to help during Covid outbreak | The Thaiger
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announces the 3,500 Baht distribution to help people financially affected during this second major outbreak of Covid-19, including informal workers, freelancers, and the unemployed. At the same time, the government will also help reduce the cost of living expenses of all households nationwide including electricity and water bills in February and March. Special internet packages will also be provided to support people who need to work from home.

The 3,500 Baht distribution is part of the government’s urgent relief measures called “Rao Chana” project or “We Win” in Thai language. The money is planned to be distributed to the registered applicants by the end of January and early February. But the exact date for signing up for the project is not released yet, perhaps next week.

The electricity bill reductions will be applied to every household across the country for 2 months, February and March, with the first 90 units spent free of charge. The water bills for all households and small businesses will also be reduced by 10% of the total charges in the February and March invoices.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News| Post Today

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