Jetstar’s Japan ambitions halted by regulator

18 Dec 2012 – Australian –

PoD_Jetstar

The planned expansion of Qantas Airways Ltd subsidiary Jetstar’s Japanese operations have taken a hit, after the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) found the budget carrier’s compliance with internal engineering procedures to be lacking, The Australian reports.

According to the newspaper, the notification from the JCAB places a question mark over Jetstar Japan’s plans to utilise Osaka’s Kansai International Airport as its second Japanese base.

The airline has reportedly delayed the commencement of a return service between Osaka and Tokyo, while its touted increase in flights between Kansai and Okinawa may also be in jeopardy.

A spokesman for Jetstar told The Australian that the objections of the regulator had to do with Jetstar Japan’s internal standards – which the spokesman claimed were set higher than the industry standard – but did not involve safety concerns.

Asian stocks open mixed

5 Dec 2012 – AAP –

Asian stock markets have open mixed as traders nervously wait for United States lawmakers to come up with a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index edged up 7.02 points to 21,806.99 points.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index opened 0.55 per cent lower at 9,380.37 points.

The benchmark Nikkei is likely to weaken following a modest sell-off on Wall Street and on a stronger yen, analysts said.

“The weakening dollar is the key component today, as it continues to edge down against the yen as US fiscal cliff negotiations appear to be deadlocked without any clear signs of hope,” said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.11 per cent at 12,951.78 as Washington wrangled over a budget plan that would avoid a program of tax hikes and spending cuts widely expected to tip the economy into recession if they take effect.

The euro bought $1.3096 and ¥107.17 in early Asian trade.

The dollar eased to ¥81.81 from ¥81.88 in US trade.

Chinese banks boycott Tokyo summit

10 Oct 2012 – AAP

China’s four largest state-owned banks have pulled out of key World Bank and International Monetary Fund economic meetings in Tokyo amid continued tensions linked to the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, The Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the newspaper, Industrial and Commercial bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China have confirmed they will not be in attendance.

The move is considered a pragmatic protest by the Chinese government as its officials and People’s Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan still intend to show up to the summit.

The dispute between China and Japan was ignited by the purchase of the islands in the East China Sea by the Japanese government.

The fallout has seen violent protests and property damaged directed at Japanese companies located in China.

News that the Chinese banks will boycott the summit comes after calls from IMF president Christine Lagarde that the two nations needed to find a solution for the issue for the sake of the global economy.

Asian markets mostly up on US data

4 Oct 2012 – AAP –

Asian markets mostly rose on Thursday as investors cheered upbeat US economic data, but nagging concerns over Europe kept advances in check.

An increase in risk appetite and speculation about possible fresh Bank of Japan monetary easing lifted the dollar and euro against the yen, which in turn provided a platform for the Nikkei index.

Tokyo gained 0.89 per cent, or 77.72 points, to 8,824.59, Sydney added 0.31 per cent, or 13.8 points, to 4,452.4.

Hong Kong was 0.09 per cent higher, closing 19.67 points up at 20,907.95, but Seoul eased 0.17 per cent, or 3.35 points, to 1,992.68.

Shanghai is closed for a week-long public holiday.

Regional shares took their cue from Wall Street, which ended in positive territory after jobs and services figures provided some hope for the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management released its services industry index on Wednesday, which showed the crucial sector picking up pace although hiring remained flat.

Separately, payrolls company ADP released a report showing private-sector hiring was better than expected in September, with 162,000 jobs added.

Despite being down 14 per cent from August the slowdown is less than expected.

US dealers welcomed the announcements. The Dow finished up 0.09 per cent, the S&P 500 was 0.36 per cent higher and the Nasdaq climbed 0.49 per cent.

Eyes are now firmly on policy meetings over the next two days for the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and Bank of England, while closely watched non-farm payrolls are due out of Washington on Friday.

“There is a little bit of a wait-and-see attitude in Asia this week,” said Wee Khoon Chong, Asia rates strategist at Societe Generale in Hong Kong.

On currency markets the euro rose to $1.2939 and ¥101.76 in afternoon trade, compared with $1.2903 and ¥101.31 in New York late on Wednesday.

The dollar was at ¥78.60 against ¥78.51.

Speculation has grown in the past few days that the BoJ may unveil new easing steps.

While analysts say it probably won’t announce any fresh measures after a two-day meeting on Friday, pressure is likely to continue for more action ahead of its next meeting scheduled for October 30.

Europe’s debt woes continue to weigh after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Tuesday he would not request a bailout any time soon, despite the parlous state of the country’s finances and its dangerously high borrowing costs.

Spain, the eurozone’s fourth-biggest economy, is required to make a formal demand for help in order to trigger the release of eurozone rescue funds and supportive bond-buying action from the European Central Bank.

Oil prices rose. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, gained 56 cents to $88.70 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude added 83 cents to $109.00.

Gold was at $1,780.57 at 0600 GMT (1600 AEST) on Thursday compared with $1,778.50 on Wednesday.

Nissan to relaunch Datsun car brand as low-cost model

3 Oct 2012 – AAP –

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn wants to relaunch retro-brand Datsun with a price tag as low as $US3000 ($A2910) when it hits the road in 2014, a report said.

The company will target drivers in developing nations – India, Indonesia and Russia – offering the barebones model at prices that put it well below current Nissan offerings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper, citing interviews with Mr Ghosn and other executives, said Nissan is aiming for six Datsun models at between $US3000 and $US5000, a price that only a handful of Indian- and Chinese-made cars could compete with.

To cut costs, the company will source parts almost entirely from the country in which the finished product is to be made and sold.

And the absence of rigorous safety standards that would be applied to models aimed at the US or European markets will also help keep the price down, the paper reported.

“If you go to the US, it’s not going to end up being $3000,” Mr Ghosn told the paper in an article published.

The Brazilian-born Mr Ghosn said a future Datsun would be “modern and fresh” and had to appeal to buyers in developing markets because it would make “them feel good and is in their budget”.

He said the new brand will be one of Nissan’s primary “accelerators of growth”, in the campaign to grab eight per cent of the world market by 2016, up from six per cent at present.

All of which means boosting sales in emerging economies, which the company expects will account for three-fifths of all sales five years from now, compared with 43 per cent now.

The resurrection of Datsun marks the return of a car with something of a cult following, more than three decades after it was phased out.

Datsun – the first set of wheels for many adolescents – was a big seller especially in the United States where its sporty, two-door hatchbacks became synonymous with fuel-efficiency during the 1970s oil crisis.

Analysts have said the plan to reanimate the brand could help Nissan get around the problem of producing vehicles cheap enough to compete in emerging markets without polluting existing – more expensive – marques.

Nissan’s move underscores the growing importance of emerging economies, a key battlefield among global carmakers as growth in developed markets stagnates.