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Asia Minute: Economies Slowing in Asia Pacific

Brodie Miller

It’s been a volatile week on world stock markets. Investors have focused on slowdowns in China and Europe, but other economic developments are taking place in the Asia Pacific.

The last time Singapore’s economy was growing this slowly, Barrack Obama was just a few months into his first term as U.S. President. This week, Singapore’s government cut its forecast for the year — saying growth for 2019 is likely to be in the range of zero to one percent.

Last month, South Korea’s government cut its growth forecastto its lowest level in seven years. The country’s exports plunged more than 11% in July compared to a year earlier.

Slowing exports also led Japan’s government to cut its growth forecast last month. Plus, taxes are going up in October, and economists warn that could hurt consumer spending.

Thailand’s government cut its economic outlook late last month, and its central bank took markets by surprise last week by cutting interest rates for the first time in four years.

Australia’s central bank has cut rates for two months in a row to a historic low of one percent –as its economy also wrestles with slowing growth.

New Zealand and India also surprised markets last week by cutting interest rates.

As for the future, analysts say trade tensions are one factor to watch when it comes to regional economic health, and another is which central banks still have room left to cut interest rates.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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