Tokyo stocks open lower

Tokyo, April 15 (IANS) Tokyo stocks opened lower on Friday as investors opted to take profits following the market’s recent run of gains, with traders noting that the sizable earthquakes last night and early this morning in the southwest of the nation had not affected markets here.

As of 9.15 a.m., the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average dropped 44.07 points, or 0.26 percent, from Thursday to 16,866.98, reports Xinhua.

The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, meanwhile. lost 7.11 points, or 0.52 percent, to 1,364.24.

Notable early decliners comprised electric power and gas, banking, and real estate-linked stocks.

Chinese shares open higher

Beijing, April 15 (IANS) Chinese stocks opened higher on Friday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 0.09 percent, at 3,085.03 points.

The smaller Shenzhen index opened 0.03 percent higher at 10,774.49 points, Xinhua news agency reported.

The ChiNext Index, tracking China’s NASDAQ-style board of growth enterprises, gained 0.17 percent to open at 2,328.31 points.

Chinese yuan weakens against dollar

Beijing, April 15 (IANS) The central parity rate of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, weakened 17 basis points to 6.4908 against the US dollar on Friday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System.

In China’s spot foreign exchange market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 2 percent from the central parity rate each trading day, reports Xinhua.

The central parity rate of the yuan against the US dollar is based on a weighted average of prices offered by market makers before the opening of the interbank market each business day.

India, US to deepen alliance for combating tax evasion

Washington, April 15 (IANS) As nations across the globe are in hot pursuit of tax evaders and terror financing, India and the US have agreed to step up their joint work in this area, while Washington has extended its support for India’s trillion-dollar infrastructure development needs.

Visiting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew met here Thursday evening for the 6th Annual US-India Economic and Financial Partnership, which was formed in 2010, and released a joint statement, covering collaborations in areas ranging from regulation to money laundering.

“We are committed to continued collaboration and sharing of experience in tackling offshore tax evasion and avoidance, including joint tax audits and examination. We look forward to the competent authorities of the two countries engaging in bilateral dialogue to move forward,” the statement said.

“We have enhanced our cooperation in tackling money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism through increased information sharing and cooperation, including a dialogue held recently in India,” the statement said.

“We both agree on the importance of fighting illicit finance in all forms as an important means of tackling global terrorism.”

On these fronts, the two governments have already forged an inter-governmental pact to share financial information under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act that. This act requires the US non-residents to share information on their financial assets and revenues outside the country once a year.

The dialogue under the partnership pact was held even as an Oxfam report said on Thursday that as many as top 50 US companies, including the likes of Apple, Walmart, General Electric, Microsoft, Google and Coca-Cola, have a whopping $1.4 trillion stashed in offshore tax havens.

The talks, held on the margins of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring meetings here on Thursday — which also included Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan — also covered Infrastructure.

“We are working together to support India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to increase financing options for India’s infrastructure growth. We look forward to continuing discussions in areas such as municipal finance under the future work of the Initiative,” said the statement.

“The next meeting of the Investment Initiative will be in the US later in 2016.”

The statement said effort will also continue under the US-India Investment Initiative of January 2015 for the two governments to work with the private sector on areas like policies and regulatory reforms, besides mobilising capital from domestic and foreign sources to build infrastructure and create jobs.

“We are encouraged with the developments that have taken place since the launch of the Economic and Financial Partnership and look forward to continued engagement in an effort to strengthen our relationship, our economies, and the global economy.”

China’s new yuan loans rise in March

Beijing, April 15 (IANS) China’s new yuan-denominated lending in March rose to 1.37 trillion yuan ($210 billion), 188.3 billion yuan more from a year earlier, official data showed on Friday.

The M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, rose 13.4 percent year on year to 144.62 trillion yuan at the end of March, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement.

The narrow measure of money supply (M1), which covers cash in circulation plus demand deposits, rose 22.1 percent year on year to 41.16 trillion yuan, Xinhua news agency reported citing the statement as saying.

China’s economy slows amid signs of stabilising

Beijing, April 15 (IANS) China’s economy continued to slow in the first quarter of 2016 but several key indicators pointed to signs of stabilising, official data revealed on Friday.

The country’s GDP grew 6.7 percent year on year to reach 15.9 trillion yuan ($2.4 trillion), according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The growth further narrowed from the previous quarter’s 6.8 percent, which was already the lowest quarterly rate since the global financial crisis, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, the figure was in line with market expectations and remained within the government’s targeted range of between 6.5 and 7 percent for 2016.

New growth momentum is gathering and some major indicators have seen positive changes, NBS spokesperson Sheng Laiyun said, calling the first-quarter performance “a good start” to this year.

Fixed-asset investment rose 10.7 percent year on year in the first quarter, a faster expansion than last year’s 10 percent. Investment in the property sector grew 6.2 percent, accelerating from 1 percent for the whole of 2015.

Industrial output expanded 5.8 percent, accelerating from the 5.4-percent increase for the January-February period.

The service sector grew 7.6 percent, outnumbering a 2.9-percent increase in the primary industry and 5.8 percent in the secondary industry.

It accounted for 56.9 percent of the overall economy, up 2 percentage points from a year earlier, Sheng said.

A prolonged industrial glut, sagging foreign trade and cooling property investment dragged down China’s growth in 2015 to 6.9 percent, the slowest pace in 25 years.

Authorities have taken a string of measures to mitigate the downshift, cutting interest rates, reducing taxes, slashing overcapacity and initiating reforms to improve efficiency.

Thanks to those moves, the economy has seen some improvement since the beginning of this year, with exports and industrial profits returning to growth, manufacturing activity picking up and power use accelerating.

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