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S. Korean economy gets fiscal spending lift

SEOUL: South Korea's economy expanded at the fastest pace in three quarters in the last three months of 2018 as a jump in government spending juiced up construction and investment, though weak exports cast a cloud over the outlook for growth.

"Increased fiscal spending towards the year end has cushioned the blow to exports, as shipments of chips and electronic products are falling," a central bank official said.

China’s growth slows to 28-year low, more stimulus seen

BEIJING: China’s economy cooled in the fourth quarter under pressure from faltering domestic demand and bruising US tariffs, dragging2018 growth to the lowest in nearly three decades and pressuring Beijing to roll out more stimulus to avert a sharper slowdown.

Poor sentiment: A container is unloaded from a China Ocean Shipping Company cargo vessel at a port in Yantai, Shandong province. China’s growth last year was affected by poor consumer sentiment brought about by the ongoing US-China trade war which weighs on profits for firms ranging from Apple to big carmakers. — Reuters

Difficult year ahead for Asia-Pacific financial firms

MELBOURNE: Potentially higher interest rates as well as volatile domestic currencies, bond markets, and property prices, would make financing conditions more difficult for Asia-Pacific financial institutions in 2019, according to S&P Global Ratings.

“Last year, only 7% of our pool of rated banks in Asia Pacific were either upgraded or downgraded. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the median rating across the portfolio of over 200 rated banks remained unchanged from a year ago at ‘A-’, with about 87% of our bank ratings at ‘BBB-’ or higher,” S&P Global Ratings said.

Hong Kong shares end higher, investors shrug off weak China GDP data

HONG Kong’s main Hang Seng index crept higher on Monday as investors shrugged off data showing the Chinese economy slowed within market expectations in the fourth quarter of 2018, amid expectations that Beijing would roll out more stimulus to boost growth.