The Week In Numbers: A Kra-Fetched Story

It seemed too bizarre to be true, and as it turned out, it was. Reports earlier in the week appeared to suggest that China and Thailand were planning to build a canal to cut through the Kra Isthmus at a cost of about S$37b.

The report claimed that Asia Union Group and China-Thailand Kra Infrastructure Investment & Development had signed a Memorandum of Understanding. However, both the Thai and the Chinese governments have denied the rumour.

The UK has just joined a host of other countries around the world, which includes Singapore, that are experiencing deflation. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, consumer prices fell 0.1% in April compared to a year ago.

It was the first time since 1960 that the rate of inflation has fallen below zero. But the Bank of England said the dip was likely to be brief. It stressed that the fall was due the fall in energy prices, rather than weak demand.

Japan is growing again. The Japanese economy grew at an annualised rate of 2.4% in the first three months of this year. The encouraging numbers will be welcomed by Bank of Japan governor, Haruhiko Kuroda.

Promising economic numbers, in recent years, have been bad news for the stock market, but not in this case. It seems that Japan’s personal consumption is still sluggish. So the central bank is unlikely to stop printing fresh money just yet.

The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefit over the last four weeks fell to a 15-year low. The jobless claims dropped to 266,250, which would suggest that the US job market is improving. But whether that is enough to nudge the US Federal Reserve into raising interest rates is unclear.

And here is a bonus number for this week:  £1,500 (S$3,138). That is how much it could cost to join Singapore’s first private-members’ fitness club. Membership is by invitation only, though.

The gym, which is operated by the UK’s Fitness First, will be housed on the 38th floor of CapitaGreen, which is owned by CapitaLand Commercial Trust (SGX: C61U). But before I forget, on top of the hefty joining fee are monthly dues of £300 (S$627).

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