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The Week in Numbers: South Korea in Focus

The South Korean government said that it expects economic growth of 3% for next year. This is a deceleration from this year’s forecast of 3.2%. So far this year, Asia’s fourth largest economy has performed well. Its exports are expected to increase this month for the 14th month in a row. Exports are also estimated to have increased 15.8% for the whole of this year.

To help sustain growth for next year, the government will front load 58% of next year’s fiscal spending in the first half of the year. It is also raising its minimum wage by 16% to 7,530 won ($9.40) per hour next year.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has made the second and final payment of US$602.7 million (S$810 million) to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC). This was part of the repayment of a loan IPIC extended to 1MDB in July 2015. 1MDB has been attracting attention around the world due to alleged money laundering and misappropriated use of its funds.

Consumer prices in Singapore grew 0.6% in November from a year ago. This is higher than the 0.4% increase in October. Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, grew slightly faster at 1.5%. The biggest rise in prices was in transport and education at 2.6%. Healthcare was next at 2% growth, and food and communication grew at 1.5%. Housing and utilities continued its deflation at 2.4%.

Factory output in Singapore expanded 5.3% last month from a year ago. This was below forecasts of 8.1%, mainly due to a decline in biomedical manufacturing output. However, other segments performed well, with electronics leading the way at 27.6% growth year-on-year. The chemical cluster grew at 7.5%.

A new report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London has predicted that China will become the top economy in the world in 15 years’ time. The research company expects that three of the four largest economies in the world will be from Asia – China, India and Japan.

According to a Bloomberg report, the world’s 500 richest people got US$1 trillion richer in 2017 due to stock market gains. Bloomberg’s Billionaire’s Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people, gained 23% this year, compared to S&P 500 index’s 20% gain.

The world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, made the most with a US$34.2 billion increase. He currently has a net worth of US$99.6 billion, compared to second-placed Bill Gates at US$91.3 billion.

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