The Week in Numbers: China’s Factory Output Slows

China’s manufacturing sector slowed to eight months low in January. The official Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was 51.3, lower than 51.6 recorded in December. A score above 50 indicates growth. The new export order index dropped to 49.5, down from December’s 51.9 reading.

Official non-manufacturing PMI rose to 55.3 from 55 in December. The services sector make up more than 50% of China’s economy. The composite PMI for January was 54.6.

Meanwhile, Japan’s factory output dipped 6.6% in January from the previous month. This is the biggest drop since factory output fell 16.5% more than six years ago. The output of cars and trucks fell 14.1% due to weaker exports to the United States and severe snowstorms in January which delayed delivery of parts. The output of construction equipment declined by 7.8%. The production of electronic parts and devices also fell by 6.3%. Manufacturers surveyed by the trade ministry forecast a 9% growth in February, but a 2.7% decline in March.

Back in Singapore, workplace automation is poised to double in the next three years. According to a survey by Willis Towers Watson, automation is expected to account for an average of 29% of all work done by firms in the next three years. It currently stands at 14%, up from 7% three years ago.

To aid this growth, 57% of companies surveyed expect to pay higher salaries for employees with digital-related skills. 53% of global employers are taking steps to address the talent deficit, and 45% are already assessing talents to fill the skills gap. The survey polled 909 companies worldwide, including 507 from the Asia Pacific.

Singapore’s service sector grew 8.6% for the fourth quarter of 2017. Information and communications grew the fastest at 13.6%. Education followed closely behind with a 13.3% increase, while health and social services rose by 11.9%. Turnover of the overall services sector (excluding wholesale, retail trade, accommodation and food services) grew by 4.9% from the last quarter.

A new survey by recruiting company, Hays, found that almost half of Singapore employers are planning salary increase of between 3 to 6% this year. The study included 3,000 employers with a total employee count of more than 6 million. It also found that 14% of Singapore employers are planning increases of more than 6% this year.

Finally, Bloomberg has reported that despite research budget cuts, some European investors are still willing to pay up to $1,300 per hour to talk to an expert for advice. Matchmaking firms, which pair industry experts with money managers, may also charge $100,000 for a basic package to pair employees with the right experts.

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