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The Week in Numbers: Mahathir Wins Malaysian Election

Mahathir Mohamad, at 92, has become the world’s oldest leader after defeating Najib Razak in the Malaysian election. Mahathir, who led the country for 22 years previously, came out of retirement to challenge Najib in the country’s 14th general election by leading a coalition of opposition parties.

This was the first time the political party Barisan Nasional has tasted defeat in an election since the country’s independence 61 years ago. Mahathir’s coalition officially won 121 seats out of 222 available seats, enough to form a simple majority and take control of the house. Barisan Nasional, on the other hand, only won 79 seats, a stark difference from the 133 seats it won five years ago. According to a statement by the country’s election commission, 76% of the 14.3 million eligible voters turned out to cast their votes.

In a remarkable turn of events, Mahathir has pledged to serve only two years, before handing over to his former deputy and political rival, Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar Ibrahim was previously jailed by Mahathir on sodomy and corruption charges but will be released in one month’s time after securing a royal pardon.

US President Donald Trump has decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal, breaking with its European allies and leaving the future of the agreement in doubt. The deal was signed in Vienna by Iran and six other nations three years ago.

Under the deal, the Iranian government had agreed to three key things. First, it had to reduce the number of centrifuges by two-thirds (centrifuges are machines used to enrich uranium used for nuclear power). This would cut its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98% and cap uranium enrichment at 3.67%, enough to continue providing power for the country’s needs, but insufficient to build a nuclear bomb. On top of that, Iran was required to limit uranium research and to allow international inspectors access to its nuclear facilities. In return, nuclear-relation sanctions were lifted in January 2016, and the country was reconnected with international markets.

However, the US President was critical of the deal, saying that the agreement did not provide assurance that Iran will not possess a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, US unemployment rate dropped to 3.9% in April. This is the lowest level in 17.5 years. Non-farm payrolls increased by 164,000 jobs last month. However, this was the lowest number of jobs created in six months, following an impressive 324,000 jobs created in February. Average hourly earnings rose four cents, or 0.1%, from March and 2.6% from a year ago. The average workweek remained unchanged at 34.5 hours. The Employment Cost Index, a widely used measure of market slack, increased at its fastest pace in 11 years over the first quarter of the year.

Economist expect the unemployment rate to drop to 3.5% by the end of the year. The economy needs to add around 120,000 jobs per month to keep up with the growing working-age population.

North Korea has freed three US prisoners, as a gesture of sincerity to improve relations with the United States after almost seven years of mutual animosity. The release comes before Mr Trump’s planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un next month.

Japan’s real wages rose for the first time in four months in March. Real wages rose 0.8% year-on-year, a reversal of the 0.8% annual decline in February. Senior Japan economist at Capital Economics estimates that the jobless rate would fall to 1.5% from the current 2.5%, in order to see wage growth reaching the levels consistent with Bank of Japan’s 2% inflation goal.

Finally, on a lighter note, Uber Technologies Inc is planning to test food delivery by drones in San Diego, United States. Chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi said people should expect meal delivery in five to 30 minutes. This is part of a much larger commercial test program by the federal government on drone delivery. The U.S. Transportation Department said it chose 10 state, local and tribal governments, and a few prominent companies including Alphabet Inc, FedEx Corp, Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc to work with.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia owns shares in Alphabet Inc C Class.