Power plants in the EU will have to cut the amount of toxic pollutants they emit such as nitrogen oxides under new rules approved by EU member states on Friday and widely applauded by environmental groups. The decision imposes stricter limits on emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, mercury and particulate matter from large combustion plants in Europe. Large combustion plants account for a big share of air pollutant emissions across the EU: 46 percent of sulphur dioxide, 18 percent of nitrogen oxide, 39 percent of mercury and 4 percent of dust. The EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive has been criticized for exemptions which have allowed more than half of coal plants to exceed limits for harmful pollutants, according to environmental groups. (Reuters)
The Central Bank of Russia on Friday reduced the key rate by 0.5 percentage points to 9.25 percent per annum, TASS reports, following a Board of Directors meeting. The board noted that inflation “is moving towards the target, inflation expectations are still declining and economic activity is recovering.” At the same time, inflation risks remain in place, the bank said. “Given the moderately tight monetary policy, the 4 percent inflation target will be achieved before the end of 2017 and will be maintained close to this level in 2018-2019,” it said in a statement.
Emerging equities slipped on Friday but were set for a fourth straight month of gains and currencies too have mostly strengthened in April, with the exception of the ruble which snapped a four-month winning streak. Turkey’s lira looked to strengthen nearly 2 percent against the dollar in April, extending a two-month winning streak. In Russia, the ruble traded flat ahead of a central bank decision which is expected to see interest rates cut by 25 basis points amid easing inflation. Over the month, however, the ruble looks to fall for the first month in five, having eased around 1.3 percent. Rabobank analysts predicted a 50 bps cut to 9.25 percent. (Reuters)
Spain’s statistics agency says the economy grew 0.8 percent in the first quarter, keeping it as one of the fastest growing in the EU. The National Institute of Statistics said Friday that over the year the country’s GDP expanded by 3 percent. It was Spain’s 14th consecutive quarter of growth. The run followed a grueling five-year financial crisis that ended late 2013. The economy grew 3.2 percent in 2016 and is expected to expand by 2.5 percent this year. The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has made economic growth and job creation its main policies since taking office in 2011. (AP)
The 10-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, could form the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030 though work is needed to help small companies and reduce trade barriers, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday. Najib told a business forum on the sidelines of a summit of ASEAN leaders meeting in Manila that the combined size of the group’s economies will grow to $9.2 trillion by 2050. He said more optimistic forecasts see that happening as early as 2030, turning the region into the world’s fourth biggest economy after the US, EU and China. As of November 2015, the region’s combined economy was nearly $2.7 trillion, ranking 7th largest in the world, he said. (AP)
Hong Kong’s benchmark stock index eased on Friday from the previous session’s 20-month high that was aided by continuous money inflows from mainland China. The Hang Seng index fell 0.3 percent, to 24,615.13, while the China Enterprises Index lost 0.4 percent, to 10,219.89 points. For the week, the Hang Seng was up 2.4 percent, while the HSCE gained 1.8 percent. On Friday, Chinese investors used roughly 14.2 of the daily quota buying Hong Kong stocks via the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, compared with just 6.1 percent in the other direction. Sector performance was mixed. Materials and industrial shares rose, while financials and property shares fell. (Reuters)
China’s main stock indexes were little changed on Friday but posted worst month of the year on fears that regulators will step up their latest crackdown on riskier types of financing and speculation, and on lingering worries over economic growth. The blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.2 percent, to 3,439.75 points, while the Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.1 percent to 3,154.66 points. For the week, the CSI300 fell 0.8 percent, while SSEC lost 0.6 percent, both down for the third straight week. For the month, the CSI300 was down 0.5 percent, while SSEC lost 2.1 percent. (Reuters)