Philippines central bank raises rates to 6%, peso strengthens

The Philippines’ central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 6%, in line with economists’ expectations.

This comes as inflation in the country hit 8.7% in January on an annualized basis, its highest since October 2008. This was also higher than the December 2022 figure of 8.1%.

The Philippine peso strengthened shortly after the decision to trade at 55.15 against the US dollar.

Japan trade deficit widens to almost $26 billion in January

Japan’s trade deficit has expanded to 3.5 trillion yen ($26 billion) for January, widening by 59% compared to the 2.2 trillion recorded in the same period a year ago, government data showed.

On an annualized basis, exports rose 3.5% higher at 6.55 trillion yen, while imports surged 17.8% to just over $10 trillion.

Following the announcement, the Japanese yen strengthened slightly against the US dollar, trading at 133.84.

Standard Chartered shares jump as it raises forecast, announces $1 billion share buyback

Hong Kong-listed shares of Standard Chartered rose nearly 4% shortly after the firm raised its forecasts and announced a $1 billion share buyback in its fourth quarter results.

The bank saw a 28% jump in profits for the fourth quarter of 2022 and 18% for the full-year of 2022, the release said.

“We expect most of the markets in which we operate to continue their recent momentum with GDP growth in the Asian economies at above 5% over the next two years being pivotal to progressive global recovery,” the company said in its earnings statement.

Coal prices seeing softness but outlook remains positive, Whitehaven CEO says

Coal prices are moderating but the outlook remains positive for the second half of the year, said Paul Flynn, CEO and managing director at Whitehaven Coal.

“You’ve seen coal prices come off their wonderful highs and are hovering more around $200 mark. Now that’s obviously, historically, a very good number still, and we’re very happy with that,” Flynn told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

Flynn explained a less severe winter in the northern hemisphere is contributing to the softness in coal prices.

“We’ve seen fantastic prices during the first six months. The second six months, I think will structurally be simpler,” he said.

Flynn said the outlook for coal prices remained positive for the second half as the structural underpinnings improve during the course of the year.