Slower expansion for China's services
China's services sector expanded at a slower pace last month following a strong rebound in November. Business confidence fell to the second lowest on record despite a pickup in new orders, a private survey showed yesterday.
The more downbeat reading suggests services companies remain cautious about the outlook for China's economy despite a flurry of stimulus measures, signs of improvement in the manufacturing sector and a long-awaited United States-China trade deal.
The services sector accounts for more than half the economy.
The Caixin/Markit services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) slowed to 52.5 last month from 53.5 in November, but was still higher than an eight-month low hit in October.
The index has stayed above the 50-point margin that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis since late 2005.
Japan factory activity contracts
Japanese manufacturing activity shrank at a faster pace last month than in November as output slumped, underscoring growing pressure on businesses from sagging demand abroad and at home.
The Jibun Bank Final Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) slipped to 48.4 on a seasonally adjusted basis, matching a more than three-year low last touched in October.
It was down from a preliminary figure of 48.8 for last month and compared with November's final reading of 48.9.
The PMI survey showed output fell to its lowest since last March as companies faced unfavourable demand conditions, and weak new exports owing to lower sales to China. Overall new orders and output stayed in contraction for the 12th consecutive month, though the decline in new business slowed for the second straight month.
Japan's industrial output slipped for the second straight month in November, raising the likelihood the economy will contract in the fourth quarter.
Singapore law firms merge
Two Singapore law firms, boutique dispute resolution and insolvency law firm Nair & Co and mid-sized law firm PK Wong & Associates, have merged to form full-service law firm PK Wong & Nair.
The new entity, which now has 23 lawyers, will be jointly led by co-managing directors Suresh Nair and Mark Wong. Mr Nair, the managing director of Nair & Co, founded the firm - known for its work in dispute resolution, restructuring and insolvency and employment-related matters - in 2017.
Mr Wong was the managing director and director in charge of PK Wong & Associates' corporate and commercial department. The firm was a member of the EY Global Network from 2014 to 2018, before becoming fully independent again on July 1, 2018.
The firm's work includes corporate, mergers and acquisitions, employment and data protection law and disputes/insolvency.
Mr Wong said the addition of Nair & Co's disputes team will complement PK Wong & Associates' existing disputes capabilities. It will also provide Nair & Co's clients with corporate and commercial capabilities.
The new entity is a member of First Law International, a global legal network of independent law firms worldwide covering more than 100 jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific, Britain and the US.
THE BUSINESS TIMES