Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) fell 10.1% in the first quarter this year from the same period in 2008. This represents a decline of 14.6% quarter-on-quarter following a 16.4% fall in the fourth quarter of 2008. All sectors experienced further quarter-on-quarter declines, with the exception of construction and financial services. The broad weakness was especially marked in electronics, biomedical manufacturing, precision engineering, chemicals and manufacturing.
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Negative, even tragic, events have dominated recent news from the Korean Peninsula, yet the resilience of the South Korean economy, aided by government stimulus packages, has helped the equity markets to shrug off personal tragedy and war threats alike.
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Prime Minister Najib Razak took over a tough assignment when he took office in Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of April, following the election victory of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). He faced an economy in contraction, with a decline of 6.2% in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first three months of this year and about the same is expected for the second quarter. Not surprisingly, he has announced a stimulus package amounting to US$19 billion.
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Some small fanfare was given to the signature on May 24 between the presidents of Iran and Pakistan of an agreement for the construction of a gas pipeline running from the former's South Pars gas field through the latter's unstable Balochistan province to population centers in the east of the country, notably Lahore. This is the rump result of Iran's inability to come to terms with India for the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, as it was originally proposed.
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