Consumer confidence in the eurozone improved to an index reading of minus 15.6 this month, the best since mid-2011 but still solidly negative. The gain may reflect the region's recent emergence from six quarters of recession. But stubbornly high unemployment means "we remain cautious in our outlook for the balance of the year, as we expect customers to be focused on value and volumes to remain under pressure," said Dick Boer, CEO of Netherlands-based Royal Ahold.
Losses on bond investments contributed heavily to a 73.3% fiscal first-quarter plunge in earnings for securities firms in South Korea from the previous quarter, according to the Financial Supervisory Service. About a third of the firms posted losses for the quarter, the FSS said.
Singapore's consumer prices were up 1.9% in July from a year before, but economists expect steeper price gains in months ahead. Restructuring of the economy and rising labor costs are forecast to heat up the inflationary environment.
Foreign direct investment in China surged 24.13% last month from a year before, boosting FDI to a 7.09% year-on-year gain for the first seven month of 2013. Investment originating in the U.S. was up more than 11%, and European investment climbed nearly 17%.