1 Catalonia edges towards statehood (BBC) Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says the Spanish region has won the right to statehood following a contentious referendum that was marred by violence. He said the door had been opened to a unilateral declaration of independence.
Catalan officials later said 90% of those who voted backed independence in Sunday’s vote. The turnout was 42.3%. Spain’s constitutional court had declared the poll illegal and hundreds of people were injured as police used force to try to block voting.
Officers seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations. Mr Puigdemont said the European Union could no longer “continue to look the other way”. In another development, more than 40 trade unions and Catalan associations called a region-wide strike on Tuesday due to “the grave violation of rights and freedoms”.
Earlier, as voting ended, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an illegal vote. He called it a “mockery” of democracy.
2 Saudi Arabia back in recession (Khaleej Times) Saudi Arabia’s economy has slipped back into recession as the oil sector stagnates and the government sector is hit by austerity policies designed to curb a state budget deficit caused by low oil prices, official data has shown.
Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, shrank 2.3 per cent from the previous quarter in the April-June period, after dropping 3.8 per cent in the first quarter. Economists generally define a recession as two straight quarters of shrinking GDP, measured by quarter-on-quarter rates. Saudi Arabia was last in recession in early 2016.
A price-supporting agreement among global oil producers caused Saudi Arabia to reduce its oil output early this year, pulling down GDP. The oil sector shrank 1.8 per cent from a year ago in the second quarter after a 2.3 per cent fall in the first.
The government has said it plans a stimulus package in the fourth quarter of the year. The size of the package is not clear, and fresh austerity steps to eliminate the budget deficit by 2020 are likely to weigh on growth. Saudi Arabia plans to introduce a 5 per cent value-added tax on many goods in January, and authorities are considering a rise in domestic fuel prices.
3 Japan business mood at decade high (Straits Times) Big manufacturers have more confidence in Japan’s business conditions than they have had for a decade as global demand adds momentum to economic recovery, a closely watched central bank survey shows.
The upbeat data supports Bank of Japan policymakers’ hopes that a sustained economic recovery will boost wages and household spending, helping to accelerate inflation towards the central bank’s ambitious 2 per cent target.
The Bank of Japan “tankan” survey could also help premier Shinzo Abe as he tries to convince voters in an Oct 22 election that his “Abenomics” stimulus policies have improved their livelihoods, analysts say.
Japan’s economy expanded at an annualised 2.5 per cent in the second quarter on robust consumer and corporate spending, heightening hopes of a sustained recovery. While slowing down from the second quarter’s exceptionally fast growth, the economy is likely to have expanded 1.1 per cent in the July-September period, according to a Reuters poll.