International News 18/04

April 18, 2024 No. 58

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a US$17 billion contract for US missile defence.

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $17 billion contract to develop a next-generation missile defence system for the United States. The programme aims to protect the country from intercontinental ballistic missile threats, particularly from nations like North Korea and Iran. This contract is a significant boost for Lockheed, as it comes at a time when orders for the F-35 fighter aircraft have been reduced and the development of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft has been stopped. Lockheed's announcement of the Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) system, which will include radars, anti-ballistic missiles, and other equipment to defend against missile attacks, caused a rise in the company's shares.  The NGI system is currently in the technology development stage and is estimated to have its first interceptor operational by 2028. The system will progress to the next phase soon.


China's economy grew by 5.3% in Q1-2024, surpassing analysts' estimates.

China's economy grew by 5.3% in the first quarter of the year, exceeding analysts' expectations. This growth is a promising sign for policymakers as they work to revive demand and confidence amid a long-lasting property crisis. Analysts had predicted a 4.6% increase in first-quarter GDP, compared to 5.2% in the previous three months. The Chinese government aims to achieve around 5.0% economic growth by 2024. Some experts believe that this goal may require additional stimulus measures. In the first quarter, GDP grew by 1.6% quarter-on-quarter, exceeding expectations of a 1.4% increase. The Chinese government is providing active support to the economy, which has been struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to factors such as a property market downturn, high local government debt, and weak private sector spending.


The Nikkei Index has reached a one-month low, following the weakness of Wall Street.

Japan's Nikkei index fell by over 2% to its lowest level in a month due to a decline in technology stocks following weakness on Wall Street. The Nikkei index dropped to 38,405.58, the lowest since March 14th. Similarly, the Topix index also fell by 1.82% to 2,703.20. This decline in Japanese stocks was a result of the previous night's decline in US equities, driven by a surge in Treasury yields and concerns over rising geopolitical tensions between Iran and Israel. The weakening yen failed to attract interest in local stocks as the yen maintained its momentum against other currencies, while the dollar strengthened. Tokyo Electron, a chip-making equipment manufacturer, and Advantest, a chip testing equipment manufacturer, were the biggest drags on the Nikkei, with their shares falling 4.15% and 4.08% respectively. Shares of Fast Retailing, the owner of the Uniqlo brand, also fell 2.45%. Furthermore, J.Front Retailing, a department store operator, reduced its yearly profit forecast, resulting in a 6.52% decline in its shares.