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Bank expects surge in HK jobless rate
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14:36, February 05, 2009

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Hong Kong's unemployment rate may surge to around 6 percent by the end of this year, according to a forecast of Hang Seng Bank of Hong Kong made public here Thursday.

The city's unemployment rate climbed to a 16-month high of 4.1 percent in December, 2008, from 3.8 percent in the previous month. But Hang Seng said the worst is yet to come and expected such figure to reach 6 percent, giving an average of 5.4 percent for the full year of 2009.

Although there are high hopes on the government's pledge to speed up infrastructure projects and create 50,000 to 60,000 jobs, prospects are still dim as the impacts of these projects are unlikely to be felt until the later part of this year, according to the bank's forecast.

As for retail sales volume, which contracted for three consecutive months, it was expected to fall by an average of 4 percent this year, but risk to the downside to the bank's forecast.

The bank expressed hope that more near-term stimulus measures such as tax concessions will be launched in the coming government budget, leading some support to consumer confidence.

Source: Xinhua

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