The Latest: Robot prototype draws crowds in Davos

AP News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2016 10:00 AM
The Latest: Robot prototype draws crowds in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The latest developments from the final day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where top executives and world leaders are meeting this week. All times local.

4:00 p.m.

Meet Hubo. In the near future, Hubo will do all the home chores for you.

Oh Jun-Ho, a professor from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, says the robot is designed to interact with the environment — it can pick things up, move around, and even walk up stairs.

But Hubo still has a way to go before it can be put to work, said Oh Jun-Ho, his designer: "He is not strong yet and he is not smart as us."

The robot garnered a lot of interest at this year's World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. The theme of the meeting, which attracts thousands of business and world leaders, was how new technologies and innovations will change the world in the years to come.

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12:55 p.m.

Japan's economy minister, who has been accused of accepting bribes from a construction company, says he will make a decision on his future in the coming week.

Economy and Fiscal Minister Akira Amari, who denies any wrongdoing, said Friday: "I'm sorry I'm causing trouble for the prime minister."

He said an investigation into the allegations is underway and he expects to hold a news conference in the next week to speak to his future in the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He said: "I will make myself and my position clear."

Amari is one of the most trusted members of Abe's Cabinet and served as Japan's top negotiator for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

The Weekly Bunshun magazine reported that Amari and his aides allegedly accepted at least 12 million yen ($103,000) in cash and hospitality from the construction company over the past three years.

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12:05 p.m.

Japan's top central banker has sought to dampen down on worries over the Chinese economy, in a week when concerns over the future of the world number 2 economy sent shockwaves across financial markets.

Haruhiko Kuroda told a panel at the World Economic Forum that the world needs to come to grips with the scale of the task facing Chinese authorities of rebalancing its economy more towards consumption and services from industry.

He also said that Bank of Japan will do whatever it takes to get inflation up to its target of 2 percent on annual basis. Japan has suffered with low or negative inflation rates for the past couple of decades, a phenomenon that has weighed on growth as businesses have been reluctant to invest and consumers have put off spending in the hope of cheaper bargains down the line.

Though headline inflation in Japan is currently around zero, Kuroda said there are some positive trends if volatile factors such as oil are stripped out.

In any case, he said the bank doesn't have "any technical limitation" for pursuing stimulus measures to achieve its inflation target.

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11:30 a.m.

George Osborne, Britain's economic and finance minister, thinks a deal between his government and the European Union on a series of reforms to Britain's membership of the 28-country bloc is possible in February.

The British government is looking to eke out four reforms to the country's membership from EU partners that will then be put to the British people in a referendum.

A deal in February would pave the way for a vote on British membership of the EU to take place in June.

If one isn't forged in time, Prime Minister David Cameron says he can hang on until the end of 2017. However that would only add to uncertainty and could weigh on British economic activity.

Osborne told a panel at the World Economic Forum that he's "optimistic" about getting a good deal and that the people will then vote to stay in.

A potential British exit from the EU has been one of the main talking points at Davos this year.

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11:20 a.m.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, says the refugee crisis could be "make or break" for a key tenet of European unity and its economic prospects.

She says a failure to handle the crisis, which has seen more than 1 million migrants go to Germany last year alone, could put at risk the Schengen Area, which allows borderless travel across 26 countries in Europe.

On the flip-side, she told a panel at the World Economic Forum, that a proper strategy on how to control and manage the flow of refugees could be beneficial for the European economy. She says the new pool of Labour could add around 0.2 percentage point to growth across the 19-country eurozone, with Germany and Sweden likely to fare even better. European leaders have said they want a proper strategy in place within the next six to eight weeks.

Lagarde confirmed earlier this week she wants another term as IMF boss when her current term runs out in July.

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11:00 a.m.

Tidjane Thiam, chief executive of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, says financial markets have had their worst start to a year "ever."

Still, he thinks the markets have been "over-reacting" in the first three weeks of the year, which has seen many stock markets around the world plunge and oil prices strike fresh multi-year lows.

Addressing a panel at the World Economic Forum, Thiam says he's not overly concerned about a hard landing of the Chinese economy.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said global growth this year faces "downside risks" related to China, lower commodity prices and disparate central bank policies around the world. Still, she said the Fund expects global growth this year to be 3.4 percent, up from 3.1 percent in 2015.