zoom The first quarter of 2016 seems to be off to an excellent start for Singapore-listed container port business trust Hutchinson Port Holding Trust (HPH Trust) which saw its net profit surge by 94.2% when compared to last year.Namely, despite a fall in throughput of its deep-water ports of 8% during the first quarter of this year ending March 31st, the trust’s net profit attributable to unitholders reached HKD 554.9 million (USD 71.6 million), representing HKD 269.1 million jump over last year.The jump was assigned to rise in other operating expenses following a HKD430m rate refund from the government.Hongkong International Terminals Limited’s (HIT) throughput dropped by 12.1% year-on-year mainly due to weaker intra-Asia and transshipment cargoes. The trust’s Yantian International Container Terminal’s (YICT) throughput was 1% below last year, amid weaker transshipment and empty cargoes but were partially offset by growth in US and Europe cargoes.Combined throughput of HIT, COSCOHIT and ACT dropped 13% yoy, the trust’s results show.“The volume of containers handled by HPH Trust is affected materially by the economic performance of the US and Europe as US economy continues to expand albeit at a rather slow pace,” the company said, adding that it anticipates US economic outlook for 2016 to be stable.Outbound cargoes to US posted minimal growth in the first quarter of 2016 and the company expects that the full year volume will result in a slight increase.“Outbound cargoes to Europe showed improvement and displayed a slight upward trend in the first quarter of 2016. However, weak consumer sentiment and high unemployment rate remain a drag on its economic recovery. We expect volume towards Europe will likely to be flat in 2016,” the company added.Given the soft global trade outlook, management remained cautious on expected cargo volume for 2016. “HPH Trust will target improving its core debt metrics over the 5 year period from 2017 to 2021. At the end of this period, HPH Trust expects consolidated debt to consolidated total capital not be greater than 30%,” HPH Trust said.This entails repaying a minimum of HKD 1 billion of debt annually beginning in 2017.
Nicola Sturgeon claims foundations of Scottish economy remain strongCredit:Reuters She added: “Being part of the UK means higher spending on the public services like education and the health service that we all rely on. That’s a strong, positive case for Scotland remaining in the UK – our most important social and economic union.“During the independence referendum Nicola Sturgeon personally promised a second oil boom. Her own government’s figures show she misled people and that is unforgivable.“The SNP’s own figures confirm independence would mean severe cuts over and above those already being imposed by the Tories, at exactly the time when our public services need more investment.”Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said the oil shock and the Brexit shock should not be compounded by an independence shock. “The nationalists’ case for independence has been swallowed up by £14 billion black hole,” he said. “It’s a dark day for Scottish nationalism but it is even darker for the Scottish economy.“Instead of pursuing a reckless gamble with independence the Scottish Government should have a laser like focus on boosting the economy by investing in our workforce with new money for education and a step change in mental health.”Despite the figures, Ms Sturgeon insisted the “foundations of the Scottish economy remain strong”, and said that growth in Scotland’s onshore revenues last year had more than offset the downturn in oil revenues.She said: “The lower oil price has, of course, reduced offshore revenues, with a corresponding impact on our fiscal position – this underlines the fact that Scotland’s challenge is to continue to grow our onshore economy.”However, Scotland’s long-term economic success is now being directly threatened by the likely impact of Brexit.”Today’s figures come a day after analysis from the Scottish Government showed that taking Scotland out of the European Union and our place in the world’s biggest single market would make the task of growing and diversifying the Scottish economy even harder.”DP could be up to £11.2 billion a year lower because of Brexit by 2030. David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, added: “Scotland weathered a dramatic slump in oil revenues last year because we are part of a United Kingdom that has at its heart a system for pooling and sharing resources across the country as a whole.“It is important that continues and the financial deal between the UK and Scottish governments, struck last year as part of the transfer of new tax and welfare powers to Holyrood, means real security for Scotland.“The fact public spending was £1,200 per head higher in Scotland than the UK as a whole also demonstrates that the United Kingdom, not the European Union, is the vital union for Scotland’s prosperity.”Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said the figures made it clearer than ever that Scotland benefited from sharing resources across the UK. Kezia Dugdale says figures prove benefits of the Union Scotland’s public spending deficit has reached almost £15 billion, making it proportionately more than twice the size of the UK figure.Official data released on Wednesday shows that Scotland is in the red to the tune of 9.5 per cent of its GDP, compared to four per cent for the UK as a whole. The figure is understood to be the highest in the EU, after Greece at 7.2 per cent of GDP and Spain at 5.1 per cent.Meanwhile, Scotland’s illustrative share of North Sea oil revenues – which were central to the SNP’s case for independence in 2014 – plunged from £1.8 billion in 2014-15 to just £60 million last year.The SNP’s blueprint for separation claimed before the independence referendum in 2014 that oil revenues would be up to £7.9 billion this year, which would have been the first year of separation if there had been a Yes vote. The statistics showed the country spent £14.8 billion more than it raised in taxes, and opposition leaders said the damaging figures were a reality check for those calling for another vote on breaking-up Britain.Overall, Scottish public sector revenue was estimated at £53.7 billion, the equivalent of £10,000 per person, or £400 per person lower than for the UK as a whole.Total expenditure was £68.6 billion, or around £12,800 per head – £1,200 per person more than the UK average.Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly claimed since the Brexit vote that a new, snap referendum is “highly likely” to protect Scotland’s place in the EU, and insists that remains the case.But the UK Government said the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) report showed that being part of the Union protected living standards in Scotland. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.