Unexpected cuts highlight Asian export slump

The Taiwanese and Indonesian central banks surprised markets with rate cuts on Wednesday, both made as evidence mounted that 2009 will be a tough year for Asian exporters.

The Central Bank of China (Taiwan) cut its benchmark discount rate from 2% to 1.5% at an emergency meeting following the release of data showing exports fell by a record amount in December. It is the sixth cut since the collapse of Lehman Brothers and leaves rates at their lowest level since the autumn of 2004.

Bank Indones