European stock markets closed mainly lower on Friday, as news of a US insurance probe expected to extend to European insurers offset a rebound in US indices, dealers said. \nThe London FTSE 100 index gave up 0.14 percent to close at 4,622.7 points, the Frankfurt DAX 30 dropped 0.47 percent to 3,922.11 points, but the Paris CAC 40 bucked the trend to climb 0.16 percent to 3,670.76 points. \nThe DJ Euro STOXX 50 index of leading eurozone shares lost 0.11 percent at 2,773.03 points. \nThe euro stood at US$1.2481. \nOn Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 32.67 points at 9,926.97, while the tech-heavy NASDAQ composite was 2.53 points higher at 1,90.55. \nInsurance stocks across Europe were deeply entrenched in the red, following the dismal performance by Wall Street peers after New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Thursday charged the US' largest insurance broker Marsh and McLennan with directing business to insurance companies for illegal payoffs. \nSpitzer said Munich-American, a unit of Munich Re's American Re, is among the companies under investigation. American Re said it was not a defendant but is cooperating with the probe. \nDealers expected this investigation to eventually take in most European names with US non-life exposure, with Royal and Sun Alliance one of the British names thought to be most at risk. \nDealers also claimed Barclays has large holdings in Marsh and AIG, and the drop in the share prices of the US group saw the value of Barclays' holdings drop by US$929 million. \nIn London, Royal and Sun Alliance was the biggest blue-chip loser, falling 2.30 percent to £0.745. Aviva lost 1.62 percent at £5.4650 and Prudential dropped 1.81 percent to £4.6225. \nElsewhere in Europe, the Swiss SMI index slid 0.74 percent to 5,362.4 points, the Amsterdam AEX shed 0.24 percent at 327.94, the Brussels BEL-20 dipped 0.15 percent to 2,743.56 and the Milan MIB-30 lost 0.11 percent at 28,493.0. In Madrid, the IBEX-35 eked out a 0.07-percent gain to finish at 8,261.1.
NOT ALL GOOD: Analysts warned that other data for last month might be less rosy due to the virus and analysts expect the PMI to contract again next month Chinese factory activity saw surprise growth last month as businesses went back to work following a lengthy shutdown, but analysts said that the economy faces a challenging recovery as external demand has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the World Bank said that growth could screech to a halt. China is slowly returning to life after months of tough restrictions aimed at containing the virus, which put millions of people into virtual house arrest and brought economic activity to a near standstill. The strict measures saw a closely watched gauge of manufacturing plunge to its lowest level on record in February,
The output of the global smartphone industry this year is to contract by 7.8 percent on an annual basis as the COVID-19 pandemic ushers in a global recession, Taipei-based market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a report on Monday. The global production of smartphones is expected to fall to 1.29 billion units, as the pandemic dampens demand for consumer electronics, leading to a decline in shipments across Europe and North America, TrendForce said. With consumers delaying smartphone purchases and thereby lengthening the device replacement cycle, overall prices would suffer a setback that is expected to negatively affect the profitability of smartphone
ELECTRONICS Lite-On delays sale of unit Lite-On Technology Corp (光寶科技) yesterday said it would postpone the sale of its solid-state drives (SSD) business to Kioxia Holdings Corp, formerly known as Toshiba Memory Holdings Corp, due to disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the Taiwan-based electronics components supplier struck the deal with the Japanese firm, agreeing to sell the unit for US$165 million. Citing unfinished integration work due to the pandemic, Lite-On has deferred today’s closing date until further notice, adding that the delay would not have a negative effect on the unit’s operations. AUTO PARTS Hiroca approves dividend Automotive interior parts supplier Hiroca
ALL ABOUT STRATEGY: The company is optimistic, saying that its gross margin should increase year-on-year, but it is scaling back on its plans to expand capacity Quang Viet Enterprise Co (QVE, 廣越), which makes down jackets and garments for sportswear and outdoor brands including Adidas AG, yesterday said that revenue might drop 5 to 10 percent annually this year as some customers trimmed orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That would mark its first revenue decline since 2016. Quang Viet posted record-high revenue of NT$16.26 billion (US$537.45 million) last year, up 22 percent from 2018. Down jackets made up 40 percent of it revenue last year. North Face Inc and Patagonia Inc are this year likely to reduce orders by 20 to 30 percent from a