Fri, Mar 04, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

BRAZIL

Key interest rate raised

The central bank on Wednesday raised its key interest rate a half a percentage point to 11.75 percent as it turned the screw further on climbing inflation. The increase — which put the rate at the highest in the G20 group of developed and emerging economies — was expected, given inflation of 5.9 percent last year, well above the government target of 4.5 percent. It was likely, though, to undermine government efforts to slow the appreciation of the real, whose soaring value against the US dollar is sapping exports.

SOUTH KOREA

Foreign reserves hit record

The nation’s foreign currency reserves hit a record high for the second straight month. The Bank of Korea announced yesterday that the country’s official foreign reserves totaled US$298 billion at the end of last month. That was up US$1.7 billion from the previous high of US$296 billion in January. Asian countries lead the world in reserve holdings. The central bank attributed last month’s gain to higher operating profits on the reserves and gains in the euro and sterling against the greenback.

SOUTH KOREA

Industrial output rises fast

Industrial output was stronger than expected in January on strong overseas demand, with semiconductor and automakers leading the way, official figures showed yesterday. Mining and industrial production increased 4.6 percent from the preceding month following a revised 3.1 percent monthly increase in December, Statistics Korea said. The January rise was the largest since the same figure in September 2009.

RETAIL

Carrefour expects more sales

Carrefour SA, the world’s second-largest retailer, forecast an increase in sales and profit this year after matching its revised guidance for profit growth last year. Current operating income rose 9.3 percent to 2.97 billion euros (US$4.1 billion) last year, from a restated 2.72 billion euros, the Paris-based grocer said yesterday in a statement, in line with a January estimate. Net income rose to 433 million euros from 276 million euros, trailing the 695.5 million euro average estimate of 19 analysts surveyed.

UNITED KINGDOM

Murdoch gets nod on BSkyB

The British government has tentatively accepted plans by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to buy full control of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said approval was conditional on BSkyB spinning off Sky News as an independent company. News Corp would retain a 39.1 percent stake in Sky News, the same as its current stake in BSkyB. The plan is still subject to consultation before gaining final approval. News Corp would then be free to make an offer for the remaining BSkyB shares.

INSURANCE

Buffet enters Indian market

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is entering the Indian insurance market as a corporate agent for Bajaj Allianz, the companies said. Berkshire made no investment in Bajaj, but will sell policies for Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, beginning with auto insurance, Bajaj spokesman Santosh Balan said yesterday. Insurance for India’s fast-growing auto market accounts for over 50 percent of Bajaj Allianz’s premium income, which amounted to 20.9 billion rupees (US$465 million) from April through December last year Balan said. Berkshire India, will focus on direct sales via Internet and telemarketing and get commissions per regulatory norms.

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