Local demand drives growth
Germany’s solid first-quarter growth was based more on domestic demand than its export sector, detailed data released yesterday by the national statistics office showed. Only one-third of the quarterly growth rate of 1.5 percent in the first three months of the year was the result of foreign trade, while the rest came from domestic investment and consumption, the Destatis office said. On an annual basis, the German economy, Europe’s biggest, gained 5.2 percent, its strongest rate since the country was reunified in late 1990. Business confidence stabilized this month following two declines, the closely watched Ifo indicator showed yesterday, as it reported a new index level of 114.2 points. The latest reading also remained near its all-time high.
Inflation hits 29-month high
Vietnam’s inflation accelerated to a 29-month high this month, adding pressure on officials to raise interest rates further and accept slower economic expansion to tame the fastest consumer-price growth in Asia. Prices rose 19.78 percent from a year earlier, compared with 17.51 percent last month, according to data released by the General Statistics Office in Hanoi yesterday. That’s the quickest pace since December 2008. Prices rose 2.21 percent from last month. The central bank has raised at least one of its interest rates each month this year to dampen a surge in inflation stoked by costlier energy and food and a weaker currency.
EBay eyes acquisitions
EBay may use some of the US$2.4 billion it will receive from the sale of its stake in Skype to make acquisitions, CEO Jack Donahoe said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday. Donahoe said the company might also use some of the proceeds from its sale of the 30 percent stake it owns in Skype to return money to investors through share buybacks. He said the San Jose, California-based company had more than US$8 billion in cash and was on the lookout for takeover targets.
Current account surplus dips
China’s first-quarter current account surplus fell 18 percent from a year ago, the State Administration for Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement yesterday. The current account surplus — the broadest measure of trade with the world — reached US$29.8 billion in the first three months of the year, SAFE said. That was markedly lower than the US$102.1 billion seen in the fourth quarter of last year, according to revised SAFE data. Net inflow of direct investment into China, the world’s second-largest economy, totalled US$42.6 billion in the first quarter compared with US$39.1 billion in the last three months of last year.
Wal-Mart executives resign
Two top executives have quit Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s China business, leaving a leadership vacuum in a country earmarked as having strategic importance for the US retailer. Chief financial officer Roland Lawrence and chief operating officer Rob Cissell for Wal-Mart in China have resigned “to explore other opportunities,” the company said in a statement. The company did not name replacements for the two men, both senior vice presidents. Wal-Mart is trying to expand its footprint in China to capture consumption from the country’s booming middle class.