Sat, Jul 30, 2011 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Industrial output rose 3.9%

Japan’s industrial production rose for the third straight month last month June as the world’s No. 3 economy stages a recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Factory output climbed 3.9 percent from the previous month and is expected to continue growing in the months ahead. Cars and electronic parts helped fuel the improvement, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Industrial production is a key indicator of Japan’s economic health, and its steady climb suggests that manufacturers are restoring capacity after the tsunami damaged critical parts factories. The disruption led to a big plunge in output for Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp, and industrial production is still 5.3 percent lower than it was in February before the disasters. Shipments jumped 8.5 percent, which lowered inventories by 2.8 percent. That implies “further upside for production in the months ahead,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital Japan, in a report.


China may buy Greek bonds

China could provide loans to Greece to fund government bond buybacks in the secondary market to help cut the country’s debt burden, a Greek finance ministry official said yesterday. “There are signs that China is interested in taking part in the new funding scheme for Greece,” said the official who declined to be named. The official did not elaborate, but referred to a meeting Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos had with China’s IMF representative in Washington earlier this week. China has made a major investment in Greece’s main port in Piraeus and offered to buy Greek government bonds when Athens resumes issuance, according to comments by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) during a visit to Athens last year. Wen said China had already bought Greek bonds previously.


Mazda’s losses expand

Japan’s Mazda Motor yesterday said its net loss widened to US$330 million in the three months ending June when production and sales were hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Japan’s fifth-largest carmaker by volume said its net loss in the fiscal first quarter reached ¥25.5 billion, from a ¥2.1 billion net loss in the same period a year ago. Operating loss reached ¥23.1 billion, after an operating profit of ¥6.4 billion yen a year earlier. Sales fell 29.4 percent to ¥408.1 billion. Mazda was also in the red in the first quarter a year ago due to one-off changes in accounting methods, but it had been enjoying rising sales since, thanks to government incentive programs. For April-June this year, however, Mazda’s global sales volume fell 11.3 percent to 281,000 vehicles compared with the same period a year ago. Its sales in Japan also fell 31.8 percent to 35,000 units.


Eurozone inflation slows

Inflation in the 17 countries that use the euro unexpectedly fell this month, official figures showed yesterday, raising speculation that the European Central Bank (ECB) might not need to raise interest rates as quickly as markets have been predicting. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said consumer prices in the eurozone rose by 2.5 percent in the year to July. That’s still above the ECB’s target of keeping inflation just below 2 percent, but down on market expectations for an unchanged reading of 2.7 percent. Despite the debt crisis that has engulfed the eurozone and signs of waning economic activity, the markets have been pricing in another interest rate increase from the ECB in September.

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