Inflation, trade surplus surge
Consumer prices surged last month and the trade surplus hit a record high, official figures showed yesterday, putting pressure on the central bank to raise interest rates to curb inflation. The consumer price index rose by 4.7 percent last month from a year earlier, Statistics Korea said, compared to a 4.4 percent rise in June. Last month’s rise was the fastest since March, and marked the seventh straight month that inflation remained above the bank’s target range of 2 to 4 percent. The price index rose by 0.7 percent last month from the previous month compared with a 0.2 percent monthly rise in June. Core inflation, which strips out volatile energy and food prices, rose 3.8 percent last month from a year earlier, the highest figure since a 3.9 percent rise in May 2009.
Growth forecast cut to 8.2%
A top advisory panel to the prime minister cut its forecast for the country’s economic growth this year to 8.2 percent, reflecting higher interest rates and global uncertainties. In February, the Economic Advisory Council had forecast 9.0 percent economic growth in the 12 months to March, an estimate in line the government’s own growth projection. Last week, the central bank increased rates by a higher-than-expected 50 basis points, the 11th rise since March last year, as it struggles to combat near double-digit inflation. The panel said it expected the cycle of rate rises to continue.
EON closes three sites
The biggest German energy company, EON, has decided to close three sites as it grapples with the effects of a government decision to abandon nuclear energy, a press report said yesterday. Spiegel magazine, which did not cite its source, said EON would close sites in Hannover, northern Germany, Munich in the south and Essen in the west, and eliminate hundreds of jobs once it obtains supervisory board approval. Spiegel said that activities at the three locations would be regrouped at EON’s headquarters in Duesseldorf, western Germany, and added that the German group might also spin off some of its foreign activities.
Chilean miners end walkout
Workers at the world’s No. 3 copper mine, Chile’s Collahuasi, returned on Sunday after a 24-hour walkout, easing contagion fears as a strike at the giant Escondida deposit stretched on for a 10th day. The Collahuasi mine operator said the stoppage had little effect on output and was ignored by most workers, who continued at their posts during the call for a walkout. The 24-hour strike at Collahuasi, owned jointly by Xstrata and Anglo American, appeared to be an isolated example. Unions at other mines said they have no plans for immediate stoppages.
TNT Express profits drop
Dutch express delivery company TNT Express NV has reported a drop in profit for the second quarter due to higher fuel costs and losses at its Brazilian operations. Net profit was 4 million euros (US$5.8 million) from 26 million euros in the same period a year earlier. Revenues rose 0.9 percent to 1.8 billion euros. TNT reported earnings yesterday for the first time as an independent company after its former parent TNT NV split into TNT Express and PostNL NV on June 1. The express company is widely seen as a takeover target for UPS or FedEx.