Thailand hikes key rate
Thailand raised interest rates for the seventh straight meeting as Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s plans to boost wages and rice prices heighten inflation risks even as growth eases. The Bank of Thailand increased its benchmark one-day bond repurchase rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 3.5 percent, it said in Bangkok yesterday. The move was predicted by 16 out of 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, with the rest expecting no change. Thailand has boosted borrowing costs nine times since the start of July last year, the longest tightening cycle since the 23 months ended June 2006.
German confidence down
German business confidence deteriorated sharply this month, the Ifo economic research institute said yesterday. The monthly Ifo business climate index plunged to 108.7 points from 112.9 points last month, highlighting a sharp slowdown seen also in other recent data. The result was well below expectations of a decline to 111 points, according to a poll of economists by Dow Jones Newswires, and was the biggest drop since the index lost 4.7 points in July 2008. It was also the lowest level since June last year, when it stood at 106.5 points.
Glencore bids for Minara
Swiss-based commodities giant Glencore yesterday announced a takeover bid for Australian nickel miner Minara, its first major play since listing in London and Hong Kong. The off-market cash bid for the 27 percent share of Minara that Glencore does not already own values the cobalt and nickel firm at A$1.02 billion (US$1.07 billion), or A$0.87 a share. Glencore said the offer was a “substantial premium to Minara’s recent trading price and an attractive exit opportunity” for shareholders after the miner reported a 31.2 percent drop in half-year profit to A$27.3 million.
Qantas’ profit doubles
Qantas Airways Ltd yesterday reported that annual net profit more than doubled to A$250 million, but warned that the general operating environment was challenging and extremely volatile. The Australian flagship carrier’s result for the 12 months through June compares with A$112 million in the previous year. It was also below the market consensus of A$322 million, according to a median of four analysts’ estimates published by Australian Associated Press. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement that the “result reflects the strength of the Qantas Group’s portfolio and is our best performance since the global financial crisis.”
Heineken’s profit drops
Heineken NV, Europe’s largest seller of beer, said first-half earnings were down from the same period a year ago, when it booked a one-time gain, and that it expects flat full-year earnings. Net profit in the first half of this year was 605 million euros (US$872 million), down from 700 million euros in the same period a year ago. Sales rose 11 percent to 8.36 billion euros, mostly due to the acquisition of brands, including Dos Equis and Tecate. Sales rose 3.3 percent, it said. The family-controlled company said commodity costs, high unemployment and weak consumer confidence would remain a drag on its business in Europe and the US, offset by growth in emerging markets.