‘Less slow’ growth forecast
The economy would likely grow “less slowly” this quarter than in the third quarter as a surge in exports loses steam, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology said in its report for this month. Export growth to the country’s European partners in particular was ebbing as the debt crisis dents their economic performance, the ministry said. Meanwhile, inflation eased fractionally last month, continuing to come down from a three-year high recorded in September, official data showed yesterday. The consumer price index rose by 2.4 percent on a 12-month basis last month, compared with 2.5 percent in October, national statistics office Destatis said in a statement. On a monthly basis, the cost of living was unchanged.
Google launches ‘Currents’
Google Inc is joining a crowd of companies packaging digital content in a magazine-like format for mobile devices. The Internet search leader released its version, called “Currents,” on Thursday. It works on smartphones and computer tablets running on Google’s Android software, as well as Apple Inc’s operating system and its iPhone and iPad. Currents is late to the competition. It will be trying to catch up to Flipboard, one of the most popular applications on the iPad, and Zite, which is owned by Time Warner Inc’s CNN. Yahoo Inc released a similar product called Livestand last month. Google said more than 150 publishers have agreed to provide material to Currents. The participating publishers include Forbes, PBS, Huffington Post and AllThingsD.
Vale, clients talk pricing
Brazilian conglomerate Vale, the world’s leading iron ore producer, said it was negotiating with its main clients, Taiwan’s China Steel Corp (中鋼) and Luxembourg-based Arcelor Mittal, to give them a more favorable pricing system. “We came under pressure from our clients for a change in the pricing system,” Jose Carlos Martins, Vale’s executive officer for ferrous mineral, said during a company event in London that was Web cast on Vale’s Web site on Thursday. The new system will make it possible to readjust iron ore contracts based on prices closer to those on the spot market, where prices are currently more favorable to the clients. Martins said the switch was “inevitable” as clients seek more liquidity.
Ford to pay dividends again
Ford Motor Co said it would resume paying a dividend this spring for the first time since 2006. The company said on Thursday it would pay a quarterly dividend of US$0.05 per share on March 1 next year for shareholders of record as of Jan. 31. The automaker had stopped paying a dividend in September 2006, when it was deeply in debt. However, Ford said it had made enough improvements in its balance sheet to resume the dividend. Ford reported its 10th straight profitable quarter in the third quarter of this year.
Wal-Mart starts graft probe
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, began an internal investigation into whether some of its actions violated US anti-corruption laws. The company is probing permitting, licensing and inspections of stores, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday, and has disclosed the investigation to the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing did not say where the actions in question took place. Wal-Mart has also hired legal counsel and other advisers to assist in the probe, the filing said.