Consumer confidence falls
Consumer confidence fell to a three-month low as the European debt crisis and the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dimmed the nation’s economic outlook. The sentiment index fell to 99 this month from 103 last month, the Bank of Korea said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. A reading below 100 indicates pessimists outnumber optimists. The consumer confidence index is based on survey responses from 2,042 households in 56 cities. It was conducted by mail and telephone between Dec. 14 and Wednesday last week.
Chinese firms’ profits cool
Chinese industrial companies’ profits growth cooled, adding to evidence the government may need to ease policy to protect the nation’s economic expansion. Net income increased 24.4 percent in the first 11 months of this year from a year earlier to 4.66 trillion yuan (US$737 billion), the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said on its Web site yesterday. The pace compared with 25.3 percent gain in the first 10 months and a 27 percent rise in the first three quarters. For last month alone, industrial companies’ profit grew 17.9 percent, compared with a 12.5 percent pace in October, according to the data.
Berkshire deal completed
Berkshire Hathaway Inc has completed the purchase of company chairman Warren Buffett’s hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald. The deal, announced on Nov. 30, for US$150 million and the assumption of US$50 million in debt, ended one of the newspaper industry’s last sizable employee-ownership plans. World-Herald spokesman Joel Long said on Monday the deal closed on Friday. World-Herald shareholders — about 275 employees and retirees and the Peter Kiewit Foundation — approved the sale by an overwhelming vote, Long said. The amount employees received for each of their shares, which are not publicly traded, wasn’t disclosed.
Wendy’s re-enters Japan
Wendy’s Co, a US fast-food chain, re-entered the Japanese market after pulling out of the country in 2009, with plans to open 100 restaurants in the next five years. The Dublin, Ohio-based company estimates a potential of about 700 restaurants in the Asian nation over the long term, according to a company statement. It opened its first joint venture restaurant in Tokyo’s Omotesando area yesterday with Higa Industries Co. Wendy’s ended its 29-year history in Japan at the end of 2009 after restaurant operator Zensho Co decided to end its franchise contract. The chain had 71 stores in Japan as of October that year.
Cairn eyes more drilling
Cairn India, a unit of British exploration firm Cairn Energy PLC, said on Monday that it hopes to start the second phase of drilling oil and natural gas deposits off Sri Lanka. During the first phase that began in August, Cairn drilled three wells, but found no oil in the third well, the company said, adding that it would continue to study the other two wells off Sri Lanka’s northwestern coast of Mannar. A net oil importer, Sri Lanka has also offered underwater blocks to India and China. The Russians carried out the first drilling in the region in 1971 without any commercial success and the government subsequently abandoned the search until Norwegians helped with new seismic studies in the past decade.