Apple ‘most admired’ firm
Apple topped the list of most admired companies for the fifth year in a row, based on a Fortune magazine survey released on Thursday. Google was in second place for the third consecutive year, while Amazon moved up from seventh place to third, giving the tech giants the top three spots in the magazine’s survey of 3,855 US executives, directors, and securities analysts. After the top three, the next on the list in order were: Coca-Cola, IBM, FedEx, Berkshire Hathaway, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble and Southwest Airlines.
Yelp IPO raises US$107.3m
Yelp Inc, the site that lets users review everything from diners to dentists, raised US$107.3 million on its initial public offering (IPO), pricing the shares above the market price range. The San Francisco-based company sold 7.15 million shares for US$15 each, according to a statement on Thursday, after offering them for US$12 to US$14 apiece. The stock was due to begin trading yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol YELP. Yelp faces stiff competition for local ad revenue from larger rivals Google and Facebook, which filed for the biggest Internet IPO on record last month.
Household spending falls
Japan’s household spending fell more sharply than expected in January, government data showed yesterday, but analysts said the nation’s economic recovery was still on track. Figures from the internal affairs ministry showed household spending dropped 2.3 percent year-on-year. The inflation-adjusted fall in spending was far bigger than the 0.8 percent dip economists had expected.
Inflation at 14-month low
South Korea’s inflation moderated to a 14-month low last month and within the central bank’s target range, bolstering the case for the bank to keep borrowing costs unchanged next week. Consumer prices rose 3.1 percent from a year earlier, matching the median estimate of 16 economists in a Bloomberg News survey and following a 3.4 percent gain in January, Statistics Korea said yesterday. Prices rose 0.4 percent from January.
Tax to slow real’s rise
Brazil has extended a tax on short-term foreign loans in a bid to curb the strengthening of the country’s currency. A government decree extends from two years to three years the 6 percent tax that Brazil levies on such loans. The measure was published on Thursday in the official gazette. Finance Minister Guido Mantega said the inflow of foreign loans had strengthened the real by 12 percent so far this year, making the country’s exports more expensive and its imports cheaper.
Peru-Japan FTA starts
A free-trade agreement between Peru and Japan went into effect on Thursday, with the Peruvian government saying it would increase bilateral commerce by at least 25 percent. Under the agreement signed in May last year, Japan and Peru will scrap tariffs on more than 99 percent of the value of goods traded between them within a decade. Peru will lift tariffs on Japanese products such as large vehicles and televisions, while Japan will eliminate tariffs in stages on Peruvian imports such as copper and zinc, clothing, fishmeal and asparagus.