UK firms boost hiring
Financial firms in Britain, including banks hit last year by the eurozone debt crisis, have started taking on new staff again, confounding forecasts for more layoffs, according to a new industry survey. A balance of 19 percent of financial firms reported a rise in headcount in the first three months of the year, the survey by the Confederation of British Industry and accounting and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) showed yesterday. The percentages reflect the balance of responses, since out of the 95 firms surveyed, insurers reported a big increase in headcount for instance, while securities traders and investment managers said it had fallen. A balance of 20 percent also predicted a rise in employment by the second quarter. The confederation’s previous report with PWC had suggested that 18 percent of firms on balance thought thousands more layoffs were in store after a rough end to last year.
Maruti Suzuki sales jump
India’s biggest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, yesterday said sales last month hit a record monthly high, led largely by higher demand for hatchbacks. The company, majority-owned by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp, said sales were up 3.3 percent year-on-year at 125,952 vehicles, a third straight monthly gain. However, for the full fiscal year ending March 31, the company’s sales fell nearly 11 percent to 1,133,695 units. The company lost production of 106,000 vehicles between June and October due to a crippling labor dispute at one of its plants in the northern Indian state of Haryana. Sales last month were strongest for hatchbacks — the Swift, Estilo and Ritz — as well as the larger DZire car and its utility vehicles.
S&P retains positive outlook
Ratings agency Standard & Poors (S&P) said it maintained a positive outlook for Indonesia after parliament decided to give the government authority under certain conditions to raise the price of subsidized fuel. “We maintain a positive outlook on Indonesia’s sovereign rating, which reflects the likelihood of an upgrade if inflation is sustainably tamed while balance sheet improvements continue, likely in combination with successful implementation of at least parts of the government’s fiscal, administrative and structural reform agenda,” S&P said in a statement. “A stalling of reforms or the absence of timely and adequate policy responses to renewed fiscal or external pressures would result in the rating stabilizing or weakening,” associate director of sovereign and international public finance ratings Agost Benard said.
Japan posts record growth
Japanese auto sales saw their biggest-ever monthly surge last month, data showed yesterday, a year after domestic demand plummeted in the wake of the quake-tsunami disaster. Sales of new vehicles with engines above 660cc stood at 497,959 last month, up a record 78.2 percent from March last year, and marking the seventh consecutive rise, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said. The figures, also boosted by government subsidies for eco-friendly vehicles, include large vehicles, such as trucks and buses, as well as cars. “The sharp gain was exceptional because it was mainly due to a considerable plunge in March last year when the disaster struck the country,” an association spokesman said. New vehicle purchases slumped 37 percent in March last year following the earthquake-tsunami, but they have since staged a recovery.