Fri, Apr 13, 2012 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

RETAIL

Carrefour Q1 sales up 1.5%

Struggling big box retailer Carrefour marked a slight increase in revenue for the first quarter, with strong growth in Latin America just offsetting declining sales in Europe. Europe’s biggest retailer by revenue yesterday said that it brought in 22.49 billion euros (US$29.53 billion) in sales from January to last month. That represents a 1.5 percent increase over the same quarter last year and just beat expectations of 22.45 billion euros, the consensus of analysts surveyed by FactSet. Business was strongest in Latin America, where the retailer marked an 8.1 percent increase in revenue, but sales there make up only 20 percent of Carrefour’s total.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Roche Q1 sales down 1%

Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG yesterday reported that group sales dipped 1 percent to 11.03 billion Swiss francs (US$12.05 billion) in the first quarter. Excluding the effect of the strong Swiss currency, group sales rose 2 percent compared with the same period last year. Sales in the US grew 6 percent in the first quarter, led by hepatitis C medicine Pegasys and cancer drug Rituxan — known as MabThera outside the US and Canada. Sales in western Europe fell 4 percent partly due to cutbacks in government-funded health programs. Roche, which reports earnings only every six months, said group sales were expected to grow at low to mid-single-digit rates for this year.

ENERGY

Areva to build solar plant

The French energy group Areva said on Wednesday that it would build the biggest concentrated solar power installation in Asia for Reliance Power of India. Areva Solar is to construct two plants using compact linear fresnel reflector technology that would produce 250 megawatts of electricity in Rajasthan, northwestern India, a statement said. That would provide energy for about 300,000 people in Europe, according to a sector estimation. Areva expects the first plant to start operations in May next year.

AUSTRALIA

Jobless rate steady at 5.2%

Australia’s unemployment rate held steady at 5.2 percent last month, data showed yesterday, beating expectations, while 44,000 jobs were created — almost eight times the number forecast. The news sent the Australian dollar higher against the greenback on receding expectations of an interest rate hike. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the seasonally adjusted jobless rate was static, as 15,800 full-time jobs were filled and 28,200 part-time jobs taken up. It added that the number of people now in employment stood at 11,491,200. Economists had predicted the jobless rate to come it at 5.3 percent with just 6,000 extra jobs created. Canberra expects the jobless rate to hit 5.5 percent by the middle of this year and is due to update its forecasts in the May 8 budget.

SOUTH KOREA

Unemployment rate eases

South Korea’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate eased last month to 3.4 percent, falling for the first time in three months, government data showed yesterday. That compares with 3.7 percent in February, which was an 11-month high, Statistics Korea said in a statement. Unadjusted, the reading was 3.7 percent last month, down from February’s 4.2 percent. The number of employed South Koreans last month rose 419,000 from a year earlier, to 24.265 million, compared with an increase of 447,000 in February.

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