FDI slows down
Foreign direct investment fell last month for the fifth consecutive month, official figures showed yesterday, as Europe struggled with its debt crisis and economic weakness. Investment from overseas fell 6.1 percent last month from a year earlier to US$11.8 billion, the commerce ministry said. In the first three months of the year, FDI reached US$29.48 billion, down 2.8 percent from the same period last year. Investment from the EU tumbled 31.2 percent year-on-year to US$1.4 billion in the January-March period, while investment from the US rose 10.1 percent in the first quarter to reach US$893 million, the ministry said.
Marks & Spencer sales up
British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer said yesterday that sales edged higher in the group’s fourth quarter despite challenging conditions. Group sales increased by 0.8 percent in the 13 weeks to the end of last month, compared with the equivalent period of last year, the company said in a statement. Sales at its stores in Britain advanced by 1.2 percent in the group’s fourth quarter. However, they fell by 0.7 percent on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the effect of new floor space.
Burberry meets forecasts
British luxury brand Burberry Group PLC met forecasts with an 18 percent rise in second-half sales, driven by strong sales in Britain, France and China, and said it was positive on the year ahead. The 156-year-old seller of raincoats and leather goods yesterday reported total revenues of ￡1.027 billion (US$1.63 billion) for the six months to the end of last month, in line with analysts’ average forecast of ￡1.03 billion in a Reuters poll. The company said retail revenues, which now account for 72 percent of group sales, rose almost a quarter to ￡743 million and that the outlook was good. Wholesale and licensing sales rose 7 percent and 5 percent in the second half respectively.
Citigroup reports profit
Citigroup is reporting a profit of US$2.9 billion for the first three months of the year. The bank says it collected record revenue from processing international transactions by other companies. It was hurt by an accounting charge of US$1.3 billion as the value of its debt increased. The bank says it earned US$0.95 a share in the first quarter, falling short of estimates of US$1.01 per share from analysts surveyed by FactSet. As more of its customers paid back their loans on time, the bank was able to take a profit of US$1.2 billion from the reserves it had set aside for losses. Citi’s stock is up US$0.14 to US$33.55 in pre-market trading.
Moody’s ratings agency downgraded Nokia’s debt grade to near junk status on Monday, citing a sharp decline in first-quarter cellphone sales that led to a 35 percent fall in revenue. The agency lowered Nokia’s long-term credit rating by one notch to “Baa3” — just a step above non-investment grade — following last week’s profit warning, which had caused Nokia’s shares to plunge by more than 20 percent. It left a negative outlook on the ratings, meaning it could downgrade Nokia to junk status if the new smartphones don’t sell well and revenue fails to recover later this year.