Eurozone hits record high
The eurozone unemployment rate hit a record high level in March, jumping to 10.9 percent for the first time for 15 years, official figures showed yesterday. Almost 17.37 million men and women looked for work in the zone in March, or 169,000 more than in February, according to Eurostat data agency. The 10.9 percent rate equaled an April 1997 record. The unemployment rate had reached 10.8 percent in February, with the eurozone widely expected to have dipped back into recession as it battles a festering debt crisis.
US sales rise 2.3%
US auto sales rose 2.3 percent last month, helped by strong gains at Toyota Motor Corp and Chrysler Group LLC, as shoppers looked to replace their aging cars and trucks and the broader US economy showed signs of strength. The annual sales rate last month was 14.4 million, in line with the pace projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. This was down slightly from the 14.6 million pace reported in the first quarter. Toyota sales shot up 11.6 percent, spurred by passenger cars led by the Camry sedan and the Prius hybrid. Chrysler sales leapt 20 percent on the strength of models like the 300 sedan.
Facebook roadshow set
Facebook is on track to make its historic multibillion-dollar debut on Wall Street on May 18, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Executives from the social network plan to begin a financial roadshow next week, going to various cities to discuss Facebook’s prospects with potential investors before the initial public offering, the newspaper said. The Journal said that if the roadshow goes smoothly, Facebook will begin trading on May 18 or possibly a day or two later. The timing of Facebook’s much-anticipated IPO was put in doubt after the company spent a billion dollars on hot photo-sharing smartphone application Instagram and another US$550 million to buy patents from Microsoft.
ANZ profits up 10%
One of Australia’s largest banks, ANZ Banking Group, yesterday posted a 10 percent increase in its first half profit to A$2.92 billion (US$3.02 billion), but warned margins in its Australian business were declining. The Melbourne-based bank’s net profit for the six months to March 31 was up from A$2.66 billion in the previous corresponding period. Analysts had expected a higher net profit of about A$2.96 billion. Australian banks proved resilient against the global economic downturn and remain among a handful of banks in the world to maintain an AA credit rating. Net profit rose on improving results from the bank’s operations in Asia, the Pacific, Europe and the US, ANZ said. ANZ’s net interest margin for the six months through March was 2.38 percent, down from 2.44 percent in the six months through September last year.
Eurozone outlook gloomy
Gloom over eurozone manufacturing deepened last month, highlighting the impact of policies to control budgets and signaling recessionary pressures, a Markit survey showed yesterday. A key index of activity based on a survey by Markit fell to almost the lowest level for three years. In its latest survey for its purchasing managers’ index Markit said: “The eurozone manufacturing downturn took a further turn for the worse in April.” The adjusted manufacturing PMI figure fell to 45.9 from 47.7 in March. A figure of below 50 points to contraction.