Recession avoided for now
Strong exports and consumer demand helped the economy, Europe’s biggest, steer clear of recession in the first three months of this year, official data showed yesterday. Confirming preliminary figures released earlier this month, the federal statistics office DESTATIS calculated that GDP expanded by 0.5 percent in the period from January to March on a quarterly basis. Nevertheless, the Bundesbank warned in this month’s monthly report, released on Wednesday, that the “surprisingly good GDP data” for the first quarter “overstate the current underlying cyclical trend and cannot be extrapolated onto the following quarters.”
PMI hits three-year low
The decline in manufacturing activity accelerated this month with a closely watched index of activity based on a survey hitting a three-year low, Markit market research firm said yesterday. The purchasers’ manufacturing index (PMI) fell to 44.7 points this month from 45.9 points last month, the lowest level for 37 months, according to an initial calculation. The PMI is watched as an important leading indicator of performance of the economy and a reading below 50 is considered to point to shrinking activity. Markit said there were marked declines in activity this month in both the service and manufacturing sectors, with manufacturing output decreasing at the fastest pace in three years.
BMW triples China output
BMW AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, is tripling production output in China, prepping up for rising demand in the world’s largest auto market. The capacity at a new plant in Tiexi will rise to 200,000 vehicles in 2014, adding to the 100,000 cars that BMW currently produces at a factory in Dadong, the Munich-based company said yesterday. Total China production in theory could rise to as many as 400,000 vehicles in the future depending on demand, the automaker said. The plants are operated with partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd (華晨中國汽車控股). The joint venture partners will invest another 500 million euros (US$629 million) together, in addition to the 1 billion euros already spent on the expansion since 2009.
SABMiller sees profits soar
Anglo-South African brewer SABMiller, which bought Australian group Foster’s last year, said yesterday that annual net profits soared by 75 percent, boosted by growth in emerging markets. Earnings after taxation surged to US$4.22 billion in the 12 months to the end of March, compared with US$2.408 billion in the previous financial year, SABMiller said in a results statement. Revenues meanwhile soared by 11 percent to US$31.4 billion, added the group, which also produces Grolsch, Miller Lite, Peroni Nastro Azzuro and Pilsner Urquell.
Oil giants battle for Cove
Royal Dutch Shell PLC is considering its response to a ￡1.22 billion (US$1.9 billion) offer from PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) PLC for Cove Energy PLC as the companies battle for a share of one of the world’s largest natural gas discoveries. PTTEP’s bid of ￡2.4 a share for the London-based explorer on Wednesday trumped Shell’s ￡2.2 offer. Shell said in a statement yesterday that 4.8 percent of shareholders had accepted its bid and the offer is being extended until June 13.