Nation repays US$483m
The country, whose economy has recovered rapidly following the 2008 collapse of its banking sector, on Friday repaid US$483.7 million in loans to the International Monetary Fund, the lender said. The early repayment, which follows another one of more than US$900 million in March, is a symbolic step for the country of just 320,000 people as it works its way out of a financial meltdown that ravaged the economy. The country’s main commercial banks collapsed in the space of a week as the global financial crisis struck in late 2008, imploding under the weight of huge debts built up during aggressive overseas expansion. GDP grew 2.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of this year to put annual economic growth at 4.5 percent in the period, the highest since the first quarter of 2008.
Big firms in price-fixing case
Apple Inc and book publishers that have not settled e-book price-fixing claims will face a trial next year in a case filed by the US Justice Department, a federal judge in New York decided. The US state joined 15 other states and Puerto Rico in claiming Apple, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins, Macmillan and Penguin colluded to fix the prices of e-books. US District Judge Denise Cote, who is presiding over the consolidated lawsuits in a federal court in Manhattan, set the trial for June 3 next year. US antitrust officials have stepped up enforcement against anticompetitive price-fixing agreements in industries including health care and auto parts. Regulators have also increased scrutiny of California-based Apple’s digital publishing, mobile computing and music retail businesses recently.
GM recalls Chevy Cruzes
Engine fires are forcing General Motors to recall the Chevy Cruze, a popular model that has helped GM win back small-car buyers. The recall covers 475,000 vehicles made in the US from September 2010 to May of this year. It is the car’s fifth recall since it arrived in showrooms nearly two years ago, raising questions about the sedan’s reliability. The fires can break out when fluids drip onto a hot plastic shield below the engine. The problem occurs mainly when oil is spilled and not properly cleaned up during changes, General Motors said on Friday. The company knows of 30 fires caused by the problem, but no injuries have been reported, spokesman Alan Adler said.
Greece slips on power bill
Power traders in at least four countries have reduced or halted electricity exports to cash-strapped Greece due to non-payments, helping to force market prices sharply higher in a potential blow to struggling industries and raising the risk of blackouts during the tourist season. With Greece deep in crisis, power grid operator LAGHE owes foreign and domestic suppliers 327 million euros (US$411 million), a court document showed, as its revenue falls due to the recession and a refusal by many Greeks to pay their bills. Trading sources told Reuters that at least four trading companies in Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria and Germany have either lowered or cut off sales to Greece due to high credit risk and delays in payments over the past 2 to 3 months for power they sold.