ITunes Store expands
Apple launched its iTunes Store in 12 Asian markets yesterday, giving access to millions of songs and movies including local favorites, but regional giants China and India were not on the list. The iTunes Store is now open to consumers with credit cards issued in Taiwan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. It was already available in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Microsoft fine to EU lowered
The General Court of the EU has upheld most of a massive fine against Microsoft Corp by the European Commission’s competition watchdog in 2008. In a ruling yesterday, it rejected Microsoft’s appeal, but did cut the fine by 39 million euros (US$48.7 million) to 860 million euros. The fine is technically a “penalty for noncompliance” with a 2004 order by the watchdog for Microsoft to make code available for its server software that would allow competitors’ products to interface properly.
Ford to shut Philippine plant
Ford Motor Co said it would close its 13-year-old assembly plant in the Philippines at the end of the year. Ford Group Philippines president Randy Krieger said yesterday that the company “could not make a strong enough business case for future manufacturing” in the Philippines. The plant has exported more than 80,000 vehicles since 2002. About 250 workers will be affected. The plant will close after the last Ford Escape SUV rolls out in December.
Egan-Jones cuts rating
Small US credit rater Egan-Jones lowered Germany’s rating on Tuesday, saying the European powerhouse’s finances would suffer significantly whether or not Greece quits the eurozone. Egan-Jones lowered Berlin’s sovereign rating to “A+” from “AA-” previously, pointing to the country’s large direct and indirect exposures, and those of local banks, to the frail economies of the eurozone like Greece.
Italian sector confidence up
Confidence in the Italian manufacturing sector unexpectedly rose this month, defying economists’ forecasts that it would continue a downward slump as recession-hit Italy battles the eurozone debt crisis. The confidence index published by Italy’s National Institute of Statistics (Istat) rose to 88.9 points from 86.6 points last month. Even with the positive rebound this month, the confidence index is still at its lowest since October 2009. Istat also for the first time published an index that groups together confidence in Italy’s manufacturing, construction, services and retail sectors, which dropped slightly to 75.4 points from 75.5 points last month.
Roche to close ex-US HQ
Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG said on Tuesday it would close its former US headquarters, a sprawling facility where the groundbreaking drugs Valium and interferon were invented. The move is part of a consolidation of research and development programs that will eliminate 1,000 jobs and shut down the site in Nutley, New Jersey, by the end of next year. The Basel-based maker of influenza treatment Tamiflu said the research and drug development conducted in Nutley would be consolidated with operations in Basel and Schlieren, Switzerland, and in Penzberg, Germany. That will result in about 80 more jobs in Switzerland and Germany.