Refiners slash prices
State-run refiners announced a cut in gasoline prices from yesterday, mitigating a sharp increase a month ago that sparked public protests and anger among the government’s coalition allies. The cut reduced the cost of a liter of gasoline by 2.46 rupees to 67.78 (US$1.19) per liter, the country’s largest refiner Indian Oil Corp said in a statement. It was the second cut this month following a record 11 percent hike in prices last month that triggered the political backlash.
Economic growth stalled
The French economy posted zero growth in the first quarter of this year following a weak 0.1 percent expansion in the fourth quarter of last year, the French National Insitute for Statistics and Economic Studies said yesterday, confirming an earlier estimate. On Tuesday, the institute forecast that the economy would grow only 0.4 percent this year, slightly less than the 0.5 percent previously forecast and budgeted by the government. “France will suffer from a contraction in internal demand from its eurozone partners, which will hurt exports, and its efforts to consolidate its budget,” the institute’s research director Eric Dubois said.
Grupo Modelo bought out
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s biggest brewer, agreed to buy the remainder of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo SAB for US$20.1 billion, gaining full control of the maker of Corona to increase its presence in emerging markets. The maker of Budweiser will pay US$9.15 a share in cash, the Belgium-based company said yesterday in a statement. Modelo closed at the equivalent of US$8.71 in Mexico City, Mexico, on Thursday. In a related deal, Constellation Brands Inc will buy Modelo’s stake in their US distribution joint venture for US$1.85 billion.
Daimler, Fuso strike deal
German auto giant Daimler said yesterday that its Japanese truck unit Fuso has agreed to cooperate with rival Nissan in the area of light trucks. While the precise details of the deal have still to be worked out, the agreement will see Fuso make available its Canter five-tonne truck to Nissan, while Nissan will supply its Atlas F24 to Fuso, Daimler said.
Online sales may be taxed
The government may slap a tax on online sales of electronic books, music and other products by overseas Internet vendors such as Amazon.com, Finance Minister Jun Azumi said yesterday. The comments come days after Tokyo passed a bill through its lower house of parliament that would see sales tax double to 10 percent by 2015. However, tax is applied only to sales by Japanese Internet vendors, putting them at a disadvantage to foreign electronic retailers. Azumi said the imbalance may be prompting some Japanese firms to boost their overseas presence to take advantage of the apparent tax loophole.
Nike posts sales decline
Nike Inc, the world’s largest sporting-goods company, tumbled after fourth-quarter profit unexpectedly declined for the first time since 2009 as marketing and labor costs increased. Net income in the quarter ended on May 31 declined 7.6 percent to US$549 million, or US$1.17 a share, Oregon-based Nike said in a statement on Thursday. Analysts projected US$1.37 a share, the average of 20 estimates. Profit had topped analysts’ expectations in 22 of the past 23 quarters.