China’s imports increase
China passed the US last year for the first time to become the biggest importer of agricultural products and also increased its exports, according to data by the WTO. Imports, including food and beverages, rose 34 percent to US$144.7 billion last year from US$108.3 billion in 2010, according to calculations based on data released by the Geneva-based trade body. Exports gained 25 percent to US$64.6 billion, beating Canada to become the sixth largest. Growth in the second-biggest economy and largest population has boosted demand from soybeans and corn to feed livestock to powdered milk and sugar to make beverages. Urbanization widened China’s water and land shortages, further fueling a global rally in crops amplified by drought-reduced supply.
Business activity declines
Private sector business activity in the eurozone showed an eighth monthly decline this month hitting its gloomiest patch in three years, survey results showed yesterday. The closely watched Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a survey of 5,000 eurozone businesses compiled by Markit research firm, came in at 45.9 points, down from 46.3 in July. Any reading below 50 indicates contraction in activity. Taken together with previous months the data suggested “the worst quarter for three years,” Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said in a statement. He tipped a 0.6 percent contraction in GDP for the quarter, which would confirm a return to recession.
Nike announces plan
Nike, the clothing, footwear, sportswear and equipment giant, announced a four-year, US$8 billion share buyback plan on Wednesday. “We believe repurchasing our shares is a prudent use of our cash and are pleased to extend Nike’s track record of returning value to shareholders through sustained share repurchases,” Nike president and CEO Mark Parker said. “This new share repurchase program demonstrates our continued confidence in Nike’s strategy to generate long-term profitable growth and strong cash flow, and reflects our commitment to delivering value to our shareholders.” He said Nike has returned US$10 billion to shareholders over the past decade thanks to the repurchase of over 167 million shares.
Google leads in online ads
Google has become the US market leader in online display ads, and now leads all categories for Internet advertising including search and mobile, a market research firm said on Wednesday. The firm eMarketer said Google will top the market for online display advertising with US$2.31 billion in revenues — 15.4 percent of the market — this year. Google would thus overtake Facebook in display, after the social network dethroned longtime leader Yahoo last year, eMarketer said. The milestone means Google now holds more shares than any other company in each of the US search, display and mobile advertising markets. Google will see a 38 percent jump in online display ad revenue this year, the report said. Facebook, the consultancy said, is to earn US$2.16 billion in US display ad revenues this year, up 24.4 percent from billion last year. Facebook’s share will be 14.4 percent. Yahoo will see nearly flat revenues for display ads, which will mean its market share will fall to 9.3 percent this year from 11 percent last year and 14 percent in 2010.