EU seeks Google accord
The EU will seek an accord with US Internet search giant Google as progress has been made in resolving EU anti-trust concerns, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Tuesday. Almunia said he made the decision after meeting Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt in Brussels. “We have substantially reduced our differences regarding possible ways to address” competition concerns, Almunia said.
Nissan to boost production
Japanese automaker Nissan said yesterday it would start building a compact model of the luxury Infiniti brand at its plant in Sunderland in the north of England from 2015. Production of the new vehicle would create another 1,000 jobs across the country, including 280 additional positions at the Sunderland plant, with a capacity to make about 60,000 Infiniti models annually. The Japanese automaker said the investment was worth about ￡250 million (US$407 million).
Pfizer to lay off sales staff
Pfizer Inc, the world’s biggest drugmaker, plans to lay off almost 20 percent of its roughly 3,000-person US primary care medicines sales force, according to a person familiar with the matter. The cuts, about 600 positions, are to begin this month and are part of the New York-based company’s continuing effort to lower costs, said the person, who asked not to be named. Pfizer about a year ago lost patent protection on its former best-selling drug, Lipitor, which generated US$9.6 billion last year.
Japan records monthly deficit
Japan has reported its fifth straight month of trade deficits for last month, marking a lengthy span of lagging exports that highlights a struggling economy. The Japanese Ministry of Finance released data yesterday showing the trade deficit soared nearly 38 percent last month compared to November the previous year. Last month’s exports stood at ￥4.98 trillion (US$59.3 billion), while imports totaled 5.94 trillion yen, making for a deficit of ￥953.4 billion.
German confidence bounces
German business confidence continued to climb this month, a key institute’s report indicated yesterday, after bouncing back from a long slide the month before despite the shaky eurozone economy. The Ifo economic institute’s closely watched business climate index for Europe’s top economy rose to 102.4 points this month from 101.4 points a month earlier, beating analysts’ expectations. The Bundesbank said earlier this week it expects the German economy to grow next year after shrinking markedly in the fourth quarter.
Think tank predicts recession
The Dutch government’s financial think tank has joined the central bank in forecasting a recession next year as a result of waning global trade prospects. The Netherlands’ Central Planning Bureau yesterday said the economy would shrink 0.5 percent, in contrast to its previous forecast of 0.75 percent growth. Last week the Dutch central bank predicted a 0.6 percent contraction, reversing its previous forecast of a 0.6 percent expansion. Because the recession will likely dent tax revenues, both are predicting that the country’s budget deficit will be slightly above the 3 percent of GDP limit mandated by European rules.