Retail sales take a hit
Retail sales fell unexpectedly in December last year, as consumer spending took a hit from the eurozone’s debt crisis, official data showed yesterday. Retail sales declined by 1.7 percent in December compared with November, in price, seasonally and calendar-adjusted terms, according to provisional figures published by the federal statistics office Destatis. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a modest increase of 0.2 percent following a rise of 0.6 percent in November last year. On a 12-month basis, retail sales were down even more sharply by 4.7 percent in December. However, that was because there were two fewer shopping days in December last year than in 2011, the statisticians said. Taking last year as a whole, retail sales slipped by 0.3 percent, Destatis calculated. Monthly retail sales data are volatile and subject to frequent revision, but analysts said the data were nevertheless disappointing.
Lenovo’s Q3 profit jumps
Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s second-biggest maker of personal computers, reported a 34 percent jump in third-quarter profit after increasing its market share and boosting smartphone sales. Net income climbed to US$204.9 million in the three months that ended on Dec. 31 last year, from US$153.5 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Excluding a US$20 million one-time gain, the figure was in line with analysts’ estimates. Sales climbed 12 percent to US$9.36 billion. Lenovo’s PC shipments rose 8 percent in the period, the only increase among the world’s four biggest suppliers, as it boosted North American consumer sales amid slowing global demand. The company has also developed mobile devices including smartphones and tablets that have helped it lure customers from Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co in China.
Industrial output rises
Industrial production picked up pace in December last year from a month before, in a sign the world’s third-largest economy may be stabilizing thanks to stronger global demand and government spending. Increased output of large passenger cars and vehicle components and machinery for making semiconductors were the main factors helping to drive the improvement in manufacturing, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said yesterday. It said industrial output rose a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent from November last year.
Honda cuts profit forecast
Honda Motor Co, Japan’s third-largest carmaker, cut its full-year profit forecast as lower sales in China and Europe overshadowed the benefits from the weaker yen. Net income will likely be ￥370 billion (US$4.1 billion) in the 12 months ending March 31, compared with its previous estimate of ￥375 billion, the company said in a statement yesterday. Honda maintained its projections for operating profit and revenue, while cutting its forecast for global deliveries to 4.06 million from 4.12 million units. While Honda recovered from disruptions stemming from natural disasters in 2011, the company reported lower sales in China as a territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea fueled a consumer backlash in the world’s biggest auto market. A weaker yen may help drive gains in other markets for Honda, the first major Japanese automaker to report earnings.