RBA maintains rates
The central bank kept interest rates steady at 3 percent yesterday, saying downside risks in the global economy appeared to have eased, while there were signs previous cuts were working. At its monthly meeting in Sydney, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) decided to keep its cash rate where it has been since December last year, a historic low last reached in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. “The board’s view is that with inflation likely to be consistent with the target, and with growth likely to be a little below trend over the coming year, an accommodative stance of monetary policy is appropriate,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said.
Toyota to turn profit in EU
Japanese auto giant Toyota’s European business is set to turn a profit in the 2012-2013 financial year after a five-year hiatus, a senior official said on Monday at the Geneva International Motor Show. “It will be the first time since 2007 that Toyota will be profitable in Europe,” Didier Leroy, head of the group’s European operations, told reporters. Over the first nine months of Toyota’s financial year — which runs from April to the end of March — the group said it had earned 209 million euros (US$272 million). Leroy said Toyota’s goal was to sell a million vehicles in Europe in 2015.
Panasonic selling building
Panasonic Corp is selling a building in Tokyo for about ￥50 billion (US$537 million) as the electronics maker tries to recover from losses of more than ￥1.3 trillion in the past two years. Japan’s No. 2 TV maker is selling the office building in Tokyo’s Shiodome ward, spokeswoman Megumi Kitagawa said by telephone. Sumitomo Mitsui Finance & Leasing Co will acquire 90 percent of the rights to the property, and Nippon Building Fund Inc said it would acquire the remaining 10 percent. The maker of Viera TVs is cutting jobs and reducing the number of business units after posting a ￥772 billion net loss in the year ended March last year.
Korean Air bids for CSA
Korean Air has placed an official bid for a 44 percent stake in the troubled Czech flagship carrier Czech Airlines (CSA), Czech media said on Monday. The firms seeks to acquire the minority stake for just a few million dollars, top-selling Czech broadsheet daily DNES said on its Web site. The Czech government set a deadline of this month for bids for the airline, which Ernst&Young auditors estimate to be worth 148 million koruna (US$7.5 million). Qatar Airways, which had previously expressed interest in the CSA stake, would not take part in the bidding, DNES said.
Bridgestone closing factory
Japanese tire giant Bridgestone said on Tuesday it was closing a half-century-old factory in southern Italy next year due to slumping demand in Europe. The factory, which employs about 950 people, is one of eight Bridgestone plants in Europe, including sites in Spain, France, Poland and Hungary. It started operations in 1962. Bridgestone blamed the planned closure on “structural changes which have taken place over the last two years in the tire market, both in Europe and globally,” citing “increasing pressure” from lower-cost rivals in emerging markets and a worldwide drop in tire demand.