Indian inflation declines
Inflation fell to a three-year low last month, a drop that could allow the central bank to keep cutting interest rates to revive a sputtering economy. Preliminary figures released yesterday show wholesale inflation fell to 6 percent from 6.8 percent in February. The central bank has cut borrowing rates twice this year, to 7.5 percent, but has been hesitant to move aggressively for fear of worsening inflation. It has pledged to bring wholesale inflation down below 4.5 percent.
Egypt holds large auction
Egypt’s central bank conducted an exceptionally large foreign-exchange auction on Sunday, selling US$600 million to banks that urgently need money to pay for basic imports such as wheat and materials for industry and medicine. The bank said the auction, which is five times the usual weekly amount, was aimed at encouraging the banking sector to bolster the nation’s economy. It sold at 6.87 Egyptian pounds to the US dollar. A banker with inside knowledge about the auction said local banks were running low on dollars for vital imports.
EADS, Paris discuss buyback
European defense and aerospace company EADS yesterday said it was in talks to buy 1.56 percent of its shares from the French state for 478 million euros (US$624 million). EADS said Paris had proposed a price of 37.35 euros per share, the price EADS paid last week to acquire a stake of 1.61 percent from French media company Lagardere. EADS, which owns passenger aircraft maker Airbus, announced a share buyback program earlier this month as part of a wider restructuring that will reduce state ownership and interference in the company. Germany and Spain also own stakes in the company.
H&M March sales fell 4%
Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M), Europe’s second-largest clothing retailer, reported a slump in last month’s revenue as freezing weather delayed sales of spring clothes. Sales last month dropped 4 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, the Stockholm-based company said in a statement yesterday, missing the average estimate in an SME Direkt survey for a decline of 2 percent. Revenue at stores and operations open at least a year fell 12 percent, compared with the 11.2 percent consensus estimate.
Court hears extradition case
Spain’s National Court is holding an extradition hearing for a former bank employee wanted by Switzerland for allegedly stealing confidential information related to thousands of customers with Swiss accounts. Herve Falciani, a French-Italian citizen, allegedly removed data linked to at least 24,000 customers of HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary, potentially exposing many to prosecution by tax authorities in their home countries. He passed a list of names to French authorities. Spanish politicians oppose Falciani’s extradition, saying he is helping authorities investigate tax fraud.
Deal near on Life Tech
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc is reportedly nearing a deal to buy Life Technologies Corp, a maker of genetic testing equipment, for almost US$12 billion. Thermo Fisher’s bid for Life Technologies topped US$70 a share, beating out bids from other suitors, including the Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group and other private equity firms, according to published reports. Life Technologies’ stock closed on Friday at US$68.