Industrial output falls 0.9%
The country’s industrial output fell by a worse-than-expected 0.9 percent in March due to lower production in the farm and transport sectors and a sharp drop in refining activity, official data showed yesterday. The drop, in part an adjustment from a 0.8 percent rebound in February driven by the restarting of a refinery, was worse than the 0.3 percent dip predicted by economists in a Reuters poll. Output over the first quarter in the moribund industrial sector — which makes up about 12 percent of the country’s economy — was down 0.4 percent from the previous quarter.
EU backs Apple
The European Commission said Motorola Mobility may have abused its dominant market position to deny Apple the right to use technology essential for mobile phones. It is a violation of EU antitrust rules for a patent-holder to deny use to technologically essential patents to companies willing to pay a fair and reasonable price. Motorola Mobility, now owned by Google, obtained an injunction preventing Apple from using certain patented technologies. The preliminary finding could lead to formal anti-trust charges.
GM recalls 43,500 hybrids
General Motors (GM) is recalling nearly 43,000 hybrid vehicles in the US and about 500 in Canada to fix a defect that could cause a fire in the trunk, the automaker said on Monday. The recall affects this year’s Chevrolet Malibu Eco models and Buick LaCrosse and Regal sedans from last year and this year that are equipped with eAssist hybrid gas-electric engines. “The issue is the potential overheating of the circuit boards in the generator control module, but it does not involve the eAssist battery,” GM said.
Fiat investing in Brazil
Italian carmaker Fiat is upping its stake in Brazil, pouring about US$7 billion into local investments by 2016, according to a plan its CEO Sergio Marchionne handed Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Monday. The company’s plans expand — dramatically so — on an earlier outline that called for about US$4 billion in investment between 2011 and next year, state news agency Agencia Brasil reported. The outlays will fund building and expansions of factories in Brazil, the agency said.
BofA settles mortgage suit
Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA Merrill Lynch) agreed to pay bond insurer MBIA US$1.7 billion to settle a dispute over faulty mortgage securities issued during the US housing boom. In exchange for the payment, the bond insurer will drop the litigation it brought against the mortgage lender Countrywide in 2008, according to a statement released by MBIA on Monday. Countrywide was acquired by BofA Merrill Lynch in 2008. Also, MBIA will have no further payment obligations on any of its insurance policies held by BofA Merrill Lynch.
Diageo names Menezes CEO
Spirits company Diageo named chief operating officer Ivan Menezes its new chief executive yesterday, choosing an insider to replace Paul Walsh, who has been at the helm of the British firm since 2000. Menezes will take over the top job from July 1 and Walsh will remain with the company over the next year to focus on moving “critical partner relationships” to Menezes, the maker of Guinness stout and Tanqueray gin said in a statement.