Zero-hours contracts high
About 1 million Britons are in jobs offering no guaranteed minimum work or pay, far more than the 250,000 estimated by the country’s statistics agency, an industry survey showed yesterday. Zero-hours contracts have come in for growing criticism from trade unions and the opposition Labour Party because people who sign up to them are offered very little security while often being expected to work at short notice. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, the main professional body for human resources, said that based on a survey of more than 1,000 employers, it estimated that 3 to 4 percent of workers were on zero-hours contracts, equivalent to about 1 million people.
HHI wins steam power bid
South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) yesterday said it had won a US$3.3 billion order to build a steam power plant in Saudi Arabia. Under the deal signed on Sunday with Saudi Electricity Co, Hyundai will complete the massive facility with a production capacity of 2,640 megawatts by 2017, the company said in a statement. The plant will be located 135km north of the southwestern city of Jizan, it said. HHI is the world’s top shipbuilder, but also constructs power and water plants. In October last year, the company won a US$3.2 billion order to build a thermal power plant near Jeddah.
Eurozone sales slid in June
Eurozone retail sales, a key indicator or demand in the economy, slipped in June even as other data suggested the bloc was finally turning the corner on a deep recession, official data showed yesterday. Retail sales by volume in the 17-nation eurozone fell 0.5 percent compared with May, when they rose 1.1 percent, the Eurostat statistics office said. In the 27-member EU, sales were down 0.3 percent after a gain of 1.3 percent in May. Compared with data for June last year, retail sales were down by 0.9 percent in the eurozone but up 0.1 percent in the full EU, Eurostat said.
HSBC first-half profit up 22%
Global banking giant HSBC yesterday announced a 22 percent increase in half-year net profits to US$10.28 billion on lower costs and falling bad-debt charges. The result came in slightly below analysts’ consensus forecast of profit after tax of US$10.52 billion, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires. Pre-tax profit rose 10.0 percent to US$14.1 billion in the six months to the end of June compared with the first half of last year. Total operating expenses decreased 13 percent, and loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions dropped to US$3.1 billion in the first half, the bank said.
Buick drives GM China sales
General Motors Co (GM), the largest foreign automaker in China, yesterday said sales growth in the country accelerated last month as deliveries of Buick vehicles expanded at the fastest pace this year. Total sales climbed 11.1 percent to 221,580 units last month, after expanding 10.6 percent the preceding month, GM said in a statement. Buick deliveries jumped 26 percent to 66,208 units on the popularity of the Excelle line and Cadillac sales surged 83 percent to 3,688, though Chevrolet fell 3.4 percent to 43,343. GM’s sales have risen 11 percent this year, keeping it on track to reach its target of selling 3 million vehicles this year in the world’s largest auto market.