The country’s manufacturing output rebounded with a bang in June, official data showed yesterday, providing further evidence of a broad-based economic recovery. Output jumped 1.9 percent in June from May, when it had fallen by 0.7 percent, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. Manufacturing output grew by 2 percent in June compared with the same month last year. Industrial production — a wider measure that also includes mining, quarrying, electricity, gas and water supply — increased by 1.1 percent over the same period, the office added.
GDP drop beats estimates
The economy shrank by less than expected in the second quarter, adding to recent signs that the county’s longest post-war recession is bottoming out, but still marking the eighth consecutive quarter of contraction. GDP fell 0.2 percent, following a 0.6 contraction in the first three months, and dropped 2 percent on an annual basis, national statistics bureau ISTAT reported yesterday. A Reuters survey of analysts had expected a second-quarter fall of 0.4 percent, a 2.2 percent annual decline. Leading indicators over the past few weeks have suggested the recession is easing and many analysts are predicting a return to very modest growth in the fourth or possibly third quarter. The indicators fit with a general easing of decline seen across much of the eurozone.
UKAR repays ￡1.9 billion
Britain’s “bad bank” that is running down the loans of two bailed-out lenders yesterday said it repaid ￡1.9 billion (US$2.9 billion) to the British government in the first six months of the year. UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), a state-run “zombie bank” that does not take on new business, said it has now returned ￡6.6 billion to the government. It owed ￡48.7 billion when it was created in October 2010. UKAR, Britain’s seventh-largest mortgage lender, is winding down the loans of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, two of the UK’s customer-owned building societies, which were nationalized in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis. UKAR chief executive Richard Banks said he still expects the process of repayment to take a decade, but that the bank will continue to make regular repayments to the British Treasury and taxpayers should get all their money back.
Foreign reserves up 26%
The central bank reported on Monday that foreign reserves reached US$18.8 billion, their highest level in almost two years, but economists said the jump was a reflection of aid from oil-rich Arab Gulf nations and not the result of an improved economy. Last month’s reserve figures, which were released on the central bank’s Web site, represent a nearly US$4 billion increase — or about 26 percent — from US$14.9 billion at the end of June.
Surface Pro price tag cut
Microsoft Corp on Monday knocked US$100 off the price of high-end versions of its Surface tablet, which is competing against Apple Inc’s iPad and devices running Google Inc’s Android system. The software giant’s online store is offering US consumers the Surface Pro for US$799 or US$899, depending on memory capacity, down from US$899 and US$999 respectively. Surface Pro tablet prices are also being discounted in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Canada through Aug. 29, Microsoft said.