Interest rates held at 2.5%
The nation’s central bank yesterday left interest rates on hold at a historic low of 2.5 percent, in a widely expected move four days ahead of national elections. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) last month cut rates to their lowest level since it was established in 1959, underscoring fears of a slowdown as country’s decade-long mining boom slows down. The RBA, which has cut rates by 25 basis points twice this year — in May and last month — said it would continue to assess the outlook and adjust policy as needed to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with its target.
Retail sales growth eases
Growth in British retail sales eased slightly last month after a bumper July, but demand for furniture helped to sustain the momentum, industry data showed yesterday. The British Retail Consortium said the total value of retail sales was 3.6 percent higher last month than a year ago, compared with 3.9 percent annual growth the previous month, which was the best July since 2006. Like-for-like sales, which strip out changes in floor space as retailers open and close outlets, rose 1.8 percent on the year, compared with 2.2 percent in July. The survey suggested Britons are feeling more confident about committing to big purchases, citing rising sales of furniture and flooring.
Unemployment down by 31
The country said yesterday it had eked out a sixth straight month of shrinking jobless queues last month when the number of people registered as unemployed dipped by just 31 people. The total number of registered unemployed — 4.70 million in raw figures — was basically unchanged, according to the Labor Ministry report. However, the decline of 31 people from the previous month was enough for the Spanish government to hail a sixth consecutive month of declines, and the first drop in the month of August since 2000. When the figures were corrected to smooth out seasonal variations, the number of claimants fell by a more substantial 13,700 people to 4.87 million.
Investors sue Everbright
Everbright Securities Co (光大證券), ordered by China’s securities regulator to pay a record 523 million yuan (US$85 million) for insider trading, was sued by investors in Guangzhou and Shanghai seeking damages for losses. Courts in the two cities have received the claims and have not yet decided whether to accept them, lawyers for the investors, said yesterday. State-controlled Everbright sold exchange-traded funds and index futures on Aug. 16, before telling the market it had made 23.4 billion yuan of erroneous buy orders. The regulator barred the company from most proprietary trading, and banned four of its executives from the market for life.
Gazprom net profits rise
The world’s largest gas company, the state-controlled Russian giant Gazprom, yesterday announced that its net profits rose 5 percent in the first quarter to 380.7 billion rubles (US$11.4 billion). The rise in profits was driven by an increase in net sales of 19 percent, helped largely by an increase of sales of Gazprom’s core gas product by 25 percent over the period, the company said in a statement.