No more Wii for Japan
Japanese game console maker Nintendo said yesterday it would stop making Wii consoles for the Japanese market, but would keep producing them internationally. The move to abandon the home console, which competes with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3, will allow Nintendo to focus its efforts on its successor. “Our new generation Wii U console is already on the market and allows users to play software originally designed for the Wii,” a spokesman said. “So this is part of the transition of our products to new models,” he said. The company will keep producing Wii for markets abroad, including its cheaper version Wii Mini, he said.
SE Asia oil demand to surge
Southeast Asia’s huge appetite for energy will see its bill for imported oil surge to US$240 billion by 2035, leaving nations exposed to price shocks, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned yesterday. The region will guzzle more than 5 million barrels of oil per day — double current levels of consumption — to fuel its breakneck economic growth, the IEA said. Total energy demand is expected to increase by more than 80 percent over the same period, the agency said. ASEAN will need to invest a total of about US$1.7 trillion in energy supply infrastructure between now and 2035, it predicted.
Jobless rise reverses trend
The number of people registered as unemployed in Spain rose by 22,572 last month, bringing an end to a six-month streak of gradual declines. Labor ministry figures released yesterday showed the total number of people registered as out of work remained at a rounded 4.7 million. The ministry said that since September last year, the total number of people registered as unemployed has fallen by 124,368. Spain’s unofficial unemployment rate was 26.3 percent in the second quarter.
Apple urged to buy stock
Activist investor Carl Icahn is pressuring Apple Inc to spend US$150 billion buying back its own stock, a target that would more than double the amount that the company’s board authorized in a previous attempt to placate frustrated shareholders. Icahn took to the Internet and the TV airwaves on Tuesday to make it clear that he believes Apple is not doing nearly enough to boost its stock price, which has fallen by 30 percent from its peak in September last year. The slump has turned Apple’s stock into a bargain, Icahn said on the financial news channel CNBC, making it a “no-brainer” for the maker of the iPhone and iPad to pour more money into its shares.
Merck chops 8,500 jobs
Merck & Co plans to cut another 8,500 jobs as the drugmaker continues its struggle with competition from cheaper generic medications that have squeezed the pharmaceutical industry for several quarters now. The New Jersey-based company said on Tuesday the latest reductions were in addition to a total of 7,500 cuts it had previously announced, but has not carried out. That means it is slashing about 20 percent of its work force, currently at about 81,000 people. Merck, the world’s third-largest drugmaker, said the restructuring would cost a total of between US$2.5 billion and US$3 billion before taxes, mainly due to employee severance costs. However, it expects the moves to help generate annual savings of about US$2.5 billion by the end of 2015.