Moody’s upgrades rating
Moody’s yesterday became the third and final ratings agency to grant the country investment-grade status. The decision to give Manila a “Baa3” rating with a “positive outlook” follows similar moves by Standard & Poor’s and Fitch earlier this year.
A “Baa3” rating is the lowest in the outfit’s investment ranks, but represents an important milestone for the country, which saw its economy expanded 6.8 percent last year and 7.6 percent in the first half this year, among the highest levels in the Asia-Pacific region.
House prices rise again
House prices rose for an eighth month last month as official aid programs boosted demand, according to a report by Halifax. Home values increased 0.3 percent from the previous month to an average ￡170,733 (US$276,900), the mortgage unit of Lloyds Banking Group PLC said in a statement yesterday. The property market has strengthened in recent months, prompting concerns that the government’s Help to Buy housing plan may fuel a bubble.
Empire State Building public
The Empire State Building went public on Wednesday as part of a real-estate trust traded for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange. The Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the landmark skyscraper and 17 other buildings in the New York area, closed US$0.10 higher (0.8 percent) at US$13.10 after being introduced to the markets at an IPO price of US$13 a share. Shares traded as high as US$13.49 earlier in the day. The company sold 71.5 million shares, raising US$929.5 million. It said it may offer an additional 10.7 million shares in the next 30 days.
Hyundai drops lighters
Hyundai Motor yesterday said it would stop putting cigarette lighter sockets in cars made for the domestic market in favor of a USB power point. The South Korean auto giant said its decision would affect all passenger cars and SUVs sold at home from this month. A company spokesman said the automaker was “the first auto company in the world” to make the change. Hyundai’s decision followed a domestic survey that showed many drivers used the lighter jack to charge mobile phones or tablet computers rather than for lighting cigarettes.
Athene sells for US$2.6bn
British insurance group Aviva PLC on Tuesday said the sale of its US life and annuities business to Athene Holding Ltd had fetched US$2.6 billion, above the US$1.8 billion price announced in December last year. The additional US$800 million represented estimated earnings and other improvements in statutory surplus from June 30 last year to Monday, the company said. Cash proceeds to Aviva totaled US$2.3 billion, following the repayment of an external loan of Aviva USA Corp.
Glencore shutting Falcondo
Glencore Xstrata PLC says it will temporarily close the Falcondo nickel mine in the Dominican Republic that it had been seeking to expand amid environmental opposition. Falcondo mine spokesman Alain Astacio says the mine will close for an estimated two to three years because of falling nickel prices. The company is laying off 900 of 1,000 employees and about 700 contractors.