Gold on course for big gains
Gold headed for the biggest weekly gain since October last year on speculation that demand will increase in Asia, the largest consuming region. Platinum rose to the highest price since November last year. Bullion for immediate delivery climbed as much as 1.2 percent to US$1,238.93 an ounce, the highest level since Dec. 18. Gold dropped to US$1,182.27 on Tuesday, the lowest level since June 28, capping the metal’s worst annual rout since 1981. The volume for bullion of 99.99 percent purity on the Shanghai Gold Exchange climbed to 10,400kg yesterday from 7,849kg on Tuesday, the least since Dec. 2. The premium to take immediate delivery in China, which probably overtook India as the largest user last year, was about US$21.07 an ounce yesterday compared with last year’s average of US$18.72.
Next raises profit forecast
Next, Britain’s second-largest clothing retailer, raised its annual profit forecast after fourth quarter sales came in significantly ahead of its expectations, helped by a policy of not discounting before Christmas. The firm, whose shares have risen 47 percent over the past year, also said yesterday it would pay a special dividend of ￡0.50 a share at a cost of ￡75 million (US$123.3 million) and outlined a plan for more payouts rather than share buybacks. Next said it now expected a pretax profit of ￡684 million to ￡700 million for the year ending this month, ahead of its previous guidance of ￡650 million to ￡680 million. The group, which unlike rivals has a long-standing strategy of never going on sale before Christmas, said total sales rose 11.9 percent in the Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 period and are now up 5 percent in the year to date.
Murdoch to sell China stake
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox said on Thursday it was selling its 47 percent stake in Star China TV, which operates three Mandarin-language television stations. Terms were not disclosed. The announcement, made by Fox and China Media Capital, said the China-based holding firm would acquire the portion of the joint venture it does not already own. Formed in 2010 and majority-owned by CMC, the joint venture operates three 24-hour channels: Xing Kong, Xing Kong International and Channel [V] Mainland China. It also operates the Fortune Star Chinese movie library. James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son and chairman and chief executive of international operations at 21st Century Fox, said the divestment is part of “streamlining our affiliate ownership structures.”
Lowest surplus in 13 years
The nation posted its lowest trade surplus in 13 years on Thursday, at US$2.56 billion for last year, the trade and commerce ministry said, citing rising imports. The country’s foreign trade association AEB had previously warned that last year could see the first full-year trade deficit since 2000. The nation avoided that scenario — but the surplus still slid 86.8 percent compared to 2012, even if the performance surpassed market expectations of US$1.2 billion. Exports were off just 0.1 percent at US$242.2 billion on 2012 — but imports soared 7.3 percent year on year to US$239.6 billion. Despite worries of a potential slide in demand from China, the Asian giant remains by far the biggest market for Brazilian produce, accounting for a US$46 billion share — the US lagging well behind with a US$24 billion share.