BOE not mulling rate hike
The Bank of England (BOE) is not close to raising interest rates despite the sharp fall in unemployment toward the central bank’s 7 percent threshold, policymaker Paul Fisher said yesterday. Britain’s unemployment rate slid to 7.1 percent in the three months to November last year from 7.4 percent the month before, data showed on Wednesday — just a fraction above the 7 percent threshold the bank set in August last year for considering a rate rise. Bank officials agreed earlier this month that it would not be right to raise interest rates if unemployment hit 7 percent soon, and in a speech to pension fund managers in London, Fisher emphasized this point in the light of the latest data. Fisher said the bank needed to avoid choking off economic recovery by raising interest rates too quickly, and that the recent return of inflation to its 2 percent target, and lower price pressures, gave it scope to wait before raising rates.
Sharp making more cuts
Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp will end solar panel production at its factory in Tennessee as it reviews its photovoltaic panel business. Output will stop by the end of March and the number of jobs to be cut at the plant will be decided after talks with the labor union, Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said yesterday by telephone. The Nikkei Shimbun yesterday reported that as many as 300 employees are expected to be dismissed. The decision comes as the Osaka-based company reviews its production capacity for solar products, Nakayama said. Sharp said last month that it will stop producing solar panels at its UK plant in Wales by the end of next month and cut as many as 250 employees. The Tennessee plant, which employees about 450 people, will continue making other products such as microwaves, Nakayama said. About 300 people are involved in solar production.
Tesla tests Chinese demand
Tesla Motors Inc is to sell its battery-powered Model S sedan in China from 734,000 yuan (US$121,280), as billionaire founder Elon Musk prepares to test demand for electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market. The price for the Model S, equipped with a premium 85 kilowatt hour battery pack, puts the car in the same bracket as Volkswagen AG’s Audi S5 sedan and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s 5-series GT sedan, according to Autohome, a car-pricing Web site. It is also 50 percent more expensive than in the US, where the equivalent model sells for US$81,070, according to Tesla’s statement. China is struggling to meet a target of having 5 million alternative energy-powered vehicles by 2020 because of a lack of charging stations, high costs and concerns about safety and range.
Fertilizer firm to diversity
PetroVietnam Fertilizer & Chemicals Corp plans to invest US$230 million in adding and diversifying production to boost revenue as its parent considers selling shares in the nation’s fourth-biggest manufacturer by market value. The producer of so-called prilled urea will expand into another type of fertilizer that is in greater demand, chief executive officer Cao Hoai Duong said in an interview. The investment will add production of a nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium combination fertilizer. The domestic market for that product is growing twice as fast as the 2 percent demand growth for urea and is double the size, the company said.