Exports, shoppers boost US
The US economy grew at a robust annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year despite the partial government shutdown in October, according to Commerce Department data released on Thursday. Growth in GDP was led by a pick-up in exports and a strong acceleration in consumer spending, the main driver of the US economy. Most analysts had penciled in 3.0 percent GDP growth in the October-December quarter, following the 4.1 percent pace in the third quarter. For the full-year of last year, the world’s largest economy grew 1.9 percent, compared with 2.8 percent in 2012, due to an extremely poor first half of the year.
German festive sales drop
Germany’s retail sales dropped by 2.5 percent in the key Christmas period compared with November, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement yesterday. Retail sales had increased by 0.9 percent in November and analysts had been forecasting steady sales for December. On a 12-month basis, too, business dropped sharply for retailers, with sales showing a decline of 2.4 in December compared with the same month the previous year, the statisticians calculated. Taking last year as a whole, retail sales edged up by a meager 0.1 percent over the entire year, Destatis calculated.
Foreign reserves tumble
Argentina’s official foreign reserves fell by US$2.1 billion to US$28.5 billion last month as the central bank struggled against strong downward pressure on the peso, bank figures showed on Thursday. The fall came amid continuing strong demand for US dollars which has seen the peso lose 18.6 percent of its value against the greenback since the end of last year. Most of that came last week after the Central Bank of Argentina stopped intervening in the market for two days, saying it needed to preserve its reserves after they had fallen steadily from US$52 billion in 2011.
Amazon figures disappoint
Amazon’s profit and revenue both grew in the latest quarter, but its results fell below what Wall Street was expecting and shares of the world’s biggest online retailer declined were down US$20.91, or 5.2 percent, to US$382.10. Amazon.com Inc earned US$239 million, or US$0.51 per share, in the October-December period, which included the key holiday shopping period. That’s up from US$97 million, or US$0.21 per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue grew 20 percent in the fourth quarter, to US$25.59 billion from US$21.27 billion. For the current quarter, Amazon is forecasting revenue of US$18.2 billion to US$19.9 billion.
Weak yen boosts Honda
Honda’s fiscal third-quarter profit doubled from a year earlier as sales got a big perk from a weak yen. Honda Motor Co yesterday reported a ￥160.7 billion (US$1.58 billion) net profit for the October-December quarter, up from ￥77.4 billion the year before. The company posted a 25 percent jump in quarterly sales to ￥3.02 trillion. During the quarter, Honda sold 1.08 million vehicles around the world, up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier. It also reported an 11 percent jump in motorcycle sales. The company expects to sell nearly 4.39 million vehicles for the fiscal year through March this year, up 9 percent from 4.01 million in the previous year.
Japanese starts keep rising