Toyota mulls deal: report
Toyota Motor Corp is close to a deal to pay US$1 billion to settle a US criminal investigation into how it disclosed customers’ complaints about unintended acceleration years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources. Toyota could reach a deal with authorities within weeks, the Journal quoted the sources as saying, ending a four-year probe into the Japanese automaker. The deal under negotiation could still collapse or the settlement amount could change, the sources were cited as saying. Prosecutors in the Manhattan US attorney’s office are investigating whether Toyota made false or incomplete disclosures to US regulators about possible car defects, the Journal cited people familiar with the matter as saying.
Google tops Exxon’s value
Google Inc briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp as the second-most valuable company, trailing only Apple Inc and underscoring the growing role of technology in the economy. Google, which became the world’s largest online advertiser through its dominant search engine, had a higher market capitalization during intraday trading on Friday before falling back at the close in New York to a value of US$395.4 billion compared with Exxon’s US$395.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Apple had a market value of US$463.5 billion. Software company Microsoft Corp is No. 4 with US$303.5 billion. Technology companies are establishing themselves as key players worldwide as they disrupt industries from retail to finance.
US consumer borrowing up
US consumers boosted their borrowing in December by the largest amount in 10 months as demand for auto, student and credit card loans showed big gains. Consumer borrowing rose US$18.8 billion in December, the biggest increase since February last year, the US Federal Reserve reported on Friday. The category that includes auto and student loans increased the most, rising US$13.8 billion. Credit card debt, which has been lagging, rose by US$5 billion. That was the largest jump since May. The big increase pushed total borrowing to a fresh record of US$3.1 trillion. Gains in borrowing are viewed as an encouraging sign that consumers are more confident and willing to take on more debt to finance consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.
India expects 5% growth
India forecast a faster acceleration in economic growth than analysts had estimated, a prediction facing risks from interest-rate increases to quell inflation and expenditure curbs by the Indian government. India’s GDP will rise 4.9 percent in the 12 months through March 31, compared with the decade-low 4.5 percent in the previous fiscal year, India’s Statistics Ministry said in New Delhi on Friday. The projection may be revised upward later and the final growth rate is unlikely to be less than 5 percent, Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said in a statement e-mailed yesterday. The rupee, down about 15 percent versus the US dollar in the past year, strengthened 0.2 percent to 62.29 per US dollar in Mumbai on Friday, before the data’s release.