Sony to close US stores
Sony Corp says it is closing about two-thirds of its US Sony Stores as part of a wide-ranging company restructuring it announced earlier this month. It also said that 1,000 of the previously announced 5,000 job cuts would come from its Sony Electronics unit, mainly in the US and Mexico. The cuts are to take place before March next year.
Vale’s profits plummet 89%
Profits at the world’s top iron ore producer, Brazilian mining giant Vale, dived 89.2 percent to US$584 million last year, the firm said on Wednesday. The company also posted a net loss that more than doubled in the fourth quarter of last year from the previous year, from US$2.615 billion to US$6.451 billion. Vale reported record production of iron ore, copper ore, copper, gold and coal, but it said profit was hit hard by a series of “non-recurring events,” including increased costs and currency woes.
RBS posts US$15bn loss
Britain’s state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) plunged into a near ￡9 billion (US$15 billion) loss last year on vast charges for litigation and the creation of a “bad bank” division, it said yesterday. The lender, which is 81 percent owned by the government after a huge bailout during the global financial crisis, added it would seek to slash its cost base by another ￡5.3 billion in the coming years and warned of more “inevitable” job cuts.
Minimum wage hike advised
The minimum wage could rise by 3 percent to ￡6.50 (US$10.802) an hour following recommendations from the government’s adviser on low pay, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable said on Wednesday. Cable said the Low Pay Commission’s figure would be the first inflation-busting rise since 2008, if accepted by the government. However, the proposed hike from its current level of ￡6.31 falls short of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s recent suggestions that it could climb to ￡7.00.
Unemployed at record high
The number of unemployed in France jumped to a new record on Wednesday, to 3.31 million people registered last month, prompting the government to pledge anew that it would buck the trend this year after failing to do so last year. The number of new jobseekers rose by 8,900, the labor ministry said. If those holding part-time employment were taken into account the number of unemployed rose to 4.92 million, another record.
Key interest rate raised
The central bank raised its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 10.75 percent on Wednesday, as Latin America’s largest economy pursues an aggressive drive to curb inflation. The central bank’s monetary policy commission said the decision was unanimous and “continues the process of adjustment” begun last April, when the rate stood at 7.25 percent.
Current account shrinks
The country’s current account surplus narrowed to an 11-month low last month, the central bank said on Thursday. The surplus stood at US$3.61 billion, down from US$6.41 billion in December last year, the Bank of Korea said. The current account is the broadest measure of a country’s trade both in goods and services.