Manufacturing drives growth
The economy expanded 0.9 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter last year, taking annual growth to 2.7 percent, official data showed yesterday. The figures, driven by a 2.1 percent rise in manufacturing, were in line with expectations and are unlikely to alter the central bank’s policy of tightening interest rates, which began earlier this month. Statistics New Zealand said manufacturing reached its highest level since March 2006 as the economy recorded its 12th consecutive quarter of growth.
GDP growth forecast raised
The economy is set to grow faster than expected in the buildup to next year’s general election, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said on Wednesday in a vote-chasing budget aimed at wooing pensioners and savers. GDP is set to grow 2.7 percent this year, up from the previous forecast of 2.4 percent, Osborne said. The economy is then forecast to expand by 2.3 percent next year, upgraded from the previous growth forecast of 2.2 percent. The economy expanded by 1.8 percent last year.
JPMorgan Chase seals deal
JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Wednesday that it has made a deal to sell its physical commodities business for US$3.5 billion as regulators weigh whether to restrict banks’ ability to control power plants, warehouses and oil refineries. If it is approved by regulators, the deal would put the commodities business in the hands of energy and commodities trading company Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. The deal is targeted to close in the third quarter.
Rogue trader to be jailed
France’s highest court upheld a prison sentence for a one-time rogue trader convicted of carrying out one of the biggest trading frauds in history, but threw out the 4.9 billion euros (US$7 billion) in civil damages he had been ordered to pay back. Jerome Kerviel almost took down his bank, Societe Generale SA, seven years ago with 4.9 billion euros in losses. Convicted in 2010, he sees himself as a victim of a system that turned a blind eye to his illegal trades as long as they made money for the bank. Kerviel is currently in Italy, walking back to Paris on a pilgrimage after meeting the pope.
Pandora wins partial victory
A US judge handed Internet radio company Pandora Media a partial victory in a royalties dispute with music publishers and songwriters in a decision released on Wednesday. The decision, closely watched for its impact on the fast-growing online radio industry, keeps intact the royalty rate paid by Pandora, the largest US Internet radio firm. US District Judge Denise Cote set a five-year royalty rate owed by Pandora to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for licensing music at 1.85 percent, the same level as currently exists.
Trial results disappoint
Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline said it was disappointed by some of the results of a stage III trial for a lung cancer treatment, but would continue with it as there could still be a group of patients who may benefit. The company said yesterday that its MAGE-A3 antigen-specific cancer immunotherapeutic did not meet two of its targets in a phase III non-small cell lung cancer clinical trial, but that it is continuing to assess it with regards to a third target.