GDP grew 3% last year
The South Korean economy expanded by a higher-than-expected 3 percent last year, the central bank said yesterday, due to robust exports and growth in the manufacturing sector. The revised figure for GDP was higher than the 2.8 percent earlier stated and marked the fastest expansion since the 3.7 percent seen in 2011. However, the Bank of Korea also revised down fourth-quarter growth to 3.7 percent year-on-year, from its earlier estimate of 3.9 percent.
Consumer confidence steady
Consumer confidence appears to be steady after rising sharply in recent months, a new survey found yesterday. “Consumer sentiment remains at a very good level, but lacks a clear direction,” market research company GfK said in a statement. “While economic expectations and consumers’ propensity to spend are still rising, income expectations have taken a hit.” Overall, GfK’s headline household confidence index was forecast to remain steady at 8.5 points next month.
Cyberdyne debuts in Tokyo
Exoskeleton robot maker Cyberdyne yesterday burst onto the Japanese stock market, with the issue more than doubling on its first day of trade. The Japanese company provided 10.85 million shares, priced at ￥3,700 each. The price rocketed at one point as high as ￥10,010, before settling on ￥9,600 at the close, about 160 percent up. That was despite the release of Cyberdyne’s earnings reports for the nine-month period to December last year, which showed it booked a net loss of ￥450 million (US$4.4 million) on sales of ￥269 million, and forecasting a full-year net loss of ￥659 million on sales of ￥469 million.
UK sells more Lloyds stock
Britain has sold an extra 7.8 percent stake in bailed-out Lloyds Banking Group for ￡4.2 billion (US$6.9 billion), it said yesterday. The latest sale, pitched at ￡0.755 per share to institutional investors, takes the state’s overall holding from 32.7 percent to 24.9 percent, the Treasury said in a statement. The British government sold a 6 percent tranche in September last year for ￡3.2 billion, at ￡0.75 per share, as it seeks to return the company to the private sector.
Ryanair to offer new deal
Too often for customers, it has been the Ryanair Ordeal. Now Europe’s no-frills airline leader, renowned for forsaking service in favor of the cheapest fares, is hoping to improve its love-hate relationship with customers by offering them fewer tears in exchange for their trip. The airline’s famously rude boss, Michael O’Leary, was yesterday scheduled to unveil a company initiative billed as “The Ryanair Experience.” The goal is to keep building what is already, by many measures, Europe’s biggest and most successful airline. Ryanair is positioned to record fiscal 2014 net profits of more than 500 million euros (US$690 million).
Nigerian oil exports hurt
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell yesterday said it had declared a force majeure on crude oil exports from Nigeria as it struggles to repair a sabotaged pipeline. Shell’s subsidiary in Nigeria said the force majeure was effective from Tuesday “due to ongoing repairs on the 48-inch crude export line at Forcados Terminal in the Western Niger Delta.”