Services-industry index rises
A services-industry index rose in April as Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) grapples with countering a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy while avoiding large-scale stimulus. The non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index was at 54.8 last month compared with 54.5 in March, the National Bureau of Statistics and the Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in Beijing yesterday. A number more than 50 indicates an expansion. Property construction plunged in the first quarter and economic growth slowed as the country’s leaders face increasing challenges in trying to maintain the rate of expansion while reining in debt. GDP is projected by economists to expand 7.3 percent this year as the government controls credit, less than the government target of about 7.5 percent.
GM in settlement talks
A mediator for General Motors (GM) has begun negotiations about settling more than 300 claims related to a deadly ignition switch problem in some older-model small cars. Kenneth Feinberg confirmed in an interview that he met for four hours on Friday with Robert Hilliard, a Corpus Christi, Texas, lawyer who said he represents families of 53 people killed and 273 injured in crashes of defective GM vehicles. “I’m evaluating various compensation options for GM to consider,” said Feinberg, who plans to present the options to GM in the next few weeks. Hilliard said no dollar figures were discussed, adding that he would not settle at a discount to what his clients could get through court mediation.
Canal’s revenue guess falls
A widened Panama Canal is expected to bring in about US$3.1 billion per year, considerably less than earlier estimates, the official responsible for the waterway said. Canal administrator Jorge Quijano said in an interview that receipts from the Panama Canal could reach US$3.1 billion by 2025, triple their current amount. However, the figure is less than the roughly US$5 billion that had been forecast after improvements to the century-old canal, seen as one of the world’s engineering marvels. Quijano, who said he was being “conservative” with his estimates, blamed a shaky world economic climate for the lowered revenue projections.
Macquarie net income soars
Macquarie Group Ltd, Australia’s biggest investment bank, posted a 49 percent rise in full-year net income to a six-year high as revenue from trading and fund management increased. Profit for the year ended March 31 rose to A$1.27 billion (US$1.17 billion), the Sydney-based firm said in a statement yesterday. That beat the gain of as much as 45 percent the firm forecast on March 24 and compared with profit of A$851 million a year earlier. The bank’s shares fell the most in two weeks as it forecast similar earnings for the year to March next year. “It is a pretty solid result from Macquarie,” Christopher Hall, who helps manage about US$4.4 billion including Macquarie shares as senior investment officer at Adelaide-based Argo Investments Ltd, said by telephone yesterday. “The key is the guidance. While Macquarie says it would be broadly in line, the market is expecting it to be higher.”