Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

FAST FOOD

Fourth McDonald’s closed

Russian authorities on Monday closed the first McDonald’s restaurant outside the capital over alleged sanitary violations in a move seen as retaliation for Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. Consumer safety agency Rospotrebnadzor said it had temporarily closed a McDonald’s restaurant in the southern city of Stavropol, citing unspecified sanitary violations. Russia last week shut three McDonald’s outlets in Moscow and launched inspections of the company’s more than 400 restaurants across the country. While ostensibly for health reasons, the move against the US burger chain came close on the heels of the West ratcheting up sanctions on Moscow for its role in the Ukraine crisis.

METALS

Alcoa to shut Italian smelter

US aluminum giant Alcoa said on Monday that it would permanently close a smelter in Italy as it seeks to lower production costs around the world. The company had curtailed activity at the Portovesme smelter on the Italian island of Sardinia in 2012 due to its high operating costs. “The fundamental reasons that made the Portovesme smelter uncompetitive unfortunately have not changed,” Alcoa Global Primary Products president Bob Wilt said in a statement. The closure is expected to reduce Alcoa’s global smelting capacity by 150,000 tonnes to 3.6 million tonnes per year. Alcoa said it expected to book a third-quarter charge between US$170 million and US$180 million for the closure.

ECONOMY

British service sector ebbs

Growth in services companies that form the bulk of Britain’s economy slowed in the three months to August, according to a survey yesterday that suggested the swift pace of economic recovery has eased recently. The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) quarterly survey of more than 200 companies showed growth in business volumes slowed across a broad range of types of service, although almost all expected to see an improvement in the next three months. The CBI survey also showed companies are increasingly struggling to find the right staff, which could crimp new business volumes and capital expenditure.

ECONOMY

Israel eases rates

Fears that weeks of fighting with Hamas will harm an Israeli economy already hurt by a global slowdown led the Bank of Israel to reduce interest rates for a second month in a row yesterday. After a surprise reduction a month ago, the central bank again lowered its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.25 percent — an all-time low. The bank forecast an expansion of 2.9 percent in GDP this year. In the second quarter, the economy grew an annualized 1.7 percent according to the government’s preliminary estimate.

MEXICO

Solar bids surge

Solar energy developers in Mexico are seeking approval for about 7.4 gigawatts (GW) of projects, representing 65 percent of requests to the Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission this year, El Economista said. Developers also sought permits for wind projects that aim to generate a combined 4.2GW, the Mexico City-based newspaper said on its Web site. Mexico currently has the capacity to generate 150 megawatts (MW) of solar energy, the commission said. Last week, the commission approved seven solar projects with a combined installed capacity of 220MW.

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