Fri, Dec 05, 2014 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take



Brazil central bank rate hike

The Brazilian central bank on Wednesday raised its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 11.75 percent, surprising many analysts who had expected a rise of just 0.25 percentage points. The rise came on the back of a 0.25 percentage point rise just over a month ago, which was the first since April to tackle rising inflation, which moved just above a government target ceiling of 6.5 percent. The government’s official target is 4.5 percent. Bank Chairman Alexandre Tombini last week said that the nation must “maintain especially vigilant” monetary policy to keep inflation in check.


Spending boosts economy

The nation’s economy kept expanding in October and last month, helped by solid gains in consumer spending, manufacturing and overall employment, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of business conditions around the country. The Fed survey found many areas of strength — for the first time this year. The central bank said that business executives remain optimistic about the prospects for growth next year. The gains in economic activity came as overall inflation remained subdued, it said. The report, known as the Beige Book for the color of its cover, will form the basis for discussion at the Fed’s final policymaking meeting of the year on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17.


Australia faces slow growth

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said that the nation’s living standards could fall as the economy slows and a hostile Senate continues to block key budget legislation. The Australian parliament was scheduled to sit for the final day this year yesterday. Hockey urged the Senate to endorse a new tax on medical appointments, a higher tax on gasoline and cuts to university funding when it sits again in February. “There is a risk that Australians could face a fall in living standards,” if the government could not implement its economic strategy, Hockey told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Government figures released on Wednesday showed that economic growth slowed to a lower-than-expected 0.3 percent for the September quarter.


Oil price impact downplayed

Plunging prices for crude oil will have little impact on the solar industry, SunPower Corp chief executive officer Tom Werner said on Wednesday. Oil would have to drop “a lot more” for the economics of burning oil or diesel to be cheaper than solar power,’’ Werner said at the Credit Suisse Annual Technology Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The price of oil has fallen nearly 40 percent since June, amid swelling supplies from US shale and OPEC’s decision last week to maintain production.


Disney raises dividend

Walt Disney Co raised its annual cash dividend by 34 percent to US$1.15 a share from US$0.86 previously, the Burbank, California-based company said on Wednesday. The dividend is set to be paid on Jan. 8 to shareholders of record on Dec. 15. The movie, theme park and TV company has increased returns to shareholders in recent years, with faster dividend growth and stock buybacks. Four years ago, the annual payout stood at US$0.40 a share. The company repurchased US$6.5 billion of its stock in the year that ended on Sept. 27.

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