Thu, Feb 19, 2015 - Page 6 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

JAPAN

Household spending tumbles

Japanese household spending last year declined at its fastest pace in eight years, official data showed on Tuesday, underscoring the impact of the country’s first sales tax hike in nearly two decades. The world’s No. 3 economy posted zero growth in economy over the full year, partly due to weak private spending which accounts for about 60 percent of GDP. Last year, the average household spent ¥251,481 (US$2,115) each month, down 3.2 percent from the previous year and marking the first year-over-year decline since Japan’s quake-tsunami accident in 2011.

UNITED KINGDOM

Inflation hits new low

British officials say the inflation rate fell last month to an annual 0.3 percent — the lowest on record — amid falling energy prices and supermarket price wars. The Office of National Statistics said on Tuesday the rate is down from December’s rate of 0.5 percent. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has predicted that inflation may turn negative in the coming months, but said he believed low inflation to be a short-term phenomenon that would boost spending among consumers. Inflation is well below the central bank’s 2 percent target rate, but Carney said last week the bank will “look through” what it sees as temporary drops.

GERMANY

Investor confidence rises

A survey shows that investor confidence in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has risen to its highest level in a year though the increase was a little short of expectations amid concerns over Ukraine and Greece. The ZEW institute said on Tuesday its monthly confidence index, which measures investors’ economic outlook for the next six months, rose to 53 points for this month from 48.4 last month — the fourth consecutive increase. Economists had predicted a rise to 55 points. ZEW president Clemens Fuest said the European Central Bank’s decision to start buying government bonds with newly printed money improved sentiment along with robust fourth-quarter German economic growth.

TELECOMS

Hutchison steps up talks

Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (和記黃埔) has intensified negotiations with VimpelCom Ltd to combine their wireless assets in Italy, according to two people familiar with the matter. The companies have made progress in resolving disagreements over ownership structure, with talks focusing on Hutchison’s 3 Italia unit buying VimpelCom’s Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA, one of the people said. The combined businesses, with more than 30 million mobile subscribers and about 6.7 billion euros (US$7.6 billion) in 2013 revenue, would challenge market leader Telecom Italia SpA. In the UK, Hutchison started exclusive talks last month to acquire Telefonica SA’s O2 unit for as much as £10.25 billion (US$15.8 billion).

RETAIL

Tesco names chairman

Troubled British supermarket giant Tesco on Tuesday named John Allan as chairman, ending a four-month search after Richard Broadbent resigned amid an accounting scandal. Allan, 66, will join the board and be appointed chairman on March 1, when Broadbent will step down from the board, Tesco said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange. Allan is currently on the boards of electrical retailer Dixons Carphone and postal operator Royal Mail, but is to step down from those positions when he takes up his new role at Tesco.

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