Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Staff writer, with agencies


ABN beats expectations

ABN Amro, the Netherlands’ largest domestic lender, yesterday posted fourth-quarter net profit of 333 million euros (US$315.71 million), beating expectations due to strong economic growth in the Netherlands. Analysts had seen profit at 279 million euros, versus 272 million euros in the same period a year prior. “Profitability improved on the back of growth in the loan book — mortgages, small and medium enterprise [borrowers] and corporate loans and significantly lower impairments,” said chief executive officer Kees van Dijkhuizen, who replaced Gerrit Zalm on Jan. 1. Notably, loan impairments fell to 35 million euros from 124 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Net interest income margin improved to 1.53 percent, from 1.47 percent. Growth in the company’s mortgage book was the first since 2010.


China’s Didi drivers suffer

China’s ride-sharing boom was once seen as a path to prosperity for thousands of drivers. However, a government crackdown on an industry dominated by Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行) has brought that dream to a screeching halt. In Beijing and other major cities, non-resident drivers are now banned. That has left many struggling to pay off loans they had taken out to buy cars and now drivers must take the risk of getting nabbed without the right permit by staying on the roads. Struggling for money, many live in a drab row of concrete homes known by locals as “Didi village.” Its paths are filled with trash and there is an outdoor toilet, but the rent is cheap. A spokesperson for Didi told Bloomberg they were “optimistic” they would obtain official operating licenses for their drivers.


Developing nations ‘greener’

A range of developing nations have emerged as leaders in a global race to switch to sustainable energy by 2030, by boosting their policies to help improve people’s access to reliable, affordable and clean power, the World Bank said yesterday. However, richer developed nations must do far more to promote energy efficiency or global warming would continue longer with serious consequences, a leading energy group said. About 40 percent of 111 countries surveyed by the World Bank had strong policies to improve people’s access to reliable and affordable energy, make industries and homes more energy efficient and increase countries’ use of renewable energy, the bank said. They include China, India, Vietnam, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, which have emerged as leaders alongside developed countries.


Employment near capacity

Unemployment declined and a measure of the number of people in work rose to a record, pushing the labor market closer to “full capacity,” according to the Office for National Statistics. The number of jobless fell 7,000 in the fourth quarter of last year to 1.6 million people, leaving the unemployment rate at 4.8 percent, the lowest in more than a decade. Employment increased by 37,000 to 31.8 million and the rate rose to a record 74.6 percent, the office said yesterday. Despite labor shortages in some areas, firms told Bank of England agents that they expect wage growth to slow to about 2.2 percent this year. While employment is still rising, the pace has cooled over the past year and uncertainty as Britain prepares to begin talks to leave the EU is expected to take a further toll on hiring.

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