Fri, Jun 02, 2017 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Growth falls short of forecast

Economic growth accelerated less than forecast at the start of the year as household spending barely rose, though sectors long-blighted by the strong franc bounced back. A 3.9 percent jump in exports in the three months through March helped push economic growth to 0.3 percent. While that fell short of the 0.5 percent forecast in a Bloomberg survey, it is still the strongest performance in three quarters. Consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent, a sharp slowdown from the 0.9 percent rate seen at the end of last year. The Swiss National Bank forecasts an inflation rate of 0.3 percent for this year, ending a multiyear spate of falling consumer prices.


Jobless rate retreats

The nation’s sickly economy got an unexpected glimmer of good news on Wednesday with unemployment figures showing a slight dip to 13.6 percent. It was the first fall in unemployment figures since 2014 and came amid expectations that Latin America’s biggest economy is finally emerging from its worst recession in history. The IBGE state statistics office said that 14 million people were out of work in the February-to-April period, or 13.6 percent of the workforce.


Optimistic outlook wanes

Most regions of the nation continue to see modest to moderate growth, but optimism about the economic outlook has waned, partly due to concerns over government policies, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. Labor shortages, especially for skilled workers, are forcing companies to offer more generous and flexible conditions, but so far that has not translated into worrisome wage pressures, the Fed said in its periodic survey of the economy. The so-called Beige Book prepared ahead of the June 14 and 15 monetary policy meeting did not seem to offer any reports from the frontlines of the economy to alter the widespread expectation that the Fed will raise the benchmark lending rate for the second time this year.


Barclays to sell 22% stake

Barclays PLC said it will sell a further 22 percent stake in its South African unit, a holding worth about US$2 billion at current prices, as part of the UK bank’s plan to shrink its operations and bolster capital strength. The London-based lender is offering about 187 million shares of Barclays Africa Group Ltd in an accelerated bookbuild after it received approval from South African authorities, it said on Wednesday. Barclays, which holds 50.1 percent of Barclays Africa, said it has a long-term target of reducing its shareholding in the unit to 15 percent.


Michael Kors to close stores

Michael Kors Holdings PLC plans to close up to 125 stores over the next two years with continued weak sales at its luxury stores. The London company also issued a weak outlook and comparable-store sales were disappointing, sending shares down more than 8 percent on Wednesday. The retailer lost US$26.8 million, or US$0.17 per share, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs, were US$0.73 per share. The results topped Wall Street expectations by US$0.03, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Revenue fell 11.2 percent to US$1.06 billion, but that, too, edged out expectations.

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