Thu, Jan 25, 2018 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

TRADE

Japan’s surplus shrinks

Japan’s trade surplus last year declined 25.1 percent as higher energy bills eclipsed some of the revenue from robust exports of electronics-related goods and automobiles, government data showed yesterday. The world’s third-largest economy logged a surplus of ¥2.99 trillion (US$27.2 billion), the Ministry of Finance said. However, it still marked a second straight year of surplus. The decline was driven by a 14 percent increase in imports, although exports also jumped 11.8 percent, the ministry said.

AGRICULTURE

US adds duties on olives

The US on Tuesday imposed additional import duties of up to 20 percent on ripe Spanish olives, saying that they were being sold at below fair value and harmed growers in California. The preliminary ruling is on top of duties imposed in November to offset Spanish exporters benefiting from 2 to 7 percent. The US Department of Commerce is set to announce its final decision on the anti-dumping case against Spanish olives on June 5, while the final ruling on the earlier countervailing duties decision is due in May.

INTERNET

Facebook acquires Confirm

Facebook Inc acquired a company that digitally authenticates government identification, a move that might help it verify profiles on its social network. Facebook did not disclose terms of the acquisition of Confirm Inc, a three-year-old company based in Boston. The start-up is shutting down its technology while it transitions to Facebook, according to its Web site. “Their technology and expertise will support our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe,” a Facebook spokeswoman said, without elaborating.

ELECTRONICS

Apple to launch HomePod

Apple Inc is finally ready to launch its attempt to compete with Internet-connected speakers made by Amazon.com Inc and Google with the release of its long-awaited HomePod. Preorders for the HomePod are to begin tomorrow in the US, the UK and Australia, two weeks before the speaker goes on sale in stores for US$349. Apple had intended to release the HomePod last month during the holiday shopping season, but delayed its debut to refine the product.

HEALTHCARE

J&J posts US$10.71bn loss

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) on Tuesday posted a rare quarterly loss of US$10.71 billion, due to a US$13.6 billion charge related to last month’s US tax overhaul. While the loss was expected and the company’s adjusted results beat analysts’ expectations, shares fell more than 4 percent, an unusually big swing for the healthcare giant. The company reported a big jump in sales, but that was offset by sharply higher spending on production, marketing, administration and research, partly due to one-time charges.

PHARMACEUTICALS

Novartis net profit up 15%

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis AG yesterday said that strong sales of two of its main blockbuster drugs enabled it to turn in a “good operating performance” last year. Novartis said in a statement that net profit climbed 15 percent to US$7.7 billion on a 1 percent increase in sales to US$49.1 billion. The group’s psoriasis drug, Cosentyx, “reached multi-blockbuster status,” heart treatment Entresto delivered more than US$500 million in sales and eye care unit Alcon Inc “returned to growth,” the statement said.

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