Thu, Mar 01, 2018 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Consumer confidence rises

Consumer confidence leapt to a 17-year high last month, driven by strong expectations that jobs would remain plentiful in the near term, a survey released on Tuesday by the Conference Board showed. Consumers’ outlook was also rosier, with more expecting their incomes to rise in the coming months, it said. The results could point to strong consumer spending in the early months of the year, lending support to continued GDP expansion. The consumer confidence index jumped more than 6 points to 130.8, its highest level since November 2000, well beyond analysts’ expectations of a gain of 2.2 percentage points. “Despite the recent stock market volatility, consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term prospects for business and labor market conditions, as well as their financial prospects,” Conference Board head of economic indicators Lynn Franco said.


SeaWorld CEO resigns

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc chief executive Joel Manby is stepping down from his post, as the theme park operator posted a fourth-quarter loss and continues to work on transforming its business. The company on Tuesday said that chief parks operations officer John Reilly was taking over as interim chief executive. Chairman Yoshikazu Maruyama is to serve as interim executive chairman until a permanent chief executive is named. He would then resume his position as chairman. For the three months ended Dec. 31, SeaWorld lost US$20.4 million, or a loss per share of US$0.24. The Orlando, Florida-based company posted a loss of US$11.9 million, or a loss per share of US$0.14, the previous year.


AstraZeneca plans spinoff

AstraZeneca PLC is spinning off a company to develop drugs for immune disorders with as much as US$250 million from a group of investors. The new company, to be called Viela Bio, is to get six experimental drugs from Cambridge, England-based Astra, including a treatment in mid-stage testing for a rare disease of the eye and spinal cord. Called inebilizumab, the drug has special designation from US and European regulators that might speed its path to the market. Astra has been shepherding its research and development resources, US$5.76 billion last year, to focus on cancer, heart and metabolic diseases, as well as respiratory conditions. While Astra is to be the biggest shareholder in Viela, the start-up’s funding is to come from five investors, including China-based Boyu Capital (博裕資本), 6 Dimensions Capital and Hillhouse Capital.


January factory output falls

Factory output fell in January for the first time in four months, official data showed yesterday, but the government and experts said industrial momentum remained strong in the world’s third-largest economy. Factory output dropped 6.6 percent month-on-month, worse than the 4 percent fall that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected. However, the volatile indicator likely rebounded strongly last month, with the government predicting a surge of 9 percent. The latest data came after the nation notched eight straight quarters of economic growth — the longest positive run since the “bubble” boom days of the late 1980s. Dai-ichi Life Research Institute chief economist Yoshiki Shinke cautioned against reading too much into January’s drop. “As the figure for December was extremely high and the February figure is also expected to be very high, it’s hard to say anything by looking at the January figure only,” he said.

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