Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take



Factory activity slows

Factory activity slowed last month, dropping from an eight-month high the previous month official data showed yesterday, missing expectations as the world’s second-largest economy faces the prospect of a trade war with the US. The purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a key gauge of factory conditions, came in at 51.5 last month, decelerating from 51.9 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics said. “The manufacturing industry’s fundamentals are on the whole trending positive,” it said.


Consumer spending up

Consumers increased their spending just 0.2 percent in May, a disappointing result after two months of much stronger gains. The Department of Commerce on Friday said that the tiny rise in spending last month was the poorest showing since spending had fallen 0.1 percent in February. Meanwhile, inflation — as measured by a gauge monitored by the Federal Reserve — rose 0.2 percent in May and 2.3 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest reading in six years.


Inflation up on oil prices

The inflation rate in the 19-country bloc has risen further, but largely because of a global rise in oil prices. The annual inflation rate hit 2 percent last month, up from 1.9 percent in May, the EU’s statistics agency said on Friday. An 8 percent surge in the cost of energy was the biggest contributor. Stripping out volatile items, such as energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, the inflation rate actually declined, to 1 percent from 1.1 percent.


Jobless rate unchanged

The unemployment rate last month remained unchanged as the labor market in Europe’s largest economy stayed strong. The Federal Labor Agency on Friday said the jobless rate stood at 5.2 percent when adjusted for seasonal factors. In unadjusted terms — the headline figure — unemployment ticked down to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in May. Overall, last month there were 2.28 million people registered as unemployed.


Citigroup to refund US$335m

Citigroup Inc is agreeing to refund US$335 million to a group of customers who might have been overpaying interest on their credit cards. In a settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Citi is to refund 1.75 million customers in overpaid interest by the end of this year. Earlier this year, Citi disclosed that it had used a flawed methodology in determining whether credit card customers were eligible for an interest rate reduction on their cards, as required by the US’ CARD Act.


Bistro might be sold off

Chinese restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s (華館) Bistro, burdened with a heavy debt load and fierce industry competition, might be headed to the auction block, private equity owner Centerbridge Partners LP said. “Given the positive performance of P.F. Chang’s Bistro and having received multiple unsolicited indications of interest, this is an exciting time to explore a sale,” Steve Silver, global co-head of private equity, said in a statement. P.F. Chang’s operates 214 locations in the US and franchises another 93 restaurants in 24 countries.

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