Wed, Feb 20, 2019 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



BHP results disappoint

Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd yesterday reported a lower-than-expected US$3.73 billion half-yearly profit as it warned of a softening Chinese market and growing trade rows. The underlying profit for the six months to Dec. 31 last year was 8 percent lower than the US$4.05 billion recorded in the previous corresponding period, missing market expectations after a series of operational problems at its mines. “It’s a soft result,” Fat Prophets resources analyst David Lennox said, adding that a pullback in commodity prices was also a factor. BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said that a “strong second half is expected to partially offset the impacts from operational outages in the first half.” They included production outages because of a major train derailment at its Western Australia iron ore operations, an outage at its copper mine in South Australia and a fire at a Chilean facility.


HSBC warns of uncertainty

HSBC Holdings PLC said that geopolitical uncertainty in China, the US and the UK has made the prognosis for the year far less predictable after fourth-quarter earnings fell short of analysts’ estimates. Chief executive officer John Flint has also vowed to keep a keener eye on costs after a disappointing quarter capped his first year in charge of Europe’s largest bank. Like its rivals, HSBC, which gets most of its business in Asia, was also hit by the meltdown in financial markets, which pushed investment bank revenues lower. Adjusted pretax profit, which excludes one-time items, fell 1 percent to US$3.39 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31 last year, missing the US$4.4 billion consensus average derived from estimates compiled by the bank. Global markets, which houses HSBC’s investment bank, said adjusted revenue was US$1.1 billion, an approximate 16 percent decline from the final three months of 2017.


Banking to be affordable

The government is betting on financial technology to help lift people out of poverty. The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced measures aimed at making financial services more affordable in a nation where more than half the population is unbanked. It is planning a digital payments system run and built by the central bank that will allow Mexicans to make and receive payments through their smartphones free of charge. A pilot roll out for the platform, known as CoDi, is expected by next month. “In the future, it will no longer be necessary to have a bank in the sense of a traditional, established bank,” Deputy Minister of Finance Arturo Herrera said. “Mobile phones will become banks.”


ECB signals concern

The European Central Bank’s (ECB) chief economist added to the chorus of policymakers signaling concern on an economic slowdown, saying that officials could push back plans to raise interest rates as a first response against a deeper downturn. “If the euro-area economy were to slow more sharply, we could adapt our forward guidance on interest rates and this could be complemented by other measures,” Peter Praet said in an interview with German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung published late on Monday. “But one thing is clear: The ECB’s Governing Council will always find ways and means of acting if it needs to.”

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