Central bank cuts rate
The central bank on Wednesday again cut its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points to 9.75 percent — the sixth rate cut in the past eight months — in an effort to boost the sluggish economy. The bank’s monetary policy committee justified the new cut — which mirrored last month’s cut of 75 basis points — by citing the “limited risk” to further inflation. With inflation now coming under control, the government of President Dilma Rousseff wants to focus on boosting economic growth, which slowed to 2.7 percent last year, from 7.5 percent in 2010.
Audi to open plant in Mexico
Audi officials say the carmaker will open a new plant in Mexico that should begin production of an SUV model starting in 2016. Officials said in a statement released in Germany on Tuesday that they would decide on a location for the factory later this year. The parent group Volkswagen AG already has an automotive plant in Puebla and an engine plant in Silao, both in central Mexico. Officials did not say how much money they would invest on the plant or how many jobs it would create. Audi AG chairman Rupert Stadler said the company chose Mexico because it was one of the world’s top 10 automotive locations and “offers a blend of tradition and experience.”
Ford plans Hangzhou plant
Ford Motor Co says it plans to build a US$760 million auto assembly plant in Hangzhou, China. The new factory will double Ford’s production capacity in China as it strives to catch up with its global rivals in the world’s biggest auto market. Ford said yesterday that the plant would add annual capacity of 250,000 vehicles when it begins operations in early 2015. Along with a recently announced new plant in Ford’s main production base in Chongqing, China, Ford will double its current annual capacity to 1.2 million vehicles. The new factory brings Ford’s total investment in China to US$4.9 billion.
Coca-Cola, Spotify partner
Spotify and soft drink superstar Coca-Cola on Wednesday announced they will combine the global beverage company’s reach and brand appeal with Spotify’s online music platform. The partnership will include Coca-Cola software applications that tap into the Spotify platform. The first new app will be unveiled for the Olympics in London, Coca-Cola said. Spotify, which was launched in Spotify founder Daniel Ek’s native Sweden in 2008, boasts a library of 15 million tracks and is adding about 20,000 a day. It has more than 10 million active users and 2.5 million paying subscribers.
Amex usage up 12 percent
American Express (Amex) said on Wednesday that its cardholders charged 12 percent more in the first three months of this year than a year earlier, and past-due accounts stayed at historic lows. The figures helped the company beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly earnings and added to evidence that the well-off are feeling more comfortable about increasing their spending than other income groups. The average American Express household brings in US$97,000 a year, compared with US$71,000 for credit card customers overall, according to industry research. The company said it earned US$1.25 billion, or US$1.07 per share, in the first quarter. Earnings were 7 percent higher than the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose 8 percent to US$7.6 billion.