Central bank holds rates
The central bank yesterday unexpectedly held its official interest rate steady at 3.25 percent, saying that recent indications on the world economy were more positive. The bank last month sliced 25 basis points off the cash rate, taking it to lows not seen since October 2009, when it first resumed hiking rates following the global downturn. Economists had widely tipped a further 25 basis point cut, but Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens said the financial regulator “judged that the stance of monetary policy was appropriate for the time being.” Stevens said that while commodity prices were lower and employment was softening, growth has been running close to trend over the past year in the mining-powered nation and inflation was in the bank’s preferred 2 percent to 3 percent zone.
US judge tosses Apple suit
A US federal judge on Monday tossed out an Apple Inc lawsuit accusing Google Inc-owned Motorola Mobility of trying to charge the iPhone maker too much for licenses to essential technology for mobile devices. US District Court Judge Barbara Crabb dismissed the case after a week of pre-trial legal wrangling that evidently convinced her that the matter was headed for prolonged litigation instead of earnest resolution. Apple filed suit against Motorola Mobility early last year after Motorola claimed it was due 2.25 percent royalty on sales of devices powered by iOS software, using patented Wi-Fi and video technology.
BMW sees Asia sales surge
Strong sales of its luxury cars in China helped boost BMW AG’s net profit by 16 percent in the third quarter. Booming Asian sales helped the maker of the X5 sport utility vehicle and the 5-series sedan overcome a stagnant market in Europe. Consumer demand remains slack there because of the debt and economic crisis. Net profit rose to 1.29 billion euros (US$1.65 billion) as sales jumped 13.7 percent to a record 18.82 billion euros. China sales rose 30 percent, while European sales grew modestly at 2.6 percent as sales sagged in southern Europe where the economic crisis is at its worst. Sales were even down slightly in BMW’s home market of Germany.
M&S’ big costs hurt profit
British food and clothing retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) says its pretax profit fell by nearly 10 percent in the first half of its financial year as operating costs rose faster than revenue. The company yesterday said pretax profit of ￡290 million (US$464 million) for the six months ending on Sept. 30 compared to ￡321 million a year earlier. Sales in the period were up 0.9 percent, at ￡4.7 billion. UK operating costs were up 2.9 percent. The company did not disclose earnings. M&S was cautious about the outlook, saying recent trading had been volatile.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Nestle aims for India, China
The world’s biggest food company, Nestle SA, said on Monday it expects to generate more than half its sales in emerging markets, including India and China, by the end of the decade. The Switzerland-based giant said developing markets currently contribute 40 percent of its global sales. “Our expectation is that by the end of the decade that [figure] will reach 50 percent,” Nandu Nandkishore, Nestle zone director for Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East, said in New Delhi, India, ahead of the opening of Nestle’s first research and development center in India.