Downgraded rating held
Standard and Poor’s held to a downgraded “AA+” rating for France and said the outlook remained negative yesterday, four days after Moody’s cut its top rating for the country by one notch and warned that more could come. S&P, which downgraded France from top notch in January, referring to recent French announcements on the economy, said although the government was “determined to carry out budgetary and structural reforms” France’s long-term outlook was “negative.”
Seoul defiant over damages
South Korea said it would “aggressively” defend itself on Thursday after a US private equity firm initiated arbitration of a damages claim arising from the sale of its stake in the Korean Exchange Bank (KEB), which it bought in 2003. Texas-based Lone Star Funds said on Wednesday it had filed for arbitration with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, becoming the first firm to invoke a clause in a free trade agreement between the countries.
BP, Rosneft clinch deal
British oil major BP and Russian group Rosneft said on Thursday that they have signed a final agreement on the sale by BP to Rosneft of half of the third biggest Russian oil company, TNK-BP, as part of a major shift in strategy by the British company. The deal is still subject to approval by regulatory authorities and should be completed “in the first half of 2013,” a BP statement said. Once all parts of the complex transaction have been finalized, Rosneft is set to become one of the world’s biggest oil companies while BP stands to gain crucial access to Arctic oil reserves.
Codelco profits increase
Chile’s state-owned mining company Codelco said on Thursday its January-September profits rose 27 percent over the same period last year, boosted by the settlement of a long-running feud with British miner Anglo American PLC over control of a promising copper mine. The world’s largest copper company said on Thursday it earned US$6.77 billion before taxes versus US$5.32 billion in the same period a year ago. Chief executive Thomas Keller told reporters the miner produced 1.188 million tonnes of copper, 5 percent less than the 1.25 million tonnes a year earlier due to dwindling ore grades.
October inflation slows
Singapore’s inflation slowed last month as gains in food and housing costs eased, reducing pressure on the central bank to tighten monetary policy. The consumer price index rose 4 percent from a year earlier, the Department of Statistics said in a statement yesterday. The median estimate of 19 economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 4.5 percent increase, after a 4.7 percent pace reported earlier for September. The October core inflation rate was 2.2 percent.
Industrial confidence climbs
French industrial confidence climbed from the lowest in more than three years after French President Francois Hollande unveiled a payroll tax cut for businesses that will go into effect next year. Sentiment among factory executives rose to 88 this month after falling to 85 in October, national statistics office Insee said in a statement yesterday. Economists had expected a reading of 87, according to the median of 19 forecasts.