Finland slips into recession
Finland’s economy unexpectedly joined the euro-area in a recession last quarter as the region’s debt crisis weighed on confidence and sapped investments. GDP contracted 0.1 percent from the prior quarter, when it shrank 1.1 percent, Statistics Finland in Helsinki said yesterday. That missed the estimates of three economist surveyed by Bloomberg for growth of 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent. On an annual basis, GDP fell 1.2 percent. Investments fell 1.1 percent from the previous quarter, with construction spending dropping 1.4 percent, and machinery and equipment investments contracting 2.5 percent. Exports grew 2.4 percent and consumer spending expanded 0.8 percent from the prior three months.
US banks’ profits rise 6.6%
US banks are enjoying their best profits in six years and are lending a bit more freely. The gradual improvement suggests that the industry will sustain its healing from the worst financial crisis in decades and help strengthen the economy. The industry earned US$37.6 billion from July through September — a 6.6 percent increase from its earnings in the same quarter last year. For the first time since 2009, the stronger profits were due mainly to higher revenue rather than less money set aside by the banks to cover losses, data issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp showed on Tuesday. Loans to consumers rose nearly 1 percent from July-September last year.
Yahoo acquires OnTheAir
Yahoo has bought another Silicon Valley mobile startup as CEO Marissa Mayer tries to create more compelling products for smartphones and tablet computers. Tuesday’s acquisition of OnTheAir follows Yahoo’s recent purchase of a mobile startup called Stamped. In both cases, Yahoo was drawn more by the engineering talent working at the startups than the services that they have been offering. Yahoo did not disclose how much it paid for OnTheAir, which is based in San Francisco. The service enables users to hold online video chats in a talk-show format. Yahoo did not say whether it intends to continue OnTheAir’s service.
FedEx offers voluntary exit
FedEx will be offering some employees up to two years’ pay to leave the company next year. The voluntary program is part of an effort by the second-biggest package delivery company to cut annual costs by US$1.7 billion within three years. Employees who volunteer for the program will receive four weeks of pay for every year of service, capped at two full years of base pay. Those eligible will be notified in February, and have until April to apply. They will be informed in May if they are accepted. The first wave of employees will leave on May 31, the last day of FedEx’s fiscal year.
Windows phones on the rise
Shipments of smartphones running Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system are forecast to jump 71 percent over the next four years, outpacing Google Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS, research firm IDC said. Windows’ growth will vault it past Research In Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry, making it No. 3 in the industry in 2016, with 11.4 percent of the market, it said in a report on Tuesday. Android will remain first, though its share will slip to 63.8 percent in 2016 from 68.3 percent this year. Apple’s iOS, which runs the iPhone, will inch up to 19.1 percent from 18.8 percent, staying in second place.