Manufacturing output contracted more than initially estimated in November last year, adding to signs a recession in the bloc may extend into this year as leaders struggle to tackle the sovereign debt crisis. A gauge of manufacturing in the 17-nation euro area fell to 46.1 from 46.2 in November, London-based Markit Economics said yesterday. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. The euro-area economy has shrunk for two successive quarters and economists foresee a further decline in GDP in the final three months of last year. The European Central Bank forecast contractions of 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent for last year and this year respectively.
Consumer prices rise
Consumer prices rose by 3 percent over last year to December as a sales tax rise hit shoppers in the pocket, provisional figures showed yesterday. The inflation rate was unchanged from November, said a report by the National Statistics Institute, which gave no breakdown of prices in the month. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s right-leaning government raised the top level of sales tax to 21 percent from 18 percent on Sept. 1, as part of an effort to curb the bulging public deficit.
New Year’s thieves hit Apple
Armed robbers targeted an Apple Inc store in central Paris on New Year’s Eve, taking thousands of euros worth of goods, a police official said on Tuesday. The robbery took place at about 9pm on Monday, three hours after closing time at one of Apple’s flagship stores behind the Paris Opera, which sells products ranging from iPhones and iPads to Mac computers. The police official declined to comment on reports the thieves walked away with about 1 million euros (US$1.32 million) of goods, saying the company was still evaluating the loss. Christophe Crepin from the police union UNSA told reporters that four masked and armed individuals forced their way into the shop and afterward escaped in a van.
Gambling revenue soars
Gambling revenue jumped 13.5 percent to a record US$38 billion last year, official figures showed yesterday, despite the pace of growth in the world’s largest gaming hub slowing from a year earlier. Gaming revenue rose to 304.14 billion patacas (US$38 billion) from 267.87 billion patacas in 2011, according to statistics posted on the official Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau Web site. However, the pace of growth slowed from 2011, when revenues surged 42 percent year-on-year to US$33.47 billion. Casino operators have plans to build new multibillion-dollar resorts on the Cotai Strip, a former swamp which has been reclaimed and transformed into a glittering center for gamblers.
Hyundai expects mild growth
South Korea’s top automaker, Hyundai Motor Group, yesterday forecast a modest 4.1 percent increase in car sales this year to 7.4 million units, with a strong won harming competitiveness. “Market environments at home and abroad in 2013 will be very difficult due to the impact of the years-long European debt crisis and global slowdown,” group chairman Chung Mong-Koo said in his New Year message to employees. Hyundai, together with its smaller affiliate Kia, is the world’s fifth-largest automaker. The group sold 7.12 million cars worldwide last year, up 8.0 percent from 2011. However, the firm has seen growth slow with weakening demand in key US and European markets.