Economy may be cooling
The country last year posted its smallest trade surplus in a decade as exports fell more than 5 percent, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Wednesday. The surplus totaled US$19.4 billion, plummeting 34.8 percent from 2011 in the latest sign of cooling in Latin America’s largest economy. Exports totaled US$242.5 billion, a drop of 5.3 percent, while imports declined 1.4 percent to US$223.1 billion, the ministry said. Last month the Central Bank cut its GDP growth forecast for last year from 1.6 percent to 1 percent. It was the third downward revision by the bank last year, from 3.5 percent to 2.5 percent in June, then down to 1.6 percent in September and to 1 percent last month.
New car registrations fall
French new car registrations hit a 15-year low point last year and business looks like it will be just as tough this year, data from the French automobile manufacturers’ association, CCFA, showed on Wednesday, mirroring slumps seen elsewhere in the 17-nation eurozone. In France, auto sales fell by 13.9 percent to 1.899 million units, a CCFA statement said. The drop was compounded by the end of government-funded buying schemes that had boosted sales between 2009 and early 2011. The worst hit companies were French automakers Peugeot Citroen, where sales shrank by 17.5 percent, and Renault, down by 22 percent.
Port operator pulls out
A Philippine-based container port operator says it has decided to pull out of the country and has withdrawn all of its Filipino workers from a key port due to the ongoing civil war. The withdrawal of Manila-based International Container Terminal Services Inc, through its local subsidiary Tartous International Container Terminal, could effectively derail cargo services at the northwest port city of Tartous. ICTSI senior vice president Hans-Ole Madsen said in an e-mail on Wednesday that the Philippine company is the sole container operator in Tartous via a concession granted by the Ministry of Transport.
‘App store’ use upheld
A US federal judge on Wednesday rejected Apple Inc’s claim of false advertising for Amazon.com Inc to refer to its online shop for mobile gadget applications as an “app store.” “Apple has failed to establish that Amazon made any false statement of fact that actually deceived or had the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of its audience,” US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said in her ruling. “The mere use of ‘Appstore’ by Amazon to designate a site for viewing and downloading/purchasing apps cannot be construed as a representation that the nature, characteristics, or quality of the Amazon Appstore is the same as that of the Apple App Store,” she said.
IPO paybacks considered
The stock market regulator is considering a plan that would see small investors reimbursed if they lose money buying newly issued shares in a bid to boost confidence in initial public offerings (IPOs), a report said yesterday. The Securities and Exchange Board of India is seeking to convince small investors to put money into IPOs after volatile flotations prompted suspicions of price manipulation, the Wall Street Journal said. The refund would be provided if the stock dropped more than 20 percent from its issue price within three months of listing, even if the broader market was steady or rising, the Journal said.