Farmers persist with strike
The government raised a subsidy to coffee farmers on Saturday and called for them to end a strike, but farm leaders said they would continue protesting and blocking roads because they want buyers to pay a minimum price for beans. Coffee growers in the nation, the world’s top producer of high-quality Arabica beans, are demanding more help from the government after being hit by years of poor weather, crop disease and a strong currency. The government has offered to increase a subsidy to 115,000 pesos (US$63.41) from 60,000 pesos previously paid for a 125kg sack of parchment coffee for small producers when the internal coffee price is below 650,000 pesos. The subsidy also increases to 95,000 pesos, from 60,000 previously, for big land owners.
Weaker yen helps exports
The nation’s exporters expect to be profitable as a weaker currency helps boost the yen value of their overseas earnings, according to a survey of companies released by the Cabinet Office. Shipments will yield profit if the exchange rate averages ￥83.9 against the US dollar, according to the survey of 2,374 companies in January. The yen will probably trade at ￥88.4 per US dollar in one year’s time, according to the average expectation of companies in the survey. The numbers compare with a forecast of profitability at ￥82 versus an expected exchange rate of ￥80.3 in a similar survey a year earlier. Toyota Motor Corp, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, the maker of Subaru cars, and Nintendo Co have all raised their profit forecasts for the fiscal year that ends this month as the weaker yen boosts overseas sales when earnings are repatriated.
EU car sales plummet
Plunging prices and over-capacity will again this year cast a shadow over the Geneva International Motor Show, which begins this week, but plenty of luxury racing dreams should still be prominently on display. The European auto industry got off to a bad start in January, when new car registrations in the EU plummeted to their lowest level since 1990 after an already catastrophic previous year. Only 12 million cars were sold last year — the lowest number since 1995. Switzerland, the host of what is one of the auto industry’s biggest events, is a rare bright spot on the crisis-hit continent. The Swiss, who do not belong to the EU, saw new car registrations jump 2.4 percent last year from an already record year in 2011, with 431,000 new registrations. Stefan Bratzel, a German car industry analyst, expects to see sales across Europe slip 5 percent this year and predicts that the mood in Geneva will be jaded.
Evernote reports hacking
Evernote, a Web-based note-sharing service, said it was resetting the passwords of its 50 million users because hackers managed to breach its computer network and access some usernames, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords. Evernote spokeswoman Ronda Scott said via e-mail on Saturday that the attack “follows a similar pattern” to other cyberattacks on Internet-based companies in recent weeks, but did not elaborate. Scott declined to say how many accounts had been exposed or whether it might be possible for the hackers to unscramble encrypted passwords. A series of technology companies including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Twitter, have recently disclosed cyberattacks.