France expects flat growth
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday he was concerned that growth this year of the EU’s second-biggest economy would be very weak, around the 0.1 percent level predicted by the European Commission. “The European Commission says 0.1 percent: I fear it won’t be far from that,” Moscovici told a forum in Paris. “We are fighting for it to be more,” he added. Both the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have forecast that the French economy will manage to grow by just 0.1 percent this year.
Egypt’s reserves fall further
Egypt’s foreign currency reserves dropped slightly again last month, the central bank said on Thursday. The US$13.4 billion level at the end of last month was just below the February figure of US$13.5 billion, representing a smaller drop than previous months. The nation’s reserves have fallen sharply from US$36 billion since the popular uprising in 2011 that ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian government is in talks with the IMF to secure a US$4.8 billion loan to bolster the country’s battered economy and help cover a widening budget deficit. Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation and Planning Ashraf el-Araby said on Thursday that a final agreement with the IMF could be reached in the next two weeks.
Honda recalls cars over leak
Japanese automaker Honda said on Thursday it was recalling 145,573 vehicles due to a fault that caused oil to leak onto some cars’ exhaust pipes. The firm said it had received 14 complaints from motorists, including nine cases where the burned oil released fumes into the affected vehicles. There were no injuries, it added. The recall covers vehicle brand models “Vamos,” the “Vamos Hobio” small van and the “Z” two-door hatchback built between October 1998 through August 2010 and sold only in Japan, the automaker said in a document filed with Japan’s transport ministry.
BlackBerry turns off music
BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) says it is silencing its streaming music service barely two years after its launch. The Canadian firm e-mailed BlackBerry Messenger Music subscribers this week to notify them that the cloud-based service will stop working on June 2. RIM said on Thursday the decision follows a “strategic business review” of its offerings. BBM Music launched in August 2011 as a US$4.99 per month service that allowed BBM users to swap song recommendations and share music with friends. However, there were limitations — each user could only share up to 50 songs from a catalogue of millions of tracks for their own personal playlist.
Skilling’s case under review
Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron Corp chief executive serving a 24-year prison term over the energy company’s spectacular collapse, may get a chance to leave prison early. The US Department of Justice has notified victims of Enron’s fraud and 2001 bankruptcy that prosecutors may enter an agreement with Skilling that could result in a resentencing. Skilling, 59, has served about six and a quarter years in prison following his May 2006 conviction by a Houston federal jury on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors. Once ranked seventh on the Fortune 500 list of large US companies, Enron went bankrupt on Dec. 2, 2001.