Inflation falls below target
National inflation declined last month, easing pressure on consumers, but fueling questions about the strength of recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy. Government data yesterday showed that consumer prices rose 2.1 percent, down from the previous month’s 3.2 percent and well below the official target of 3.5 percent for the year. Wholesale prices declined by 1.9 percent compared with last year.
Worry rises as exports fall
National exports declined by 1.5 percent in February compared with the previous month, adding to mixed signals about Europe’s biggest economy. The decline reported yesterday by the Federal Statistical Office canceled out a 1.3 percent gain the previous month. The nation’s exported goods and services were worth 90.4 billion euros (US$117.5 billion), a figure adjusted for calendar and seasonal effects. In year-on-year terms, exports were down 2.8 percent.
Petrobras fined for spill
Brazil’s state-run energy giant Petrobras has been ordered to pay a fine of US$5 million over an oil spill that fouled several beaches along Sao Paulo State’s coast, Brazilian authorities said on Monday. The spill occurred on Friday as a result of “an operational failure” at a sea terminal of Transpetro, a Petrobras subsidiary, during the refueling of a ship, the Sao Paulo State Environmental Co said in a statement.
Codelco back in business
Chilean state-owned mining company Codelco has resumed shipments of copper after a port strike blocked exports in the world’s top copper producer, chief executive officer Thomas Keller said on Monday. Port workers returned to work after reaching a deal to end three weeks of strikes that halted shipments of copper, fruit and wood pulp in the export-dependent nation. Keller said it will take the company about 30 days to reach a normal level.
Japan policy hits profit: GM
GM Holden yesterday blamed Japanese monetary policy for lagging car sales that have forced it to axe 500 jobs in Australia, with the plunging yen driving Japanese export costs down. Holden Australia CEO Mike Devereux said the yen had depreciated about 25 percent since October last year. “That means a car that was US$20,000 five months ago, costs around US$15,000 to bring into the country, so there’s a lot of price competition,” he told ABC radio.
HP shoots for the moon
Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) on Monday launched a Moonshot system that uses smartphone-style chips to power compact, efficient data center servers. The California-based computer maker said Moonshot systems take up one-fifth of the space of traditional computer servers and can cut energy use by as much as 89 percent while costing about 77 percent less. Moonshot servers are powered by Intel Atom chips. The servers were made available on Monday in the US and Canada, and will be elsewhere next month.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
CEDC files for Chapter 11
Vodka maker Central European Distribution Corp (CEDC) is seeking bankruptcy protection to cut more than US$665 million of its debt. The firm is asking a US bankruptcy court in Delaware to approve a reorganization plan, which would give ownership to Roust Trading, owned by CEDC chairman Roustam Tariko.