Growth misses forecasts
The economy grew a lower-than-expected 0.6 percent in the first three months of the year and 2.5 percent on-year, data showed yesterday, confirming fears of a mining slowdown. The Bureau of Statistics said the commodities-driven economy expanded a seasonally-adjusted 0.6 percent in the March quarter and 2.5 percent from the same period last year — short of the 0.7 percent and 2.7 percent expected by analysts. It compares with 0.6 percent quarterly growth in the final three months of last year and 3.1 percent on-year, as the nation braces for a bumpy transition away from the key mining sector.
IMF warns on slowdown
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde warned on Tuesday that the global economy may be slowing more than thought a little more than a month ago. There are “some glimpses of more somber trends. Recent data, for example, suggest some slowdown in growth,” Lagarde said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, according to the prepared text. On Tuesday, the IMF slightly lowered its growth forecast for France, a day after halving its estimate for Germany, Europe’s largest economy, to a mere 0.3 percent. Late last month, the Fund also cut its projection for China to about 7.75 percent from 8 percent.
Toyota announces recall
Toyota Motor Corp is to recall 242,000 Prius and Lexus hybrid cars globally because of a braking problem, the company said yesterday, adding that it was not reported to have caused any accidents. Drivers of the two models, manufactured between March and October 2009, have complained they needed to step more heavily than previously on the brake pedal. A company spokeswoman in Tokyo said a materials weakness was leading to cracks that allowed nitrogen gas to leak into the brake fluid, affecting the efficacy of the brakes. Toyota will recall 117,000 units in Japan, 91,000 in North America, 30,000 in Europe and 3,000 in the Asia-Pacific region, she said.
Sony plant blockaded
Workers blockaded Sony Corp’s last French plant, vowing to keep it closed for at least two days in order to obtain better bonuses from the Japanese electronics giant before the factory is sold off. Unions said activity at the plant in the northeastern Alsace region had been brought to a halt as about 300 of the factory’s 516 employees had blocked the entrance to the plant. The employees are protesting Sony’s offer of a separation bonus of 2,000 euros (US$2,600), calling for a payment of 1,500 euros per year worked, with those older than age 45 or with more than 20 years of service to be paid at higher rates. Union representatives said the strike would continue to at least today, when talks with management are due to resume.
Google takes stance on porn
The makers of a porn app for Google Inc’s Internet-linked eyewear were modifying the software on Tuesday in response to a move by the company to keep sex off the new devices. Google evidently updated its Glass developer rules over the weekend, ahead of the release of an application on Monday by California-based MiKandi. Google guidelines posted online for Glass application developers contained a clause stating: “We don’t allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material.”