BOJ upgrades forecast
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) yesterday upgraded its assessment of the economy’s prospects after earlier this year implementing an ambitious monetary policy aimed at boosting inflation and growth. The bank, ending a two-day policy board meeting, chose more optimistic language to describe the world’s third-largest economy. It said in a statement that the economy was “starting to recover moderately.” “The bank will continue with quantitative and qualitative monetary easing, aiming to achieve the price stability target of 2 percent, as long as it is necessary for maintaining that target in a stable manner,” the bank said.
Australia jobless rate jumps
Australia’s jobless rate jumped to 5.7 percent last month, its highest level in almost four years, as the mining-driven economy gears up for a bumpy transition away from its reliance on commodities. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate compares with an upwardly revised 5.6 percent in May, and is higher than the 5.6 percent forecast by analysts. It is the highest level since September 2009 and is just shy of the 5.8 percent peak reached at the height of the financial crisis.
Brazil hikes interest rate
Brazil’s Central Bank on Wednesday hiked its key lending rate by 0.5 percent — to 8.5 percent — against a background of rising inflation and anemic economic growth. The bank had already lifted its key interest rate twice this year — by 0.25 points in April and by another 0.50 points in May — after no increases since July 2011. Last month, 12-month inflation reached 6.7 percent, above the 6.5 percent upper limit of the official target.
Mead Johnson cuts prices
US baby formula maker Mead Johnson is to cut prices by 7 percent to 15 percent, it said, confirming it was cooperating with an anti-trust probe by authorities. It is the latest response from a foreign formula producer after the National Development and Reform Commission launched an investigation into high prices it claimed resulted from a monopoly-like situation, mostly targeting overseas firms. France’s Danone, Swiss food giant Nestle’s unit Wyeth Nutrition, Dutch RoyalFriesland Campina and Abbott Laboratories have all already announced price cuts.
French probing Adecco
Switzerland’s Adecco Group says French authorities have opened an investigation into the firm and some of its competitors over alleged violations of French competition law. The Zurich-based company yesterday said it is cooperating fully with the French competition authority, which informed it about the probe on Wednesday. Adecco Group, one of the world’s biggest providers of human resources services, provided no more details.
Icahn seeks assessment
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said on Wednesday he will ask a Delaware judge to assess whether a proposed US$24.4 billion acquisition of Dell represents a fair price for the struggling PC maker. It is Icahn’s latest attempt to wrangle a higher offer from buyout group that includes company CEO Michael Dell. Icahn, Dell Inc’s second-largest shareholder, urged shareholders to exercise their right for a court appraisal to determine whether the firm is worth more than the US$13.65 per share that Michael Dell’s group has agreed to pay.