Jail sentence overturned
The supreme court yesterday overturned a three-year jail sentence against Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn for breach of trust and other charges, sending the case back to a lower court. The tycoon had been convicted of using Hanwha affiliates to “unfairly support” companies he owned under assumed names, causing losses to the nation’s 10th biggest conglomerate. In April, a Seoul appellate court reduced his sentence to three years from the four years imposed in August last year. Kim was taken to prison after the first ruling last year, but the sentence was suspended temporarily earlier this year because he was in poor health.
Fewer job seekers
The number of registered job seekers fell last month for the first time in more than two years, dropping by 50,000 to 3.23 million, the Ministry of Labor, Family and Social Affairs said on Wednesday. However, Labor Minister Michel Sapin said a lasting turnaround in unemployment promised by the Socialist government and President Francois Hollande had not yet been achieved. Sapin welcomed what he termed a “significant” drop in a country where unemployment affects nearly 10.9 percent of the active population.
US new home sales up
US sales of new homes bounced back last month after July’s slump, the Department of Commerce reported on Wednesday. New home sales rose to an annual pace of 421,000 units, compared to 390,000 in July and 454,000 in June. However, the pace remained slower than the first quarter’s 449,000 pace, which analysts say could be the result of a jump in home mortgage interest rates.
Brazil’s forecast raised
The Brazilian industrial federation on Wednesday upped its growth forecast for this year from 1 percent to 1.4 percent and its GDP growth projection from 2 to 2.4 percent. Despite the better data, the National Confederation of Industry urged caution. “The improved economic outlook is no guarantee of a strong growth rate,” it said. “This year, investment will play a larger role than household spending in terms of GDP growth.” The federation forecasted an 8 percent rise in investment, but only 1.9 percent in consumer spending.
World Bank extends loan
The World Bank is lending the country US$140 million to upgrade an aging power plant in southeastern Mon state in a small step toward overcoming the nation’s chronic power shortages. The bank said on Wednesday the interest-free loan will fund a refurbishment of the Thaton gas-fired power plant, increasing its generating capacity by 250 percent without an increase in its gas consumption. It is the first World Bank loan to the government since the bank forgave US$440 million of unpaid debt in January.
Berlin probes part makers
Germany’s competition watchdog has carried out searches at six car parts makers on suspicion of price-fixing, officials and two of the groups involved said on Wednesday. The Federal Cartel Office suspects the groups — which it did not name — of being involved in illegal price-fixing for car trunk fittings and carpeting since 2002. Canadian group Magna said it was one of those targeted in the raids, while Swiss group Autoneum said its German unit was also under investigation.