S&P cuts rating to ‘AA’
Standard & Poor’s (S&P) cut France’s sovereign credit rating on Friday by one notch to “AA” from “AA+,” giving a thumbs-down to French President Francois Hollande’s efforts to put the economy back on track. All three major rating agencies had already stripped the country of its top-grade “triple-A” status. S&P is the first agency to downgrade the status for a second time, warning that the economic reforms of the past year were not sufficient to lift growth. The ratings agency adjusted its outlook for national debt to stable from negative, citing Hollande’s commitment to containing net general debt, which it expects to peak at 86 percent of output in 2015.
Trade surplus grows
The national trade surplus expanded in September as imports fell and exports grew, rising to 18.9 billion euros (US$25.4 billion) in September from 15.8 billion in August, data published by the German Federal Statistics Office yesterday showed. In seasonally adjusted terms, the country exported goods worth 92.8 billion euros in September, up from 91.2 billion euros in August, the office said in a statement.
Economy gains after crisis
The economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate from July through September, a surprising acceleration ahead of the 16-day partial government shutdown and compared with a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-to-June period, the US Department of Commerce said on Thursday. Analysts say the shutdown could cut more than half a percentage point from annual growth in the fourth quarter. The shutdown cost the economy an estimated US$24 billion, according to Beth Ann Bovino, an economist at Standard & Poor’s.
ECB cuts interest rates
The European Central Bank (ECB) cut its key interest rates in an unexpected move on Thursday amid concerns that slowing inflation in the eurozone could turn into a vicious cycle of falling prices. The bank took financial markets by surprise by cutting its central “refi” or refinancing rate, by a quarter of a percentage point to a new record low of 0.25 percent. The move comes after new data showed eurozone inflation slowing to a four-year low of 0.7 percent last month.
Sony hires strategy officer
Sony Corp replaced its chief strategy officer a week after cutting forecasts and reporting a surprise loss that triggered a plunge in its share price. Kenichiro Yoshida will replace Tadashi Saito as chief strategy officer, according to a company statement. Saito was appointed by Sony president Kazuo Hirai in April last year to help lead a turnaround after the company lost US$8 billion on its television business over the past nine years.
Groupon mobile move a hit
Groupon Inc said more people are flocking to deals offered on mobile devices as the company transforms itself into a service offering thousands of discounts instead of a daily deal. The company, which said on Wednesday that it agreed to buy Ticket Monster Inc in South Korea for US$260 million in cash and stock, reported that sales rose 4.7 percent to US$595.1 million in the third quarter and a net loss of US$2.58 million. Groupon forecast fourth-quarter revenue of between US$690 million and US$740 million and operating income of between US$40 million and US$60 million.