China output disappoints
China’s industrial output rose 8.6 percent in the first two months of the year compared with a year ago, official data showed yesterday, the worst result in nearly five years. Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, gained 11.8 percent in the two months from the year before, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That figure was the lowest since an increase of 11.6 percent in February 2011. And fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 17.9 percent during the first two months, the bureau added.
Aussie jobless rate steady
Australia’s unemployment rate was steady at its decade-high level of 6 percent for the second straight month last month, despite a surprising rise in full-time positions, data showed yesterday. The Bureau of Statistics said while there was strong growth in full-time jobs — an unexpected development given the unwinding of the mining boom -- this was offset by a fall in the number of part-time positions.
Brazil says no power fears
Brazil on Wednesday dismissed fears that the lights might go off on the World Cup, with the soccer extravaganza just three months away. Much of Brazil’s electric grid is powered by hydroelectric plants, but rains have been lighter than usual this year and reservoirs at power plants are lower than normal. “Unless water levels were to fluctuate worse than we have seen, of which there is a low likelihood, there should not be difficulties with the power supply in 2014,” the mining and energy ministry committee said.
Trader fined US$825,000
A once high-flying Goldman Sachs trader dubbed “Fabulous Fab” was ordered on Wednesday to pay more than US$825,000 in one of the prominent cases stemming from the mortgage meltdown that helped spark the Great Recession. US District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in that Fabrice Tourre should pay a US$650,000 penalty and give up more than US$175,000 of his US$1.5 million-plus bonus for 2007. Tourre, now a doctoral student in macroeconomics at the University of Chicago, said he was weighing his next move in what his lawyers have depicted as a case of scapegoating.
Swiss banker admits fraud
A former Swiss banker has pleaded guilty to his role in a fraud scheme that prosecutors say helped US taxpayers hide as much as US$3 billion in assets from the US Internal Revenue Service. Swiss citizen Andreas Bachmann is one of eight former employees of Zurich-based Credit Suisse to be charged back in 2011. The 56-year-old is the first to be arrested and plead guilty. Court records show he was arrested on Tuesday and pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Google eyes Soho outlet
Google Inc has been prowling Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood in search of a location for its first standalone retail outlet, a local real estate broker said. The search-engine company is considering leasing at 131 Greene St, said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail group at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The property is around the corner from Apple Inc’s first New York store, on Prince Street. Google may be looking at other locations as well, Consolo said.