Tesla touts US sourcing
Tesla Motors Inc, the electric vehicle maker co-founded by Elon Musk, plans to source all the raw materials for its proposed US$5 billion US battery factory in North America. The Silicon Valley company would not look overseas for the graphite, cobalt and other materials needed for its so-called Gigafactory, Telsa spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said. The move comes amid heightened interest in curbing graphite pollution and a widespread corporate sensitivity about avoiding the use of industrial minerals from troubled parts of the world.
Cyprus ends cash controls
Cyprus scrapped all limits on daily cash withdrawals from banks on Friday in a significant loosening of capital controls that were imposed following the country’s painful financial rescue deal a year ago. The easing of restrictions comes with the steady bolstering of confidence and stability in the banking system, the finance ministry said. Before Friday’s decree, the daily withdrawal limits were 300 euros (US$413) for individuals and 500 euros for companies. The decree also increases the amount of money that a person can move within Cyprus to 50,000 euros from 20,000 euros. The amount for companies was doubled to 200,000 euros. It also lifts a ban on accessing money in existing fixed term deposits before their maturity date. To encourage people who had pulled their money out of banks in the rescue’s aftermath to deposit with banks again, the decree allows people to open new accounts in any bank.
Target’s debt rating cut
Target Corp, the second-largest US discount retailer, had its debt rating cut by Standard & Poor’s after a hacker attack and sluggish performance at its Canadian unit hit fourth-quarter profit. The rating was dropped one level from “A+” to “A,” the sixth-highest investment grade, S&P said on Friday in a statement. The ratings firm has a stable outlook on Target, which ranks second to Wal-Mart Stores Inc in the discount-retail industry. The retail chain suffered a data breach at the height of the holiday season last year, allowing hackers to steal card data and personal information from millions of shoppers. Even as chief executive officer Gregg Steinhafel worked to reassure customers, the attack took a toll on fourth-quarter results, contributing to a 46 percent drop in net income.
US consumer spending rises
US consumers stepped up spending a bit last month as incomes increased for a second straight month, offering hope the economy was regaining its footing after being slammed by an unusually cold winter. The data from the US Commerce Department on Friday took the sting out of a separate report that showed consumer sentiment dipped this month. Economists said they expected household morale to perk up with warmer weather in the spring. Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent last month after a downwardly revised gain of 0.2 percent in January. Separately, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index dipped to 80.0 in March from 81.6 in February. It was little changed from a preliminary reading earlier this month.