China to sign US deals
China is likely to sign import deals valued at up to US$12 billion with the US next month in a bid to reduce its yawning trade surplus, state media said yesterday. The deals will be inked during a high-profile bilateral strategic economic dialogue in the US in May, the China Daily reported, without giving any sources. A proposed procurement delegation will cover a wide range of US products, from soybean and cotton manufacturing machinery to electronic goods, in its visit to Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, it said.
Sony to cut European jobs
Sony Corp's game division said yesterday that it may cut up to 160 jobs in Europe to streamline its operations as the PlayStation 3 battles fierce competition from rival video game consoles. Sony Computer Entertainment decided to revamp its European operations in response to a shift in video game entertainment towards more interactive gaming and increasingly sophisticated content, said company spokeswoman Nanako Kato. "We decided to streamline the company and also streamline some of the positions ... to reshuffle the company a little more to have more competitiveness," she added.
Japanese fight EU fines
Japanese electronics makers Hitachi and Toshiba said yesterday they are fighting EU regulators who have fined them for allegedly running a cartel to fix prices for heavy equipment used by power utilities. Hitachi Ltd said it has appealed the 51.8 million euro (US$71 million) fine levied by the EU in January for its participation with other multinationals in the alleged cartel for gas-insulated switchgear, equipment that is used at power plants. Toshiba Corp said separately that it will bring an action to the European court seeking annulment of the decision and a 90.9 million euro fine, saying that it has carried out its own investigation and found no wrongdoing.
`Big Blue's' profits up
First-quarter earnings at IBM Corp rose 8 percent and matched Wall Street expectations on Tuesday, as a boost from software acquisitions helped overcome moderate overall growth. In the first three months of this year, traditionally IBM's slowest quarter, the Armonk, New York-based company earned US$1.84 billion, or US$1.21 per share. In the comparable period last year IBM showed profits of US$1.71 billion, or US$1.08 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting US$1.21 a share for the first quarter. IBM's revenue rose 7 percent to US$22.0 billion, slightly ahead of the analyst forecast of US$21.9 billion.
■ Pet Food
Recall expanded further
An industrial chemical that led to a recall of more than 100 brands of cat and dog foods in the US has been found to contaminate a second pet food ingredient, expanding the recall further. The chemical, melamine, is believed to have contaminated rice protein concentrate used to make a variety of Natural Balance Pet Foods products, the FDA said yesterday. Previously, the chemical was found to contaminate another ingredient, wheat gluten. Natural Balance said it was recalling all its Venison and Brown Rice canned and bagged dog foods, its Venison and Brown Rice dog treats and its Venison and Green Pea dry cat food.