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Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Nestle sales rise 3.4%

Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food and drink company, said yesterday that sales for the first nine months of the year rose 3.4 percent to 81.4 billion Swiss francs (US$70.1 billion), with growth both in its food and beverage business and in pharmaceuticals. Sales growth was particularly strong in Asia, Oceania and Africa, but gains were also recorded in the Americas and Europe, a company statement said. Chief executive Paul Bulcke said the performance reflected “strong growth momentum in both the developing and the developed world.” Nestle said in view of the third quarter, it was hiking its organic growth to about 8 percent for the full year, up from the at least 7.4 percent it forecast in August.


Interest rate cut by 1%

The Reserve Bank cut its benchmark interest rate by an unprecedented 1 percent to 6.5 percent yesterday, its third cut in 13 weeks after making no reductions for five years. The central bank had cut its official cash rate to 8 percent on July 24 after keeping it at 8.25 percent — one of the highest in the developed world — for 12 months and reduced it again to 7.5 percent on Sept. 11. The 1 percent cut had been widely anticipated by analysts despite this week’s revelation that the inflation rate had hit an 18-year high of 5.1 percent — well over the bank’s maximum target of 3 percent.


Japan’s surplus drops 94%

Japan’s trade surplus plunged 94 percent last month from a year earlier, official figures showed yesterday, adding to fears that the export-dependent economy is in a recession. The steep fall came as exports to the ailing US economy declined for a 13th straight month. Exports to the rest of Asia — which until recently had been holding up relatively well — showed only tepid growth. Last month’s surplus of ¥95.1 billion (US$973 million) followed a deficit of ¥324.0 billion in August, which was the first in 26 years excluding January, when exports are usually slow due to the New Year holiday.


Goldman Sachs plans layoffs

Goldman Sachs Group Inc is preparing to cut about 10 percent of its 32,500 employees, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. The cuts are expected throughout the company, the paper said. The downsizing wave is likely to get worse on Wall Street in the next several months. Barclays PLC plans to cut at least 3,000 jobs from its payroll in the US, which includes former Lehman operations, the paper said. Of the 61,000 employees at Merrill Lynch & Co, thousands are likely to lose their jobs as part of the firm’s takeover by Bank of America Corp, it said.


Merck’s Q3 profits plunge

US pharmaceutical giant Merck announced on Wednesday it would cut its worldwide workforce by 7,200 jobs by 2011 as third-quarter net profit plunged 28 percent. Third-quarter net profit fell to US$1.09 billion from US$1.52 billion a year ago, while sales fell 2 percent from the third quarter of last year to US$5.9 billion, the company said in a statement. Earnings per share were US$0.80, beating analysts’ consensus forecast by US$0.01. But taking into account restructuring costs of US$612 million, earnings per share fell to US$0.51.The company said it would slash 12 percent of its workforce by eliminating 6,800 active employees and 400 vacancies by the end of 2011.

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