RBS chairman resigns
Tom McKillop resigned yesterday as chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), leaving the struggling lender two months earlier than planned. McKillop said he was stepping down so that his successor, Philip Hampton, could complete his restructuring of the board. Hampton was deputy chairman of the bank. RBS has been hit hard by the global banking crisis and the British government now owns 70 percent of the bank’s shares.
Semiconductor sales drop
Global sales of semiconductors fell 2.8 percent last year compared with the previous year, the first year-on-year drop since 2001, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported on Monday. The association said the global economic downturn sent semiconductor sales falling to US$248.6 billion last year from US$255.6 billion in 2007. They declined by 22 percent in December to US$17.4 billion from December 2007 and by 16.6 percent from November 2008.
Prices this year likely low
Crude oil in New York will average US$35 a barrel this year as the global economy contracts, limiting demand for fuels, Morgan Stanley said. The recession, especially in emerging markets such as China and India, will cause oil demand to fall by 1.5 million barrels a day this year, said the report by analysts led by Hussein Allidina. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude, the basis for futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, will rise to average US$55 a barrel next year and US$85 a barrel in 2011, he said in the report.
German sales slip
German retail sales slipped by 0.2 percent in December, seasonally corrected data released yesterday by the national statistics office showed, as the biggest European economy remained gripped by recession. On a 12-month basis, retail sales lost 0.3 percent, the Destatis statistics service said. On Monday, the German GfK research institute said consumer spending should resist the effects of rising unemployment this year but warned that the global economic slump would affect consumption next year. “Experts generally anticipate that the crisis will not impact decisively on the labor market and consequently consumption until 2010,” it said.
IBM works on top machine
IBM Corp is working with the US Energy Department to build the world’s fastest supercomputer, a machine that would be about 15 times speedier than today’s most powerful systems. The computer, called Sequoia, will perform at a speed of 20 petaflops, the company said today in a statement. One petaflop equals 1,000 trillion calculations a second. IBM expects to deliver the computer in 2011. The Department of Energy will use Sequoia to simulate nuclear explosions at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The fastest supercomputer right now is IBM’s Roadrunner at 1.3 petaflops, the company said.
Google starts ocean feature
Google launched a new service on Monday to allow Internet users to explore the depths of the world’s oceans from the comfort of their homes. The “Ocean in Google Earth” feature will allow users to “dive beneath the water surface, explore 3D underwater terrain and browse ocean-related content contributed by marine scientists,” a Google statement said.