Economic growth slows
The nation’s economic growth slowed to a worse- than-expected 5.3 percent in the three months to Dec. 31, down from 8.9 percent in the same period a year earlier, official data showed yesterday. Growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, hit by a deepening global downturn, was also lower than the 7.6 percent expansion recorded in the previous quarter and came in sharply below analysts’ forecasts of 6 percent growth.
Industrial output plummets
The nation’s industrial production plunged at a record pace last month, the government said yesterday, as collapsing overseas demand forced manufacturers to keep slashing output and jobs. Household spending and retail sales also fell. Production at manufacturers tumbled a stunning 10 percent from the previous month, the largest decline since Tokyo began measuring such data in 1953, and came after a 9.8 percent decline in December. Output fell most among makers of cars, electronics and general machinery, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
CNPC to buy Venerex
China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has agreed to buy Canada’s Verenex Energy Inc, including its Libyan oil assets, in a deal worth C$499 million (US$400 million), the Calgary-based company said. The Chinese company’s international arm, CNPC International Ltd, in an all cash deal, offered C$10 per share, a 28 percent premium on the company’s closing price on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Verenex said in a statement late on Thursday.
Opel workers protest
Thousands of Opel car workers took to the streets on Thursday as part of European-wide protests against cutbacks by General Motors (GM). Organizers said between 15,000 and 18,000 people took part in a rally at Opel’s main German plant at Ruesselsheim, near Frankfurt, carrying banners proclaiming “Yes we can” and “Fighting back makes the difference.” Peter Giesser, a member of Opel’s works council, said rallies were also expected at GM plants in Spain, Britain, Belgium and Poland.
HBOS posts US$15.4bn loss
Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), 43 percent state owned after a bailout, said yesterday its HBOS operations made a pre-tax loss of £10.8 billion (US$15.4 billion) last year. LBG said in a results statement it expected the group to make a loss this year and was in talks with the British government about ring-fencing toxic assets. The bank was formed from the merger this year of the former Lloyds TSB and the troubled HBOS, which was badly hit by the credit crunch. Profits for the former Lloyds TSB part of the group were slashed by 75 percent, from £3.29 billion in 2007 to £819 million last year.
Google to introduce ads
Google has introduced ads to the results of search queries on Google News in a move aimed at turning the news aggregation site into a money-making venture that may raise the hackles of newspapers and other media outlets. Josh Cohen, a business project manager at Google, announced the change in a post on the official Google News blog on Wednesday. Google News aggregates headlines from more than 4,500 English-language news sources around the world and provides links to articles on their Web sites.