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World Business Quick Take



Qantas to slash senior jobs

Australian airline Qantas is planning to slash 100 senior executive jobs in response to the slump in global air travel, a report said yesterday. The move would also allow recently appointed chief executive Alan Joyce to stamp his authority on the country’s largest airline, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing unnamed senior sources at Qantas. It said the job losses, to be announced in coming weeks, came on top of the 1,500 positions Qantas announced it would scrap last July. The airline refused to comment on the report. A number of key executives have already left the company, including the head of engineering David Cox and chief financial officer Peter Gregg.


Economy to contract 7%

Commerzbank AG said the German economy would contract as much as 7 percent this year, cutting its forecast after factory orders collapsed. “The recent collapse of order intake compels us to make a massive downward revision to our economic outlook,” Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said in a note to clients yesterday. “We now expect the German economy to contract this year not only by 3 percent to 4 percent, but by 6 percent to 7 percent. And we have sharply lowered our forecasts for the euro-zone and the US.”


Oil prices above US$52

Oil prices rose above US$52 a barrel yesterday in Asia, boosted by stronger Asian stock markets amid plans by the US government to buy bad assets from banks to contain the financial crisis. Benchmark crude for May delivery rose US$0.45 to US$52.52 a barrel by midday in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract edged up US$0.03 on Friday to settle at US$52.07, the first time crude ended the week above US$50 since last year. Dealers said the rally, which was given an extra boost by the US Federal Reserve’s decision to buy US$1.25 trillion of government bonds and mortgage-backed securities, continued yesterday as Asian equity markets rose in anticipation of more good news.


China favors US bonds

US Treasury bonds will remain central to China’s plans for investing its massive foreign exchange holdings, a deputy governor of the Chinese central bank said yesterday. “Investing in US Treasury bonds is an important element in China’s investment strategy and we will continue this practice,” Hu Xiaolian (胡曉煉) told reporters. China has been the top holder of US Treasury bonds since September, when it overtook Japan for the first time, US data showed. As of late January, it had accumulated a total of US$739.6 billion in US Treasury bonds.


Antique toys sold off

KB Toys Inc co-founder Donald Kaufman’s decision to go ahead with auctioning off his antique toys in a recession turned out to be a good one. The first 1,500 lots of his 7,000-piece collection sold for a little more than the US$4 million high estimate in a three-day sale from last Thursday until last Saturday at Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, New Jersey. “Everyone kept saying, ‘Boy, the recession isn’t going on in this room,’” auction-house owner Jeanne Bertoia, 54, said in a telephone interview. The auction set a record for the 20-year-old company on a single sale. Kaufman, 78, sold his stake in KB Toys in 1981. He decided to part with his antiques two years ago to divest his assets and invest the proceeds.

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