Iron ore prices deadlocked
Australian producers and Chinese buyers missed a deadline to set benchmark iron ore prices yesterday, jeopardizing a 42-year-old system and risking new friction between the key trading partners. Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which spearheaded the negotiations, refused to comment on whether talks would continue after the overnight deadline expired but said its customers were free to buy at spot prices. Talks had deadlocked on Chinese demands for deeper cuts than the 33 percent to 44 percent negotiated with Japan and South Korea on the benchmark.
Manufacturing output rises
Chinese manufacturing expanded last month, adding to signs the world’s third-largest economy is rebounding from the collapse in global trade, but few new jobs were created, two surveys released yesterday showed. Brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said China’s purchasing managers index rose to 51.8 from May’s 51.2 on a 100-point scale where numbers above 50 show activity expanding. The state-sanctioned China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its own PMI edged up slightly to 53.2 from May’s 53.1.
Carrefour to cut costs
French retail giant Carrefour unveiled a new plan on Tuesday to cut costs by 4.5 billion euros (US$6.3 billion) by 2012 following a plunge in profits last year. Carrefour CEO Lars Oloffson announced the new measures, saying they would help boost growth and improve margins. The plan will concern mainly Belgium, France, Italy and Spain, Oloffson said, adding that he would aim not to cut jobs. Carrefour saw net profits plunge 44.7 percent last year as a result of food price spikes last year and the start of the economic crisis.
M&S reports sales drop
UK retailer Marks & Spencer reported a smaller-than-expected drop in first-quarter underlying sales as executive chairman Stuart Rose insisted he was “not concerned” by a growing row over his succession. The 125-year-old group, which sells clothes, housewares and food from more than 600 stores in the UK and about 285 abroad, said it remained cautious, although there were positive signs on consumer sentiment. “Consumer confidence appears to be stabilizing. However, we remain cautious about the outlook for the remainder of this and next year,” Rose said.
Fitch lowers Toyota ratings
Fitch Ratings yesterday downgraded its credit rating on Toyota Motor Corp for the second time in seven months, saying it had been slower than its rivals to respond to the industry crisis. Fitch lowered its long-term debt rating on Toyota by two notches, from “AA” to “A-plus.” “It may take several years for Toyota to approach previous levels of profitability, unless it takes swift actions to reduce costs and restructure its production facilities and product portfolio,” Fitch analyst Jeong Min Pak said.
ANA raises Boeing order
Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) said yesterday that it had increased its order for US aviation giant Boeing’s troubled 787 Dreamliner to 55 aircraft, up from 50 previously. ANA was the launch customer for the next-generation 787 Dreamliner, which has been beset by a series of delays. Boeing last month delayed the first flight and delivery of its 787 Dreamliner for the fifth time.