Retail giant Woolworths has lifted its third quarter sales by 3.8 per cent, but says uncertainty caused by the carbon tax and interest rates makes it cautious about the coming months. Woolworths reported total sales of USD 14.07 billion in the 13 weeks to April 1, up from USD 13.56 billion in the previous corresponding period. “This has been achieved in a continuing tight consumer market,’’ Chief Executive Grant O’Brien said in a statement.
Building materials producer Boral has cut its full-year profit guidance by USD 22 million due to the impact of heavy rain and weak housing activity on its operations. Boral had forecast net profit before significant items in a range of USD 150 million to USD 175 million for the year to June 30. But profit in the first quarter of calendar 2012 was USD 22 million below the company’s expectations, and its full year guidance had been cut by the same amount, Boral said on Friday.
Australia is facing a potential gas and energy shortage by 2015 when three massive LNG projects begin exporting from Curtis Island, near Gladstone. TruEnergy Managing Director Richard McIndoe said when the LNG projects come on stream it will be ‘like pulling a plug’ on gas reserves. There is a clear point of gas shortage and potential gas security and therefore electricity supply in 2015-16. “We need to anticipate that and government needs to work with industry to ensure we don’t have an energy shortage in 2015,” he said.
Bangladesh’s exports to the European Union (EU) in 2011 reached a new record with earnings of 8.5 billion euro. This has exceeded the previous record in 2010, when Bangladesh exports to the EU had been 5.5 billion euro, of which about 87 per cent consists of readymade garments. The huge increase in exports was possible owing to the relaxation of rules of origin for Bangladesh that entered into force from January 2011, an EU press statement said on Tuesday.
Pubali Bank Limited entered into Internet Banking Network aiming to provide better services to their clients. Chairman, Board of Directors of Pubali Bank Hafiz Ahmed Mazumder said that Pubali Bank is committed to providing the best and innovative banking services needs of the market in fastest possible time. As a part for providing better services and client’s increasing demand, Pubali Bank has entered this new arena of internet banking. He hoped through internet banking Pubali Bank can provide better customer service throughout the country.
The country’s apex trade body has urged the United States to sign the Free Trade Agreement with Bangladesh to further strengthen the bilateral trade relations between the two countries. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President AK Azad made the appeal at a FBCCI discussion meeting on Bangladesh-US trade relation, where US Ambassador Dan W Mozena was a guest speaker. The US envoy said he would refer the request to the US Congress, the authority to take decision on this matter.
China’s central bank has indicated that a further relaxation of monetary policy is on the horizon, such as more cuts in the reserve requirement ratio for commercial lenders to ensure adequate liquidity in the financial system. “We will continue to implement prudent monetary policies, and fine-tune the measures when necessary to guide credit growth in a stable and appropriate way,”
Xinhua News Agency cited an official from the People’s Bank of China as saying on Wednesday night. In the coming months, the central bank will adjust banking liquidity, and take ‘targeted’ action by considering foreign
exchange inflows, capital demand, and short-term special factors, it reported.
Nissan Motors has said it will start manufacturing two models of its luxury brand Infiniti in China in an attempt to tap into the fast-growing market. Last year it sold just under 20,000 units in the world’s biggest car market. China currently imposes import tariffs on luxury goods, which makes Infiniti cars more expensive for buyers. Analysts said the move would help bring the costs down and boost sales. “Imports tariffs are quite high in China. So if they want to be competitive and achieve high volumes, they need to localise,” Kurt Sanger of Deutsche Bank told the BBC.
Chinese firm Shanghai Pengxin has won the approval of the New Zealand government for the second time for its plans to buy 16 farms in the country. The deal worth 210 million New Zealand dollars has been a hot political topic. A court had asked the government to review its earlier decision to allow the deal after a local farming consortium offered to buy the land. Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman said the government had decided to grant an approval after receiving a recommendation from the Overseas Investment Office. “The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial,” Coleman said.
International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday she expects to win a big boost in funding to help the lender safeguard countries from the Euro Zone debt crisis now that Europe had taken significant steps on its own. Calling the Euro Zone the ‘epicentre of potential risk’ for a world economic recovery that is ‘timid and fragile’, Lagarde also urged European Union (EU) policymakers to directly inject some of their bailout funds into troubled EU banks. The IMF wants to secure at least USD 400 billion in new funding, which would double its firepower to deal with the Euro Zone debt crisis and any spill over to other countries.
Voters look set to turn their backs on conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s first round of an election that could give France its first left-wing president in 17 years just as fears resurface over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. A sickly economy and a deep dislike of Sarkozy’s flashy style have dominated the campaign. The centre-right president, an impulsive showman, and his bland socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, are neck-and-neck in opinion polls for the first round on about 27 to 28 per cent. But Hollande has a wide lead in voting intentions for a May 6 runoff between the top two candidates.Spain and France sold all the bonds they wanted at auction, though for Spain the cost was raising yields, indicating growing concerns the government will not be able to tame its deficit. After a brief respite fuelled by a trillion euros of cash, the European Central Bank (ECB) lent Europe’s banks in December and February, markets are becoming nervous again about Euro Zone debt loads, with fears that Spain might follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in needing a bailout from inter-national lenders. That has put pressure on bond yields in the region, notably for Spain and Italy. The Spanish treasury said it sold 2.5 billion euros of two bonds, taking its issuance to half its gross target for the year.
The Indian government’s chief economic adviser says India will not likely pursue any major economic reforms until after 2014 parliamentary elections. Kaushik Basu said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington DC that key reforms — including opening up its retail sector — would probably be put on hold as the government deals with resistance within its coalition, persistent corruption and infrastructure upgrades. India’s central bank warned this week that a delay in reforms would jeopardise growth and advised the government to cut subsidy spending, control its deficit, and address food supply problems that have caused double-digit prices rises.
ICICI Bank and Punjab National Bank reduced lending rates by lowering their benchmark rates by 25 basis points. The move comes a day after public sector IDBI Bank reduced its lending and deposit rates. The series of rate cuts come in the wake of a 25-basis-point reduction in key policy rates by the Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday. Bankers said that they have received communication from the government to review their lending rate following easing by the central bank.
The finance ministry on Thursday announced policy changes for the airline industry, allowing them to raise additional low-cost capital through external commercial borrowings (ECBs). Now, airline companies can borrow through the ECB route up to USD 300 million each with a maximum ceiling of up to USD one billion for the entire sector. In what could improve the flow of credit to the industry, the government has further relaxed the average maturity period for ECBs above USD 20 million from five to three years.
Shareholders of Olympus Corp approved a new board on Friday, hoping for a fresh start at the camera and medical device maker that hid USD 1.7 billion of investment losses in Japan’s biggest corporate scandal in decades. At a Tokyo hotel, local institutional investors and Olympus’ lenders and suppliers voted for a new management slate and approved five years’ worth of restated company accounts. The firm’s British ex-CEO, whose dismissal six months ago blew the lid off the accounting scandal, said he may seek to have the vote annulled as Olympus executives refused to explain why he had been sacked for ‘gross misconduct’.The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has gone a long way in granting the government’s wishes in the past months with its firm pledge to end deflation and by loosening policy at a time when the economy has started picking up. One step it has long refused to take is to buy government bonds with longer maturities under its two-year-old asset buying scheme, but it may now find itself forced to take that very step as soon as next week. The BoJ’s central argument has been that by buying longer-dated debt it could be seen as crossing a line between temporary stimulus in the form of buying bonds to pump more money into the economy, effectively monetising the country’s already bloated debt.
Malaysian companies are invited to participate in 33 infrastructure projects worth about 22.5 billion ringgit in the Philippines. The Philippines government through its National Economic and Development Authority recently announced a number of public-private sector infrastructure projects throughout the country. The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation has indicated that of immediate interest to Malaysian companies would be the Balabac Airport development project to develop a new airport on Balabac Island. It said the estimated project cost is 82 million ringgit. In addition to the project is the C-6 Expressway and Global Link (South Section) intended to decongest the existing C-5 and Metro Manila roads,.
The advisor of Esso Malaysia Bhd’s minority shareholders said that they should reject the takeover offer by Petron Corp’s unit as
it was ‘not fair’. “We opine that the offer is not fair to the holders and the holders who reject the offer will stand to benefit from the potential future growth of the company under the new management and ownership,” Kenanga Investment Bank said in a circular to shareholders.
To end the practice of banks using its asset management companies for transactions to dodge taxes worth billions, the government may jack up the tax rate of subsidiaries and bring it at par with the bank’s 35 per cent tax from 20 per cent. The Federal Board of
Revenue is considering a proposal to declare earnings from subsidiaries as ‘business income’ against the existing practice of it being treated as dividends from next fiscal year 2012/13, informed officials told The Express Tribune. The government charges 20 per cent tax on dividends from earnings of asset management companies while the
corporate tax rate is 35 per cent.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is planning to revise the new liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) policy for 2012 in a bid to bring prices of LPG under its control and also desires to waive sales tax on import following a sharp increase in prices earlier in winter, says a government official. Though the government does not control LPG prices, the ministry is upset over a sharp rise in prices in winter when they rose above 100,000 per tonne Pakistani rupees, making LPG the most expensive fuel for poor consumers. In the proposed plan, LPG supplies from new fields would be allocated to state-owned gas utilities — Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), the official said.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry resumed the hearing of ephedrine quota allotment case Friday, Geo News reported. During proceedings, the court dismissed Sheikh Rasheed’s petition to become a party in the case and advised him to consult the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). Ministry of Narcotics Control Secretary Zafar Abbas Luk, who is also an accused in the case, alleged that the ANF officials are mutinous and lying in the case. They do not follow rules and orders.
Russia’s demographics will not allow it to raise the retirement age, Deputy Healthcare and Social Development Minister Yury Voronin said at a round table discussion of the pension system reform today. “We do not have the demographics to lift the retirement age as the life expectancy in our country is conspicuously lower,” he said. A later retirement would not resolve the problem of Pension Fund deficit, the deputy minister emphasised. “Under the pension rights system, which has been in place since 2002, raising the retirement age would mean extending the period for the establishment of pension rights under the solidarity system.”
NATO and Russia are facing new diss-onances because the Western alliance’s upcoming Chicago summit is likely to be held without Moscow’s participation. Speaking at separate news conferences after a NATO-Russia council meeting in Brussels, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said both sides were committed to continuing coope-ration on various fields. But ongoing spat over missile defence, uncertainty over an offer from Moscow to open an airport in Ulyanovsk for NATO transports from Afghanistan and Vladimir Putin’s looming return to the Kremlin have cast a shadow over the relationship, which was formalised with creation of NATO-Russia Council a decade ago.
Five months after the disruption from severe floods that hit Thailand in October, automotive production is gaining strength, hitting a record monthly output of 190,936 units in March. “The production output is likely to hit a new record in the second half of this year once Honda’s production can return to normal. We’re confident that total auto production this year will reach 2.1 million units,” said Surapong Paisittanapong, spokesman of the Automotive Industry Club under the Federation of Thai Industries.
Thailand’s worst flooding in 50 years affected the automotive and electronics industry the most as the inundated provinces — Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani — are home to most of the manufacturing in these two industries.
The recent road show to China yielded triple success in attracting Chinese investment, business match-making, and embracing the bilateral collaboration, according to the Industry Minister. Following the road show, 16 leading companies in the infrastructure development, alternative energy, education and tourism sectors have discussed the business collaboration with Thailand. While five large companies in the automotive, machinery, food flavouring and real estate industries are soon to confirm their plans to make over 65 billion baht investment, leading Thai businesses have signed business partnership agreement with Chinese partners, which will potentially lead to almost 73 billion baht investment in total.
Dupont and Dow Chemical are among chemical firms working with global automakers who are bracing for a crunch in production, after a German chemical plant explosion cut a chunk of supply of a nylon resin used in brake and fuel systems. The risk of production cuts is greater for car markers in the US and France, and less in Japan and Germany, UBS said in a research note. “We see high risk of production stoppages in the
second quarter,” UBS analysts said in the research note issued on Thursday. But they also saw an ‘equally high probability’ that alternatives would be found within the same quarter.
Large US manufacturers are much more likely than their smaller peers to move production to the United States from China, according to a survey. Labour costs and the quality of goods are the top reasons for companies to consider so-called ‘re-shoring’, with some companies considering the US a de facto low-cost country because of its high unemployment, according to the survey by the Boston Consulting Group. It found that 37 per cent of all US-based manufacturing executives either plan to or are actively considering moving production from China. That rises to 48 per cent among companies with more than USD 10 billion in revenues, the poll found.