Top Business Stories
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's long-serving former prime minister, said on Monday he had resigned as an adviser to state-run oil company Petronas (PETR.UL), ending an almost decade-long tenure in the energy major that is Malaysia's only Fortune 500 company. The 88-year-old Mahathir told reporters he resigned, effective December 1, because doctors had advised him to "slow down". His departure, however, comes as relations with Prime Minister Najib Razak have grown strained in recent months, particularly over Najib's refusal to endorse Mahathir's son for an influential ruling party post. The Petronas board reports directly to the prime minister.
China Southern Airlines said it reported four middle-ranking executives to authorities after an internal audit uncovered irregularities as China steps up its anti-corruption campaign. A spokesman for China's biggest airline by fleet size declined to identify the executives, now under investigation by the police. The airline's comments came after China's official Xinhua news agency reported on November 30 that as many as 10 executives at China Southern were taken away by police last week as part of the anti-graft drive. China Southern's spokesman told Reuters on Monday only four company executives are currently under investigation.
China's factory growth stabilized in November aided by firm demand, a pair of surveys showed, a sign of resilience in the world's second-largest economy that augurs well for its plans for structural reforms. The upbeat results supported the Australian dollar -- a proxy for the Chinese growth engine -- in early Asian trade and heartened investors who worried that China's economic growth may slip in the fourth quarter. Qu Hongbin, an economist at HSBC, said the final HSBC PMI was revised up from its preliminary reading after firms reported more business, but said spots of weakness in the PMI poll should prevent China from tightening monetary policy. With the economy growing at a rate of over seven percent and house prices clinging stubbornly to record highs, China's leaders have signaled lately that policy may be tightened slightly to temper price pressures.
The 1.5 percent year-on-year rise in capital spending followed a flat reading in the prior quarter and marked the first gain in four quarters, Ministry of Finance data showed on Monday, but the result disappointed some economists who were expecting stronger gains. The reading suggests that Japan's gross domestic product growth for July-September is likely to be little changed, after preliminary data showed a 0.5 percent expansion from the previous quarter, or an annualized rate of 1.9 percent. "There is not likely to be much change to GDP data," said Shuji Tonouchi, a senior fixed income strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. "There are some worrying signs, as capital expenditure in the services sector is losing some momentum."
Japanese shares could get support from a weaker yen on Monday, while investors were generally cautious as they awaited a Chinese manufacturing survey later in the session as well as key U.S. data this week. Official data released over the weekend showed China's factory growth held at an 18-month high last month on firm domestic and foreign demand. "The dollar finished November at its highest level against the yen since May. It appears to have broken out of the six month consolidative pattern," Marc Chandler, global head of foreign exchange strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman said in a research note.
Heavy discounting took a toll on U.S. retail sales during the Thanksgiving weekend as shoppers spent almost 3 percent less than they did a year earlier, according to data released Sunday by an industry group. One bright spot this weekend, according to the data, was e-commerce as online sales soared.
HONG KONG/MADRID (Reuters) - Esprit Holdings' chief is doubling down on a bet to fix the struggling clothing retailer he took charge of a year ago by revamping its existing business model and recreating it in the image of his former employer-now-rival, Zara. Jose Manuel Martinez Gutierrez, 44, has stacked his management suite with veterans of Zara owner Inditex (ITX.MC), the world's biggest retailer whose model of rapidly changing fashion analysts say is among the best in the industry. The former McKinsey consultant and supply-chain whiz has laid the foundations for Esprit's recovery over the next 12-18 months with his nuts and bolts overhaul - he cut 10 percent of Esprit staff in the past year - but the real gauge of success will be in growing sales. "Our business figures are extremely far from our goals and expectations," he acknowledged in a letter to shareholders in Esprit's most recent annual report in October.