Top Business Stories
Argentina's recent Cabinet shuffle has smoothed trade friction between South America's two largest economies and clears the way for a united proposal for free trade with the European Union, Brazilian Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel said on Thursday. Cash-strapped Argentina, one of the most protectionist members of the Group of 20 countries, has been restricting Brazilian imports since last year even though both are members of the Mercosur customs union. Argentina has agreed to let in Brazilian goods that were stopped at the border, mainly cars and shoes, Pimentel said after meeting with Argentina's new Cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, and Economy Minister Axel Kicillof.
President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government issued a decree on Thursday regulating the prices of used and new cars in the latest move to control the highest inflation rate in the Americas. Maduro, 51, who won a vote to succeed late president Hugo Chavez after his death from cancer earlier this year, has been using special decree powers to pass measures as part of what he calls an "economic offensive" against capitalist speculators.
The U.S. economy grew faster than initially estimated in the third quarter but weak demand and a pile-up in business inventories buoyed the case for the Federal Reserve to keep up its bond-buying stimulus for now. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate instead of the 2.8 percent pace reported a month ago, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Businesses accumulated $116.5 billion worth of inventories during the quarter, the most since the first quarter of 1998. Against this backdrop, economists said the Fed would likely remain cautious about trimming its asset purchases, even though recent signs on the labor market, including data on Thursday that showed a big drop in new claims for jobless benefits, suggest the economy is strengthening.
FRANKFURT/DETROIT (Reuters) - In a strategic about-face, General Motors (GM) will drop the Chevrolet brand in Europe by the end of 2015 after it failed to build significant market share, and the company will focus instead on its Opel and Vauxhall lines to try to return to profitability there. GM shares were up 1.1 percent at $39.13 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading. Reintroduced in Europe in 2005, Chevrolets were to compete at the budget end of the market with the likes of South Korea's Hyundai , Volkswagen's (VOW3.DE) Skoda and Renault's (RNO.PA) Dacia while turning GM's mainstream nameplate into a global brand. But the Chevy brand, by far GM's biggest in its home U.S. market, failed to make much headway in Europe as its largely South Korean-made cars struggled against rivals, some of which are customized for European markets.
Airbus and Boeing look set for a photo finish in their annual order race this year, but Airbus was well in front of its rival in the first 11 months as negotiators work out the small print of big U.S. deals clinched at the Dubai Airshow. Europe's Airbus (EAD.PA) increased the number of orders by more than 100 to 1,373 since the beginning of January, compared with 1,212 for U.S.-based Boeing (BA), data by both companies showed on Thursday. After cancellations, Airbus logged 1,314 net orders. Boeing remained ahead on deliveries, which drive revenue and are the most widely used benchmark for ranking the top two jetmakers.
The British government said it plans to close tax loopholes used by hedge fund managers as it seeks to show it is forcing the rich to share the burden of tough austerity measures. As part of the government's Autumn Statement, minister of finance George Osborne confirmed he would impose rules flagged in May to clamp down on the abuse of partnership structures. A Treasury spokeswoman said some hedge funds were structured as partnerships which included corporate partners, and that this allowed the companies owners, usually the hedge fund managers themselves, to avoid or defer some income tax. Some tax advisers said the move could encourage hedge funds to relocate to low tax rivals like Switzerland and Luxembourg, although with European Union pressure building on them to stop helping companies and individuals shield income from tax, others said London was unlikely to see such an exodus.
Fast-food workers in hundreds of cities across the United States kicked off a day of strikes and rallies on Thursday to demand a higher minimum wage. The largest job actions were expected in New York and Washington, organizers said. Workers want the federal minimum wage raised to $15 from $7.25, saying the current rate is not enough to live on. Critics counter that doubling the minimum wage would cost jobs, forcing employers to cut back on the number of workers.
Finance minister George Osborne celebrated a sharp turnaround in Britain's economy as vindication of his austerity push on Thursday, but said he would not relax his grip on public spending in the years ahead. Obsorne used a big jump in forecasts for growth in 2013 and 2014 to taunt the opposition Labour party ahead of a general election in 17 months' time. But a sudden pickup in growth has made Britain one of the fastest-growing advanced economies - the euro zone is set to grow at less than half the rate of Britain next year, according to European Central Bank projections released on Thursday.
By Sakari Suoninen and Eva Taylor FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank is ready to take fresh policy action to support the euro zone economy but has not yet worked out a detailed plan of which policy tool to use when, the bank's president said on Thursday. After its final policy meeting of 2013, Mario Draghi also said the ECB will only offer banks a fresh batch of long-term loans if it is confident they will lend on the funds, putting a question mark over the tool markets expect the ECB to use next. The ECB left its key interest rate at 0.25 percent, choosing not to follow through on November's surprise cut. "We are monitoring developments closely and are ready to consider all available instruments." In the run-up to Thursday's meeting, several policymakers flagged the ECB's readiness to ease policy further, if needed, with unconventional instruments, such as asset purchases - known as quantitative easing (QE) - or a negative deposit rate.
A Lamborghi dealership in Costa Mesa, California, says it just sold a Tesla S for bitcoins and will accept the virtual currency for any future car purchase.“Bitcoin, a fully encrypted and fully digital currency, has been used by a recent client of ours to pay for a Tesla Model S Performance we had in our inventory,” the dealership posted on its web site.
Lululemon Athletica Inc (LULU) said it is implausible to believe it intended to sell hundreds of thousands of nearly sheer yoga pants and hope consumers wouldn't notice, and that a securities fraud lawsuit claiming it did just that should be thrown out. In a Wednesday night filing in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Lululemon and Chief Executive Christine Day said the company "disclosed in real time" its efforts to recall and fix women's black yoga pants containing luon fabric, after learning that the pants suffered from sheerness when wearers bent over. Shareholders accused Lululemon of hiding the defects, using deep discounting to boost market share, and concealing plans to replace Day. Lululemon also said it did not hope the defect "would remain undiscovered" if consumers wore the pants as intended.
Paolo Scaroni of Italy's Eni (ENI.MI) met with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on Thursday, the first western oil CEO to meet publicly with the minister since last month's interim nuclear deal. The meeting, in the minister's Vienna hotel suite following Wednesday's OPEC meeting, came after Zanganeh named Eni as one of seven Western companies he wanted to invest in Iran's energy sector if international sanctions are lifted. The talks also covered debts Eni is owed by Iran for previous investment and future terms for foreign companies to help revive Iran's oil and gas industry, Scaroni told reporters after the meeting.
Gross domestic product grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate instead of the 2.8 percent pace reported earlier, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. The contribution from inventories had previously been estimated at 0.8 percentage point. A gauge of domestic demand rose at just a 1.8 percent rate. The strong inventory accumulation in the face of a slowdown in domestic demand means businesses will need to draw down on stocks, which will weigh on GDP growth this quarter.