Business

LONDON - Britain's competition regulator will examine supermarket groups' so-called unit pricing, or how much a particular product costs by weight or volume, to ensure shoppers can easily compare like for like, it said on Tuesday. Grocery prices are in the spotlight as Britons grapple with an escalating cost-of-living crisis. Grocery price inflation hit a record 16.7% in January, according to market researcher Kantar. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had kicked off a programme of work into unit pricing practices both instore and online after concerns were raised by stakeholders. “We know that the increased cost of living has hit the pound in people’s pockets," George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA said. “That’s why we’re pressing on with this important grocery unit pricing work to ensure shoppers can more easily compare prices and make choices that are right for them.”...
STOCKHOLM - Swedish mining gear maker Epiroc said on Tuesday it expected demand would remain at a high level in the near term while reporting fourth-quarter operating profits in line with forecasts. Operating profit for the October-December period rose to 3.24 billion Swedish crowns ($309.63 million) from 2.59 billion crowns a year ago, matching the 3.25 billion crowns expected by analysts polled by Refinitiv. Order intake at Epiroc rose 18% to 13.71 billion crowns in the quarter compared to the year-ago period. The outcome compared with an estimate of 13.43 billion crowns from investment bank Pareto Securities. (Reporting by Marie Mannes, additional reporting by Marta Frackowiak, editing by Terje Solsvik)...
BERLIN - The European Union does not want to wage a subsidy war against the United States over its Inflation Reduction Act, EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said in Berlin on Tuesday. The EU Commission plans to present a package to promote European industry on Wednesday in response to the U.S. government's 370-billion-dollar subsidy package to promote climate-friendly technologies. The EU said in December it would adapt its state aid rules to prevent an exodus of investment triggered by the Inflation Reduction Act, fearing it might lure away EU businesses and disadvantage European companies. "This is a challenge for our competitiveness on top on already existing challenges," Gentiloni said. A draft of the Commission's plan to support industries facing U.S. and Chinese competition, seen by on Monday, said it would produce a simpler regulatory framework for manufacturers of technologies deemed key to meeting the EU's climat...
MOSCOW - The Russian General Prosecutor's Office is asking a court to recover 15.5 billion roubles ($220 million) in allegedly unpaid taxes from U.S. oil major ExxonMobil, local news agencies TASS and Interfax reported on Tuesday citing court documents. The Sakhalin regional court website lists a claim against Exxon Neftegaz Ltd, ExxonMobil's Russian subsidiary, by the General Prosecutor's Office, without giving further details. Exxon did not immediately reply to a request for comment outside of U.S. working hours. The Russian prosecutor's office and local court did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Exxon last year issued force majeure and abandoned an offshore oil project on the Russian Pacific island of Sakhalin due to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow after it sent troops into Ukraine on what it called a "special military operation". Moscow retaliated by blocking foreign investors' assets, in some cases...
HELSINKI - Workers in several technology industry companies will go on strike in Finland from Wednesday to Friday this week after no solution was found to a wage dispute, Technology industry employers said in a statement on Tuesday. "This day did not bring a solution to the labour dispute between Industrial union and Technology industry employers," the Finnish national conciliator's office said in a tweet. The strike will hit 20 companies, including ABB, Sandvik and Outokumpu, that employ 11,000 workers, the employers' organisation said. Strikes could follow at several other industries if no solution is found to disputes over wage demands. (Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)...
LONDON - More companies suffered insolvency last year in England and Wales than any time since 2009, according to government figures released on Tuesday. Total insolvencies rose by 57% from their 2021 level to reach 22,109 in 2022. "The increase compared to 2021 was driven by the highest annual number of Creditors' Voluntary Liquidations (CVLs) since the start of the series in 1960," the government's Insolvency Service agency said. (Reporting by David Milliken, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)...
* Q4 GDP -0.1% q/q vs forecast of -0.2% * Domestic demand contracted in Q4, net exports grew * Full year 2022 GDP rose prelim 3.9% By Gavin Jones ROME, Jan 31 - Italy's economy shrank by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of last year from the previous three months, preliminary data showed on Tuesday, a slightly smaller contraction than expected but still raising fears of recession. On a year-on-year basis, fourth quarter gross domestic product in the euro zone's third largest economy was up 1.7%, national statistics bureau ISTAT said. A survey of 23 analysts had forecast a 0.2% quarterly decline and a 1.6% rise compared with the year earlier. Over the whole of last year, GDP growth, adjusted for the number of working days, came in at 3.9%. Looking ahead, the outlook has been clouded by sky-high inflation and energy costs, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which have sapped busin...
MILAN - EuroGroup Laminations, which makes electric motor and generator components, said on Tuesday it was aiming for a market capitalisation of up to 983 million euros ($1.06 billion) in an initial public offering (IPO) in Milan. The planned IPO will follow on from German web hosting firm IONOS, whose offer for its debut in Frankfurt started on Monday in a sign that the public listings market is thawing after a tough 2022. EuroGroup Laminations said its offer is expected to be between 416 million and 448 million euros, including the placement of 250 million euros of new shares. The rest of the shares will be sold by the five families who control the group through holding company EMS and by French private equity group Tikehau. EuroGroup said it would use the proceeds from the capital increase to expand its production capacity (including new production sites), develop new technologies, strengthen its capital structure as well...
FRANKFURT - The euro zone eked out growth in the final three months of 2022, avoiding a recession even as sky-high energy costs, waning confidence and rising interest rates took a toll on the currency bloc's economy, data from Eurostat showed on Tuesday. Gross domestic product in the euro zone expanded by 0.1% in the fourth quarter, outperforming expectations in a poll for a 0.1% drop. Compared to a year earlier, growth was 1.9%, above expectations of 1.8%. Among the bloc's biggest countries, Germany and Italy recorded negative growth rates for the quarter but France and Spain expanded, Eurostat added, based on a flash estimate that is subject to revisions. Russia's nearly year-old war in Ukraine has proved costly for the euro zone, which now spans 350 million people in 20 countries, given some members' heavy reliance on cheap energy. Surging oil and gas prices have depleted savings and held back investment while forcing t...
- European shares dropped on Tuesday, dented by healthcare stocks, with investors refraining from placing aggressive bets anticipating another round of interest rate hikes by major central banks this week. The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.2% at 0816 GMT, but on track to end January on a positive note, buoyed by hopes of better-than-feared corporate earnings and economic resilience. Rheinmetall AG, which dropped 5% following the launch of a convertible bond offering, was the biggest drag among industrials, while Novo Nordisk AS and AstraZeneca PLc pulled down the healthcare sector. UniCredit jumped 8.1% to the top of STOXX 600 after the Italian lender pledged to return 5.25 billion euros ($5.69 billion) to investors based on its 2022 results, after posting its best profit in more than a decade. Shares of UBS Group AG fell 2.6% after the world's largest wealth manager predicted an "uncertain" year ahead. Th...
LISBON - Portugal's economic growth decelerated to 0.2% in the fourth quarter from 0.4% in the previous three months, still producing the strongest full-year expansion in 35 years before a projected steep slowdown this year, official data showed on Tuesday. The National Statistics Institute (INE) said in its flash estimate that gross domestic product also rose 3.1% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier after 4.9% growth in the third quarter, with private consumption and investment dropping amid high inflation. Full-year economic growth reached 6.7% after 5.5% in 2021 and was largely in line with the government's latest forecast. The government expects growth to slow down to a mere 1.3% this year due to the impact of high inflation and rising interest rates. (Reporting by Andrei Khalip and Joao Vicente in Gdansk, editing by Sergio Goncalves)...
PARIS - French inflation rose in January on higher energy prices after the government phased out some measures that had reined in increases, according to preliminary figures released on Tuesday. Consumer prices rose 0.4% from December, pushing the 12-month inflation rate to 7.0% from 6.7% the previous month, European Union-harmonised data showed. The inflation rate, which was in line with economists' expectations, jumped on higher energy prices after the government phased out a subsidy for car fuel at the end of the year. Meanwhile, regulated gas prices set by the government rose 15% at the start of the year, adding to further pressure on energy prices. Regulated power prices are also set to rise 15% in February. Most economists expect inflation to resume a downward trend once those increases in energy prices subside. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has consistently said that he expects inflation in France to recede from the...
LONDON - British lenders approved far fewer mortgages than expected in December, according to Bank of England data on Tuesday. There were 35,612 mortgages approved last month, compared with 46,186 in November. A poll of economists had pointed to approvals of around 45,000 in December. Excluding the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the smallest number of approvals since the financial crisis. (Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by David Milliken)...
MOSCOW - Russian retailer O'Key Group said on Tuesday it expects its chain of discount stores will soon account for half of its overall revenues as shoppers increasingly seek cheaper goods amid economic contraction and high inflation. Inflation surged in Russia last year and real wages fell as the economy suffered from the fallout of what the Kremlin calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine and heavy Western sanctions. Under that economic pressure, Russians have been switching to discount stores, with leading retailers X5 Group and Magnit expecting to open hundreds more of their own low-cost shops in 2023. O'Key, whose YES! discount stores currently account for a 26.6% share of group revenues, also noted the trend's growing importance. "The company expects YES! discounters to remain one of the major revenue and profit drivers in the medium term, with their share in the group's revenue to reach 50%," O'Key said, w...
- A.G. Barr said on Tuesday it expects its full-year revenue and profit to beat market expectations, helped by price hikes and steady demand for its cocktail mixes and beverages. The company raised prices last year to deal with surging costs and launched new products as it benefited from greater at-home consumption of food and drinks that held even after the pandemic and despite pubs and restaurants reopening. The maker of the orange fizzy drink Irn Bru forecast revenue of 315 million pounds ($389 million) for the year ended Jan. 28 and said it expects full-year profit to be slightly ahead of market expectations. Analysts expect the group to report an annual revenue of 302 million pounds and a pretax profit of 42.6 million pounds, according to company-compiled estimates. ($1 = 0.8100 pounds) (Reporting by Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)...
BERLIN - Germany's unemployment rate remained stable in January, Labour Office figures showed on Tuesday. The Federal Labour Office said the number of people out of work fell by 15,000 in seasonally adjusted terms. Analysts polled by had expected that figure to rise by 5,000. The number of unemployed people in Germany fell to 2.5 million at the beginning of the year in seasonally adjusted terms. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate stayed unchanged from the previous month at 5.5%. "The labour market remained stable at the beginning of the year," said Andrea Nahles, chairperson of the Federal Labour Office. However, she added that the effects of geopolitical and economic uncertainties are still evident. The number of unemployed people in Germany rose to 2.6 million in January, in not seasonally adjusted terms. There were 162,000 unemployed people more in January than in December and 154,000 more than a year...
STOCKHOLM - Sweden's banks are highly exposed to the commercial real estate sector which makes up the main risk to financial stability, central bank Governor Erik Thedeen told parliament's Finance Committee during regular testimony. "Vulnerabilities primarily include banks' and bond holders' exposure to highly indebted commercial property companies, although high household indebtedness also makes the system vulnerable," Thedeen said. Property companies account for around 44% of banks' commercial lending, figures from the Riksbank showed. Heavily indebted real estate developers have been hit by higher interest rates, a refinancing squeeze and changes in property use as a result of the pandemic and a trend toward working from home. The Financial Supervisory Authority reckons banks could see credit losses of up to 45 billion Swedish crowns ($4.32 billion)in a sharp downturn. Spreads have already widened and some...
FRANKFURT - Euro zone banks have tightened access to credit for companies by the most since the 2011 debt crisis and expect to continue doing so as they turn more pessimistic on the economy amid rising funding costs, a European Central Bank survey showed on Tuesday. But demand for loans from enterprises and household also fell, with the drop in demand for mortgages the biggest on record on the back of higher interest rates and lower confidence, the ECB's quarterly Bank Lending Survey showed. The results of the BLS may play into the hands of ECB policymakers making the case for smaller rate hikes in the coming months at a policy meeting on Thursday. A net 26 percent of banks polled by the ECB said they made their standards for approving loans to companies stricter in the last quarter of last year, the biggest tightening since 2011. Credit standards were also tightened for consumer credit and mortgages - a trend that banks ex...
FRANKFURT - StoreDot, an Israeli start-up developing fast-charging batteries, said on Tuesday it has partnered with UK start-up Circulor, which uses blockchain technology to map supply chains for companies pursuing greener, more sustainable production. StoreDot has begun using Circulor's technology to track the origin and carbon emissions of the raw materials in its battery cells. Other firms using it include Volvo Cars, Polestar, BHP and TotalEnergies. StoreDot, whose investors include the truck division of then Daimler, now Mercedes-Benz, BP, Polestar and Samsung, aims to make cells capable of delivering 100 miles (161 km) of range on a 5-minute charge by 2024. The company has also joined the 'Battery Pass' project, a German-funded consortium working to develop a common classification and standards for gathering and disclosing data on batteries. Circulor is also a partner. Legislative pressure is rising on el...
LONDON - Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket group, said on Tuesday it will reduce the number of lead and team manager roles in its large stores, impacting around 1,750 workers. It said localised changes across the UK business will impact a further 350 jobs. (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton)...