A 2.6 pct rate of expansion in the quarter and 2.4 pct growth for 2014 hardly represent a boom. But it’s still a stronger story than most developed economies. With pay rising, confidence strong and inflation, interest rates and gasoline prices low, the upside remains promising.
The U.S. mega-retailer known for paying workers above the minimum wage is similarly treating its owners with greater deference than rivals do. Rather than buying back stock, Costco is paying a $2.2 bln special dividend. It’s a fresh sign of how all stakeholders can be rewarded.
A surprise interest rate cut suggests the central bank is more concerned about the economy than the value of the currency. Worries about the banking sector’s solvency could explain the move. The downside: Russia could end up with both high inflation and a deep recession.
One remedy to capital flight would be to give so-called emergency liquidity assistance to Greek banks. But heavy use of ELA could mean big losses if Greece left the euro. The alternative is to copy Cypriot capital controls. That, though, would be politically toxic in Greece.
The government is selling a 10 percent stake in the lumbering monopoly to meet its deficit target. A pledge to ramp up domestic production makes it easier to lure buyers. Still, investor enthusiasm for Coal India shares will set the tone for a big pipeline of chunky deals.
Prosecutors’ aggressive view of the law has already irked appeals judges, and the Supreme Court may be next. A case on the definition of an illegal tip could give Justice Scalia his long-sought chance to rein in Wall Street watchdogs. Their loss would be a win for clearer rules.
Alibaba’s boss, like the U.S. group’s Jeff Bezos, has built online retail dominance. But there are downsides. Unpredictable earnings are Exhibit A. The Chinese group also has fickle regulators. It may not be the last time investors suffer nearly $40 bln of losses in two days.
Qatar’s $4 bln swoop on Wharf-owner Songbird didn’t take long. Once big shareholders folded, the defence against the lacklustre offer collapsed. Yet the target’s support team could pocket up to $45 mln. M&A due process certainly doesn’t come cheap.
Taking a 10 pct stake worth $1.7 bln makes Qatar Airways the biggest investor in British Airways’ parent company. The immediate strategic benefit is limited: the groups already cooperate and IAG gets no new capital. But a deep-pocketed, long-term backer can be helpful.
The search giant reported mediocre Q4 results due to high outlays. The online shopping firm did better but also shelled out hefty sums. Neither can count any longer on economies of scale to boost margins sky-high. They need to make pricey investments just to stay in the game.
The $77 bln oil driller is more exposed than larger rivals to lower crude prices after ditching its refinery arm three years ago. That translates into a Q4 loss of $39 mln and big cuts in planned 2015 spending. Dividends will stay high for now, but growth may suffer as a result.
Mario Draghi’s asset-purchase plans are warping bond markets. The most obvious and benign consequence is a drop in yields. But there are also insidious effects. Investors shun anything the ECB won’t buy. And market liquidity will become patchier as the programme progresses.
The carmaker’s pre-tax margin slipped to just 4.3 pct in 2014 – and that excludes one-off hits. Revenue declined, too. Such dips are typical, though, when launching new models. Dealing with currency headwinds and autonomous vehicles will present a more enduring challenge.