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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Sell in May? Find something new to say

Category : Business

Market timing is not a smart strategy. Stocks often slump in the spring and summer. But not always. Why miss the chance of a rally?

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VIDEO: Eco-tourism in Tunisia’s new era

Category : Business, World News

A slump in the number of visitors to Tunisia since the country’s revolution has forced those in the tourism industry to rethink their businesses.

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HTC profit slump confirms Samsung and Apple as smartphone leaders – The Guardian

Category : Stocks

The Guardian
HTC profit slump confirms Samsung and Apple as smartphone leaders
The Guardian
The divergent fortunes within the $200bn (£130bn) global smartphone market were laid bare this week when Taiwan's HTC reported a 98% slump in profits, confirming Samsung and Apple's seemingly unassailable lead over their rivals. In 2010, HTC was the
Smartphone innovation: Where we're going next (Smartphones Unlocked)CNET
Taiwan's HTC: not so brilliant, but management is resilientFinancial Times (blog)
New HTC smartphone already getting good

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PC business slumps for fourth quarter in a row

Category : Business

Analyst says Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch has ‘slowed the market’, as slide in shipments points to dramatic shift

The PC market has hit a wall – and now is sliding down it. Shipments shrank for the fourth successive quarter between January and March, dropping by at least 11% according to the research companies Gartner and IDC, which released figures late on Wednesday.

The fall is also the largest-ever contraction since IDC began to keep records in 1994, the company said. Gartner said it points to a dramatic shift in the computing market that will see the number of consumer PCs in use dwindle over time.

The drop will put extra pressure on Microsoft’s chief Steve Ballmer, whose new Windows 8 software released in October is blamed by IDC for the slump in sales: “the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market,” said Bob O’Donnell, IDC program vice-president, clients and displays.

Shipments were 79.2m by Gartner’s figures, down 11% year on year, and just 76.3m according to IDC, down 13.9%. The companies use slightly different measurement methods to count shipments. That compares with a high of about 96m in the third and fourth quarters of 2011 – since when sales have begun to slump.

At IDC, research director David Daoud said: “the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome. The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer.”

The death of the netbook at the end of 2012 has cut out a substantial chunk of low-end PC sales, said IDC, leaving a price gap that tablets and smartphones have absorbed.

HP and Dell, two of the world’s five biggest PC vendors, will also come under pressure as neither has a clear strategy in the tablet or smartphone market, to which consumers are shifting their business. Dell’s founder Michael Dell is seeking to take the business private in order to retool it to cope with precisely this challenge.

Microsoft has been struggling to adapt to the new computing landscape since Apple upended the low-end market with the release of its iPad tablet in April 2010. Windows 8, with its touch-friendly “tiles”, is intended to be well positioned for touchscreen devices – but consumers have apparently found the combination of that interface and the normal Windows 7-style “desktop” confusing.

Nor are people willing to buy more expensive touchscreen laptops or tablets with detachable keyboards in large numbers. “The PC industry is struggling to identify innovations that differentiate PCs from other products and inspire consumers to buy, and instead is meeting significant resistance to changes perceived as cumbersome or costly,” IDC said.

The figures from the two companies do not appear to include Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet, launched last year, though they will include its Intel-based Surface Pro, which runs a full version of Windows.

According to IDC, the PC market previously shrank in five successive quarters between the second quarter of 2001 and 2002 – but the falls then were never above 10%, and in four quarters were less than 5%.

In contrast, the latest dip has seen three quarters where the shrinkage is 8% or more year on year, and it seems to be accelerating.

The cause of the slump is that consumers – who historically make up roughly half of all PC purchases – are shifting their spending away to other devices such as tablets and smartphones, said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, who offered the warning that “even emerging markets, where PC penetration is low, are not expected to be a strong growth area for PC vendors”.

However, Apple, whose main buyers are consumers, appears to have grown faster than the Windows PC market, according to IDC, Gartner and US data from NPD. Although IDC reckoned that its US sales shrank by 7% due to competition from iPads, that would still be growth compared with the overall market there, which it said shrank by 12.7%. Gartner, by contrast, said Apple’s sales grew by 7% in a US market that shrank 9.6%. NPD, which monitors retail sales, says Apple’s sales grew by 14% year on year.

Businesses, meanwhile, seem to be buying at the same rate as before, and even expanding purchases, said Kitagawa: “the professional PC market, which accounts for about half of overall PC shipments, has seen growth, driven by continuing PC refreshes. Despite the fact that some regions already passed the peak of PC refresh, overall professional PC demand continued to grow.”

Sony shares slump after losses

Category : Business, World News

Shares in the Japanese electronics maker Sony slump 10% as investors respond to the firm’s latest results.

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Investors hoping Microsoft lives up to the hype

Category : Business

Microsoft is banking on strong sales of Windows 8 to offset a slump in PC sales, which have been hurt by Apple’s iPad.

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China economy shows pick up signs

Category : Business, World News

China’s economy, the world’s second largest, is showing signs of a rebound that could pull it out of its worst economic slump in 13 years.

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HTC posts 90% slump in profits

Category : Business, World News

Taiwanese mobile phone maker HTC reports a slump in profits as it continues to suffer at the hands of rivals Apple and Samsung.

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Austerity and politics: crisis, this crisis | Editorial

Category : Business

Three flashpoints in three parts of the world in just one day – and a convincing economic alternative remains elusive

Here is the news, in three parts. Tens of thousands of European workers take to the streets in a historic concerted action to protest soaring unemployment and unprecedented austerity. The Bank of England’s Mervyn King warns that Britain’s slump will be longer and more painful than he and the government had imagined. American newspapers burst with talk of a looming “fiscal cliff” of tax rises and spending cuts: if the squabbling politicians in Washington fall off that New Year’s eve ledge, runs the conventional view, they will bring the US and the world economy crashing down with them.

Three flashpoints in three distinct parts of the global economy in just one day. There was a time when even one of these would have been guaranteed front-page fodder, but four years into this slump – the worst the west has faced since the 1930s – we are well used to bad news coming in threes, fours or more. And it is easy to see common threads drawing together these separate crises. First, it is slowly dawning on policy-makers in each region just what a mess they are in. Mervyn King warns that, five years after the collapse of Northern Rock, Britain is still only halfway through its crisis – even while Angela Merkel talks of another half a decade of misery in the eurozone. Even in America, which on headline economic figures would appear to be best-off, the unemployment rate is stuck nearly two percentage points above where Barack Obama’s top advisers forecast it would be by now. But it is not just the scale of the slump, it’s also the sense among policy-makers of having run out of options.

In Wednesday’s inflation report press conference, Mr King hinted yet again at the shortcomings of the bank’s policy of pumping more money into the bank system. He and his colleagues have chucked £375bn at the economy as part of their quantitative easing (QE) programme – the efficacy of which can be crudely judged by the fact that Britain looks likely to enter a triple-dip recession. The governor’s opposite number in Washington, Ben Bernanke, has got round the ineffectiveness of the Federal Reserve’s QE programme by getting more and more experimental – and less and less convincing. In the Fed’s last major intervention, just a few weeks before the presidential elections, Mr Bernanke promised to keep on pumping $40bn each month into the mortgage-lending market, until the jobs market recovers. There is a link between unemployment and mortgage debt, but the Fed is definitely taking the long road to recovery. As for the eurozone, the strike action only confirms what the figures suggest: that austerity is hurting rather than working. And yet the only European solution is to keep doing more of the same, as summed up this week by chief economist at Standard Chartered bank, Gerard Lyons: “Cut. Economy shrinks. Firms don’t spend. People can’t. Debt dynamics worsen. So cut.”

Some caveats need to be made at this point. Taking after Tolstoy, each of these economic disaster zones is unhappy in its own way. Even with the eurozone, Spain’s bust was caused by a housing bubble, Greece’s by a profligate government. Second, Barack Obama is on a different path from Angela Merkel and David Cameron. The president has gone for a too-small stimulus, and has got a too-small recovery as a result. In Europe, the conventional solution has been to go for austerity, producing outright recession or depression. Neither of these destinations are pleasant, but one would rather be in Washington than Athens.

But still, the similarities are striking. In Greece and Italy, the installation of technocrat governments has brought on grumbling about a democratic-deficit; in Britain, the government makes no bones about outsourcing reflationary policy to Mr King and his technocrats. The gap between the rich and the rest has got ever wider. And in all cases, the outline of a convincing economic alternative – beyond either austerity or Keynes-lite – remains disastrously, dangerously elusive.

European car sales fall for 12th month

Category : Business

New car registrations in the EU down 10.8% on a year ago – with sales in Spain off 36.8% and Greece posting 48.5% slump

European car sales have fallen for the twelfth consecutive month and are heading for a double-digit decline this year, in the latest indication of the continent’s economic struggles.

New car registrations in the European Union fell 10.8% in September compared with the same month last year, providing a darkening consumer backdrop to another day of mounting speculation that Spain is close to seeking a formal bailout. The eurozone’s fourth largest economy was the second worst performer in figures published by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, posting a 36.8% slump in sales that was surpassed only by Greece, with a fall of 48.5%.

However, analysts said the main point of concern in the ACEA data was the confirmation of a slowdown in northern Europe, where the UK was the only bright spot with a sales increase of 8.2%. Elsewhere, even the continent’s strongholds are struggling with Germany posting a decline of 10.9%, followed by a slump of more than a quarter in the Netherlands and 18% in France. Total new registrations in the EU were just under 1.1m, compared with 1.23m in the same period last year.

Neil King, automotive analyst at Euromonitor International, said weak consumer sentiment caused by the eurozone crisis appeared to be filtering into Germany. “With Germany turning negative, that is having a knock-on impact on the few resilient areas such as northern Europe and the premium brands.”

Although mass-market brands bore the brunt of the declines, with Renault falling by more than 30% and Fiat tumbling by 15%, premium vehicles were also affected. According to the ACEA, Jaguar sales in the EU fell 10% year-on-year, Lexus declined by 13% and Mini fell by the same amount. Mercedes declined by 6.4% although other German premium brands fared better, with BMW rising by 10.5% and Audi managing growth of 1.4%.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the UK’s domestic industry was still far from its pre-boom heights and will not be immune from the eurozone’s troubles. Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said British consumers had benefited from a weak pound and European manufacturers targeting the more vibrant UK market with aggressive pricing. But that has had a negative impact on car retailers and manufacturers in the UK, he said. “It means that margins are very thin for vehicle manufacturers and their retail networks. It is not a situation that can continue that much longer,” said Everitt. “It’s a great time to be buying a car because there is a lot of good quality product being offered at exceptional values, but it makes it a tough environment to be working in.”

The SMMT expects UK car sales to rise by around 4% this year to just under 2m. However, the ACEA estimates that Europe could be heading for a decline in car sales of between 8% and 10% in 2012, with the upper end of that estimate representing the continent’s worst car sales performance in nearly two decades. In the year to date, EU car sales fell 7.6%.

The figures come as car manufacturers grapple with a capacity glut that has saddled the likes of Fiat, Vauxhall and Peugeot with underused plants. Western European plants made just under 16m cars and vans in 2007 but this year that total is expected to be 12.5m, according to forecasts by IHS Automotive. Mark Fulthorpe, analyst at IHS Automotive, said Tuesday’s numbers made it even more likely that there will be further factory closures. “All of the evidence points towards that being the most likely outcome of the situation that we have at the moment.”

Fulthorpe added that manufacturers are beginning to cut back production “because the opportunity of a better tomorrow in terms of western European demand is just not evident”.

GKN, the FTSE 100 company that makes driveshafts, also signalled a European slowdown on Tuesday when it warned of “more challenging European automotive and industrial markets”, forcing analysts to reduce profit forecasts. The company said: “Macroeconomic conditions have deteriorated in recent weeks and some softening in order books is now evident, particularly regarding European automotive and industrial markets.”

The continent-wide slowdown and car sales has triggered a wave of temporary factory closures. Last month the Vauxhall plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton stopped production for a week due to the “downturn in mainland Europe”.

Vauxhall’s move was replicated on the continent, with even bigger shutdowns in Italy where Fiat mothballed its Naples plant for a fortnight and Vauxhall’s sister company Opel close its Russelsheim site for a total of 20 days this year. Despite the hiatus at Vauxhall, the SMMT expects the UK to produce up to 1.5m cars this year, compared with 1.34m in 2011, due to strong production numbers from premium producers including Mini and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as the Japanese manufacturers with established UK operations, Nissan, Toyota and Honda.