Business

Morning business round-up: Commodities in focus

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

Remarks by Kuwait's oil minister that Opec is considering raising output have soothed oil markets.

US light, sweet crude was down $1.61 at $103.84 a barrel, while Brent crude was down 85 cents at $114.19 a barrel.

Elsewhere, news that Ivory Coast's disputed President Laurent Gbagbo had effectively nationalised the cocoa and coffee industries, forced the prices of the two commodities higher.

The Hong Kong air show has kicked off with the signing of a $1.54bn (£950m) deal between Air China and Boeing.

The chinese airline has placed an order for five Boeing 747-8 aircraft, as it seeks to expand international routes.

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Music streaming service Spotify, which began by offering just a free service, has said that it has now attracted 1 million paying subscribers .

That will be useful as it continues with the process of trying to raise $100m of funding, which analysts estimate values the company at $1bn.

Chinese sales have also been good for German carmaker Audi, which has reported a sharp rise in profits for 2010.

Strong growth in the sales of luxury cars in China and the US helped net profit for the year come in at 2.59bn euros ($3.61bn; £2.23bn), up by 50% on the 1.3bn euros the firm made in 2009.

In the UK, there has been some gloomy statements on the economy from a number of business organisations.

The British Chambers of Commerce has forecast that the UK economy will grow by less than expected in 2011 .

But it added that growth in 2012 would be better than it had predicted at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, retail sales in the UK fell 0.4% in February against a year ago, according to the British Retail Consortium, the weakest sales performance for 10 months.

The trail of Raj Rajaratnam will attract attention not only as it has been described by prosecutors as the biggest case yet of insider trading at a hedge fund.

But there is also speculation that some very big Wall Street names could be called as witnesses.

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