Business

Morning business round-up: German economy dips

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

The German economy is likely to have shrunk by 0.25% in the final quarter of 2011, an official from the Federal Statistics Office has said.

For the whole of 2011, the economy grew by 3%, official figures from the Statistics Office showed, driven by strong growth in the first half.

However, the annual growth rate was weaker than the post-unification record of 3.7% seen a year earlier.

The annual figure was based on an estimate for the fourth quarter, with the official data for the last three months due to be published in February.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spanish banking giant BBVA is switching its 110,000 staff to use Google's range of enterprise software.

The deal is the biggest that the search giant has signed with one company for its cloud-computing services, where software is offered as a service via the internet.

Banking - with its high security needs and strict regulations - was always considered to be one of the last industries to accept cloud-computing.

Japanese carmaker Toyota says it is seeking to increase exports from its North American factories in a bid to cushion the impact of a strong yen.

The Japanese currency has risen by almost 10% against the US dollar in the past nine months, making Toyota's cars more expensive to foreign buyers.

At the same time, a rising yen has also hurt profits at the world's biggest carmaker.

Toyota currently exports to 19 different countries from North America.

In commodities news, the price of orange juice on global markets has hit a record high after surging over the past few days.

Traders say the main reasons are safety concerns about juice from Brazil, the world's largest producer of orange juice, and cold weather in Florida.

The US Food and Drug Administration said carbendazim, a fungicide, has been found in shipments from Brazil.

Orange juice has risen by about 25% since the beginning of the year, to $2.12 a pound.

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British retailers have been cheered by their performance over the festive season, with supermarket group Sainsbury's, bakery chain Greggs and Superdry clothing stores all reporting a rise in sales over the period.

But in the broader UK economy, the country's trade deficit widened by more than expected in November as imports increased and exports fell, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.

The goods deficit was £8.6bn, up from October's revised £7.9bn, said the ONS.

And finally, there is an "unhealthy correlation" between the building of skyscrapers and subsequent financial crashes, according to Barclays Capital.

Examples include the Empire State building, built as the Great Depression was under way, and the current world's tallest, the Burj Khalifa, built just before Dubai almost went bust.

China is currently the biggest builder of skyscrapers, the bank said.

The latest edition of Business Daily asks: leaving the eurozone - what might it really mean? The programme looks at the fall-out in the case of fictional country Gritaly.

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