Business

Morning business round-up: Italy's borrowing costs drop

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

Italy's cost of borrowing fell at the government's latest bond auction, though some analysts were disappointed by the level of demand.

The interest rate on the government's benchmark three-year bond fell to 4.83% from 5.62% at the last auction at the end of December.

Italy raised its target of 4.75bn euros (£3.96bn), though at a similar bond sale in Spain on Thursday, the Spanish government raised 10bn euros - twice its original target.

Apple has said it will halt the sale of all iPhones in China, after large crowds disrupted the launch of the iPhone 4S.

An Apple store in the Sanlitun area of Beijing failed to open after a large crowd, gathered outside in anticipation of the launch, became unruly.

China's official foreign currency reserves fell 0.6% in the last three months of 2011, marking their first quarterly decline since 1998.

Analysts say the fall in reserves may be a sign of speculators moving their money out of the Chinese currency because they expect it to fall against the US dollar.

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have been fined by South Korea's antitrust regulator for conspiring to fix the prices of some appliances.

The Fair Trade Commission said the companies face a penalty of 44.6bn won ($39m; £25.2m).

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Swiss drugmaker Novartis has announced plans to cut 1,960 jobs in the US.

The company said the move reflected the impending loss of its patent on blood pressure drug Diovan and expected lower sales of its hypertension drugs.

Most of the jobs will go from its sales force.

In the UK, Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, has said he will not take an annual bonus for 2011.

He has just returned from a two month absence due to fatigue and acknowledged that had had an "impact" on the bank.

He also said his bonus should reflect the performance of the group, and "the tough financial circumstances that many people are facing".

Shares in engineering firm Invensys have plunged 22% after it warned that its 2011 operating profit would be "significantly below" that of the previous year.

The firm blamed delays and additional work needed on the safety systems of eight nuclear reactors it is installing in China, which will lower profits by £40m.

The latest edition of Business Daily looks at why Hungary's financial problems are causing so much concern around Europe.

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