Business

Morning business round-up: Weak Chinese exports

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

China's exports grew less than forecast and imports fell in August, adding to fears about a sharp slowdown in its economy.

Exports rose by 2.7% from a year earlier as global demand continued to remain subdued.

Imports fell 2.6% from a year ago, indicating a decline in homegrown consumption.

China has been trying to boost domestic demand in a bid to rebalance its growth and offset slowing demand for exports.

Analysts said that the fall in imports indicated that domestic consumption was not growing fast enough.

There was also weak economic data from Japan, which revised down its growth numbers for the second quarter.

Raising concerns about a slowdown in the world's third-largest economy, the government said that economy grew at an annual rate of 0.7% during the April to June period. That is down from its earlier estimate of 1.4%.

Compared with the previous quarter, the economy grew by 0.2%, also lower than the previous figure of 0.3%.

Slowing exports and subdued domestic demand have hurt Japan's growth.

Meanwhile, in South Korea the government unveiled a fresh $5.2bn (£3.2bn) stimulus package, in a bid to boost domestic demand as a slowdown in exports continues to hurt its economy.

The package will include tax breaks on personal incomes and purchases of homes and cars.

South Korea's exports, which account for almost half its economic output, have been hurt by slowing demand from the US and eurozone.

Last week, Seoul said that its second quarter growth had missed estimates.

Strong retailer

In Europe the protracted merger negotiations between commodities giant Glencore and mining group Xstrata again made the headlines.

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Glencore officially confirmed the terms of its improved merger offer to mining group Xstrata, made on Friday.

Under the new terms, Xstrata boss Mick Davis would head the combined group for six months before making way for Glencore's Ivan Glasenberg.

Glencore has offered 3.05 of its shares for each Xstrata share, up from its original offer of 2.8 shares.

The commodities trader said it would not increase the offer further.

It maintains the offer represents a merger proposal, not a takeover bid.

In response, Xstrata said it would confirm whether or not it would be putting Glencore's offer to its shareholders by the morning of 24 September.

In other corporate news, UK fashion chain Primark saw a big rise in annual sales, helped by "particularly strong" trading in Britain over the summer, and a "buoyant" performance in Europe.

Owner Associated British Foods (ABF) said like-for-like sales at Primark, which excludes new store openings, rose by 3% in the year to 15 September.

Total sales increased by 15%, helped by 19 new branch launches.

ABF, which also owns Silver Spoon sugar, said its annual profits would be "substantially ahead" of a year ago.

It releases its full annual results on 6 November.

Also in the UK, plans to exempt thousands of businesses from health and safety inspections are to be announced by ministers.

Under new rules to be introduced in April 2013, checks will no longer be routinely carried out on premises considered to be low risk, like shops.

Ministers say the checks can place an unnecessary burden on some businesses but some trade unions say it risks the safety of employees and customers.

The government plans to scrap or change more than 3,000 regulations.

It says its drive to cut bureaucracy will save companies millions of pounds.

Meanwhile, the BBC's Business Daily radio show on the World Service looks at the connection between poverty and geography.

It also looks at how Uganda balances Chinese investment with access to Western markets on its path out of poverty. Plus - Lucy Kellaway on why Cosmo Girl was really the smartest management guru ever.

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