Morning business round-up: Currency fears haunt G20

  • 15 February 2013
  • From the section Business
Media captionBBC World News business headlines

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

The finance ministers of the G20 group of nations are meeting in Moscow amid concerns that major trading powers may be heading towards a currency war.

Japan's monetary stance has seen a big decline in the yen, while the euro has risen against a basket of currencies.

The value of a country's currency has a big impact on its trade and there are fears nations may try to influence markets to help boost their economies.

The G20 has previously asked nations to refrain from market intervention.

Commerzbank, Germany's second-largest bank, is slashing bonuses for 2012 as a result of "unsatisfactory net profit".

The lender says pay will be 17.2% lower than the previous year.

The chief executive, Martin Blessing, is foregoing his bonus claims - a decision which the company's chairman described as "honourable".

It follows a loss of 716m euros ($957m) for the fourth quarter, as well as an increase in the money set aside for bad loans.

Shares in French luxury goods firm PPR have risen more than 5% in Paris to their highest level in 12 years.

That follows a better-than-expected jump in earnings at the company, which owns brands such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.

Net income rose 6.3% to 1.4 bn euros while sales jumped 20% to 9.7bn euros, driven in part by sales of its Bottega Veneta handbags.

PPR boss Francois-Henri Pinault said the results were "excellent".

Mining group Anglo American has fallen to a pre-tax loss in 2012, hit by lower commodity prices and a writedown on a key iron ore project.

It made a pre-tax loss of $239m (£154m) compared with a $10.8bn profit in 2011.

Last month, Anglo said it would write off $4bn (£2.5bn) after a review of its Minas-Rio project in Brazil.

The company has also been affected by strikes in South Africa, particularly at its platinum mines, and took a $600m impairment charge on platinum projects.

On the London markets, the pound has fallen against the dollar after UK retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, confounding economists' expectations for a rise.

Volumes fell 0.6% from December 2012, hurt by heavy snowfall, the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Volumes also fell 0.6% from a year ago, the first annual fall in 17 months.

The ONS highlighted weak sales in the food sector, which dropped 2.6% year-on-year to the lowest level since April 2004. It also said small stores had fared worse than large stores.

In other UK economic news, the cost of renting a home in England and Wales fell in January for the third month in a row, but remained higher than a year earlier, a survey says.

The average rent in January stood at £732 a month, according to LSL Property Services.

This was 0.3% down on the previous month and the lowest level since July last year, but 2.8% higher than in January 2012, the survey found.

And the UK's biggest energy supplier, British Gas, plans to appoint Chris Weston as its new managing director.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, said it was proposing Mr Weston, the current head of Centrica's US retail gas business, to succeed Phil Bentley.

If approved by the board, it will be formally announced alongside Centrica's financial results on 27 February.

The latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service looks at mining giant Rio Tinto's new $6bn project in the Gobi desert, one of the most remote and hostile environments on earth - but also home to the world's greatest untapped reserve of copper, gold and silver.

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