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Morning business round-up: China's inflation rate rises

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

China's inflation rate hit a 10-month high in February, as Lunar New Year festivities drove up food prices.

Consumer prices rose 3.2% from a year earlier, with food prices up by 6%.

Inflation has been a hot political issue in China. There have been concerns that if consumer prices rise too much, it may prompt Beijing to tighten monetary policies, which in turn may hurt China's growth.

However, analysts said the latest data was unlikely to prompt any such moves. They argued that the price growth was driven mainly by the Lunar New Year celebrations, which are traditionally associated with an increase in consumer spending.

German imports rebounded strongly in January, suggesting that domestic demand in the country may be set to recover after an autumn downturn.

Imports rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.3% from the month before, helping to shrink Germany's trade surplus.

Exports also rose, by 1.4%, driven by robust demand in the US and China.

Germany's economy shrank 0.6% in the last three months of 2012, thanks to recession in its main eurozone export markets and tepid domestic confidence.

China's e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group, has named Jonathan Lu Zhaoxi as its new chief executive.

Mr Lu will replace the group's founder Jack Ma, who announced in January that he was stepping down to make way for a younger crop of leaders at the firm.

The 43-year-old Mr Lu joined Alibaba in 2000 and has led the group's various key divisions, including the online payment service Alipay.

Mr Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and will remain the group's executive chairman.

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have inaugurated a controversial gas pipeline linking the two neighbours.

The US has warned that the project could incur sanctions connected with Iran's nuclear programme.

The long-delayed pipeline is seen in Pakistan as a way of alleviating the country's chronic energy shortages.

The work on the Iranian side is almost complete. Monday marks the start of construction in Pakistan.

The chairman of Sony, Sir Howard Stringer, is to retire from the Japanese technology giant in June.

The Welsh-born businessman became Sony's first foreign chief executive in 2005, a post he left last year.

He presided over a difficult period for Sony, as the firm restructured and cut costs but struggled to compete with brands such as Apple and Samsung.

The 71-year-old spent 15 years at Sony, following a 30-year career at US broadcaster CBS.

Finally, read an account of how after only eight months in business, online fashion company American Giant nearly became a victim of its own success.

For an in-depth examination of the business issues behind the headlines, listen to the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service. The latest edition considers whether firms should be hacking back against the hackers. With a global campaign of industrial espionage over the internet, should companies be retaliating and firing malware back?

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