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Morning business round-up: Autonomy deal faces new probe

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

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Last Updated at 01:04 GMT

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The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating the sale of technology firm Autonomy to Hewlett Packard, according to a filing from HP.

It joins the US Department of Justice and the UK accounting regulator in questioning the firm.

HP bought the British firm in 2011 for $10bn (£6.7bn). Last year it claimed the firm had inflated its value, leading HP to write off $5bn.

Autonomy's former boss, Mike Lynch, has strenuously denied the allegations.

The pound has fallen against both the dollar and the euro after figures showed UK manufacturing output fell by 1.5% in January from the month before.

The drop came after a 0.9% rise in output in December, and has added to fears of a third recession in the UK since 2008.

The pound hit a new two-and-a-half-year low of $1.4832 against the US dollar. The euro also rose to a two-week high versus the pound of 87.77 pence.

"After a positive end to last year, January's figures show that the outlook remains difficult with uncertainty set for the medium-term," said Mike Rigby, head of manufacturing at Barclays.

"Manufacturing has long been seen as a precursor for the UK economy, and therefore it's no surprise that current activity mirrors the challenging economic environment."

On the stock markets, the main European indexes saw little change, holding steady near four-and-a-half-year highs.

In Asia, Japan says it has successfully extracted natural gas from frozen methane hydrate off its central coast, in a world first.

Methane hydrates, or clathrates, are a type of frozen "cage" of molecules of methane and water.

The gas field is about 50km away from Japan's main island, in the Nankai Trough.

Researchers say it could provide an alternative energy source for Japan, which imports all its energy needs.

The Chinese government should acknowledge and investigate cyber-theft from China, a top US official has said.

National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon said cyber security was a "growing challenge" to the US economic relationship with Beijing.

The pointed remarks appeared to reflect growing US concern over cyber-crimes said to originate in China.

On Saturday, China's foreign minister criticised claims that China was behind hacking attacks on US companies.

The sky is no longer the limit for the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service as it takes to the cosmos. The astronomical rocks in space might command astronomical price tags, if only we could figure how to get them down to earth without causing a big bang in the process. Companies are racing to find answers, in what some are calling a new space race.

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