Morning Business Round-up: Oil price retreats


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

The price of oil has fallen back sharply amid optimism that producers will be able to offset any drop in supply caused by political unrest in Libya. Brent crude dropped to below $113 a barrel having peaked at almost $120 on Thursday, while US light crude fell back below $100. Stock markets took some comfort from the drop, with leading European exchanges climbing modestly in early trading. Asian markets also rallied.

Japanese consumer price figures have shown that the pace of deflation slowed in January. But analysts warned against reading too much into the figures - high commodity prices caused the slowdown, they said, adding that falling prices were still a major problem facing the Japanese economy.

Growth figures in the UK have been revised down, with the economy contracting by 0.6% in the final three months of last year, compared with a first estimate of 0.5%, which itself was worse than analysts had expected.

Chinese telecoms company Huawei has said it would welcome a formal investigation by US authorities after a takeover bid for computer company 3Leaf systems was halted on security concerns.

Media caption,
The firm reported a sharp fall in its profit for 2010

South Korea's stock exchange has fined Deutsche Bank 1bn won ($887,000) - the highest ever fine it has handed down - after it found that the bank's staff forced down the value of the stock index in order to profit illegally.

The London Stock Exchange suspended trading after a technical malfunction. Trading on the Borsa Italiana - which is owned by the LSE - was halted for three and a half hours on Tuesday, also because of a computer error.

Lloyds Banking Group, which is 41%-owned by the UK government, has returned to profit for the first time since the financial crisis. It saw a pre-tax profit of £2.21bn, compared with a £6.3bn loss in 2009.

Late on Thursday, US aircraft manufacturer Boeing finally won an almost decade-long battle with European rival Airbus for a $35bn (£21.6bn) US Air Force contract. Boeing will now supply the US with 179 aerial refuelling tankers. Airbus said it was "disappointed and perplexed" by the decision.