Morning business round-up: Japan downgrades economy

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

The Japanese economy suffered another downgrade as a result of last month's earthquake and tsunami.

This time, the Japanese government cut its outlook, saying key areas of the economy would suffer. Earlier in the week, the International Monetary Fund also cut its forecast for Japanese growth.

The effects of the devastation in Japan are continuing to be felt around the world. Carmaker Toyota is to suspend production at five plants in Europe because of limited component supplies from Japan.

The announcement comes a day after the company announced similar shutdowns in North America.

Meanwhile, the first new MG car for 16 years will roll off the production line in Longbridge in the UK later. MG Rover went into administration in April 2005 and MG is now owned by China's largest carmaker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.

Media caption,

Biz Heads

In South Korea, the central bank raised its inflation forecast for the current year, citing volatile food and oil prices.

High commodity prices have been benefiting Rio Tinto, but the Anglo-Australian miner has said that extreme weather in Australia hit its production in the first quarter of 2011.

In India, former telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja has appeared in court in connection with a corruption scandal, which has damaged the government's reputation. If convicted, he faces seven years in prison.

Brazil's President Dilma Rouseff has begun her visit to China looking to strengthen trade ties with Beijing.

So far during her visit, Chinese airlines have placed orders worth $1.4bn (£861m) with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, and the president also said that Foxconn, which makes most of Apple's products, is planning to invest as much as $12bn in Brazil.

In the UK, official figures have showed that unemployment fell to 2.48 million in the three months to February, the first drop since last autumn.

However, a report from corporate recovery experts Begbies Traynor suggested an increasing number of UK firms were showing signs of financial distress.

But one company that is in fine health is online fashion retailer Asos. It reported a big rise in sales both at home and abroad and said that overseas sales had overtaken those in the UK for the first time.

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