Morning business round-up: Eurozone downturn eases

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

The Markit eurozone service purchasing managers' index (PMI) was 48.8 in December, a three-month high. Any score under 50 represents a contraction.

It follows a better-than-expected manufacturing survey of 46.9, up from 46.4 in November.

However, Markit said the survey results still indicated the eurozone risked falling into recession again.

Shares in Italian bank Unicredit have fallen sharply after it announced the details of a 7.5bn euro ($9.8bn; £6.3bn) rights issue.

The stock was briefly suspended after the bank announced that the new shares would be offered at a 69% discount to Tuesday's closing price.

The bank faces a 7.97bn euro capital shortfall in order to meet new rules set by the European Banking Authority.

In a statement, the bank said it had secured interest for just 24% of shares on offer so far, worse than expected.

Sinopec will get a one-third stake in five new shale projects, with the firms expecting to drill 125 wells this year.

China has been buying energy sources to feed its fast-growing economy, and wants to improve its ability to extract domestic shale deposits.

Samsung Electronics has won government approval for its plans to set up a memory-chip factory in China.

Giving it the go-ahead, Korea's Ministry of Knowledge and Economy said it would provide regular security consultancy to prevent any technology leaks.

Samsung, the world's biggest memory chipmaker, has been seeking to tap into the fast growing Chinese market.

The new plant will make chips used in smartphones, tablets and MP3 players.

Singapore's highly-paid ministers face massive pay cuts, following a recommendation by a government-appointed committee.

Media caption,

Biz Heads

The prime minister's salary is to be slashed by 36% and the president's by 51%.

Even with the pay cut, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will still be one of the highest-paid political leaders in the world with S$2.2m ($1.7m, £1.08m) a year.

In the UK, High Street retailers have begun to release information on how they traded over the crucial Christmas period.

Fashion retailer Next has said its autumn and pre-Christmas sales met targets after buoyant online trading made up for a poor showing at its stores.

Meanwhile John Lewis says it saw an at its department stores during the Christmas period.

Like-for-like sales in the five weeks to 31 December - which strip out the effect of changes in retail space - were up 6.2% from a year ago.

In the latest edition of Business Daily, as the Republican presidential nomination gets underway, Doug Holtz-Eakin, former chief economic policy adviser to US Senator John McCain and economist Troy Davig at Barclays Capital discuss the main issues facing the US in 2012.

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