Morning business round-up: Spain and Italy downgraded

  • Published

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

Italy and Spain are among a number of eurozone nations to have had their credit ratings lowered by ratings agency Moody's.

The agency also downgraded Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.

Moody's also put France, Britain and Austria on "negative outlook", which implies there is a 30% chance of a downgrade in the next 18 months.

It said weak growth in Europe was hampering efforts to deliver economic reform and austerity measures.

News of the downgrade comes as China promised to help resolve the eurozone's debt crisis, after talks with EU leaders in Beijing.

Premier Wen Jiabao offered co-operation to help stabilise debt-ridden EU nations, but made no specific promise to invest in a European bailout fund.

EU leaders have been seeking Chinese money to help bolster a planned fund of about 500bn euros ($665bn; £420bn).

US regulators have approved Google's $12.5bn (£7.9bn) bid for phone maker Motorola Mobility, hours after it won clearance from European authorities.

The European Commission ruled the deal would not raise competition issues in the market for operating systems for devices like mobile phones or tablets.

Regulators in the US agreed, although both authorities vowed to monitor the company and rivals' use of patents.

Approval from China, Taiwan and Israel is needed before the deal is completed.

The chairman of South Korean electronics giant Samsung is being sued by his brother over a multi-million dollar inheritance of company shares.

Lee Kun-Hee, 70, is being sued by Lee Maeng-Hee, 80, for 700bn Korean won ($623m; £396m).

The dispute centres on eight million shares in Samsung Life Insurance, and 20 shares in Samsung Electronics inherited from their father.

Lee Kun-Hee is accused of keeping the shares for himself.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has made a surprise move to boost growth as the country's economy continues to struggle.

The central bank has announced it is to expand its asset purchase programme by 10tn yen ($130bn; £83bn).

The move comes just a day after data showed that Japan's economy shrank by more-than-expected 2.3% in the last three months of 2011.

The BOJ also left rates unchanged at between zero and 0.1%.

Media caption,

Biz Heads

The report for January showed that wholesale prices rose at an annual rate of 6.55%, down from 7.47% in December.

Falling food prices have helped to ease the overall inflation rate and economists say the central bank now has greater scope to lower the cost of borrowing.

India's inflation rate remains higher than other leading emerging economies.

In the UK, inflation fell sharply in January as the impact of last year's VAT rise was no longer shown in the figures.

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation in the UK fell to 3.6% in January, down from 4.2% in December, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation - including mortgage interest payments - fell to 3.9% from 4.8%.

VAT went up from 17.5% to 20% in January 2011, pushing up the annual inflation rates that year as a result.

The latest edition of Business Daily examines whether Africa still hold opportunities for investors. The chief economist of the African Development Bank Dr. Mthuli Ncube tells Andrew Walker how Africa is warily watching the eurozone crisis.

Around the BBC