Morning business round-up: Spain back under the spotlight


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

The eurozone crisis was back in the spotlight with news that Spanish unemployment has hit a record, according to official figures.

The number of unemployed people reached 5,639,500 at the end of March, with the unemployment rate hitting 24.4%, the national statistics agency said.

The figures came hours after rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Spanish sovereign debt.

Official figures due out on Monday are expected to confirm that Spain has fallen back into recession.

There was more bad news for the region as a whole after a survey reported that the eurozone had seen retail sales slide.

Retail sales in the three largest eurozone economies - Germany, France and Italy - have fallen to their second lowest level on record, a survey says.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the three countries, compiled by research firm Markit, fell to 41.3 in April, down from 49.1 in March and the weakest reading since November 2008.

Another survey from the ECB found small businesses being refused bank loans.

The European Central Bank said banks were increasingly turning down lending requests from small and medium-sized companies in the eurozone.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

South Korea's Samsung Electronics overtook Nokia, according to the research firm Strategy Analytics.

Nokia took the top spot in 1998 from Motorola, but in the first quarter of 2012 Samsung shipped 93m phones compared to almost 83m by Nokia.

Samsung also reported its highest quarterly profit since 2008.

Still in the electronics sector, competition from the likes of Samsung helped push Taiwan's Sharp to a record annual loss.

Sharp lost $4.7bn because of falling sales and prices of LCD televisions.

The company also took a charge of $1.5bn to pay for a reorganisation of its business.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) increased its stimulus programme for the second time in just over two months in a bid to boost the country's economic growth.

The central bank said it would expand its purchase of Japanese government bonds by 10tn yen ($123bn; £76bn).

In the latest Business Daily podcast, a former head of Germany's Bundesbank tells us why Greece should never have been allowed into the euro, how French - and German - rule breaking should not have gone unpunished and why the bankers should take more responsibility for the crisis.

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