Morning business round-up: Euro private sector 'weak'

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

The eurozone's private sector contracted sharply in April and by more than initially thought, a survey has suggested.

The Markit eurozone composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 46.7 in April from March's 49.2. Any figure below 50 suggests contraction.

This is the sharpest fall since October last year, and one of the steepest contractions in almost three years.

"Marked declines in new business" and weak manufacturing exports were largely to blame for the falls, Markit said.

Meanwhile, Royal Bank of Scotland has confirmed it will repay next week the last of the £163bn in emergency loans it received from the US and UK governments.

The announcement came with its first quarter results. It reported a pre-tax loss of £1.4bn, compared with a loss of £116m in the same period last year.

Much of the loss came from changes in the valuation of RBS's debt. It made an operating profit of £1.2bn.

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Staying in the UK, the Premier League has issued an invitation to tender for the domestic UK broadcast rights for the 2013-14 to 2015-16 football seasons.

It says 154 matches will be shown live on TV each season from 2013-14 - 16 more than currently broadcast and more than 40% of all top-level matches

In company news, Qantas will delay the delivery of two A380 planes by almost four years as it announced fresh spending cuts in a bid to streamline its operations.

The airline said it would reduce its capital expenditure by a further 400m Australian dollars ($410m) this year.

Qantas had announced cuts of A$500m in February.

Its profits fell 83% in the the six months to December amid rising costs and a slowdown in international routes.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has lowered its growth forecast amid a slowdown in the country's non-mining sectors.

The central bank cut its growth forecast for 2012 to 3% from its earlier projection of 3.5%.

The move comes just days after the RBA cut rates to 3.75% in a surprise move to boost growth.

Finally, airline group Air France-KLM has reported a loss for the first three months of the year, following higher fuel costs and a drop in cargo traffic.

Its first-quarter net loss was 368m euros ($483m), almost the same as a year before, although revenue rose 6% to 5.6bn euros.

Higher workforce costs because of a 2011 pay rise also affected profits.

"As expected, the first quarter was difficult in spite of an improvement in activity in March," the firm said.

As Vladimir Putin prepares to resume the Russian presidency on Monday, the latest edition of Business Daily looks at whether his return will be good for the business community - both domestic companies and foreign investors.

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