Morning business round-up: China buys Heathrow stake

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

China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country's sovereign wealth fund, has bought a 10% stake in the firm that owns London's Heathrow airport.

Heathrow Airport Holdings' other UK airports include Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

CIC was set up in 2007 to invest some of China's foreign exchange reserves.

In Japan, shares in Panasonic fell as much as 19% as investors worried about the firm's long-term future and its ability to turn around its business.

On Wednesday, the firm forecast a net loss of 765bn yen ($9.6bn; £5.9bn) for the financial year to 31 March 2013.

Fellow electronics giant Sharp has also issued a warning about its future saying that it has found it tough to raise money amid mounting losses.

It forecast a loss of 450bn yen (5.6bn; £3.5bn) for the year to 31 March 2013.

Manufacturing activity in China expanded for the first time in three months, a sign that the country could be recovering from its slowest pace of growth in three years.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 50.2 in October from 49.8 in September, government data showed. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.

China's economy has been suffering as demand for its exports dropped in key markets.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector in the UK shrank in October for the sixth month in a row as new orders fell and costs rose at a faster pace, a survey has indicated.

The Markit/Cips PMI fell to 47.5 last month from a revised 48.1 in September.

Media caption,

Biz Heads

Japan's biggest brokerage, Nomura Holdings, has been fined a record 200m yen ($2.5m; £1.5m) by the Tokyo Stock Exchange for insider trading.

Nomura has admitted that its staff leaked information about share sales to clients before it was made public.

British bank Barclays has also been threatened with fines of $470m (£291m) by US regulators to settle accusations it sought to manipulate the California energy markets from 2006-2008.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been investigating it, but Barclays denies the charges.

The fine is larger than the one it paid over the Libor rate-rigging scandal. The bank is also the subject of other regulatory inquiries.

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has reported profits of $6.12bn (£4.5bn) for the past three months, down from $7.2bn for the same quarter last year.

The Anglo-Dutch company blamed the fall on lower oil and gas prices.

Meanwhile in another sign of the tough times facing British retail, reports say electrical goods firm Comet is close to going into administration, putting about 6,000 jobs at risk.

The company, bought by private equity firm OpCapita last year for just £2, has struggled from the downturn in consumer spending.

In the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service, Lesley Curwen attends the Kilkenomics "festival of economics" in Kilkenny to find out if the Republic of Ireland really is recovering from its debt crisis.

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