Morning business round-up: US airline merger confirmed

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

American Airlines and US Airways have announced plans to merge, in a deal that will form one of the world's biggest airlines.

The move had been widely touted after the two boards were said to have met on Wednesday.

The merger will bring American Airlines closer in value to rival Delta Airlines, with an estimated market valuation of $11bn (£7bn).

The eurozone recession deepened in the final three months of 2012, the latest set of official figures has shown.

The economy of the 17 nations in the euro shrank by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, which was worse than forecast.

It is the sharpest contraction since the beginning of 2009 and marks the first time the region has failed to grow in any quarter during a calendar year.

The GDP numbers sent the euro lower. It fell to a three-week low against the US dollar of $1.3320.

The country's economy shrank 0.1% compared with the previous three months, while most analysts had forecast growth of 0.1%.

Japan's growth has been hurt by a drop in exports to key markets as well as subdued domestic consumption.

The European Commission has tabled its controversial financial transaction tax (FTT), despite the fact that only 11 member states out of 27 support it.

The tax, proposed by Commissioner Algirdas Semeta in Brussels, has been adopted by 11 eurozone states, including France, Germany and Spain.

The FTT aims to raise public funds and encourage more responsible trading by financial institutions, but there are fears it will catch non-participating countries in its net.

India's inflation rate has dipped to a three-year low, which analysts say could give policymakers more room to take steps to revive the country's sluggish economy.

The Wholesale Price Index, India's main gauge of inflation, eased to 6.62% in January, down from 7.18% in December.

India's growth rate has dipped recently amid slowing exports, a decline in investment and subdued domestic demand.

India's central bank cut interest rates last month and a slowdown in inflation may see it ease its policies further.

Shale oil production could boost the world economy by up to $2.7tn (£1.7tn) by 2035, according to a report.

The extra supply could reach up to 12% of global oil production, or 14 million barrels a day, and push global oil prices down by up to 40%, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

Shale oil and gas have emerged as a viable way to boost energy supplies, but there are concerns over the process by which the gas is extracted, known as fracking.

In corporate news, Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has reported a big full-year loss after writing down the value of its coal and aluminium businesses.

The company made a $3bn (£1.93bn; 2.24bn euros) net loss for the year to 31 December 2012, compared with a $5.83bn profit the year before.

In January, Tom Albanese resigned as chief executive after the company had to take a $14.4bn hit on the value of poorly-performing acquisitions in 2012. He has been replaced by Sam Walsh.

Mr Walsh said the company would have "an unrelenting focus on pursuing greater value for shareholders" under his leadership, and would aim to make $5bn of cost cuts by 2014.

Underlying pre-tax profit rose 24% to £1.4bn ($2.18bn; 1.63bn euros), led by a strong performance in its civil aerospace division.

The world's second largest aero engine maker saw revenues grow 8% to £12.2bn.

The company also appointed a new chairman, Ian Davis, who will succeed Sir Simon Robertson following the annual general meeting on 2 May 2013.

The latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service considers the deadly diseases that may be spreading. Tuberculosis already kills millions, now new strains have emerged that are drug-resistant. Health officials want action, but are the drugs companies up to the task? The programme hears from both sides.

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