UK strikes at lowest level since 2005
Britain lost only 248,800 working days through strikes last year, the lowest since 2005, as public sector protests against the coalition’s austerity measures faded.The figure published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday is down from 1.39m in 2011, when the total was boosted by public sector stoppages, including a large one-day strike against pension changes.Strikes have continued to run at low levels so far this year, despite a rolling programme of stoppages in parts of the civil service by the Public and Commercial Services union.
Batista stands down at MPX
Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista’s struggling empire of oil, mining and energy companies began to unravel on Thursday as he resigned as chairman from MPX Energia after Germany’s Eon announced it would take control of the power generation arm.
Pakistan agrees to $5.3bn IMF loan
Pakistan is poised to receive a $5.3bn loan from the International Monetary Fund as it tries to stem a fall in its foreign currency reserves. Islamabad will try to raise the amount to $7.3bn. The agreement is likely to focus on reform of the electricity transmission sector and taxes.
Germany emerges yuan rival to City
Frankfurt is preparing to launch a challenge to London in the race to become a base for offshore trading in the Chinese yuan, with the suggestion that the European Central Bank (ECB) may soon step in with a giant currency swap. Frankfurt Main Finance says that the ECB is preparing a currency swap with the People’s Bank of China worth 800 billion yuan (£87bn). Such a swap would dwarf the three-year 200 billion yuan agreement signed between China and the Bank of England last month by the outgoing governor, Sir Mervyn King.
The Daily Telegraph
Firm buys Argentinian wilderness
The 330 square miles of high altitude grassland and mountain peaks are valuable to Italian clothing company Loro Piana because they are home to 6,000 vicuna, whose fleeces provide the wool that the company uses to produce its coats, sweaters, coats and scarves.
Australian bank chief joke hits dollar
Glenn Stevens, the governor of the Reserve Bank, said on Wednesday that the bank’s board “deliberated for a very long time” before leaving the cash rate steady at its meeting on Tuesday, causing the dollar to drop to $0.90.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Madoff’s brother pleads the fifth
A London trial brought by the liquidators of Bernard Madoff's UK business to reclaim money from his family members and associates, on Wednesday heard testimony from Peter Madoff, his younger brother. Madoff invoked his Fifth Amendment rights on no less than 50 occasions.
IMF warns Italy on policy slippage
Italy’s economy faces : “risks tilted to the downside” due to potential backsliding on the policy front on both the domestic and the European level, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday.