Euro zone inflation falls unexpectedly in January
Euro zone consumer prices dropped in January, bucking market expectations for a rise, mainly due to a sharp fall in energy costs and complicating the European Central Banks task of supporting the blocs fragile economy. Consumer prices in the 18 countries sharing the euro fell to 0.7% year-on-year in the first month of 2014, down from 0.8% in December, data from the EUs statistics office Eurostat showed on Friday. Inflation last touched the 0.7% level in October, which was the lowest inflation reading for the single currency in nearly four years. Economists polled by Reuters expected consumer price inflation to accelerate slightly to 0.9% in January, a level that is still well below the ECBs target of close to but below 2%.
Honda Q3 net profit more than doubles to $1.56 bn
Honda Motors October-December net profit more than doubled to 160.7 billion yen ($1.56 billion), back to pre-Lehman crisis levels but lower than expectations, helped by strong sales of the redesigned Fit sub-compact that went on sale in Japan in September. The results, announced by Japans third-biggest automaker by sales volume on Friday, were below the average estimate of 172 billion yen in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of seven analysts. In the same period a year ago, Honda booked 77.4 billion yen in net profit. For the year ending in March 2014, Honda stuck to its forecast of 580 billion yen in net profit, below expectations of 603.4 billion yen in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey of 20 analysts.
BT third-quarter earnings beat analyst estimates
BT Group, the biggest UK phone company, reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts estimates as more customers signed up for broadband internet packages, lured by free sport TV channels. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were little changed at
1.54 billion ($2.54 billion) in the three months ended December 31, the London-based company said in a statement. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had on average projected Ebitda of 1.5 billion.
BBVA posts loss on China bank stake charge
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Spains second-biggest bank, posted a smaller-than-expected 849-million-euro ($1.15 billion) fourth-quarter loss as gains in Mexico offset a charge for reducing its investment in China. BBVAs loss compared with a 20-million-euro profit a year earlier, the bank said in a filing to regulators on Friday. The loss was lower than the average 946-million-euro deficit predicted in a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts. BBVA said in October it triggered a 2.3-billion-euro charge for reducing its stake in China Citic Bank to below 10% to soften the impact of Basel III capital rules.
Wal-Mart sees profit at low end of forecast
Wal-Mart Stores, the worlds largest retailer, said fourth-quarter profit will be at or slightly below the low end of its previous forecast as reduced food-stamp benefits and winter storms hurt US sales. Same-store sales at US stores and the Sams Club warehouse division will be less than the companys forecast, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said on Friday in a statement. Wal-Mart said in November that profit per share in the quarter ending Friday would be $1.60 to $1.70. Analysts estimated $1.65, on average. Wal-Mart is among US retailers emerging from a holiday season marked by steep discounts that threaten to eat into profitability.