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SummaryA slump in North Sea oil production, lower factory output and a hangover from the London Olympics caused Britain’s economy to shrink more than expected in late 2012, pushing it perilously close to a “triple-dip” recession.

British economy close to ‘triple dip’ recession

A slump in North Sea oil production, lower factory output and a hangover from the London Olympics caused Britain’s economy to shrink more than expected in late 2012, pushing it perilously close to a “triple-dip” recession. The Office for National Statistics said on Friday that Britain’s GDP fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter — a sharper fall than the 0.1% decline expected by analysts. GDP grew by 0.9% between July and September.

Volkswagen to shift Golf production to Mexico

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s biggest carmaker, plans to produce its best-selling Golf hatchback in Mexico as part of a push for market share in North America, where it trails global rivals. VW will build the Golf at its Puebla factory beginning in the first quarter next year, the German manufacturer said in a statement dated Friday and obtained by Bloomberg News. The model, which has historically been built at VW’s home base in Wolfsburg, will be sold in North and South America, VW said.

Boeing 787 investigation far from complete

US safety regulators are nowhere near finishing an investigation into a battery fire on the Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner, a top official said on Thursday, raising the prospect of a prolonged grounding for the aircraft. Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, made clear that investigators have found a series of “symptoms” in the battery damaged in a January 7 fire in Boston, but not the underlying cause of the problem. She said the agency would be looking at the design of the battery compartment area of the plane and whether the certification standards had been strong enough. The comments were seen by some safety experts within the industry as a signal that this is no longer just a teething issue for the new plane. That will raise questions about the financial impact for Boeing.

‘Morgan Stanley CEO made $6 mn for 2012’

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman received lower compensation for 2012 after a difficult year for the bank in which profits declined. Gorman received $6 million in total compensation for 2012, including $800,000 in salary, $2.6 million in deferred cash and $2.6 million in stock options, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday. He did not receive a cash bonus. Gorman made $8.56 million for 2011, when counting salary, deferred cash and restricted stock grants. Morgan Stanley’s board also plans to award Gorman an undetermined amount of long-term incentive pay for 2012, the source said.

N Korea threatens war with South over sanctions

North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened UN sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang’s rocket launch last month. In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric against regional powers, the North directed its verbal onslaught at its neighbour on Friday, saying: “‘Sanctions’ mean a war and a declaration of war against us.” The reclusive North has this week declared a boycott of all dialogue aimed at ending its nuclear programme and vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the Security Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch. “If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the UN ‘sanctions’, the DPRK (North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) will take strong physical counter-measures against it,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to the South.

Japan wants Nissan-NEC venture to buy Sony unit

A Japanese state-backed fund wants a Nissan Motor Co Ltd and NEC Corp joint venture to buy Sony Corp’s lithium-ion battery unit to prevent rivals in China and Taiwan from getting its technology as the Tokyo TV maker looks to offload non-core businesses, the Daily Yomiuri said. The Bravia TV maker’s shares rose as much as 6.9% in Tokyo after the report. The company declined to comment. Sony’s CEO, Kazuo Hirai, speaking at the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas this month, said any unit not contributing to those core divisions or helping to end losses in televisions could be sold. The INCJ has offered to invest in any firm created by merging Sony’s battery division with the Nissan-NEC venture, the Yomiuri said.

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