Six world powers did not offer to suspend oil or financial sanctions during talks with Iran on its nuclear programme in the Kazakh city of Almaty, a senior US administration official said on Wednesday. The six powers France, Germany, the US, China Russia and Britain offered at the talks to lift some sanctions if Iran scaled back nuclear activity the West fears could be used to build bombs. Iran denies it aims to develop nuclear arms. None of (the) oil and none of (the) banking sanctions (are) touched, the US official said. Iran denies it aims to develop nuclear arms.
EADS sees further profit growth after buoyant 2012
Airbus parent EADS predicted higher profit this year on the heels of stronger than expected 2012 earnings and a clampdown on costs, with the development of its A350 jet remaining the biggest wild card in its bid to match rival Boeing. The worlds second-largest aerospace company delivered stronger than expected 2012 earnings and increased its dividend, while stabilising hard-to-predict cashflows, but took charges for defence restructuring and bad helicopter deals. Unveiling earnings for the first time since failing to carry off an attempted merger with UK arms contractor BAE Systems, chief executive Tom Enders pledged to run EADS as a normal company after years of political interference. The BAE setback paved the way for a reorganisation of the European aircraft manufacturers complex public and private shareholdings. France and Germany will continue to own stakes, but a higher proportion of shares will be held by ordinary investors.
German consumer confidence edging up
Consumer confidence in Germany is edging higher as shoppers feel more optimistic about the economic outlook, according to a survey published on Wednesday the latest in a string of hopeful indicators for Europes biggest economy. The GfK research institute said its forward-looking confidence indicator stands at 5.9 points for March up from 5.8 in February. Consumers economic expectations continued to brighten amid predictions that economic growth will return in the current quarter after declining in the October-December period, the group said. Those predictions have been fuelled lately by improvements in other indicators notably the Ifo institutes closely watched survey of business confidence, which has risen for four consecutive months.
Budweiser maker InBev reports lower Q4 profit
Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world's largest brewer, says its profits fell 4.9% in the fourth quarter, due mostly to losses on foreign exchange rates. Net profit was $1.76 billion, down from $1.85 billion in the same period a year ago. But revenues rose 8.8% to $10.3 billion, and operating profit rose 10.7%, the company said. The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Becks said it expects weak first quarter volumes in the US, its most profitable market, as consumers there have less pocket money and the weather is worse than a year ago. It also expects softness in Brazil, where it has a 68.5% market share, due to an early carnival and wet weather.
AirAsia shares surge on dividend pledge
Shares in AirAsia Bhd rose nearly 10% on Wednesday, their biggest one-day jump since last March, after the company said it will pay a dividend from this year, its first official dividend policy since listing in 2004. Shares in Asias largest budget airline by passengers, which have lost more than a quarter of their value in the past year, rose as high as 2.94 ringgit on Wednesday, while the benchmark Malaysian index rose 0.12%. Late on Tuesday the airline said it has adopted a dividend policy under which it will pay an annual dividend of up to 20% of its net operating profit, starting this year. It declared a special dividend of 18 sen per share after announcing 2012 core net income of 858.23 million ringgit ($276.67 million), a marginal increase on the previous year. The company has formalised the dividend policy... as part of our plans to give more certainty to shareholders, chief executive of Malaysian operations Aireen Omar said on Tuesday.