Finland is preparing for the break-up of the eurozone, the country’s foreign minister warned today. The Nordic state is battening down the hatches for a full-blown currency crisis as tensions in the eurozone mount and has said it will not tolerate further bail-out creep or fiscal union by stealth. “We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up,” said Erkki Tuomioja, the country’s veteran foreign minister and a member of the Social Democratic Party, one of six that make up the country’s coalition government. “It is not something that anybody — even the True Finns [eurosceptic party] — are advocating in Finland, let alone the government. But we have to be prepared,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
Global demand for gold is seeing a significant slowdown as top consumers in India and China pare purchases amid weak economic growth, abruptly halting a consumption boom that started five years ago with the onset of the financial crisis. The consumption slowdown is driving prices downward, denting the profitability of gold miners such as Barrick Gold of Canada and New York-listed Newmont, and hurting top hedge funds managers such as John Paulson and George Soros. The World Gold Council, a lobby group for the gold miners, on Thursday said demand for the yellow metal fell to 990 tonnes during the second quarter, the lowest since the first quarter of 2010 and down 7 per cent from last year. Says The Financial Times
Britain’s second-biggest supermarket group has launched a withering attack on rivals for propping up sales with “unsustainable” voucher promotions. Asda said that supermarkets were resorting to “gimmicks” in an attempt to confuse shoppers and were chasing short-term sales. The retailer, owned by Wal-Mart, reported a slowdown in underlying sales growth in the second quarter but posted improved first-half profits. Rob McWilliam, the finance director, said that its rivals were using “gimmicks to disguise a weak price position”. Last month Tesco offered discounts of up to 50p a litre on petrol to shoppers who bought certain items — a practice that Mr McWilliam referred to as “basket bingo”. He said: “That’s not in customers’ long-term interests and it’s certainly not sustainable. Where’s it going to end?” Reports The Times
The family that owns Lego has spent millions of pounds on a stake in ISS, the Danish cleaning company that G4S tried and failed to buy for £5.2 billion last year. Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of the billionaire Kirk Kristiansen family, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will pay 3.72 billion Danish kroner (£392 million) to acquire 26 per cent of the business. The Times
Facebook shares plumbed new depths last night, as some of the investors who had backed the social network in its early days cashed out more of their holdings. Almost three months after the company’s disastrous debut on the public markets, 271 million additional shares became eligible for sale yesterday, and a wave of selling pushed the stock down to almost half the float price. The early investors who sold some of their stake in May had been prevented from selling any more for 90 days, but the huge volume of trading after the Nasdaq market opened yesterday suggested that at least some were taking the first available opportunity to get out. Opines The Independent
British car production is still revving ahead of the rest of the economy after official figures showed an increase in output for the 13th month in a row. Almost 120,000 cars were built in the UK in July, which is up 22% on the same period last year, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The figures came in the same week that one of the industry’s great export successes, Jaguar Land Rover, moved to a 24-hour operation in order to keep up with soaring demand from Asia. The latest SMMT total means that year-to-date production is running at 875,998, an increase of 15%. The Guardian