Friday Newspaper roundup

China’s manufacturing sector grew more slowly in February, according to a survey that suggests the country’s recovery could be slackening. The official purchasing managers’ index dipped to 50.1 from 50.4 in January, data on Friday showed. It was the fifth consecutive month above the midpoint of 50, which indicates an expansion in industrial activity, but the decline in the index means that the pace of expansion has likely slowed. [Financial Times]

The global economic recovery will slow this year unless the US averts $85bn (£56bn) in spending cuts that start today, the International Monetary Fund has said. […] “Everybody is assuming that sequestration is going to take effect,” a spokesman for the IMF said on Thursday . “What it means is that we are going to have to re-evaluate our growth forecasts for the United States and other forecasts.” [The Telegraph]

William Hill is being tipped to announce an equity issue after agreeing terms to buy out its online gambling partner in a £425 million deal. The agreement with Playtech, which owns nearly a third of William Hill Online (WHO), comes as Britain’s biggest bookmaker is poised to complete a £490 million takeover of Sportingbet in tandem with GVC Holdings. [The Times]

The head of British Airways has mounted a staunch defence of its merger with Iberia after the combined company crashed almost €1 billion into the red after huge losses in Spain. Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, acknowledged yesterday that a €997 million loss for 2012 was a “very disappointing result”. However, he insisted that strikes, brand damage and a slump in the Spanish economy had done nothing to undermine the logic of BA’s merger with Iberia three years ago. [The Times]

Britain is to challenge an EU agreement to slash bankers’ bonuses at a meeting of European finance ministers next week after Boris Johnson condemned the proposal as a “deluded measure”. Amid fears that the EU agreement could deal a hammer blow to the City of London, David Cameron said EU regulations needed to be flexible enough to allow international banks to operate in Britain and the rest of the European Union. [The Guardian]

Genel Energy, the Kurdistan-focused oil producer backed by the financier Nat Rothschild, has announced plans to step up exports next year. The company, which is run by the former BP chief executive Tony Hayward sells most of its oil to Kurdistan’s domestic market, with the remainder sent to Turkey. However, it said it will be able to export a much larger volume of oil from next year when a pipeline connecting its main Taq Taq oilfield in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to Turkey is completed. [The Independent]

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