A breakdown of the data shows that the UK's trade gap with the European
Union (EU) grew to £2.4bn in October from £2.1bn a month earlier.
The deficit with non-EU countries jumped to £2.9bn
from £2.4bn as the UK exported less manufactured goods, despite
stronger global growth. This is partly because a strong pound, worth
almost $2, has made the cost of UK goods prohibitive.
The country's surplus on trade in services remained
steady for the fourth month in a row at £1.5bn.
The country's oil balance moved back into surplus
after registering its first deficit in 13 years in September. The
deficit was largely attributed to maintenance work on North Sea rigs
"These figures are yet another disappointing set
of UK trade numbers and despite strong global growth over the past year,
Britain still can't seem to close its trade gap," Philip Shaw at
Weak manufacturing data earlier this week, and a
slowdown in consumer spending as the year's four interest rate rises
bite could all contribute to a slowdown in the UK economy, Capital
Economics UK economist Paul Dales said.
AD SPEND TO RISE FURTHER IN 2005
The amount spent on global advertising in 2005 will
be higher than previously forecast, according to a number of the world's
leading ad buyers.
Several agencies have upped estimates for spending,
saying the industry has fully recovered from its 2001-2 slump.
This year's ad market was boosted by huge spending on
the Olympics and the US Presidential election but underlying growth will
continue unabated in 2005.
The internet will be the fastest growing advertising
medium in 2005.
Universal McCann, part of the Interpublic Group, has
increased its 2005 growth forecast — not adjusted for inflation —
from 5.9% to 6.1%.
It says overall ad expenditure will total $553.4bn
(£284.9bn) next year.
ZenithOptimedia — which is owned by the Publicis
advertising network — has raised its own growth forecast to 5% from
its earlier 4.5% estimate.
Separately, British advertising services giant WPP
has expressed optimism about its future growth.
Chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell said last Monday
that he expected the company's earnings per share to grow by at least
10% in 2005.
The agencies highlighted a greater willingness by
companies to launch new products and stronger competition in the auto
and pharmaceutical sectors.
Growth will be slower than in 2004 when the
combination of the Olympics, the US Presidential election and Euro 2004
football tournament added up to $3bn to advertisers' budgets.
According to Zenith Optimedia, global expenditure is
expected to grow by about 7% to $369bn this year.
JAPAN NARROWLY ESCAPES RECESSION
Japan's economy teetered on the brink of a technical
recession in the three months to September, figures show.
Revised figures indicated growth of just 0.1% - and a
similar-sized contraction in the previous quarter.
On an annual basis, the data suggests annual growth
of just 0.2%, suggesting a much more hesitant recovery than had
previously been thought.
A common technical definition of a recession is two
successive quarters of negative growth.
The government was keen to play down the worrying
implications of the data.
But in the face of the strengthening yen making
exports less competitive and indications of weakening economic
conditions ahead, observers were less sanguine.
EUROZONE STATES SEEK DOLLAR MOVE
The dollar hit a fresh low against the euro on
December 7, despite warnings by European officials over the issue.
In early trade in the Far East the dollar fell to a
low of $1.3468 per euro, before pulling back to $1.345 in early trading
The 12 eurozone members have urged the US to take
action to address the "excessive volatility" of the dollar.
In a thinly veiled reference to the US, they called
for "all major countries" to begin to tackle the issue.
Eurozone members want the US to rectify its huge trade and budget
INDIA WINS $77M STEEL INVESTMENT
BlueScope Steel, Australia's largest steelmaker, is
to invest $77m (£40m) on building three new manufacturing plants in
The firm is also studying a possible joint venture
with India's Tata Steel on a metal coating and paint facility.
BlueScope chief Kirby Adams said the move forms part
of the company's expansion plans in Asia.
The plants in Pune, Chennai and New Delhi, will
supply the growing Indian building and construction market.
S AMERICA LAUNCHES TRADING BLOC
Representatives from 12 South American countries have
signed an agreement to create a political and economic bloc modelled on
the European Union.
The new South American Community of Nations was
launched at a summit in the Peruvian city of Cuzco.
Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, said a new
country was being born, which would one day have a common currency,
parliament and passport.
Members of the new community will start by phasing
Leaders also hope it will increase South America's
clout in international trade talks.
BIG ATLANTIC OIL FIND REVEALED
A "significant" oil and gas find has been
made in the Atlantic just west of Shetland, it has been announced.
The ChevronTexaco find is 78 miles (126km) offshore
in the Faroe-Shetland channel at the Rosebank/Lochnagar well.
President of ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum George
Kirkland said the find "positioned the company for continued growth
in the region".
Further tests will be carried out on the well to
appraise fully the find, made by the West Navigator drill ship.
The well, located in 3,600ft (1,100m) of water and
completed on 30 August, detected two oil and gas
US MOBILE GIANTS IN MERGER TALKS
US mobile operators Sprint and Nextel are in talks
about a $70bn merger according to newspaper reports.
The deal would create the country's third-biggest
mobile operator which would have 38.5 million customers, according to
The Wall Street Journal.
Nextel has high average revenues per user due to its
popular push-to-talk walkie talkie service on mobiles.
STATE REDUCES STAKE IN AIR FRANCE
France may cut its share in Air France-KLM to just
18% by trading free shares in the carrier for staff pay cuts, Reuters
has said citing bank sources.
On December 9, the government agreed to sell 17.7% of
its stake in the carrier, raising 700m euros ($931m; £486m).
That, already flagged, move will see its holding
reduced to 25% from 44%.
AIR CHINA RAISES $1.07BN IN IPO
Air China, the biggest airline in China, raised
$1.07bn (£558m), after pricing its flotation near the top of its range,
It sold 2.8 billion shares, or 31% of its equity, at
HK$2.98 ($0.38) each, near the top of a HK$2.35-$3.10 range.
DISNEY BACKS SONY DVD TECHNOLOGY
A next generation DVD technology backed by Sony has
received a major boost.
Film giant Disney says it will produce its future
DVDs using Sony's Blu-ray Disc technology, but has not ruled out a rival
format developed by Toshiba.
BANK LEAVES RATES ON HOLD AGAIN
UK interest rates have been kept on hold at 4.75% by
the Bank of England in a widely-expected move.
Following the final monthly meeting of 2004, the
Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to take no action amid
signs of a slowing economy.
The Bank's base lending rate has stood still for the
past four months, having risen five times between November 2003 and
ONE IN 10 FAMILIES 'PAYS BRIBES'
One in 10 people says they or a member of their
household has paid a bribe in the past year, according to a global
opinion survey published on Thursday.
It suggests that Cameroon is the most corrupt
country, as a majority of those surveyed there admitted paying bribes.
It was followed by Nigeria, Kenya, Lithuania and
Moldova all countries where at least one in three people admitted paying
bribes. Transparency International released its poll to mark UN
SNOW STAYS AS US TREASURY CHIEF
US Treasury Secretary John Snow is to remain in his
post for George W Bush's second term as president, the White House has
There had been speculation that Mr Snow, 65, would
resign from the cabinet to work as a congressional enforcer for Mr
Bush's economic policy.
Eight members of the cabinet have already resigned
from their posts.
Mr Snow joined the administration when Mr Bush's
first treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, stood down in early 2003.
NINTENDO'S DS BEATS SALES TARGET
Nintendo, the Japanese computer games firm, has
raised targets for its new DS handheld games console after it sold a
million units in its first few weeks.
The company said there were product shortages in both
the US and Japan and that it was starting to ship the DS by air to the
US to meet demand.
It now expects to ship 40% more of the video game
consoles before the end of the year.
CHINESE FIRM BUYS IBM PC BUSINESS
IBM, a pioneer of the personal computer business, is
selling its PC hardware division to China's number one computer maker
After days of rumours, the announcement heralds a
$1.75bn (£900m) deal which will make the combined operation the third
biggest PC vendor in the world.
BLACK QUOTA MOVES FOR SA TOURISM
More than one-fifth of South Africa's tourism
industry must be in the hands of black investors within five years,
according to a new draft charter
The black empowerment document was given to the
government last week.
Within a decade the proportion must be 35% according
to the draft, drawn up by South Africa's tourism industry — the
country's top foreign-exchange earner.
NO IAMGOLD MERGER FOR GOLD FIELDS
South Africa's under-pressure Gold Fields has lost a
shareholder vote over its merger with Canada's Iamgold.
Gold Fields is the subject of a $6.25bn (£3.2bn)
hostile takeover bid from rival Harmony and had hoped to find security
in a deal with Iamgold.
Gold Fields needed approval of 50% of shareholders
plus one vote, but only 48.2% of shareholders voted in favour of the
BANK CALLS FOR ARGENTINE REFORMS
The World Bank has approved a $200m (£103m) loan for
infrastructure projects in Argentina but also demanded more reforms to
The Bank said in a statement that conditions for
loans for the recovery of the country "have not been met yet".
The institution froze $500m in June until the
government resumed talks with the International Monetary Fund.
SWISS INSURER SELLS UK LIFE UNIT
Insurance firm Swiss Life has announced it is selling
its UK life assurance business to Resolution Life Group (RLG) for £205m
Swiss Life has been looking for a buyer for the
business since 2002 when it ceased writing new policies and indicated it
wanted to exit the market.
The company has been restructuring and outsourced its
group income protection business to UnumProvident last year.
TATA SIGNS IT DEAL WITH FERRARI
Tata Consultancy Services of India has signed a deal
to provide information technology to famous Italian Formula One racing
India's largest software services firm will also
provide engineering services for the development of the team's racing
car for the 2005 season.
EU BACKS LAMY FOR TRADE POSITION
The European Commission supported former EU trade
commissioner Pascal Lamy to become the next head of the World Trade
Commission spokeswoman Claude Veron-Reville said the
matter had been discussed with EU governments and that Mr Lamy had
The next WTO director general will take up the job
from September next year.
The current WTO head, Supachai Panitchpakdi of
Thailand, is due to stand down on 30 August 2005.