Morning business round-up: Europe shares reverse gains


What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

Early hopes that stock markets may be returning to a semblance of normality evaporated in late morning trading as European shares gave up earlier gains amid continuing fears over the eurozone debt crisis and the health of Europe's banks.

After opening with gains of around 2%, London's FTSE index, Germany's Dax index and France's Cac 40 headed south to trade flat.

Having risen 8% in early trading, shares in French banking group Societe Generale were down 8% by late morning.

Earlier, Asian shares were mixed, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index recovering from an opening fall of 1.8% to close down 0.6%.

Fears about the weak economic growth spread beyond the eurozone and the US to Australia, as the country's unemployment rate surged to an eight-month high of 5.1% in July.

There are concerns that high borrowing costs and weak consumer spending, coupled with floods earlier in the year, have hurt the economy.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

In company news, technology firm Apple has become the most valuable company in the US, with its market capitalisation overtaking that of Exxon Mobil.

Apple had briefly become the largest US firm on Tuesday, before dropping back below the oil giant.

But Apple has now managed to stay in the top spot at the close of Wall Street for the first time, with a market cap of $337bn. Exxon is worth $331bn.

Apple had been in second spot since May last year when it overtook Microsoft.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, has reported a rise in profits as price rises helped to offset falling demand in the US.

Net profit for the second quarter was $1.45bn (£895m), up 26% on the $1.15bn the company made a year earlier. Revenue rose 8% to $9.95bn.

Falling volumes in some regions were due in part to strong sales a year earlier during the Football World Cup, the brewer said.

It also pointed to higher fuel prices and their knock-on effect on consumers' disposable incomes as an important factor in falling US sales.

Media giant News Corporation has seen its quarterly profits fall 22% on the back of losses caused by the sale of the MySpace social networking website.

The company, whose UK subsidiary News International has been rocked by the phone hacking scandal, made $683m (£423m) net profit in the three months to 30 June - down from $875m last year.

News Corp sold MySpace in June for $35m, having paid $580m for it in 2005.

Finally, Chinese officials have ordered a temporary halt on new high-speed rail projects, as the fallout continues from last month's fatal crash near Wenzhou.

The State Council said the safety of new projects would be re-evaluated before approval could be given.

Safety checks would also be carried out on existing lines, and speed limits would be put in place.

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