Morning business round-up: China economic growth slows


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

Latest government figures showed that China's economy, the world's second-largest, grew at its slowest pace in more than two years in the final three months of 2011.

Gross domestic product expanded by 8.9% in the three months to the end of December, from a year earlier. That is down from 9.1% in the previous quarter.

In Japan, an internal investigation into the $1.7bn (£1.1bn) accounting cover-up at camera firm Olympus has cleared external auditors KPMG Azsa and Ernst & Young ShinNihon of any wrongdoing.

It found five current and former auditors employed by the firm were responsible for the scandal, and said it planned to sue them.

In the UK, inflation fell sharply in December on the back of lower fuel and clothing prices.

UK Consumer Prices Index inflation fell to 4.2% in December, down from 4.8% in November, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Meanwhile, the eurozone inflation rate fell to 2.7% in December, down from 3% in November, according to revised figures from the EU statistics agency.

That was below the initial estimate of 2.8%, but still above the European Central Bank's target of 2%.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded the EU bailout fund to AA+ from AAA.

The European Financial Stability Facility's rating is based on the ratings of the countries that guarantee it.

S&P's downgrade of France and Austria on Friday meant there were not enough AAA rated guarantors for the fund to maintain its top rating.

Plane maker Airbus has reported record orders for 2011 but has warned that demand for new planes will fall sharply this year.

The company said it received 1,419 orders worth about $140bn (£91bn) last year, compared with 805 for its fierce US rival Boeing.

In other aviation news, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has agreed to sell its aircraft leasing division to Japan's Sumito Mitsui Financial Group for $7.3bn (£4.7bn).

The sale represents the biggest single disposal of assets by RBS since it was rescued by the UK taxpayer in 2008.

The latest edition of Business Daily looks at how the threat of sanctions against Iran has been hitting businesses from the country.

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