Morning business round-up: Labour market 'alarming'


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

Malaysia has introduced a minimum wage for the first time in a move to support low income households and amid speculation that the government may call elections soon.

Private sector workers in peninsular Malaysia will receive a minimum salary of 900 ringgit ($297; £183) a month.

China's manufacturing activity has expanded for the fifth month in a row, easing concerns about a sharp slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

The official Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) rose to 53.3 in April from 53.1 in March, the statistics bureau said.

China relies heavily on its manufacturing and export sector for growth.

Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsui & Co have agreed to buy a 14.7% stake in Woodside Petroleum's Browse Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Australia for $2bn (£1.2bn).

They also agreed to buy 1.5m tonnes of gas from the project every year.

Japanese firms have been looking to secure LNG supplies to make up for the shortfall in nuclear energy after last year's quake and tsunami.

Japan has shut 53 of its 54 nuclear reactors after the disasters.

Media caption,
Biz Heads

In Europe, oil giant BP has reported a slip in first quarter profits.

It made $4.9bn (£3bn) in replacement cost profit - profit stripping out the effect of oil and other price movements - for the first three months of this year compared with $5.6bn a year ago.

BP is shrinking in size after being forced to sell fields after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

It has so far paid $16.6bn into a trust fund and expects to meet its target of $20bn a year earlier than planned.

Lloyds Banking Group has reported falling profits Lloyds Banking Group has reported falling profits and set aside an extra £375m to pay for payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation.

Pre-tax profit in the first quarter of 2012 was £288m, compared with a £3.5bn loss in the same period last year.

Lloyds' boss said it "reflected the subdued UK economic environment".

Lloyds, which is 40%-owned by the government, said the extra PPI provisions were down to "the increase in the volume of complaints".

And a committee of MPs in the UK has concluded that Rupert Murdoch "is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company".

The culture committee questioned journalists and bosses at the now closed News of the World, as well as police and lawyers for hacking victims.

Its report has concluded that Mr Murdoch exhibited "wilful blindness" to what was going on in his media empire.

The latest edition of Business Daily looks at the risks and benefits among different European countries of introducing more nuclear power.

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