Morning business round-up: Chavez leaves economic muddle

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBusiness headlines

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

Economists and observers are debating the legacy of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who died on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.

"Venezuela is the fifth largest economy in Latin America, but during the last decade, it's been the worst performer in GDP per capita growth," said one analyst at the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

And US tech giant Microsoft has been fined 561m euros ($731m; £484m) for failing to promote a range of web browsers, rather than just Internet Explorer, to users in the European Union.

It introduced a Browser Choice Screen pop-up in March 2010, but dropped the feature in a Windows 7 update in February 2011.

In Asia, shares continued a global rally after New York's main Dow Jones share index hit a record high overnight.

Equity markets in Asia, the US and Europe have been buoyed by central bank attempts to revive economic growth by pumping cash into the financial system.

And Samsung agreed a deal to buy a 3% stake in struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp for 10.4bn yen ($110m; £75m).

Sharp has been trying to restructure its operations amid mounting losses.

Toyota appointed Mark Hogan, a former executive at rival General Motors, to its board, the first outsider in the company's 76-year history to be named to the board.

In the UK, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King has said there is a case for splitting up state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland.

He said the arguments for restructuring RBS "sooner rather than later are powerful ones".

New UK car sales rose for the 12th consecutive month in February, boosted by manufacturers' deals, industry figures showed.

This contrasts with a slump in European vehicle sales, which fell 8.2% in 2012.

But the RAC Foundation said that the poorest 10% of car-owning households in the UK are spending more than a quarter of their disposable income on buying and running a vehicle.

And the UK housing market is continuing to show signs of improvement, according to the latest survey from the Halifax bank.

For an in-depth examination of the business issues behind the headlines, listen to the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service. Today, the programme looks at fears of a financial crisis in healthcare as the world's population grows older, and in many cases fatter.

Around the BBC