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China Exports and Import Decline; Rio Guts 14,000 Jobs; Wells Fargo CEO Sees Housing Bottom; Orascom Lands North Korea Telecom Deal; Office Depot Shutters 112 Stores; JA Solar Cuts 4Q Estimates
- China’s exports fell 2.2% and imports plummeted by 17.9% in November, pushing its trade surplus to a record $40.09 billion, Bloomberg reported. “The figures are horrifying,” Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank Co. in Shanghai, said. “Plunging imports show that on top of faltering global demand, domestic demand is also shrinking as the economy cools.”
- Global mining leading Rio Tinto PLC (ADR: RTP) announced it would slash 14,000 jobs (or 13% of its workforce), sell more assets and halve its capital spending. “Drastic times call for drastic measures… They've definitely gone into survival mode, which is appropriate given the market circumstances,” Tim Schroeders, portfolio manager at Pengana Capital in Melbourne, told Reuters.
- Despite ascending unemployment numbers, Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) Chief Executive John Stumpf said Wednesday he is seeing signs of a bottom in the U.S. housing market. “My suspicion is there is some more to go. But we're starting to see some early signs that maybe we've reached the bottom in housing or close to it,” Stumpf said at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s (GS) U.S. Financial Services Conference, Reuters said.
- Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Holding landed a contract to provide mobile phone services in North Korea, a company source told Bloomberg. The deal marks the first foreign telecommunications deal on the recluse Communist country’s turf.
- Office Depot Inc. (ODP) will close , The Associated Press reported yesterday (Wednesday). The plan to close 112 stores will reduce the chain's base to 1,163. Office Depot will close 45 stores in the Central United States, 40 in the Northeast and Canada, 19 in the West and eight in the South.
- Solar cell maker JA Solar Holdings Co. (ADR: JASO) yesterday (Wednesday) cut its fourth-quarter revenue and production outlooks as a result of declining demand. The China-based company lowered its revenue forecast to $124 million, from an earlier estimate $191 million to $220 million. The company also cut its estimates for 2008 production output to between 250 and 260 megawatts from 310 megawatts.