Barclays: Japan 4Q GDP Will Shrink 12.1%; Holiday Sales Worst Since 1970; American Greetings Buys Recycled Paper Greetings; Consumer Confidence Hits Record Low; China Eastern Gets Additional Funds; Gazprom Gets Paid
- An economist for Barclays Capital (ADR:BCS) estimates Japan’s economy will shrink at an annual pace of 12.1% this quarter, nearly a three-fold negative jump from the rate previously predicted. “Given the speed and the length of the contraction, this recession could be the most severe in the postwar era,” Barclays’ chief Japan economist Kyohei Morita said, Bloomberg reported. “We expect negative growth will continue for a fifth straight quarter to the April-June period of 2009.”
- U.S. holiday season shopping was the worst since at least 1970, with bottom lines plagued by low demand, heavy discounting and unfriendly weather, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) said yesterday (Tuesday). ICSC’s tally runs up to December 27, and its chief economist, Michael Niemira isn’t holding out for a miracle turnaround in the remaining days, Reuters reported.
- American Greetings Corp. (AM) said it will buy privately held rival Recycled Paper Greetings in a deal that includes restructuring Recycled Paper Greetings’ debt under a Chapter 11 reorganization process. American Greetings Chief Executive Officer Zev Weiss acknowledged his company was attracted to RPG's witty, funny and fresh content, according to a news release.
- Consumer confidence hit an all-time low in December, with the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dropping to 38 for the month from a revised 44.7 in November. Rising layoffs and the deteriorating housing market were the biggest reasons for the decline.
- The Chinese government more than doubled the size of a bailout for China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. (ADR: CEA), just weeks after announcing a plan to pump $440 million (3 billion yuan) into the carrier, the Financial Times reported. China Eastern said it would now receive more than 900 million (7 billion yuan) through a private placement of Hong Kong and Shanghai-listed shares to its state-owned parent company.
- Ukraine yesterday (Tuesday) paid in full for natural-gas imports from Russia for November and has made an advance payment for supplies in December after OAO Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned oil monopoly, threatened to cut off supplies to the country. The Ukrainian government instructed two state-run banks to provide the country’s energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy with the funds, a day before a deadline, Bloomberg reported.