SPAIN'S unemployment rate has soared to record levels with a shocking 55 per cent of young people now out of work and experts warning worse is to come. The jobless total rose to 26 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012, equivalent to 5.97 million people according to the National Statistics Institute and up from 25 per cent in the previous quarter. It is the highest level since measurements began in the 1970s as a prolonged recession and deep spending cuts left almost six million people out of work at the end of last year.
Profits down 4pc
MICROSOFT has reported a fall in profits despite a boost in sales from the technology giant's new Windows 8 operating system. Net profit for the final three months of the year was $US6.4billion ($F11.2b), down 4 per cent from a year earlier, while revenue was up 3 per cent at $US21.5b ($F37.7b). The Windows arm of the firm performed well, with revenues up by a quarter, following the launch of Windows 8. The results come on the day that Apple shares fell 12 per cent on disappointing sales.
Record trade deficit
JAPAN has posted a record high trade deficit for 2012, as exports to Europe and China continued their plunge. The trade gap rose to 6.9trillion yen ($F0.133tn) for the full year, the ministry of finance said. It comes after election promises by Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to boost the economy, and recent monetary stimulus by the central bank. Analysts said the deficit may have bottomed out, as exports are expected to improve in coming months.
Growth rate slumps
SOUTH Korea's growth rate has hit a three-year low, hurt by a slowdown in exports and corporate investment. The economy grew by 2 per cent in 2012, the central bank's initial estimates showed. That is down from 3.6 per cent in 2011. South Korea's exports, which account for almost half of its overall output, have been hurt by a slowdown in key markets such as the US and eurozone. Policymakers have found it tough to boost domestic demand to offset the decline in foreign sales. The weak data is likely to put further pressure on South Korea's new government and its central bank, the Bank of Korea, to take further measures to help spur growth.