CHINA has reported better-than-expected trade data, fuelling optimism that its economic growth may be rebounding from the recent slowdown. Exports, a key growth driver, surged 25 per cent in January from a year earlier. Most analysts had forecast a 17 per cent jump. Imports surged 28.8 per cent indicating a robust pick up in domestic demand. Separate figures showed that the inflation rate slowed to 2 per cent in January but there was concern over a spike in food prices as vegetable costs soared. China's growth rate slipped to 7.8 per cent in 2012, the slowest annual pace since 1999, fuelling worries about the health of the world's second-largest economy.
Budget cut deal
EU leaders have reached an agreement on the budget for 2014-20 after lengthy talks in Brussels. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced the deal and said in a statement it was "worth working for". The new budget ceiling amounts to 960billion euros ($F2.26trillion). It is the first time the EU's multi-annual budget has been reduced. UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had been pressing for cuts, hailed it as a "good deal for Britain".
THE largest independent shareholder in PC-maker Dell has vowed to oppose a plan by its founder, Michael Dell, to buy back the company. Southeastern Asset Management, which owns an 8.5 per cent stake, dismissed Mr Dell's offer to buy the business for $US24.4billion ($F43.09b) as "woefully inadequate". In a letter to Dell's board, it said the firm was worth almost double that. In response, the consortium led by Mr Dell said its buy-out offer was "in the best interests of stockholders".
Barclays is to close down a controversial part of its business which helps clients avoid tax, the BBC understands. The bank will announce that part of its Structured Capital Markets (SCM) business will be axed as part of a wide-ranging strategic review. The move comes as part of the bank's attempts to improve its image following a string of scandals. Barclays was fined $US450million ($F794m) over the Libor-rigging scandal last year, and has set aside nearly GBP3.5billion ($F9.76b) to cover possible payouts.