Growth in China's manufacturing picked up in March in a potentially positive sign for the recovery in the world's second-largest economy. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Monday that its Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 50.9 in March from 50.1 in February, which was the lowest reading in five months.
China, Japan and South Korea are inching ahead with talks for a free trade zone that would rival the European Union and North America in economic heft. Despite the achievement of setting aside their often acrimonious relations to begin negotiations, progress will be slow. An agreement to start talks took 10 years.
Japan's jobless rate edged higher and industrial production fell slightly in February as consumer prices also fell, underscoring the fragility of the recovery of the world's third-largest economy. The government data released Friday showed the main consumer price index fell 0.3 percent from a year earlier as deflation continued.
The U.S. has taken its first real swipe at China following accusations that the Beijing government is behind a widespread and systemic hacking campaign targeting U.S. businesses. Buried in a spending bill signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday is a provision that effectively bars much of the U.S. government from buying information technology made by companies linked to the Chinese government.
Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will start producing motorcycles at a new plant in Kenya later this year amid expectations of growth in local demand. Honda has set up Honda Motorcycle Kenya Ltd. for sales and production of motorcycles in Nairobi, becoming the company's third local subsidiary in Africa following one each in South Africa and Nigeria.
The Slovak government has signed a deal with U.S. Steel that will ensure the American ownership of a steel mill that employs thousands in Slovakia for at least five more years. Prime Minister Robert Fico says that in the agreement signed Tuesday, "we created conditions to motivate U.S. Steel to stay in Slovakia and continue to produce steel."
Shares of a number of solar companies sank Monday after JA Solar Holdings Co.'s fourth-quarter loss widened because of weak global demand for solar products. Solar panel prices have tumbled since the Chinese government pushed hundreds of small players into the industry.
Slovakia's Prime Minister met with U.S. Steel executives in Pittsburgh on Monday to discuss the future of a steel mill in Kosice, but no final agreement was announced. Prime Minister Robert Fico said the purpose of his visit was "to motivate U.S. Steel to stay in Slovakia." Fico said he felt Monday's discussions went well and that a written agreement between the country and U.S. Steel may be signed as soon as Wednesday.
Japan and the European Union agreed Monday to start negotiations for a free-trade pact encompassing nations that account for nearly a third of the world economy. A Japan-EU summit set to begin Monday in Tokyo was shelved because of the financial crisis in Cyprus.
The president of struggling Renesas Electronics Corp. said Thursday that the chipmaker is in talks with overseas companies on selling its loss-making mobile device chip operations as part of efforts to streamline its business. Tetsuya Tsurumaru added, however, that the company has not ruled out the possibility of negotiations with domestic firms over the sale of the operations of wholly owned subsidiary Renesas Mobile Corp.
Reuters' Hayley Platt reports from a UK factory which has had to find new markets to thrive. Since the start of the financial crisis, exports have been crucial. They now account for 25 percent of francino's business, up from just 2 percent in 2008. But the Eurozone has been a struggle.
Volkswagen AG announced a recall Wednesday of more than 384,000 vehicles in China to fix gearboxes following a report last week by state TV that criticized the quality of the German automaker's cars. Volkswagen said that problems with direct-shift gearboxes might cause a power interruption, but it said drivers could remain in control and maneuver to a stop.
Premium automotive brands appear to be the only ones doing well these days amid the turmoil in Europe's car market, says Reuters' Julian Satterthwaite. Bentley says it can post higher sales again this year, but a green light for the company's key SUV project remains elusive.
Ford Motor Co. will pay $750 million in separation benefits to hourly workers at a Belgian factory it plans to close next year. Ford revealed the cost in a government filing Tuesday. Ford employs 4,000 hourly workers at the Genk plant. Most approved the separation plan last week.
Swedish wireless equipment maker Ericsson and Switzerland's STMicroelectronics say they will lay off up to 1,600 workers globally as part of a plan for splitting up their unprofitable joint venture. STMicroelectronics, one of Europe's largest chipmakers, announced in December that it wanted out of ST-Ericsson as it struggled with a downturn in global demand.
The U.S. and China began to re-engage Tuesday on knotty issues ranging from economic frictions to North Korea's nuclear program following a months-long hiatus during President Barack Obama's re-election and China's installation of new leaders.
The president of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. said Tuesday the company is aiming to strengthen its business in emerging markets to boost its ratio of overseas sales by 5 percentage points from the current level to 40 percent in fiscal 2015.
Lego is building its first factory in China as part of a plan to move production closer to Asia, its fastest growing market. The Danish maker of colorful plastic building blocks for children said it's investing at least 100 million euros ($130 million) in the new plant. Construction will start in 2014 and it will be fully operational by 2017.
A manufacturer that once worked around the clock — trying not to wake its rural neighbors with evening test track runs — barely has enough work to sustain a second shift. And things are about to get worse. "When I said some areas are dark," Alice Conner said, "I meant it."
Airbus signed its biggest deal ever on Monday, an order from Indonesian's Lion Air worth €18.4 billion ($24 billion) that President Francois Hollande said should inspire the struggling French economy and all of Europe. The CEOs of both companies signed the contract for 234 planes in a ceremony at the French presidential palace, a sign of its importance to the government.
With its long vacations, short hours and myriad workers' rights, France has a reputation for being a hard place to do business. Now add this to the mix: A law working its way through parliament would grant amnesty to workers who have ransacked their company's offices or threatened their bosses during a labor dispute.
Toyota Motor Corp. held a ceremony Friday to mark the opening of its second plant in Karawang, Indonesia, to produce the Etios Valco compact hatchback for sale in the country. Built with an investment of about 33 billion yen, Plant 2 Karawang is creating about 1,100 new jobs and will have an annual production capacity of about 70,000 vehicles initially.
Volkswagen's chief executive Martin Winterkorn said Thursday the company faces a challenging year particularly in Europe where many countries are in recession. Winterkorn told the company's annual news and analyst conference that "Volkswagen is feeling the headwinds — especially in Europe."
Thousands of workers protested in Brussels on Thursday to demand that EU leaders gathering for a summit bring an end to austerity measures and instead focus on boosting growth and reducing unemployment. The demonstration vented frustration over years of austerity imposed by EU leaders that unions and many economists say is worsening the recession and driving ever more people into unemployment and poverty.
Recent trends suggest a reason for optimism for the U.S. economy and its manufacturing sector, according to the quarterly Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation U.S. Industrial Outlook (EO-121), a report that analyzes 27 major industries.