Wal-Mart’s fourth-quarter profit up 8.6%, outlook wary
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is reporting an 8.6% increase in fourth-quarter profit. But the world’s largest retailer offered a subdued outlook as its low-income shoppers continue to be squeezed by economic challenges. Wal-Mart says it earned $5.6 billion, or $1.67 per share, in the quarter ended January 31. That’s up from $5.16 billion, or $1.50 per share, a year earlier. Net sales rose 3.9% to $127.1 billion. Earnings topped estimates of $1.57 per share, but net sales fell short of the $127.8 billion estimate. The US-based company says revenue at stores open at least a year rose 1% for its namesake US business for the quarter, below the 1.5% estimate from Thomson Reuters.
EU clears $24 bn state guarantee for French bank
The European Union has approved state guarantees worth 18 billion euros ($24 billion) for an ailing French real estate bank on the condition that Paris present a plan to restructure or close it within six months. The EU Commission’s anti-trust regulator said on Thursday the guarantee for Credit Immobilier de France is necessary to avoid major disruption in the French banking system as a whole. It said the state guarantee is necessary to cover the real estate lender’s urgent liquidity needs and to give it time to draw up a restructuring or orderly resolution plan. French authorities bailed out CIF after it ran into a funding crunch following rating downgrades last year.
Nike suspends contract with Oscar Pistorius
Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee runner from South Africa who is facing a charge of premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day slaying of his girlfriend. Pistorius, who became the first double-amputee runner to compete on the track at the Olympics at last year’s London Games, is accused of intentionally killing model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and that the shooting was accidental. “We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Nike said in a brief statement posted on its website Wednesday. On Monday, eyewear maker Oakley suspended its contract with Pistorius.
Egypt to seek IMF talks as it reveals grim data
Egypt plans to invite an IMF mission to Cairo within a week, the government said on Thursday, signalling an imminent resumption of negotiations over a $4.8 billion loan as it struggles with an acute foreign currency shortage. Planning minister