Switzerland's private consumption growth continued to remain around its long-term average, survey data from the UBS investment bank showed Wednesday. The UBS Consumption Indicator stood at 1.50 in March, and the February figure was revised downwards slightly to 1.45. Following strong growth at the beginning of the year (5.5%), domestic tourism fell by 0.8% in February compared with the same month in the previous year. Consumption was driven by solid automotive demand: new car registrations grew 4.8%.
Airbitz, a San Diego-based bitcoin wallet and data security company, has announced a partnership with Bity, a Swiss bitcoin exchange that allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies with Euros and Swiss Francs. Bity will be a plug-in application inside the Airbitz Wallet allowing Airbitz users to buy and sell bitcoin with Euros and Swiss Francs. Airbitz has only had buy/sell bitcoin capabilities for its users with US bank accounts but this plug-in allows those with European bank accounts to buy through the Airbitz Wallet easily, cheaply, and securely.
Credit Suisse has just reported first quarter earnings which show Switzerland's second-largest bank beating expectations, helped by a strong performance across the board. The bank simultaneously announced its intention to pursue a 4 billion swiss franc ($4 billion) capital raise. It said the first quarter had provided "further confirmation" that it was delivering "profitable and complaint growth" and had "generated positive momentum across our businesses".
Alitalia employees late Monday rejected a government-brokered package of job and wage cuts that was aimed at saving Italy's flagship airline from bankruptcy, now the risk of bankruptcy looms for Italy's flagship airline. Alitalia said Tuesday that its board concluded that in light of the employees' vote, it has decided to "begin procedures foreseen by law," a reference to extraordinary administration. The board could meet on Thursady to chart the next step. Such a scenario could result in shedding unprofitable routes, most likely predominantly domestic ones, to competitors, and selling off aircraft to help pay creditors.
The United States remains the country with the highest annual military expenditure in the world, according to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). US military spending grew by 1.7 per cent between 2015 and 2016 to $611 billion, for the first time in six years. Military expenditure by China, which was the second largest spender in 2016, increased by 5.4 per cent to $215 billion, a much lower rate of growth than in previous years.
Sampo Terho, a former member of the European Parliament and one of the top figures of the new populist and Eurosceptic party called Peerussuomalaiset (the True Finns), is pushing for Finland’s exit from the Eurozone, an outcome he considers inevitable. Terho kicked off his party leadership campaign on Friday, telling a press conference that it was hard for Finland to keep its exports competitive because of its euro membership. "The only way to sustain our competitiveness is internal devaluation, which we carried out," he said, referring to a hard-fought labor reform that sparked anti-government demonstrations and strikes in 2015. "The other option, if looking forward to the 2020s, 2030s and 2040s, is to return to our own currency ... When we take this long look, that option seems possible, even likely," Terho said.
Swiss pharmaceuticals group Novartis says net income fell 15 percent in the first quarter, as it continued to adjust to generic competition for its Gleevec leukemia drug and stopped work on a hoped-for treatment for heart failure. The Basel-based company said net income dropped to $1.7 billion in the quarter, compared to $2.01 in the year-earlier period. It cited a $200 million charge to discontinue RLX030, which failed to pass tests in trials as a treatment for acute heart failure.
Eric Olsen, CEO of the Swiss-French giant LafargeHolcim, has stepped down following an internal investigation into one of the company’s manufacturing plants in Syria. In 2013 and 2014, one of world's largest cement company allegedly paid armed groups protection money to keep its Jalabiya plant open while the country’s civil war intensified. “While I was absolutely not involved in, nor even aware of, any wrongdoing I believe my departure will contribute to bringing back serenity to a company that has been exposed for months on this case,” Olsen said on Monday, who will leave on July 15, two years after becoming chief executive and taking responsibility for implementing the €41bn merger between the French company Lafarge and its Swiss rival Holcim in 2015.
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