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The Financial Times
Ford swung back to a profit in the final quarter of last year, as the rebound in US sales continues to provide a smooth ride for carmakers. The Detroit-based company reported profits of $1.9bn for the quarter compared with a loss of $2.5bn in the same quarter a year ago, when it booked several one-time items. Ford again lent on a humming US industry to offset a more mixed picture elsewhere. Spurred by a steady, if unspectacular domestic economic recovery, US industry sales hit 17.5m in 2015, surpassing the previous record set in 2000.
It is a refrain as familiar as a factory tour made by a politician in a hard hat and a hi-visibility vest: why has Britain failed to rebalance its economy towards manufacturing? Few people expect 2016 to be the year British industry bucks the trend and makes a meaningful contribution to overall growth, given the poisonous cocktail of weak global demand, the strength of sterling and historic under-investment in the sector.
With the arrival of teams from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Azerbaijan this week, oil dependent economies across the developing world are facing the prospect of emergency bailouts after the collapse in the price of crude. “These are bad times for oil producers and their creditors,” Oxford Economics warned in a note to clients this week. It’s not just oil. As China’s resource-hungry economy slows commodity prices have slumped across the world. In its note Oxford Economics warned that it expected “widespread rating downgrades and further bad performance across commodity-producing sovereigns”.
Britain is the whiplash capital of the world with more than three-quarters of a million claims last year — about one for every 38 cars on the road. The record number of claims is driving up car insurance costs by a fifth and costing the UK more than £2 billion a year, experts have warned.
U.S. motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Monday despite a dip in global sales and said it would ship more vehicles during 2016, sending its stock up nearly 10 percent in early trading.
“Although we expect the macroeconomic environment to remain challenging, we are confident we’ll continue to lead with our powerful brand,” Chief Executive Matt Levatich said in a statement. Harley-Davidson, which commands more than half the U.S. big-bike market, has seen its share eroded in recent years as foreign competitors cut prices to entice new buyers and due to anemic demand for its motorcycles.