13 Feb 2015

Business Briefs

3:00 pm on 13 February 2015

Food prices rise due to seasonal price fluctuations

Food prices have risen because of seasonally higher fruit and vegetable prices.

Official figures show food prices rose 1.3 percent in January compared with the previous month.

Fruit and vegetable prices increased 8 percent, with apple prices averaging a record $4.77 per kilo, up more than 13 percent on a year ago.

New season apples arrived later than usual and in smaller volumes due to adverse spring weather.

Prices fell for chicken, energy drinks and yoghurt.

On an annual basis, food prices rose 1.2 percent.

US retail sales fell sharply in January

Official figures show retail sales in the United States fell sharply in January, due to falling fuel prices and car sales.

That lead to a decline of 0.8 percent in overall sales, compared to December.

But if factors such as fuel are removed, sales rose slightly by 0.1 percent.

Economists believe consumers are using extra income to pay down debt and boost savings.

Sweden's central bank cuts key interest rate

Sweden's central bank has cut its key interest rate from 0 percent to a record low of negative 0.1 percent.

It has also launched a programme of quantitative easing, buying government bonds worth $US1.2 billion to inject cash into the economy.

The central bank said there was risk that inflation would not rise fast enough.

It said it expected the global economic recovery to continue, but at a slow rate.