By Juan Montes and Nicholas Casey
Wall Street Journal
Mexico's economy slowed in the fourth quarter of 2011 as demand for the country's exports weakened and agricultural production fell, pointing to sluggishness in Latin America's second largest economy which until recently had been gaining steam.
The economy expanded 0.42 percent from the third quarter of 2011, for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.7 percent, a 10th consecutive quarter of growth, but the slowest rate since the second quarter of 2009. The figure wasn't a surprise to most economists, who were expecting a deceleration.
"The figures are in line with [what we] expected, affected by the slowdown in U.S. industrial production and the turbulences seen in Europe in the last months of last year," said Carlos Capistran, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch chief economist for Mexico.
Gross domestic product expanded 3.7 percent in the October-through-December period of 2011 from the same period of the previous year. It was just below the median estimate of 3.8 percent in a Dow Jones Newswires survey of 16 economists.
Agricultural production shrank, reflecting falls in production of corn, beans, wheat and other grains as some parts of the north of Mexico are struggling with the worst drought ever recorded, while industrial output and service rose.
In an interview, Mexican Finance Minister José Antonio Meade brushed off concerns of sluggishness saying that growth this year in the U.S., and progress in addressing the European financial crisis, could lead to "more optimistic" forecasts for Mexico, while reaffirming the government's 3.5 percent estimate for this year.
Elektra, making first foray into U.S. financial services, is buying Advance America for $780 millionSubmitted by mexbiznews on Thu, 02/16/2012 - 5:01am
By Amy Guthrie
Dow Jones Newswires
Mexican retail and financial firm Grupo Elektra said late Wednesday it plans to buy South Carolina-based lender Advance America Cash Advance Centers Inc. (AEA) for $780 million.
The deal, Elektra's first major foray into the U.S. financial services market, values Advance America at $10.50 per share -- a 32.7% premium over the company's closing price Wednesday, Elektra said in a statement.
Advance America offers cash advance services through approximately 2,600 locations in 29 U.S. states, the United Kingdom and Canada.
"We are eager to expand our services to the United States and to continue meeting the needs of the financially under-served," said Elektra Chairman Ricardo Salinas.
Elektra sells items such as appliances on credit, while also offering banking services. In addition to Mexico, the company operates in Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Peru.
Under the terms of the agreement, Advance America may solicit acquisition proposals from third parties for a period of 45 days.
Should no competing proposal arise, the transaction is expected to close during the first half of 2012.
By Daniel Hernandez / Los Angeles Times
She sits on a plastic stool patting blue-green corn between her palms in front of a portable charcoal grill on a street corner in this city’s dense and noisy downtown.
Lilia Dorantes, who sells the stuffed maize patties known as tlacoyos, works around the corner from a newspaper vendor, a fruit vendor, a pirated-DVD vendor and a vendor who sells dolls dressed as Mexican marines and federal police.
The street vendors belong to an army of off-the-book workers who now make up a record 14 million Mexicans pumping money into the informal economy, the national statistics institute reported last week.
Bloomberg - Grupo Mexico’s Asarco won $82.8 million in a lawsuit against copper producer Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. over a failed deal to buy Asarco out of bankruptcy, less than the $2.28 billion it was seeking.
News Channel 9 - Mexico's interior minister, Alejandro Piore, described a travel alert issued by the U.S. Government as "ridiculous." The travel alert recommends that Americans avoid traveling to nearly half of Mexico's states.
Dow Jones - Mexico's oil regulator is sounding an alarm over plans by Pemex to drill two ultra-deep-water wells near U.S. waters this year, saying neither the company nor the commission is prepared to handle a serious accident or oil spill there.
Dow Jones - Shares in Mexican home-building companies were tumbling Tuesday after Urbi Desarrollos Urbanos warned that it will report negative free cash flow for the fourth quarter and 2011 due to delays in the receipt of government subsidies.
Laredo Sun - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Laredo Port of Entry intercepted almost 900 rounds of ammunition used for high powered weapons, before they could be illegally exported to Mexico.
Bloomberg - Mexico sold all 6 billion pesos of 28-day Cetes and 7 billion pesos of the 91-day securities it offered today, the central bank said on its website. Mexico also sold all 8.5 billion pesos in 175-day bills it auctioned today.