Headlines

A $4 billion accounting shortfall would typically raise alarm bells for an auditor. Somehow, a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP affiliate didn’t catch it at Americanas SA, Bloomberg News reported. Investor and consumer groups are calling for closer scrutiny of the accounting firm after the unveiling of balance-sheet irregularities that led 93-year-old Brazilian retailer Americanas to seek protection from creditors last month. The gap came in part from supplier financing that wasn’t reflected the right way in the company’s financial statements, which have been audited by PwC since 2019.
Read more
Tees Valley Lithium struck a preliminary deal to supply raw materials to the preferred buyer of collapsed UK battery startup Britishvolt Ltd., Bloomberg News reported. The early-stage lithium refiner signed a memorandum of understanding to supply toll-processed lithium to Recharge Industries, which has been selected as the preferred bidder for the majority of the insolvent battery firm’s business and assets. Tees Valley plans to produce the lithium at a refinery in the northeast of England that’s set to start operation in 2025.
Read more
President Tayyip Erdogan declared on Tuesday a three-month state of emergency covering Turkey's 10 southern provinces hit by devastating earthquakes, and called it a disaster zone in a move meant to bolster rescue efforts, Reuters reported. The move came as the death toll from Monday's two major earthquakes, which hit a wide area of Turkey and Syria, exceeded 5,000 and as rescuers raced against time to dig people out of the rubble of collapsed buildings.
Read more
The Reserve Bank of Australia delivered a ninth consecutive increase in interest rates and signaled more to come, suggesting global central banks are headed down different paths as their battle with inflation enters a new phase, the Wall Street Journal reported. The latest increase of 0.25 percentage point took Australia’s benchmark interest rate to 3.35% from 3.10% and marked the first time that the RBA had tightened policy at nine straight meetings of its board. Explaining the move, ​RBA ​Gov. Philip Lowe said inflation was at its highest level in more than three decades.
Read more
Brazil's central bank has expressed concern at increased inflation expectations, saying that a fiscal framework revision and government stimulus package may lead to upward pressure on consumer prices, Reuters reported. In the minutes of its Jan.31 - Feb.1 meeting, when the rate-setting committee kept the benchmark rate at 13.75%, some committee members noted that the fiscal package presented by the Finance Ministry should mitigate the fiscal risks. Nonetheless, "it will be important to monitor the challenges for its implementation," the minutes added.
Read more
Two Bank of England officials warned that Britain’s departure from the European Union is helping to stoke inflation and is one of the factors pushing up interest rates, Bloomberg News reported. Chief Economist Huw Pill said Monday the trade blow dealt by Brexit adds to risks of the UK economy overheating. Policy maker Catherine Mann earlier in the day said Brexit was a “unique” shock that’s fueling inflation in the UK.
Read more
British consumers would be limited to holding a maximum of 20,000 pounds ($24,000) each if the Bank of England goes ahead with a digital version of the British currency, BoE Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Britain's government said on Monday that it and the BoE were pressing on with work on a possible digital pound that was likely to enter circulation in the second half of this decade, though no final decision has been made on whether to go ahead.
Read more
The absence of Chinese visitors devastated Thailand, where officials say tourism accounted for a fifth of gross domestic product in 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported. About a quarter of arrivals that year came from China, bringing in 40% of international tourism revenue. By the time Thailand reopened its borders in October 2021, many businesses that relied wholly on the Chinese market had collapsed. China’s strict zero-Covid policy kept its citizens from traveling abroad until rules were eased in January, raising hopes for a surge of pent-up demand.
Read more
Canada's Hut 8 Mining Corp. will merge with rival US Bitcoin Corp. to create a crypto mining giant in North America, consolidating after a steep fall in valuations for the crypto sector that saw high-profile collapses in recent months, Reuters reported. The companies said the combined entity will have a market capitalization of around $990 million, and be equally owned by shareholders of both the companies. The merged entity, to be called Hut 8 Corp, will be listed on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq after the all-stock deal.
Read more
Moldova's central bank has cut its key interest rate to 17% from 20% as consumer price inflation has continued to slow, Central Bank Governor Octavian Armasu said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Armasu said the central bank expected consumer price inflation to slow to 13.7% this year after peaking in 2022. He noted inflation slowed to 30.2% in December compared with 34.6% in October last year. "The decision is based on disinflationary processes in the short term and it is aimed at supporting the national economy and businesses," he told a news briefing.
Read more