Thursday, May 12, 2016

Apple shares drop to near two-year low; Nissan to buy $2bn stake in Mitsubishi; Across world cities, air pollution rising at 'alarming rate'

1 Apple shares drop to near two-year low (BBC) Shares of Apple have fallen below $90 for the first time in nearly two years amid investors' concerns about slumping sales of iPhones. On Thursday, a report citing a source within Apple said suppliers in Taiwan should expect fewer orders. The pace of iPhone sales has slowed, particularly in Asia, and there are no major new product releases scheduled.

The tech giant is vying with Google's parent firm, Alphabet, for the title of the world's most valuable company. Alphabet claimed the most valuable company spot in February after reporting its 2015 financial results, but had fallen back below Apple in the following weeks.

Shares of Apple have been falling since April after the company's first-quarter earning report showed slowing demand. Apple's stock price fell 3.3% to $89.47 during afternoon trading, leaving its market valuation at $494bn. However, it later recovered slightly, closing 2.4% down at $90.34

2 Nissan to buy $2bn stake in Mitsubishi (Straits Times) Nissan has thrown a lifeline to Mitsubishi Motors as it announced plans to buy a one-third stake in the scandal-hit automaker for $2.2 billion, forging an alliance that will challenge some of the world's biggest auto groups.

Japan's second-biggest carmaker will take a 34 per cent stake in Mitsubishi, chief executive Carlos Ghosn said, in return for a proportionate number of board seats and the right to appoint Mitsubishi's chairman. The news comes after Mitsubishi was plunged into crisis following bombshell revelations that it had been cheating on fuel economy tests for years - sparking questions about the company's future.
Based on Mitsubishi's most recent statements, more fraudulently tested vehicles were sold under the Nissan brand - for which it manufactures minicars - than its own marque. Nissan's move is a bold way of inoculating itself against the fallout from the scandal, while becoming the top shareholder in Japan's smallest automaker at a discount. Further collaboration between the two will also represent another step towards a much-needed realignment of Japan's crowded car industry.

Their sales lumped together would top 9.5 million units annually, not far behind the 10.15 million sold last year by Toyota, the world's top automaker, and the 9.9 million by German giant Volkswagen. The new tie-up gives Nissan access to Mitsubishi's strong foothold in South-east Asia and some key technology, including hybrids and minicars, which are hugely popular in Japan.

3 Across world cities, air pollution rising at ‘alarming rate’ (John Vidal in The Guardian) Outdoor air pollution has grown 8% globally in the past five years, with billions of people around the world now exposed to dangerous air, according to new data from more than 3,000 cities compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

While all regions are affected, fast-growing cities in the Middle East, south-east Asia and the western Pacific are the most impacted with many showing pollution levels at five to 10 times above WHO recommended levels.  According to the new WHO database, levels of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5s) are highest in India, which has 16 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities.

China, which has been plagued by air pollution, has improved its air quality since 2011 and now has only five cities in the top 30. Nine other countries, including Pakistan and Iran, have one city each in the worst 30.

For the larger, but slightly less dangerous PM10 particles, India has eight cities in the world’s top 30. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan each have two cities in the top 10. The true figure for the growth in global air pollution is likely to be worse because only a handful of African cities monitor their levels.

The most polluted city in the world, according to the WHO data, is Onitsha, a fast-growing port and transit city in south-eastern Nigeria that recorded levels of nearly 600 micrograms per cubic metre of PM10s - around 20 times the WHO recommended level.

The UN’s third outdoor air pollution database suggests the cleanest cities in the world are generally small, wealthy and situated far from industrial centres. Muonio in Finland, a town above the Arctic circle, has the world’s purest recorded urban air, recording just 2 micrograms per cubic metre of PM2.5 pollution and 4 micrograms per cubic metre of PM10s. It is closely followed by Norman Wells in Canada, Campis√°balos in Spain and Converse County, Wyoming in the US.

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