Business Briefs – February 14, 2016

Eurozone Economy Grew A Paltry 0.3 Percent in Q4

BRUSSELS (AP) – The 19-country eurozone grew by a paltry quarterly rate of 0.3 percent in the final three months of 2015 despite tail winds such as cheap energy, an export-boosting drop in the currency and monetary stimulus.

The growth reported Friday by the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, was in line with market expectations after earlier reports showed Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, grew at the same rate and France, the region’s number 2, expanded by 0.2 percent.

Over the whole of 2015, the eurozone grew 1.5 percent. Though that’s the highest level since 2011, growth remains way below levels that would markedly reduce the bloc’s unemployment rate, which is still above 10 percent.

U.S. Retail Sales Rise as Consumers Shrug Off Stock Price Drop

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. retail sales rose modestly in January, evidence that Americans kept shopping despite sharp drops in stock prices.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent last month, the same as in December. Excluding the effect of falling gas prices, sales rose 0.4 percent.

Sales in December were revised higher from an initial estimate of a 0.1 percent drop.

Coke Suspends Bottling at Plant At Center of Water Dispute

NEW DELHI (AP) – Coca-Cola suspended bottling at three plants in India, including one in the parched northwest where farmers have been protesting the company’s use of dwindling groundwater reserves.

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, which is a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Co. based in Atlanta, said it was reorganizing operations across its 24 franchise bottling plants in India according to market demand and factory upgrades.

The company’s action, however, follows more than a decade of agitation by farmers in the state of Rajasthan, where groundwater levels have been plummeting.

Visa Discloses Stake In Dorsey’s Company, Square

NEW YORK (AP) – Shares in the mobile payment services company Square rose sharply Friday after Visa disclosed the details of its ownership stake in the company.

While Visa’s stake amounts to about 1 percent of the company, and the stake was established at least 5 years ago, investors interpreted the announcement as a major endorsement of Square by Visa, the world’s largest payment processing company.

According to a regulatory filing, Visa owns 4.2 million of Square’s Class B shares. While Class B shares are not traded publicly they could be converted to 3.5 million Class A shares, which would leave the Visa with 10 percent of that class of shares. That conversion would amount to just 1 percent of Square’s total outstanding shares.

After Review, HSBC Decides To Keep Headquarters In London

LONDON (AP) — International bank HSBC says it has decided to keep its headquarters in London after considering a move to Hong Kong in response to tougher U.K. banking regulations.

The bank said Sunday that the board’s decision had been unanimous.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said “having our headquarters in the U.K. and our significant business in Asia Pacific delivers the best of both worlds to our stakeholders.”

A headquarters move would have been a huge blow to Britain’s Conservative government, which wants to retain London’s status as a global financial power.

Britain’s Treasury said HSBC’s decision was “a vote of confidence in the government’s economic plan, and a boost to our goal of making the U.K. a great place to do more business with China and the rest of Asia.”