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From beers to cars, German consumers face higher prices

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October 28, 2021

By Michael Nienaber

BERLIN (Reuters) -German consumers face a rise in prices for goods across the board as more and more companies in Europe’s largest economy pass on higher production costs, driven by widespread supply shortages and a spike in energy prices.

While the development is helping firms to improve corporate margins after the coronavirus shock, consumers are feeling the pinch of higher prices, which could hurt household spending and ultimately domestic demand if wage growth is not keeping up.

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In its latest business sentiment survey, the Munich-based Ifo institute said on Monday that every second industrial firm in Germany is already planning to hike prices due to persistent supply problems, a record high.

Consumer price inflation, harmonised to make it comparable with other euro zone countries, accelerated in October at an unprecedented pace of 4.6% on the year, from 4.1% in the previous month, data showed on Thursday.

The reading was the highest recorded since January 1997, when the EU-harmonised series began.

For 2021 as a whole, the government expects the national inflation rate to reach 3%, the highest in nearly three decades, before easing to 2.2% in 2022 and 1.7% in 2023.

Thanks to state aid measures to cushion the effects of the pandemic, the government hopes that consumers’ disposable income will rise by 2.5% this year and 3.8% next, which could help stabilize domestic demand despite the price surge.

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But for many consumers, the unusually high inflation is being felt nonetheless, with doubts growing that the price hike will only be temporary as suggested by central bankers.

Germany’s largest brewery, the Radeberger Group, said it plans to raise its beer prices next spring in two stages for both the hospitality and retail industries due to the rising costs of utilities, logistics and raw materials.

“These cost increases can no longer be compensated for by simply increasing efficiency,” a Radeberger spokesperson said.

“We therefore feel compelled to pass on these cost explosions with a sense of proportion, at least in part, in our sales prices,” the spokesperson said.

Bars, restaurants and hotels will have to pay more for beer from Feb. 1 onwards, while beverage retailers and supermarkets will face a price hike from May 1 onwards.

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The Radeberger spokesperson declined to comment on a report in food industry magazine Lebenmittel Zeitung which said the brewer was eyeing an average price increase of up to 6%.

Other large breweries, including Krombacher and Veltins, have also announced plans to increase beer prices in spring.

In the automobile sector, a scarcity of microchips and other electronic components is driving up production costs, putting the brakes on production and enabling manufacturers such as BMW to grant smaller discounts than normal.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Wednesday, when presenting the government’s reduced growth outlook, that auto makers are currently not able to build hundreds of thousands of cars due to the lack of semiconductors.

The scarce supply and limited output means that car manufacturers have to make fewer concessions on prices when selling new models and re-selling leasing vehicles.

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“BMW and Mercedes are compensating a large part of the lost volume with a better product mix and higher prices,” analysts from Stifel Research said in a research note.

A BMW spokesperson said last month that the market for leasing vehicles had developed more favourably over the course of the year than initially expected.

Other German companies planning to pass on higher raw material and energy costs to clients include Nivea maker Beiersdorf, forklift manufacturer Jungheinrich and construction material specialist HeidelbergCement.

Among manufacturers of consumer products, German sportswear company Puma said on Wednesday that supply chain issues, compounded by higher raw material costs, could feed through to higher prices in the second half of 2022.

In the short term, the supply chain problems could lead to empty shop shelves ahead of the Christmas season, Puma Chief Executive Bourn Gulden warned, adding: “I told my wife: If you want to buy Christmas presents, you should buy now.”

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(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Bernadette Baum)

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Apple starts legal action against Russian regulator in App Store dispute -RIA

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December 6, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Apple has started legal proceedings against Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator in a dispute concerning alternative payment options on its App Store platform, the RIA news agency reported on Sunday citing court filings.

Russia opened an antitrust case against Apple in late October, accusing it of failing to allow app developers to tell customers about alternative payment options when using its App Store. It said Apple could face a fine based on its revenue in Russia if found guilty.

In documents published on Dec. 1, the Moscow Arbitration Court listed Apple as a claimant and Russia’s Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) as a defendant in “economic disputes over administrative legal relations.”

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Apple, which did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, demanded that additional documents be added to the case on Dec. 2, RIA reported.

Forbes Russia cited a FAS representative as saying that the proceedings related to a warning it issued on Aug. 30 over Apple’s alleged failure to inform users they could also pay for purchases outside the App Store.

The FAS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple faced pushback over its App Store rules in the United States in September when a federal judge issued a ruling forcing the company to allow developers to send their users to other payment systems.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Weaker foreign demand sinks German industrial orders in October

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December 6, 2021

By Michael Nienaber

BERLIN (Reuters) -Weaker demand from abroad drove a much bigger than expected drop in German industrial orders, including cars, in October, data showed on Monday, further clouding the growth outlook for manufacturers in Europe’s largest economy.

A pandemic-related scarcity of microchips and other electronic components has caused massive supply bottlenecks and production problems in Germany’s mighty automobile industry and other important sectors of the economy.

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Orders for goods ‘Made in Germany’ dropped 6.9% on the month in seasonally adjusted terms after a revised rise of 1.8% in September and a plunge of 8.8% in August, figures from the Federal Statistics Office showed.

A Reuters poll of analysts had pointed to a smaller decline of 0.5% on the month in October.

“After incoming orders climbed to an all-time high in mid-2021, the index has lost more than 16 points in recent months,” the economy ministry said, adding that the second sharp decline within three months put a further damper on the economic outlook.

Excluding distorting factors from bookings for big ticket items such as planes, industrial orders were still down 1.8%, the data showed.

The drop was driven by a decline in foreign orders of more than 13% on the month, with demand from countries outside the euro zone such as China particularly weak. Orders from domestic clients rose 3.4%.

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“New lockdowns in Asia are slowing industry in Germany,” VP Bank analyst Thomas Gitzel said. He added that the current wave of coronavirus infections across the globe was putting a renewed burden on the world economy.

Gitzel said that domestic demand should remain strong, helped by the new ruling coalition’s commitment to massive investment in the green economy.

“The decarbonization of the economy requires major investments in new technologies. German industry can and will benefit from this,” Gitzel said.

The weak orders data suggest that manufacturing will hamper overall economic growth in the coming months, with analysts expecting stagnation at best in the final quarter of this year.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Kirsti Knolle and Philippa Fletcher)

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Marketmind: Chasing the Omicron dip

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December 6, 2021

A look at the day ahead from Julien Ponthus.

Buying the dip triggered by the Omicron COVID-19 variant across global markets has proven a costly strategy so far. But some investors seem determined to have another go.

European and U.S. stocks futures are trading sharply higher after ending last week on a sour note and notwithstanding a dismal day in Asia where an MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost about 0.9%.

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The region has seen a series of corporate setbacks after ride-hailing giant Didi decided to withdraw from the New York stock exchange last week.

Shares in China Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, plunged 14% after it said there was no guarantee it would have enough funds to meet debt repayments.

Another giant, Alibaba dropped 5% after announcing it would reorganise its international and domestic e-commerce businesses. And U.S. regulatory opposition to the sale of Softbank-owned chip firm Arm pushed the Japanese conglomerate 8% lower.

But the mood is lighter already across Europe, allowing 10-year Treasury yields to claw back some of Friday’s falls which took them below 1.4% for the first time since late September.

There are five trading sessions left before Friday’s U.S. consumer price report which some reckon will provide the green light for the Federal Reserve to accelerate its tapering of bond purchases.

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Oil prices too rose by more than $1 a barrel after Saudi Arabia raised prices for its crude sold to Asia and the United States.

And if the market mood is perking up, there is no sign of that in Bitcoin which has fallen further and is now at $48,244 — some $20,000 below peaks hit a month ago.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Monday:

-Vivendi is open to discuss with Rome over state control on TIM’s network

-Alibaba overhauls e-commerce businesses, names new CFO

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-Swiss National Bank Vice Chairman Zurbruegg to retire in July 2022

-Weaker foreign demand sinks German industrial orders in October

-CBI cuts UK economic growth forecasts on supply chain hit

-Euro zone finance ministers to discuss 2022 draft budgets, euro summit

– Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India

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– UK construction PMI/new car sales

-Euro zone finance ministers to discuss 2022 draft budgets, euro summit

BOE deputy Governor Broadbent, ECB Governor Lagarde and board member Panetta speak:

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Sujata Rao)

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