The Business Matrix: Saturday 8 October 2011

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YouTube to rent films online

YouTube is launching a film rental service in the UK after sealing deals with distributors and studios such as Sony and Warner Bros. Users will be able to rent more than 1,000 films – from Red Riding Hood to The Meaning of Life. The films will be streamed, meaning that customers will need to be connected to the internet to watch them.

Spain and Italy downgraded

The eurozone debt crisis intensified last night after Spain and Italy – countries regarded as too big to bail out – suffered fresh cuts to their credit ratings. The move by Fitch will push up their borrowing costs and heap pressure on the leaders of France and Germany, who meet tomorrow, to find a solution to the Continent’s debt problems.

Westland to cut 375 jobs

Agusta Westland is to cut 375 jobs in the UK due to falling revenues from the Ministry of Defence and slowing export orders. The helicopter maker, owned by Italian defence group Finmeccanica, said the jobs would be lost mainly from its management and corporate staff at its Yeovil headquarters and at its base in Farnborough.

Shoppers on the decrease

Visitor numbers through the UK’s shops and shopping centres fell by 2.4 per cent in September and by 0.8 per cent compared to August, according to credit checking firm Experian’s footfall index. The north-west, east Midlands, west Midlands and eastern regions saw yearon- year decreases of between 3.3 per cent and 4.3 per cent.

MediaTek deal with Imagination

The graphics chip designer Imagination Technologies has signed an agreement with MediaTek, a major producer of semiconductors for mobile phones and consumer electronics. MediaTek will use Imagination’s technology in its products aimed at the digital TV market.

Sony looks to buy out Ericsson

Sony is in talks to buy out Ericsson from their 10-year-old mobile phone joint venture in a bid to catch up with rivals. The move could help Sony challenge Apple and Samsung. Tablets, games devices and other consumer electronics are offered by Sony, while smartphones come from Sony Ericsson.

Factory gate inflation rises

The price of goods leaving the factory gate rose at the fastest rate for three years, the Office for National Statistics revealed, a day after the Governor of the Bank of England insisted inflation would soon begin to fall. Producer prices were 6.3 per cent higher in September than a year ago, as raw materials costs rose 17.5 per cent.

Clementi to chair Virgin Money

Virgin Money has named Sir David Clementi, a former Bank of England deputy governor, as its new chairman, as Virgin looks to expand its financial services arm to take on Britain’s major banks. Virgin Money, part of billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is preparing to bid for Northern Rock.

Jobs numbers boost in US

The US economy got an unexpected boost yesterday, with new figures revealing it created 103,000 jobs last month, some 40,000 more than expected. However, the US unemployment rate remained at 9.1 per cent, a figure described as “unacceptably high” by a White House spokesman .