Greece agrees to fire 15,000 civil service workers

Greece on Monday caved in to demands to cut civil service jobs, announcing 15,000 positions would go this year amid mounting international pressure to agree on austerity measures needed to secure major new debt agreements. The announcement signals a shift in Greece’s policy, as state jobs have so far been protected during the country’s acute financial crisis, which started about two years ago. Unions have called a 24-hour general strike for today in response to the new austerity measures. Greece is racing to push through the painful reforms to clinch a bailout deal from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund and avoid a March default on its bond repayments.

Euro crisis imperils China’s economy

China’s economic expansion would be cut almost in half if Europe’s debt crisis worsens, a scenario that would warrant “significant” fiscal stimulus from the nation’s government, the International Monetary Fund said Monday. Based on the IMF’s “downside” forecast for the global economy, China’s growth could drop by as much as 4 percentage points from the fund’s current projection, which is for 8.2 percent this year, the organization said in a report released Monday by its China office in Beijing. The outlook expands on the IMF’s warning last month that the world could plunge into another recession if Europe’s woes deepen.

Hasbro results slip 1% in 4th quarter

Toy maker Hasbro Inc. said Monday its fourth-quarter profit slipped 1 percent, hurt by softer-than-expected demand in the U.S. and Canada and slow sales of games and puzzles during the key holiday selling season. Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.33 billion. Hasbro owns such classic board games as Monopoly, Life and Scrabble, but board games were not big sellers during the season.

HTC 4th quarter profits fall 26%

Taiwan smartphone maker HTC Corp. says profits dropped 26 percent in the last three months of last year. The weak global economy and intense competition hurt sales. The company says several newly introduced 4G and other high-end smartphones disappointed as competition grew more intense from Apple Inc. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

Yum Brands posts 30% profit increase

The owner of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC chains says its fourth-quarter profit rose 30 percent, thanks to its fast-growing overseas operations and to a strong showing from Pizza Hut in the U.S. Yum Brands Inc. said Monday that Taco Bell had another sluggish quarter in the U.S. The Mexican-style chain is struggling to regain momentum after publicity from a now-dropped lawsuit that questioned the beef content of its taco and burrito fillings. Yum, based in Louisville, Ky., earned $356 million, or 75 cents per share, for the quarter.

From Herald news services