Market Commentary: China announces new steps to boost growth

European stocks were little changed, after falling yesterday from a six-year high, as investors awaited data on U.S. retail sales and jobless claims to gauge the health of the world’s largest economy.

China announced new steps aimed at bolstering slowing economic growth by cutting taxes, spending more on developing the Yangtze River region and expanding financing for exporters.

China will boost public investment in railway, highway, waterways, and aviation-network construction in the Yangtze River basin and cut some utility companies’ taxes by a total of about 24 billion yuan ($3.9 billion) a year.

In corporate news, Georges Chodron de Courcel, a chief operating officer of BNP Paribas SA, will step down this month as U.S. authorities prepare to fine the bank for its dealings with sanctioned countries.

Chodron de Courcel, 64, is leaving June 30 at his own request in order to continue fulfilling director roles at other listed companies, Paris-based BNP said in a statement on its website today. He will retire at the end of September.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s purchase of the rest of UCWeb Inc. will help China’s largest e-commerce company boost its mobile-search business as it prepares for an initial public offering, a UCWeb executive said.

Alibaba’s deal for the remaining one-third of UCWeb it didn’t already own may increase its valuation before the share sale, Yu Yongfu, president of Alibaba UCWeb Mobile Business Group, said during a briefing in Beijing today. UCWeb is valued at more than double the $1.9 billion paid by Baidu Inc. last year for 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd., Yu said without disclosing the price.

Sony Corp.’s television sales revenue jumped the most in the first quarter since at least 2012 as global demand increased amid the Winter Olympics and before the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil.

Sony sales rose 30 percent to $2.15 billion, compared with $1.65 billion a year earlier. Samsung Electronics Co. generated the most sales in the quarter with about $9 billion, a 1 percent increase, and LG Electronics Inc., TCL Corp., Sony and Skyworth Digital Holdings Ltd. made up the rest of the top five.

Aer Lingus Group Plc, the Irish airline part-owned by Ryanair Holdings Plc, cut its earnings forecast for this year as a strike and threat of further industrial action hit bookings. The shares dropped.

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