Harley-Davidson forecasts more falling sales

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are offered for sale at Chicago Harley-DavidsonImage copyright Getty Images

Shares in Harley-Davidson are down about 8% in New York after the motorcycle maker slashed its sales forecast for this year.

The Milwaukee-based firm now expects to sell between 241,000 and 246,000 bikes this year, down from 262,221 last year.

Demand has been dropping for years.A decade ago it was selling almost 350,000 annually.

Harley is also facing competition from cheaper bikes made by the likes of India's Polaris and Japan's Honda.

In a BBC interview earlier this year, the boss of the firm, Matthew Levatich, said his iconic motorcycle company was "emblematic" of what the Trump administration thought a home-grown US company should be.

But in its second quarter results, published on Tuesday, the company said sales would be down sufficiently for it to need to cut production, and workers' hours, at some of its US plants.

Harley-Davidson demand has weakened among its aging baby-boomer customers and fewer millennials are taking to motorcycling.

Part of the reason for the fall in demand is that its loyal customers are ageing, and, as they do, they sell their bikes, dampening the appetite for new vehicles.

Despite this, the company said it was not looking to cut new bike prices in the face of these lower used-bike prices.

Harley has tried to counter its image as a high-cost, older age group brand and has introduced a number of models at the lower price range aimed at younger riders.

Across the US, big bikes are falling from fashion.Figures released last week show registrations of large motorcycles fell by about 7% so far this year.

Harley-Davidson's second quarter net income was down almost 8% at $258.9m (£198m).

Revenue per motorcycle rose about $437 to $15,530 in the quarter....

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Software emissions fix for three million Mercedes diesels

Mercedes flagsImage copyright Reuters

Three million Mercedes-Benz owners in Europe will be offered a software fix for their diesel cars.

Daimler, which owns the luxury car maker, has been under intense pressure from police and prosecutors.

Authorities are investigating the possible manipulation of diesel exhaust emissions in passenger cars.

A Daimler spokesman said the software fix, which will cost about 220m euros (£195m), was not linked to the police investigation.

He said the "voluntary service measure" was to cut nitrogen oxide pollution.

"The service actions involve no costs for the customers.The implementation of the measures will be starting in the next weeks," Daimler said.

The measures come after German MPs last week questioned Mercedes-Benz executives about emissions.

At the time the carmaker agreed with the transport ministry to undergo another round of emissions tests.

In May German police searched 11 offices of the carmaker[1] as part of an investigation into possible fraudulent emissions data by employees.

A total of 23 prosecutors and 230 police officers took part in the search in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Berlin, Lower Saxony and Saxony....

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Lockheed Martin profits jump on higher F-35 jet sales

UK F-35Image copyright PA

Increased sales of the F-35 fighter jet have helped Lockheed Martin, the biggest supplier of defence equipment to the US military, to report better-than-expected profits.

The F-35, formerly known as the Joint Strike Fighter, is being built by the US defence giant in partnership with other countries, including the UK.

Lockheed Martin reported a 5% rise in second-quarter profits to $942m.

The company also raised its sales and profit forecasts for 2017.

The company said sales in its aeronautics business, its most important division, were up by almost 20% in the second quarter of the year.

The F-35 programme is the US defence department's most expensive, something President Donald Trump singled out last year for criticism.

The UK has so far ordered 24 of the jets, the first of which are due to go into service with the RAF and the Royal Navy next year.

The short take-off and vertical landing planes, which will be known as the Lightning II, are set to be deployed on the UK's two new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers....

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Pound and FTSE fall as inflation slows

Traders in LondonImage copyright AFP

The pound fell against key currencies after an unexpected slip in inflation - seen as easing pressure on the Bank of England to lift interest rates.

Inflation dropped to 2.6%[1] in June from 2.9% the month before, whereas economists had expected no change.

Sterling had been trading above $1.31 at one point before the inflation figures were released.

However, the inflation data sent the pound down to $1.3038 at the end of London business.

The pound also fell 1% against the euro to 1.1251 euros.

"Today's slowdown in price growth should squash any speculation of a rate hike for the time being," said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

"An August rate hike now looks highly unlikely, but we should remember that the Bank has only limited tolerance for continued above-target inflation and may yet seek to push rates back up to 0.5% this year, if conditions in the wider economy improve whilst inflation remains above 2%."

The fall in the pound initially lifted the FTSE 100[2] share index.The FTSE 100 often moves inversely to sterling, as a weaker pound boosts the value of overseas earnings of the multinational companies in the index.

Having been more than 40 points lower at one point in the morning, the FTSE 100 closed down 13.91 at 7,390.22.

Royal Mail shares rose 3% after the company reported a 1% rise in revenues in the three months to 25 June, helped by its Europe-wide parcels business GLS.

In the UK, the volume of letter deliveries fell again, although general election political mailings helped to slow the decline....

References

  1. ^ Inflation dropped to 2.6% (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ FTSE 100 (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Venezuela denounces 'imperialist' US sanctions threat

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Daniel Moncada speaks during a press conference in Caracas on July 18, 2017.Image copyright AFP Image caption Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said the constituent assembly would go ahead

The Venezuelan government says it will hold elections for a controversial constituent assembly despite the threat of US sanctions.

The assembly would have the power to rewrite the constitution and to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump said he would take "economic actions" if the constituent assembly went ahead.

Mr Trump also called President Maduro "a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator".

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada denounced Mr Trump's words as an "insolent threat".

Mr Trump had warned that "if the Maduro regime imposes its constituent assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions".

But he did not give any details as to what those actions may be.

Mr Trump's warning came hours after the opposition said that 7.6 million people had voted against the constituent assembly in an unofficial referendum on Sunday.

The Venezuelan government disputed the figure given by the opposition and called it a "gigantic fraud".

Increasing pressure

Calls within Venezuela and abroad have been mounting since the results of the referendum were announced.

Opposition politicians say Mr Maduro wants to use it to entrench himself in power, while Mr Maduro argues a new constitution will promote dialogue in the polarised country.

Colombia, France, Spain and the European Union have also demanded that the Venezuelan government drop its plan for the assembly.

Image copyright EPA Image caption The opposition said that 7.6 million people took part in the unofficial referendum

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned it "risks further polarising the country and increasing confrontation".

In response, Mr Maduro called her "insolent" and said that Venezuela was not a colony of the EU.

Venezuela also banned five former Latin American presidents from entering the country.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said that Mexico's Vicente Fox, Bolivia's Jorge Quiroga, Colombia's Andrés Pastrana and Costa Rica's former presidents Laura Chinchilla and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez had been declared personae non gratae.

The former leaders had been part of a delegation who agreed to monitor Sunday's unofficial referendum organised by the Venezuelan opposition.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Former presidents Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and Miguel Angel Rodriguez of Costa Rica

Opposition leaders said they would step up their campaign against the constituent assembly.

They are planning a general strike for Thursday....

References

  1. ^ More on Venezuela's turmoil (www.bbc.co.uk)

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