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Archive for December 9th, 2009|Daily archive page

Stocks tumble as investors worry over news

In Vietnam Stock Market on December 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm

The VN Index, a measure of 187 companies and four mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, fell 3.65 percent December 9 to the lowest since August 3.

The benchmark lost 17.84 points to finish at 470.63 as investors worried over a dearth of news.

On the index, eight advanced, 174 fell and nine were unchanged with most blue-chips dumped. Yet trading improved 37 percent in volume and 28 percent in value over Tuesday as more than 46 million shares worth VND1.8 trillion (US$98.4 million) changed hands.

Saigon Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) which gave up 4.58 percent to VND22,900 was the most active stock in volume with more than 4.34 million shares traded.

Next were Vietnam Export Import Bank or Eximbank (EIB) which had more than 3.14 million shares traded at 3.78 percent down from Tuesday or VND22,900, and Saigon Securities Inc. which had 2.27 million shares traded at VND73,500. Vietnam’s largest brokerage closed down 3.92 percent.

Vincom Joint Stock Co. (VIC), Vietnam’s biggest listed property company, fell 1.9 percent to VND103,000, the lowest since November 13. The company plans to sell an extra 160.37 million shares in the first quarter next year to raise its registered capital to VND3.6 trillion from VND1.99 trillion, it said in a statement filed on the exchange’s website.

Hoa Sen Group (HSG), which manufactures steel and plastic building products, dropped 4.8 percent to VND43,300. Ban Viet Securities Investment Fund plans to cut its entire stake in the company, according to a statement filed on the website. The fund will start selling 50,000 shares from December 10.

Overseas investors bought a net VND46 billion ($2.5 million) of stocks on the exchange Tuesday, increasing net investment so far this year to VND1.9 trillion, the exchange said on its website. In the whole of last year, investors bought VND5.8 trillion of shares.

The northern market also stayed in the red as the HNX-Index tumbled 4.81 percent, or 7.48 points, to 147.91. More than 18.7 million shares were traded at VND530 billion.

The UP-CoM Index dropped 1.86 percent to 57.57. A total of 50,247 shares worth VND762.25 million were traded.

In the US, stocks fell Tuesday as investors sought safety after concerns about spiraling debt loads and disappointing corporate reports tarnished hopes for an economic recovery. Traders turned away from stocks and put money into safe-haven assets like the dollar and Treasurys.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1 percent, to 10,285.97. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1 percent to 1,091.94 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.8 percent to 2,172.99.


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Banks follow central bank, raise interest rates

In Vietnam Banking Finance on December 9, 2009 at 1:40 pm


Customers at a Techcombank branch, HCMC. Several banks have hiked deposit and loan interest rates after the central bank increased the prime rate to 8 percent. (Photo: SGGP)

After the State Bank of Vietnam increased the prime rate to 8 percent, several commercial banks have hiked deposit interest rates to a maximum of 10.49 percent.

Interest rates on US dollar deposits have also climbed by 0.3-0.7 percent to a maximum of 4.5 percent. 

Credit interest rates have also gone up — by 0.5-2 percent in case of dong loans to 11–17 percent, and 0.3-0.5 percent in case of dollar loans to 5.5-7.5 percent on short-term loans and 6-8 percent on medium- and long-term loans.

Many commercial banks have begun to resume selling of foreign currencies to help stabilize the forex market, the central bank said.

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Online medicine floor to open

In Vietnam Health on December 9, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Vietnam ’s first online medicine transaction floor will be open late this month at the web address

The floor, built by the Vietnam Pharmaceutical Companies Association (VPCA) is a new platform for both domestic and foreign-funded businesses, specialising in the production and trading of drugs, medical equipment, technologies and services.

VPCA chairman Do Van Doanh said that the floor was expected to stimulate domestic consumption and improve public awareness of made-in-Vietnam drugs and medical trademarks.

It was also a gateway for domestic enterprises and foreign partners to expand co-operation, Doanh said. With a population of more than 80 million, experts said that potential for growth in the Vietnamese pharmaceutical industry was high. The industry is expected to sell between US$12 and 15 worth of drugs per capita by 2010.

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Korean actor Cha Tae Hyun in HCMC

In Vietnam Culture on December 9, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Renowned actor Cha Tae Hyun from South Korea met with Vietnamese fans in Ho Chi Minh City December 7 at the premiere of his latest movie “Scandal Makers.”

Korea renowned actor Cha Tae Hyun (R) and actress Ngo Thanh Van

He arrived on December 6 to promote the comedy at Lotte Cinema in District 7, as well as to attend the 16th Vietnam Film Festival taking place December 7-12. The congenial actor spoke with excited fans as they took photos of Hyun and Vietnamese actress Ngo Thanh Van, who also attended the premiere.

The Korean movie star was surprised he had such a fan club in Vietnam.

“I wasn’t expecting so many Vietnamese admirers,” Hyun said. “I was extremely moved to be welcomed by fans at the airport yesterday.”

The actor said that if offered the chance, he would love to play a role in a Vietnamese film. Hyun said he was familiar with several Vietnamese directors and would like to work with them.

Born in 1976 in Seoul, Hyun is also a television actor and singer. He shot to fame across Asia after landing a starring role in the 2001 romantic comedy “My Sassy Girl”.

Hyun has won many awards over the years including the Audience Choice honor at the 2003 Blue Dragon Film Awards, the Promising Star award at the 2000 SBS Actors Awards, and Rookie of the Year at the SBS Actors Awards and MBC Actors Awards in 1999.

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16th Vietnam film festival opens in HCMC

In Vietnam Culture on December 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Artists, directors, and producers from several generations gathered in Ho Chi Minh City for the opening ceremony of the 16th Vietnam Film Festival at the White Palace Convention Center City December 8.

Actors and actresses take part in the grand opening ceremony of the 16th Vietnam film festival on December 8 in Ho Chi Minh City.

Titled “For the renewal and integration Vietnamese film industry,” this year’s festival will celebrate the Vietnamese film industry’s golden jubilee.

“The Vietnam film festival is a chance to honor movie talents as well as raise the national film industry to the standards of the world film industry. I hope the 16th Vietnam film festival will be a memorable event,” Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan said in a letter she wrote to organizers.

Delegations from Cambodia, China, Finland, Laos, Korea, and the US are attending the event.

Organized by the Department of Movies and the city Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, the five-day festival will screen 99 pictures.

There will also be a fair titled “Movies and Audiences,” an exhibition with booths set up by 17 local production companies, and seminars, including one on introduction of high-definition (HD) technology.

Beside the usual Golden Lotus and Silver Lotus awards, it will offer two new awards this year to films chosen by the audience, and the jury and media.

Related article:
HCMC to host Vietnam film festival

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United Airlines sees 20% growth in five years’ Vietnam service

In Vietnam Travel on December 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

United Airlines, the world’s second largest airline, said it has recorded average yearly growth of 20% in passenger traffic to Vietnam over the past five years.

A United Airlines plane

The American carrier is celebrating its fifth anniversary of operations in Vietnam this week. In December 2004, United became the first US carrier to fly to Vietnam, operating a daily service between San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City via Hong Kong, using Boeing 747-400 aircraft.

United has served transported more than 700,000 passengers in the past five years, contributing into fostering trade and tourism ties between the two countries, said Ms. Clodelsa Ty, United Airlines country manager in Vietnam.

The airline will make a lucky draw for its passengers on December 11, with prizes including a round trip ticket from HCMC to San Francisco, a round trip ticket from HCM City to Hong Kong, cabin upgrades on next trips, lounge invitations and souvenirs.

United has brought into service 180-degree fully-flat bed seats with iPod connectivity to its First and Business Class on all flights in and out of Vietnam.

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Tours to Laos for 25th SEA Games sold out

In Vietnam Travel on December 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm

The number of tours booked to Laos for the 25th SEA Games skyrocketed after Vietnam’s U23 football squad beat Malaysia and moved closer to the finals on Sunday, said travel companies.

Vietnamese fans travel to Laos to encourage the national U-23 football team at the 25th SEA Games. (Photo: SGGP)
On the morning of December 7, 123 people signed up for tours beginning December 13 and 16 to watch the semifinal match on December 14 and the final on December 17, said the Fiditour Company.

Saigontourist, meanwhile, sold 400 Laos tours.

Due to the small capacity of seats in Vientiane, Laos’ stadiums, securing tickets to the events has been difficult.  

Travel firms, however, said that all visitors who sign up for tours are guaranteed tickets provided by the firms’ partners in Vientiane.

Most tourists have registered for road tours as airline tickets to Laos are already sold out.

A 5 day/4 night package beginning December 13 or 16 is around VND7,630,000 (US$400), including a game ticket worth $40 for the semifinal match or $50 for the final, said Fiditour.


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Japan’s Q3 GDP growth revised down to 1.3 percent

In World on December 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s economy grew at a much slower rate than previously thought in the third quarter, fresh data showed Wednesday, as the country struggles to emerge from a crushing recession weighed by a soaring yen.

Businessmen pass a share prices board in Tokyo. (AFP photo)

The world’s number two economy expanded at an annualised rate of 1.3 percent in the July-September quarter, sharply down from the original estimate of 4.8 percent, the Cabinet Office said.

It meant the economy — which early this year emerged from its worst post-war recession — expanded just 0.3 percent in the three months, compared with the initial estimate of 1.2 percent, it said.

The revision came as capital investment, the amount companies spend, was revised down to reveal a contraction of 2.8 percent from an original estimate of 1.6 percent growth, the Cabinet Office said.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama admitted the difficulty of navigating the economy out of deep stagnation and stressed the benefits of a new government stimulus package announced Tuesday.

“As the Japanese people are already feeling, the economy is not necessarily doing fine,” he told reporters. “I would like to take appropriate economic policies going forward.”

His government announced a fresh stimulus package worth 274 billion dollars, with 80 billion dollars in direct spending, that includes environmental programmes, assistance for small businesses and help to local communities.

“If you look at our new economic growth strategies, you will feel that things no longer match the status quo,” Hatoyama said, referring to his centre-left party’s election win that ended decades of conservative rule.

Hatoyama has been criticised as being too slow to act, with the latest package seen as likely to have only a limited effect on the economy.

Private economists on average expected the revised data to show annualised growth of 2.7 percent, with most saying the original estimate was too high.

Japan’s economy has struggled as the yen strengthens against the greenback — with it hitting a 14-year high around 84 to the dollar — hurting exporters by making their products expensive and reducing overseas earnings when converted back into yen.

The government last month declared the nation was in deflation, while consumer spending remained weak.

“The domestic economic sentiment has been terrible,” said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JP Morgan Securities.

“The three reasons for the terrible sentiment are the yen’s rise, deflation and mistrust in the government’s policies.”

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French firm looks to buy UK’s Camelot: report

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2009 at 1:37 pm

French lottery group La Française des jeux is looking into buying British company Camelot which runs the UK’s National Lottery, it has been reported. (AFP file)

PARIS, Dec 8 (AFP) – French lottery group La Française des jeux (FdJ) is looking into buying Camelot which runs the country’s National Lottery, it has been reported.

Economic dailies Le Figaro Economique and Les Echos said FdJ had until early 2010 to make a bid, but the two newspapers said the deal was far from certain.

Le Figaro Economique said Virgin founder Richard Branson, who has twice tried to buy Camelot, had teamed up with Dutch private company People’s Postcode Lottery in a third bid.

Other potential candidates included Indian lottery Sugal & Damani, and Italy’s Lottomatica, number one in Europe ahead of Française des jeux, along with investment funds.

Les Echos said the candidature of a public monopoly to buy a cross-Channel private company could raise some eyebrows.

Asked by AFP about the possibility of such an operation, FdJ refused to comment.

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Iraqi leaders come under fire over Baghdad blasts

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi leaders were set to come under fire Wednesday, having failed to prevent a spate of attacks in Baghdad that killed 127 people, the third major set of bombings to hit the capital since August.

The blasts undermined the government’s claims of improved security and MPs quickly demanded that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the government’s security ministers answer for any failings that led to the attacks.

Iraqi rescue workers remove a body at the scene of a bomb blast near the Finance Ministry in Baghdad. (AFP photo)

The United States, United Nations, Arab League and Britain, meanwhile, led international condemnation of Tuesday’s bombings, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon calling them “horrendous” and “unacceptable.”

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, whose department is responsible for police forces across Iraq, welcomed being questioned by lawmakers in the Council of Representatives over the attacks, which a senior security spokesman said bore “the touch of Al-Qaeda.”

“I am ready to go to parliament on the condition that the session be public,” Bolani told AFP.

The bombings all struck Baghdad within minutes of each other on Tuesday morning.Related article: Emergency workers soldier on.

One suicide attacker detonated his payload at a finance ministry office, another struck at a tunnel leading to the labour ministry and a third drove a four-wheel-drive car into a courthouse.

A fourth suicide bomber in a car struck a police patrol in Dora in southern Baghdad, causing 15 deaths, 12 of them students at a nearby technical college, an interior ministry official said.

Another car bomb hit interior ministry offices in central Baghdad.

An interior ministry official said 127 people had been killed and 448 wounded in the bombings.

Maliki called Tuesday’s attacks a “cowardly” attempt “to cause chaos… and hinder the election,” and said they were deliberately timed to come after MPs on Sunday agreed on a new electoral law.

He blamed “foreign elements” who backed Al-Qaeda.

The courthouse bombing destroyed a large part of the building, with falling concrete killing several people, emergency workers said.

Mangled wrecks of cars, some flipped on their roofs, lined the street opposite the courthouse, and several parked vehicles were crushed by collapsed blast walls.

Near the finance ministry, several houses were completely destroyed and a two-metre (6.5-foot) deep crater marked the site of the explosion.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, the timing of the blasts and the fact that three targeted government buildings suggested an Al-Qaeda operation.Related article: Recent bloodshed in Iraq

“This has the touch of Al-Qaeda and the Baathists,” Major General Qassim Atta, spokesman for security operations in Baghdad, told AFP, referring to the outlawed Baath party of now executed dictator Saddam.

Both groups were blamed for bloody attacks — including truck bombings of the finance, foreign and justice ministries — in Baghdad in August and October that killed more than 250 and punctured confidence in Iraq’s security forces.

“Such attacks are war crimes,” London-based rights group Amnesty International said in a statement.

Those caught up in the devastation described scenes of horror.

“I heard the sound of the explosion, I fainted, then I found myself on this bed covered with blood,” Um Saeed, who was wounded in the face and arms by the courthouse blast, told AFP at a local hospital.

Jamal Amin, who works at a restaurant near the finance ministry, said: “I was standing in front of the restaurant. People started to shout, ‘suicide bomber, suicide bomber!’

“I saw a mini-bus, and then the explosion happened and I lost consciousness. I woke up in the hospital.”

An official at Medical City hospital said many of the 39 bodies they had received “had been blown apart.”

Violence across Iraq dropped dramatically last month, with the fewest number of deaths in attacks recorded since the invasion in 2003. Official figures showed a total of 122 people were killed in November.

Both the Baghdad government and the US military have warned of a rise in attacks in the run-up to the election.

Presidential chief-of-staff Nasser al-Ani told Iraqi state television on Tuesday the election will be on March 7, after the presidency council said earlier that March 6 had been chosen as the date for the vote.

Despite Tuesday’s attacks US forces remain on track to begin withdrawing from Iraq in large numbers next year, the top US military officer said.

Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that while the withdrawal of US forces in Iraq was “on a balance” with the buildup in Afghanistan, nothing that has happened so far would upset plans.

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