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Asian stock markets lower amid Korean hostilities

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

 Asian stock markets mostly fell Wednesday as investors exited riskier assets amid a tense military standoff between North and South Korea and grew more worried there may be no immediate end in sight to Europe’s debt crisis.

Oil prices rose slightly to near $82 a barrel in Asia as a report showing an unexpected jump in crude inventories provided mixed signals on demand. In currencies, the dollar rose against the yen but was lower against the euro.

South Korea’s financial markets opened sharply lower Wednesday the day after an artillery clash between North and South Korea sent tensions on their divided peninsula soaring. The Kospi index fell 3.3 percent in the opening minutes, though quickly pared losses and was 0.4 percent lower in early afternoon trading at 1,921.29.

A man walks in front of the electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.7 percent to 10,044.52, after briefly falling below the 10,000 mark earlier in the session.

The South Korean won, meanwhile, dropped 2.6 percent against the dollar in early trading, but also recovered to trade 1 percent lower.

Rommel Lee, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp. in Seoul, said that China’s call for a peaceful solution to the tension on the Korean peninsula helped calm nerves among investors Wednesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday called on both sides, without naming them, “to do more to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula.”

“China saying to North Korea, ‘find a peaceful solution to this incident’ caused a positive reaction in the market, and overall it limited the negative effect,” said Lee.

As market jitters over the Korean peninsula eased, investors began to worry anew that the much ballyhooed bailout of Ireland’s banking sector may not be enough to contain Europe’s debt crisis. Stock traders panicked and dumped European shares Tuesday, sending Portugal’s benchmark stock index down 2.2 percent by the close. The euro slid below $1.34 for the first time in two months as investors sought the relatively safety of the dollar.

Spooked by the scale of Greece’s bailout requirements in May and Ireland’s banking failures, international investors are looking much closer at the public finances of eurozone countries and they don’t like what they’re seeing, particularly in Portugal.

“For a while now, investors were pretty complacent over the European credit woes. So I think investors have underestimated how long the Irish problem may drag out,” said Sean Darby, chief Asia Strategist at Nomura Global Equity Research in Hong Kong.

Shares in Australia, Taiwan, and New Zealand were lower, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent to 23,054.61. Benchmarks in Singapore and Shanghai also rose.

The Korean incident had less of an effect on U.S. markets, but investors there still dumped shares heading into the Thanksgiving holiday. Sentiment was also hurt as the Federal Reserve lowered its growth forecast for next year.

In a report releasing minutes from its last meeting Nov. 3, the Fed predicted that the economy will grow only 2.4 percent to 2.5 percent this year. That’s down sharply from a previous projection of 3 percent to 3.5 percent. Next year, the economy will expand by 3 percent to 3.6 percent, the Fed said, also much lower than its June forecast.

Wednesday will bring an unusually large amount of economic data since several reports that normally come out Thursday are being moved up because of the holiday. Reports are due out on weekly claims for unemployment benefits, durable goods and personal income.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.3 percent to 11,036.37, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 1.4 percent to 1,180.73.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was up 37 cents to $81.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 49 cents to settle at $81.25 on Tuesday.

In currencies, the dollar rose slightly to 83.24 yen from 83.16 late Tuesday in New York. The euro rose to $1.3397 from $1.3363.

Source: SGGP

Gold sets record high amid economic fears

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 4:51 am

VN-Index drops to two-week low amid investors’ neglectfulness

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:59 am

Philippines makes arrests, seizes explosives amid alert

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

Yemen probes air parcels amid pressure to root out Qaeda

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2010 at 10:40 am

SANAA (AFP) – Yemen on Saturday launched a probe after explosives were found in air parcels sent to US synagogues from its territory by suspected Al-Qaeda militants whom it is under renewed pressure to eliminate.

With alarms bells going off across the world, US President Barack Obama said on Friday that the two packages which originated from Yemen were destined for Chicago synagogues and were a “credible terrorist threat.”

Obama blamed Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate of being responsible for the packages which were intercepted in Dubai and the East Midlands airport in Britain en route to the United States on board cargo planes.

Police in Dubai said on Saturday that the air parcel intercepted in the Gulf city-state “bears the hallmarks of those used by terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda.”

Yemen — the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden and headquarters of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — said it opened an investigation and would not let up its fight against global terrorism.

Security and civil aviation authorities “have begun an investigation” into the suspicious packages, a Yemeni government spokesman was quoted as saying Saturday by the state-run Saba news agency.

“This probe is being carried out in coordination with the competent authorities in the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the United States, and its results will be announced in due time,” the official said.

“Yemen will continue to conduct efforts to fight against terrorism in cooperation with the international community,” he said, adding: “Terrorism is a peril that threatens the entire world.”

The discovery of the packages sparked an international security alert on Friday.

Probes were underway in Britain to see if one of the packages intercepted at East Midlands airport was a “viable” bomb, British Home Secretary Theresa May said on Saturday.

In the United States investigators swept cargo planes for possible Al-Qaeda bombs.

US media reported the packages contained a wire-rigged ink toner cartridge and suspicious powder and may have contained the explosive PETN.

“We will continue to pursue additional protective measures as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens,” Obama told a special news conference at the White House.

The two packages from Yemen contained explosive material and were a “credible terrorist threat,” the US president said, as the White House thanked Saudi Arabia for tipping it off.

Obama made it clear he suspected AQAP of being behind the plot.

“Although we are still pursuing all of the facts, we do know that the packages originated in Yemen,” Obama said.

“We know that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies.”

Washington has pressed Yemen to track down US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to high-profile terror plots in the United States and believed to be hiding in the Arabian Peninsula country.

Awlaqi is accused by Washington of having had links with Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist accused of opening fire on colleagues at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 people in November 2009.

He is also suspected of having had ties to the September 11 hijackers, and with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day last year.

But analysts say that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is also under pressure from the country’s influential tribes, whose backing he needs for his political survival.

“Some tribes like the Hasheds who used to back Saleh are now… allying themselves with groups who support Al-Qaeda,” said Sanaa university professor Adel al-Shaeh.

Source: SGGP

VN-Index maintains rising momentum amid market makes correction

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Movements of VN-Index on October 7. (Photo: shares on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange advanced for three consecutive trading sessions on October 7 thanked to support from blue-chip stocks though the Vietnam’s benchmark tended to make correction after robust rallies.

VN-Index, a measure of 261 companies and five mutual funds, added 0.29 percent, or 1.33 points, to close at 462.05 points.

Trading volume on the city bourse faintly slid over the previous session as around 37.34 million shares changed hands at a value of VND983 billion.

Of the index, 58 stocks gained, 163 went down, while 45 stayed the same.

With 1.9 million shares changing hands, PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals Corporation (DPM) won the spot of most active share in volume.

Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (EIB) took the second rank with 1.79 million shares.

Tan Tao Investment Industry Corporation (ITA) tagged along with 1.54 million shares traded.

Bao Viet Holdings (BVH) increased 5 percent to trade at VND63,000 from VND60,000 yesterday.

Tan Binh Import – Export Joint Stock Company (TIX) capped its three-straight-session losing streak, shooting up 4.98 percent to VND48,500.

The Hanoi-based Information and Networking Technology Joint Stock Company (CMT) advanced for three consecutive days, surging 4.95 percent to VND29,700.

Phuc Tien Trade Manufacture Joint Stock Company (PHT) slashed 5.33 percent to VND16,000. The company will pay dividends for the first term of this year in cash at a ratio of 10 percent since November 30.

Ha Tien Transport Joint Stock Company (HTV) dropped 4.91 percent to VND32,900.

Meanwhile, the trading floor in the north made a contrast move as the Hanoi’s HNX-Index slipped 2.22 points, or 1.78 percent, to finish at 122.62 points. Liquidity continued to severely fall as just nearly 23 million shares changed hands at VND538.9 billion.

The UPCoM-Index slightly rose by 0.1 points to 45.58. A total of 388,200 shares were traded at VND8.36 billion.

Source: SGGP

Moscow daily death rate doubles amid heatwave: official

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

MOSCOW, Aug 9, 2010 (AFP) – The daily mortality rate in Moscow has nearly doubled amid a record heatwave, with hundreds of extra deaths each day compared to a normal period, the city’s top health official said Monday.

Ambulance staff wear masks to protect themself from forest fire smog in Moscow on August 8, 2010. AFP

“In usual times 360-380 people are dying each day. Now it is around 700,” the head of the city’s health department, Andrei Seltsovsky, said, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

“Our mortality rate has doubled,” he added, saying that 1,300 places were currently occupied out of 1,500 spaces in city morgues.

His comments broke days of official silence over the effects of the unprecedented heatwave and smog from wildfires on mortality rates, amid growing evidence in the press of a sharp rise in deaths.

Source: SGGP

Hewlett-Packard boss resigns amid sexual harassment claims

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 11:21 am

NEW YORK, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – Hewlett-Packard chief executive Mark Hurd resigned Friday after an accusation of sexual harassment uncovered subterfuge with company expenses, the computer giant announced.

(AFP FILES) Hewlett-Packard president, CEO and chairman Mark Hurd

“Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Hurd has decided with the board of directors to resign his positions effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.

HP had brought in outside counsel to investigate allegations that Hurd had violated HP’s sexual harassment policy in his dealings with a former marketing contractor.

The probe found that Hurd had not broken harassment rules, but was in breech of “HP’s standards of business conduct.”

“I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career,” Hurd said in a statement.

“This is a painful decision for me to make after five years at HP, but I believe it would be difficult for me to continue as an effective leader at HP and I believe this is the only decision the board and I could make at this time.”

Company officials said Hurd, 53, had made “inaccurate expense reports,” designed to hide the relationship.

The original accusation involved Hurd having an affair with a contractor and then putting outings or gifts on the HP tab as business expenses, according to analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.

“You don’t muck with expenses when you’re a CEO,” Enderle said. “If he had paid for this with his own money, he’d still be there.”

It was evidently after the relationship ended that the woman accused Hurd of sexual harassment.

A Los Angeles law firm claiming to represent the contractor released a brief statement late Friday stating “we want to make it clear that there was no affair and no intimate sexual relationship between our client and Mr. Hurd.”

Hurd’s severance package will tally about 12.2 million dollars not including stock-related benefits, according to a filing with US regulators.

A boardroom spying scandal roiled the company about four years ago and consolidated power in the office of the HP chief executive, setting a stage for missteps to go unchecked, according to the analyst.

The controversy about unethical tactics used to expose a board member who had been leaking secrets to news reporters caused a series of resignations and left HP with a “passive” board.

Another factor in the equation was that HP has been performing strongly as a company, with division heads doing well.

“HP is in great shape and he didn’t need to be there every day,” Enderle said of Hurd.

“You give someone with a lot of power a lot of time and control over a lot of money, I will usually guarantee you they will do something stupid. This seems to be a case of that.”

Hurd’s departure is not expected to hurt HP as long as a talented replacement is chosen within a few months.

“Hurd was relatively invisible in terms of a public face, which helps HP now,” Enderle said.

“A stronger board probably would have replaced him sooner.”

Hurd’s temporary replacement was named as current chief financial officer Cathy Lesjack.

“As I step into the role of interim CEO, I have never been more confident in the company’s future,” Lesjack said in a hastily arranged conference call with the press.

HP stock price slumped almost 10 percent in after-hours trading on the news.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea conducts anti-missile training amid N.Korean warning

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

SEOUL, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – A major South Korean naval exercise went into its third day Saturday, the defence ministry said, as North Korea issued a fresh warning against what it termed “a prelude to a war of aggression”.

The drill far south of the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea, was focused on defence against North Korea’s guided missiles and submarines, the ministry said.

A South Korean Marines K9 Thunder 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer fires during a military exercise in Baengnyeong Island, near the disputed Yellow Sea border between the two Koreas, on August 6, 2010. AFP

The exercise is one of a series planned in coming months in a show of force against the North, which the South blames for a deadly torpedo attack on one of its warships in March.

A total of 4,500 troops, backed by 29 ships and 50 aircraft, are being mobilised for the five-day drill.

“Some 20 Navy ships carried out anti-missile training in the Yellow Sea,” a military official was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

Saturday’s drill included anti-aircraft and anti-submarine battles in the Yellow Sea as batteries stationed in an island near the sea border continued live-fire training.

Pyongyang has denied responsibility for the March sinking of the corvette Cheonan near the disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea. The incident killed 46 sailors and sharply raised tensions.

Its official daily Rodong Sinmun said on Saturday the naval exercise in the tense Yellow Sea was aimed at triggering an armed conflict to start a war of aggression.

“The anti-submarine exercise… is a prelude to a war of aggression against the North,” it said.

The North’s military has threatened “the most powerful” retaliation if the South triggers a conflict during the exercise.

“Our warning is not empty talk,” the paper said without elaborating.

This week’s manoeuvres came after South Korea and the United States last week carried out a massive joint naval and air drill in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

The joint drill was relocated from the Yellow Sea separating China and the Korean peninsula after Beijing protested.

But Seoul and Washington said future drills would be held in both the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and the Yellow Sea.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said on Thursday future joint drills would once again involve the USS George Washington and the aircraft carrier would carry out exercises in the Yellow Sea.

Source: SGGP

Nations pledge clean energy amid treaty stalemate

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

 Nations pledged to work together to improve the efficiency of energy-guzzlers from televisions to cars, showing practical cooperation on climate change despite a deadlock on sealing a treaty.

Senior officials from economies that make up more than 80 percent of global gross domestic product agreed on 11 initiatives during talks in Washington, which betrayed none of the sharp divisions typical of climate negotiations.

A factory chimney in a residential area emits smoke as haze casts a blanket over Bangalore, India.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who led the meeting, said Tuesday that the clean energy projects would eliminate the need for more than 500 mid-sized power plants around the world over the next 20 years.

“This is about taking concrete action and concrete steps. This is not about philosophical positioning,” Chu said after two days of talks among 21 nations including key emerging economies China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

“Yes, we have to deal with international agreements, but we can’t wait for those to move,” Chu said. “We know the energy challenge won’t wait, and we won’t wait either.”

While the two-day talks were not designed to pledge funds, Chu said that the nations together have invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in developing green energy, and several states said they were boosting resources in research.

One key initiative will look at ways to improve the energy efficiency of home appliances such as televisions, which the US Energy Department estimated would reduce the need for about 80 power plants by 2030.

A number of nations will participate in the appliance research, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, India and European nations.

In another initiative, Britain and Australia promised to take the lead in accelerating work on so-called carbon capture and storage (CCS) — which lowers the output of carbon, which is blamed for global warming, from power plants.

CCS is considered crucial for the future of coal, which provides more than one quarter of the world’s energy supply and is politically sensitive in major polluters such as Australia, China and the United States.

“We have literally only 10 years to scale up and deploy CCS globally,” said Chris Huhne, Britain’s minister for energy and climate change.

“Each year of delay will lock in an increased amount of old technology which we won’t get rid of,” he said.

Another project, which includes major governments and corporations, will look at ways to collaborate in design efficiency standards for large buildings including factories — which account for more than half of global energy use.

Nations also agreed to exchange notes on one another’s pilot programs to develop electric vehicles, as well as to coordinate in designing so-called “smart grids” that manage community power consumption.

The United Arab Emirates said it would host follow-up clean energy talks in early 2011, with Britain holding a third meeting at a later date to be determined.

The talks, an offshoot of the US-led Major Economies Forum, include both rich and emerging nations but not smaller states such as Sudan and Venezuela whose strident criticisms dominated parts of December’s Copenhagen summit.

Kandeh Yumkella, director general of the UN Industrial Development Organization which champions the economic uplift of the world’s poor, said rich nations still needed to follow through on commitments at Copenhagen to offer 30 billion dollars through 2012 to help poorer nations cope with climate change.

But he said that the Washington meeting should offer hope to developing countries.

The world’s energy demand is estimated to jump by nearly half in the next 20 years, fueled by the developing world.

“If they decide to produce, use and consume energy the same way as the US and OECD (developed) countries have done, we will not be able to deal with climate change,” Yumkella told AFP.

“What this meeting does is to send a message that there are things we know already how to do. They are practical and we can deploy them now.”

Source: SGGP