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Posts Tagged ‘European’

Christmas chaos as snow snarls European travel

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

Thousands of angry travellers struggled Monday to get home for Christmas as snow and ice caused fresh chaos at European airports and paralysed roads and railways across the frozen continent.

International hubs London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels tried to clear a backlog of passengers forced to sleep on terminal floors for up to three days as they sought to reach their destinations by the end of the week.

Authorities in Frankfurt sent in clowns in a bid to cheer up travellers, but fury mounted in Britain, especially at Heathrow where severe disruption reigned despite the last major snowfall having been on Saturday.

Pedestrians walk on a snow-covered Pont des Arts towards the Louvre Museum in Paris, as heavy snow disrupts the Christmas holiday getaway in Europe, forcing the continent’s biggest airports to close

“I am ashamed to be British,” Marian Perkins, 65, who was hoping to fly to Australia to see her new grandson for the first time, told AFP.

“It’s disgusting. We are here in the cold with the same clothes since Friday, because we don’t carry winter clothes when we go to Australia,” she said.

Heathrow’s Terminal 3 had been turned into a makeshift camp with exhausted passengers crashed out on temporary mattresses as money and patience wore thin at the world’s busiest international airport.

American musician Giovanni Bet, 22, who was trying to get back to Chicago after a tour, said: “We were here last night. It was like a shanty camp with people sleeping on the floor.”

The airport warned travellers to anticipate chaos “potentially beyond Christmas Day”. It cut flights to a third until 0600 GMT Wednesday in a bid to get diverted jets and crew back to their normal positions.

British Airways meanwhile asked passengers travelling to or from Heathrow up until December 24 to switch their flight to another date or cancel it in return for a refund.

As Britain was hit by more heavy snow and temperatures plummeted again, London’s Gatwick airport announced it was grounding all flights until early Tuesday.

“Sorry. No outbound flights from Gatwick until 6am [0600 GMT] Tuesday 21st December because of heavy snow,” the airport said on microblogging site Twitter.

Amid mounting criticism of the travel chaos, British airport operator BAA defended its handling of the crisis.

Chief executive Colin Matthews said Heathrow had to bring in earthmoving equipment and 50 trucks to remove the snow. “I cannot remember in my lifetime any episode of cold and snow remotely like today,” he said.

Eurostar, which operates high-speed passenger trains linking London with Paris and Brussels, also faced chaos.

Five-hour queues stretched around the block in freezing weather from London’s St Pancras station as Eurostar cancelled some services and operated speed restrictions on trains that did run, nearly doubling some journey times.

“We started queuing yesterday, we were here until seven o’clock and then… we took a hotel and now we have been waiting for an hour already today,” Anne-Sophie Prevost, a 24-year-old bank worker from France, told AFP.

A brass band played at the station in an attempt to provide some Christmas spirit inside the imposing Gothic station.

Temperatures reached a record low in Northern Ireland, hitting minus 17.6 degrees Celsius (0.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

There were fresh snowfalls in France, hitting both Paris international airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, where three out of 10 flights were cancelled Monday.

Air traffic at all airports in the Paris region is very disrupted,” the civil aviation authority said.

At Charles de Gaulle, 3,000 people were forced to spend Sunday night in the terminals after 40 percent of flights were scrapped.

Late Monday, 100 soldiers were sent to the airport with 300 beds and 2,500 blankets as stranded travellers faced another night camped in terminals, local authorities said.

Authorities banned heavy trucks from the roads around Paris and many buses were cancelled in the region, the RATP Paris transport network said.

French railway operator SNCF handed out 12,000 ready meals and booked 500 hotel rooms in Paris for stranded passengers but said services were expected to be mostly back to normal for Christmas.

Frankfurt airport, Germany’s busiest, resorted to clowns to keep stranded children entertained — after the police were sent in, according to press reports, to calm some angry passengers.

The airport scrapped around 340 flights Monday — mainly because others airports around Europe were closed — after more than a thousand travellers spent the night on camp beds.

There was also disruption at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport and Brussels airport Monday.

In Italy, the bodies of two homeless people were found Monday, likely victims of the cold.

Source: SGGP

European Music Festival to brings colorful concerts to Hanoi and HCM City

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:12 am

European music festival to take place in major cities

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 6:27 am

German jazz musicians to start European Music Festival in Vietnam

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 5:30 am

European businesses show interest in Vietnam’s infrastructure

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Seven European banks fail financial stress test

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

Government leaders and the IMF on Saturday hailed stress tests on European banks which failed seven of the 91 institutions checked, but markets remained nervous about the credibility of the exams.

German state-owned lender Hypo Real Estate, five regional savings banks in Spain and ATEBank of Greece failed the test of whether they could resist a new financial shock.

The euro fell just after the release of the results but made up the lost ground. US stocks also ended slightly higher but European governments face a nervous wait for markets to reopen Monday to get the full global reaction.

German state-owned lender Hypo Real Estate, five regional savings banks in Spain and ATEBank of Greece failed the test of whether they could resist a new financial shock. All have been ordered to recapitalise or take state aid.

The Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS), which carried out the tests, said the seven banks would need about 3.5 billion euros (4.4 billion dollars).

The stress tests were intended to reassure markets over the health of the European banking system and political leaders and the head of the International Monetary Fund were quick to praise the tests and the results.

Many experts and economists were sceptical though.

The European Union’s Belgian presidency said: “The aggregate results of the tests show a high degree of resilience in the EU banking sector as a whole, reflecting the efforts undertaken over the last years by the banks and some governments to restore confidence in the European banking sector.”

Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders, speaking for the EU, told AFP the results were “positive because we have been transparent and the tests were quite strict.”

Spain’s Finance Minister Elena Salgado insisted the results were “satisfactory” despite the failure of the five savings banks.

“The Spanish financial system has overcome the financial crisis very well,” she declared.

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the tests were “a major undertaking and represent an important step toward improving transparency and bolstering market confidence.”

“The publication of the results and the actions that have been announced to address bank capital deficiencies promise to significantly strengthen the European financial system,” he added.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the EU “has made a significant effort to increase disclosure on the conditions of individual European financial institutions and enhance market stability.”

Some analysts however said the checks failed to shed much light on the real state of the banking sector.

The report spared all banks examined in debt-laden Portugal. Greece, which sparked fears for the stability of the entire eurozone and was rescued by an EU and IMF bailout, also got off lightly with just one bank failing.

Another focus of concern, Ireland, saw its banks also pass the CEBS capital ratio test, as did Italy. French and British banks likewise emerged with pass grades.

Neil MacKinnon, an economist at VTB Capital in London, said it “looks like a whitewash and the initial reaction is one of scepticism on the part of the markets.”

ING bank analyst Chris Turner said the CEBS announcement “does not appear to have uncovered any ‘skeletons in the closet’,” but added: “Whether it goes far enough remains to be seen.”

Vitor Constancio, vice-president of the European Central Bank and a CEBS member, insisted the stress tests were “a substantial and severe test, both in macroeconomic terms and in financial terms.”

The tests measured the banks so-called Tier One core capital and measured it against outstanding assets, such as loans. A key test was the effect a government debt crisis would have on balance sheets which hold large amounts of government bonds.

Banks must maintain a minimum ratio of 6.0 percent. The CEBS calculated the seven risk banks would see this ratio fall below six percent.

The CEBS estimated by the standard of its test that the total potential damage to balance sheets at the 91 banks — which account for 65 percent of the European banking market — would be 566 billion euros (727 billion dollars) over two years if certain tough conditions hit.

If markets judge the tests too weak, analysts have warned the result could be to undermine or even negate the exercise.

Britain’s influential Financial Times newspaper highlighted the nervousness in a commentary on Saturday and said the European exercise was “neither uniform, transparent or stressful enough, but it is a good step forward if treated with caution.”


Source: SGGP

Saigontourist welcomes 2,100 European visitors to Vietnam

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

The leading tour operator in Vietnam, Saigontourist Travel Services, welcomed 2,100 European visitors and crews from the cruise ship Costa Romantica, to the country at Navi Oil Port, in Ho Chi Minh City May 18.

The Costa Romantica carries European visitors to Vietnam in its latest trip to HCMC’s Naval Oil Port on May 4 (Photo: Thesaigontimes)

Most of Costa Romantica’s passengers are European. The cruiship is owned by an largest Italian tourism company, Costa Crociere S.P.A.

During the three-day trip (May 18-20), travelers will visit Ho Chi Minh City, including the Cu Chi Tunnels, and town of My Tho in the Mekong Delta Province of Tien Giang.

Next, they will move north to central region to view Da Nang City, Hue City, the ancient town of Hoi An and the My Son Holy Land in Quang Nam Province.

In the first five months of the year, Saigontourist reported it had welcomed over 30,000 foreign visitors from cruise ships like Costa Classica, Costa Allegra, Amadea, Columbus and Europa.

Most of the visitors are Europeans, according to the company.

Source: SGGP

European stocks fall sharply at open

In Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The wave of selling in world markets is continuing in Europe amid a huge sell-off on Wall Street, fears that Greece’s debt crisis is spreading and an uncertain general election result in Britain.

Minutes after the open, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1.3 percent lower, while Germany’s DAX dropped 1.1 percent. France‘s CAC-40 index fared worse, tumbling 2 percent.

The declines in Europe, accompanied by sharp falls in Asia, come a day after the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 3.2 percent after having at one point plunged 1,000 points, or about 9 percent.

 Asian stocks sank Friday following a huge sell-off on Wall Street as fears that Greece’s debt crisis could spread to other European nations continued to rattle investors.

Numbers are streaked across the board at Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney, Friday, May 7, 2010, after the Dow Jones industrials plunged 1,000 points at one point Thursday – the biggest drop ever during a trading day.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 331.10 points, or 3.1 percent, to 10,364.59, South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 2.2 percent to 1,647.54 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 0.7 percent to 19,993.05. Australia’s benchmark shed 2 percent.

The wave of selling in Asia came after the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1,000 points at one point Thursday — the biggest drop ever during a trading day — because of a possible simple typographical error or computer glitch. The Securities and Exchange Commission said it was reviewing what happened.

The Dow later recovered some of its losses, but still closed down 3.2 percent at 10,520.32 with investors beset by worries that Greece’s debt woes could spread to countries like Portugal and Spain and then further afield, undermining the global economic recovery.

“I am very concerned about the Greek problem,” Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told reporters as the Nikkei index plummeted in the wake of massive losses overnight in New York.

Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan said finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations will hold a teleconference later in the day to discuss the Greek debt crisis.

“Investors are not so sure that the European Union alone can contain the spreading financial crisis,” said Masatoshi Sato, market analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. Ltd.

With the Greek crisis hammering global financial markets, the Bank of Japan said Friday it will offer two trillion yen ($22 billion) in short-term loans to commercial banks to boost liquidity.

“We would like to ensure stability in financial markets by providing ample funds to banks,” Bank of Japan official Yuichi Adachi said. He declined to elaborate further.

Across Asia, sentiment was downbeat with shares in Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and New Zealand all falling sharply. China’s Shanghai Composite Index opened Friday down 2 percent but had pared that loss to a fall of 1.5 percent by the afternoon.

Before Thursday’s global sell-off, the Shanghai benchmark was at an eight-month low this week on concern government efforts to cool housing prices and a bank lending boom might slow growth and hurt profits at real estate and other companies.

Some analysts said Asian equities may soon rebound since most companies in the region aren’t directly exposed to Europe’s most struggling economies.

“Chinese exporters are indirectly affected because the European Union is China’s biggest trading partner, but none of the listed companies are directly exporting to Greece and Spain,” said Peng Yunliang, a strategist for Shanghai Securities. “The panic might not last for long.”

In currencies, the dollar rose to 92.18 yen in Tokyo on Friday, up from 90.78 yen in New York late Thursday. The dollar plunged to 87.95 yen in New York Thursday at one point.

The euro, which fell to a 14-month low of 1.2520 on Thursday, rose to $1.2684 on Friday.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was up 10 cents to $77.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The June contract lost $2.86 to settle at $77.11 on Thursday.

Source: SGGP

European markets fall despite Greece bailout

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

PARIS, May 3, 2010 (AFP) – The euro and European stocks fell on Monday on scepticism over a bailout for Greece and huge austerity measures Athens is promising, while a shadow of debt contagion hung ominously over Europe.

“Although Greece has had a lifeline from the IMF… the market is not assured that the worst has passed,” said Thio Chin Loo, a senior currency analyst with BNP Paribas in Singapore.

The euro fell to 1.3232 dollars on Monday from 1.3300 late on Friday when it had rallied on expectations of a rescue for Greece at the weekend.

European shares also fell in mid-day trading with the Frankfurt DAX shedding 0.17 percent and the Paris CAC losing 0.62 percent. The London stock market was closed for a public holiday.

Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund endorsed on Sunday a 110-billion-euro rescue package to keep Greece from a debt default and end a crisis that has rocked the single currency and rattled world markets.

In return for the emergency loans, the Greek Socialist government agreed to implement draconian spending cuts and tax increases to bring its public deficit down from 13.6 percent to under 3.0 percent by 2014.

Asian shares were also down, with Hong Kong ending the day 1.41 percent lower and Sydney shedding 0.46 percent. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Shares were down in Spain and Portugal, countries with high public deficits that are considered the most threatened by contagion from the crisis in Greece.

The Madrid stock exchange was down 0.83 percent while shares in Lisbon fell slightly by 0.04 percent. Athens was up, however, gaining 0.03 percent.

The borrowing costs of Spain rose as the interest rate demanded by investors to hold its 10-year bonds rose to 4.052 percent from 4.032 percent late Friday.

The yield, or return, on Portuguese bonds eased, however, to 5.108 percent from 5.126 percent.

And the rate demanded for Greek bonds, which soared above 11 percent last week, fell further to 8.614 percent. The punitive rates demanded by the markets were what forced Greece to go cap in hand to its European Union partners and the IMF.

At Barclays Capital, analysts expressed concern that the conditions for the rescue aid might not be approved by parliaments in contributing eurozone countries.

The IMF could begin transferring funds without the approval of eurozone parliaments, but that did not remove uncertainty about the final total amount and this was weighing on the euro, they said.

Investors were also concerned about regional elections in Germany on May 9, two days after the date on which the German federal parliament is due to adopt the rescue package.

But other analysts said the German legislature would inevitably pass the deal despite deep reservations among lawmakers.

Even if Greece gets the entire rescue package, Golman Sachs economist Erik Nielsen estimates that the country’s funding needs are much higher.

“I maintain my estimate that the total financing requirement will be about 150 billion euros over the next three years, so this means that the programme will not be fully financed throughout,” Nielsen said.

At Dutch bank ING, interest rate strategist Padhraic Garvey said “the issue now is whether the 110 billion package is enough.”

He said that the “bottom line” was that “if Greece spent the lot on upcoming redemptions, coupons (interest payments) and deficit financing there would not be a whole lot left heading into 2012.”

He added: “This gives Greece an effective window of 18-24 months, or effectively half to two-thirds of the so-called three-year programme.”

Source: SGGP

IMF says European debt crisis a boon for emerging markets

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

Europe’s debt crisis is sending investors flocking to the emerging markets of Brazil, China and India, the IMF said Tuesday, as analysts asked if the crisis is changing the world economic order.

In a report on the state of the global economy, the International Monetary Fund said the debt crisis in Greece and other eurozone nations had caused investors to look to emerging nations for profit.

“The crisis has altered perceptions about risk and return in mature (markets) relative to emerging markets,” the IMF report said.

The global crisis has undoubtedly laid bare the fragile state of government finances in swathes of once-safe Europe, prompting austere spending cuts and questions about the future of the euro itself.

The so-called PIIGS of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, have seen their public debt soar, leaving jittery investors to worry about previously unthinkable government defaults.

Greece has been worst hit. As efforts by eurozone members to create a safety net have spluttered, investors have demanded greater risk premiums to lend Greece fresh cash, deepening the debt crisis further.

According to the IMF the impact of that crisis in confidence is now being felt in the choices of everyone from the smallest individual investors to multi-billion-dollar funds.

“The favorable performance of emerging market assets relative to mature market assets has prompted growing interest by global investors in raising their asset allocations to emerging markets and other advanced economies.

“Retail investors and hedge funds are adding to their emerging market portfolios in the near term,” the report said.

“Capital is flowing to Asia (excluding Japan) and Latin America, attracted by strong growth prospects, appreciating currencies, and rising asset prices, and pushed by low interest rates in major advanced economies, as risk appetite continues to recover,” the IMF said.

Interest in emerging markets is long-standing. But as investors look to ever more exotic “frontier markets” for high returns, investments in countries like Brazil, China and India have become the mainstream.

According to the IMF the trend has been spurred by the sale of emerging market stocks in bundles called exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, which spread risk over several countries and sectors.

The lure of emerging market investments is obvious according to the Vanguard Group, a US-based investment firm that runs emerging and developed market ETFs.

The firm said one widely-used emerging market index shows returns on investment averaging 15 percent in the five years to 2009. Investments in a similar US index gave returns of under one percent.

And in contrast to sclerotic growth rates in Europe and North America, some Asian countries, like China, are forecast to see double-digit growth.

Although Vanguard cautions that high growth rates should not be equated with bumper investment returns, emerging market investments are being transformed from an exotic backstop for more traditional investments, to an investment like any other.

“(With the) economic out-performance of emerging economies, some investors are reassessing the primary role of emerging markets in their global portfolio from one of diversifying their equity holdings to one of generating higher expected returns relative to developed markets.”

The shift is so great that in a report on Tuesday, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s asked if there might now be a “changing of the guard,” and whether emerging market countries might “surpass their high income counterparts in creditworthiness?”

S&P concluded there was no changing of the guard just yet, but that poising the question — unthinkable before the crisis — may be a sign of how much the world is changing.

Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund has proposed two new global taxes on banks and other financial institutions to cover the cost of future bailouts, the BBC reported.

The measures would see all institutions pay a bank levy as well as a further tax on profits and pay, which would aim to protect against future financial meltdown, said the broadcaster Tuesday, citing a leaked IMF report.


Source: SGGP