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VN-Index recoils to near 480

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:14 am

Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index dropped the second day, retreating to near 480 points on January 10 as investors lost confidence.

The measure of 276 companies and five mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange shed 0.27 percent, or 1.31 points, to finish at 480.55 points.

Among the index members, 50 gained, 195 fell, while 36 remained unchanged.

Trading volume on the city bourse stayed at low level as around 33.8 million shares changed hands at a value of VND790.37 billion this morning.

Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) led the list of most active shares in volume with 2.39 million shares changing hands.

Saigon Securities Inc. (SSI), the country largest brokerage, followed with 2.13 million shares.

Tan Tao Investment Industry Corporation (ITA) came next with 1.28 million shares.

Cuong Thuan Investment Corporation (CTI), Hanoi Maritime Holding Company (MHC), and Seafood Joint Stock Company No4 (TS4) all plunged the daily maximum allowed limit of 5 percent to VND47,500, VND7,600, and VND20,900 respectively.

Duc Long Gia Lai Group Joint Stock Company (DLG) shrank 4.9 percent to VND27,200.

Cadovimex Seafood Import-Export and Processing Joint Stock Company (CAD) fell for the second day, eroding 4.88 percent to VND7,800.

H.A.I Joint Stock Company (HAI) capped its three-consecutive-trading-session losing streak, rebounding 4.94 percent to VND34,000.

Sao Vang Rubber Joint Stock Company (SRC) climbed for three straight days, adding up 4.93 percent to VND29,800.

PAN Pacific Corporation (PAN) advanced 4.69 percent to trade at VND20,100 from VND19,200 the previous trading session.

The smaller bourse in the north collapsed as the Hanoi’s HNX-Index slumped 2.34 percent, or 2.57 points, to close at 107.47 points. Around 31.4 million shares were traded at VND592.51 billion.

Meanwhile, the UPCom-Index treaded water this morning, remaining at 44.72 points. A total of 189,600 shares changed hands at a value of VND2.87 billion.

Source: SGGP

Schools near empty as freeze hits north

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:05 am

Schools near empty as freeze hits north

QĐND – Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 21:36 (GMT+7)

Primary schools and kindergartens in the capital are struggling to maintain normal operations during the current cold spell.

Hanoi’s schools saw massive student absences on Jan. 10 despite the temperature staying above the 10 degree Celsius benchmark, below which children are not required to attend primary schools and nurseries.

Trang An Kindergarten in Thanh Xuan district, for instance, welcomed only a quarter of its students. And Vu Thi Hang, a teacher at Hoa Tra My Kindergarten in Cau Giay district, said only half of her students had turned up.

Le Minh Khanh, the mother of an 8-year-old girl, said she still took her daughter to school although 27 of 50 children in the class had not shown up.

“It was very cold; I just wanted to let her stay home but unfortunately the weather forecast at 6.30am today said it was 11.3 degree Celsius, which meant she had to go,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Hoang Ha said he preferred to keep his 4-year-old son at home as the boy was already suffering from a cough caused by the weather.

Dinh Thuy Duong, principal of Thanh Xuan Trung Primary School, said almost one sixth of her students had not come to class on Jan. 10, a much higher than normal absentee rate but still lower than other schools in the area.

She said the students staying home would make it hard for teachers to keep up with the curriculum given that a new academic term had started.

Teachers would have to work more to help those absent children catch up with the rest of the class, she explained.

She also said that school activities had been adapted to minimise the effect of the current cold weather on children.

Changes included cancelling outdoor activities, turning on heaters, providing warm drinking water, and warm blankets and mattresses for children when taking naps, Duong said.

Nguyen Thi Dong, principal of Hoa Sen Kindergarten in Ba Dinh district, said her school was now serving meals that would give children more energy in the cold.

Hanoi ‘s Education and Training Department has also allowed schools to stay open later than usual in cold weather.

“I hope parents don’t panic. Children are being kept warm in class,” said Duong.

“Please trust us. Bring your children to school so that they won’t fall behind with their schoolwork.”

The Department’s office head Nguyen Hiep Thong said the 6.30am forecast were used to decide if children had to go to school.

While children at primary school and kindergarten level were not required to attend if their local day temperature fell below 10 degree Celsius, the benchmark for lower secondary school students was 7 degree Celsius.

However schools had to take care of students who still turned up despite temperatures lower than these benchmarks, said Thong.

“It is a good, flexible decision as not all parents can afford to have their children at home. They still have to go to work no matter how cold it is,” said Khanh.

The temperature on the peak of Mau Son mountain in the northern province of Lang Son dipped to -1 degree Celsius on Jan. 10 morning, the lowest this winter, while temperatures in other northern provinces were between 1 and 11 degrees Celsius after the arrival of a new cold spell on Jan. 9.

Meteorologists said another cold spell was going to northern Vietnam on Jan. 11, keeping temperatures low.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

S.Korea readies major military drill near tense border

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:29 am

SEOUL, Dec 22, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea prepared Wednesday for a major live-fire drill involving fighter jets and tanks near the tense North Korean border, as Seoul and Washington reacted warily to overtures from Pyongyang.

South Korea’s military said Thursday’s ground and air firing exercise 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of the mainland border would also involve self-propelled guns and 800 soldiers.

The South Korean Navy MSB (Movement Sea Base) floats off the coast of South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 22, 2010. AFP

Although similar drills have been held at the same firing range at Pocheon many times before, the latest exercise comes with Seoul on high alert for a possible attack from its wayward neighbour.

South Korea’s navy meanwhile began a four-day firing drill Wednesday off the east coast, a relatively distant 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the border with the North, mobilising six warships plus helicopters.

The military said it would practise responses to intrusions by North Korean submarines and patrol boats.

And South Korean marines were posted to guard a Christmas tree that was lit up Tuesday near the land border, reflecting fears that the North might fire on the display as a propaganda symbol.

Tensions have been high since the North shelled an island near the contested western maritime border last month in response to a live-fire drill by the South. The bombardment of Yeonpyeong killed four people including civilians.

The South staged a repeat drill on Yeonpyeong Monday but the North did not go through with threats to hit back, saying it “did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation”.

A senior South Korean military commander said Thursday’s drill at the Pocheon range would “demonstrate our solid military preparedness”.

“We will retaliate thoroughly if the North commits another provocative act like the shelling of Yeonpyeong,” First Armoured Battalion commander Choo Eun-Sik told Yonhap news agency.

The North’s comments late Monday eased fears of war on the peninsula, and it also reportedly offered nuclear concessions to visiting US politician Bill Richardson.

But Seoul and Washington have expressed scepticism about the apparent overtures, coming after an intense bout of sabre-rattling from Pyongyang, whose hardline communist regime is undergoing a generational power shift.

The United States said that North Korea was not even “remotely ready” to resume six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, despite the apparent concessions offered to New Mexico Governor Richardson on his private trip.

The White House made clear there was no change to US policy, despite Pyongyang’s reported offer to re-admit UN nuclear inspectors and sell off fuel rods which could be used to produce plutonium.

President Barack Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs said Pyongyang had, over many years and different US administrations, failed to match its words with actions.

“We’re not going to get a table and a room and have six-party talks just for the feel-good notion of having six-party talks,” he said.

“When and if the North Koreans are ever serious about living up to their obligations, then we can think about restarting six-party talks.”

North Korea pulled out of the nuclear talks — which involve the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, China, and Japan — in April 2009 and ordered UN nuclear inspectors out of the country.

It staged a second nuclear test a month later.

Its disclosure last month of an advanced uranium enrichment plant — purportedly to serve a peaceful nuclear power programme — heightened regional security fears.

Richardson, a veteran troubleshooter with the North who was formerly a US ambassador to the UN, unveiled Pyongyang’s apparent concessions after a visit that the White House stressed was unofficial and independent.

Source: SGGP

Breakthrough ‘near’ at UN biodiversity talks

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 at 9:40 am

NAGOYA, Japan (AFP) – A UN biodiversity meeting is close to adopting what would be a historic deal governing the use of genetic treasures such as those found in the Amazon, host Japan said on Friday.

“A draft decision has been agreed upon by representatives of regional groups. I would like to consider the adoption of this draft agreement later,” Japanese Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto told delegates.

An area of Sumatran forest cleared by a logging company, seen in August 2010. AFP

Negotiators involved in the talks have said that, if the deal is struck, it would likely pave the way for agreement on a 20-point plan aimed at protecting ecosystems and curbing the rapid extinction of animal and plant species.

However, delegates cautioned that each individual country still needed to approve the proposed “Access and Benefits Sharing Protocol”.

“On the edge of our seats in Nagoya. Do we have a deal on ABS?” European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik said in a message posted on microblogging website Twitter.

Brazil and other developing countries argue rich nations and companies should not be allowed to freely take genetic resources such as wild plants to make medicines, cosmetics and other products for huge profits.

The 12-day summit is due to end on Friday night.

Source: SGGP

VN-Index falls to near 450 mark

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Movements of VN-Index on September 23. (Photo: increased disbursement as stocks on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange tended to decline on September 23, helping liquidity on the trading floor to return to high level.

The VN-Index, a gauge of 256 companies and five mutual funds, shrank 0.69 percent, or 3.13 points, to finish at 450.77 points.

There were around 52.22 million shares changed hands at a value of VND1.43 trillion. Foreign investors boosted buying in blue-chip stocks, including PPC, HPG, FPT, DPM, BVH, SSI, and KDC, with an amount of 3.53 million shares worth VND118 billion.

There were 36 stocks that gained, 184 fell, while 42 were unmoved.

Although Ocean Group Joint Stock Company (OGC) was not in the priority list of foreign investors today, it continued to top the list of most active shares in volume with more than 3.99 million shares changing hands.

Investment and Trading of Real Estate Joint Stock Company (ITC) followed with 1.75 million shares, tagged along by Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (EIB) with 1.52 million shares traded.

Mtgas Joint Stock Company (MTG) and the newly listed company Petro Capital & Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (PTL) were the biggest losers on the city bourse. Both plunged the daily maximum allowed limit of 5 percent to VND13,300, and VND19,000 respectively.

Meca Vneco Investment and Electricity Construction Joint Stock Company (VES) dropped 4.96 percent to trade at VND23,000.

DESCON Construction Corporation (DCC) retreated for three consecutive days, contracting 4.94 percent to VND23,100.

Thien Nam Trading Import Export Corporation (TNA) rose 5 percent to VND31,500.

Sacombank Securities Joint Stock Company (SBS) climbed 4.78 percent to VND26,300. The company will issue 13.81 million shares at a ratio of 3:1 and at a price of VND15,000 per share to its current shareholders, not including its major shareholder Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank.

From September 22 to October 22, Nguyen The Chuan, father of Nguyen Huy Cuong – deputy general director of Sacombank Securities Joint Stock Company (SBS), registered to sell all 91,500 shares to restructure his investment category.

Viet Nam Petroleum Transport Joint Stock Company (VIP) closed up 4.51 percent to VND13,900.

The Hanoi’s HNX-Index slashed 1.7 points, or 1.29 percent, to close at 129.83. Trading volume rebounded by 80 percent in volume and 34 percent by value to 36.7 million shares, worth VND879 billion.

The UPCoM-Index inched up 0.25 points to 46.96. Around 0.54 million shares were traded at VND6.6 billion as of 11:15 am local time.

Source: SGGP

Obama endorses mosque plan near Ground Zero

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama has waded into a bitter controversy over a plan by Muslims to build a mosque just blocks from Ground Zero, endorsing the project on religious freedom grounds.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said late Friday.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

Obama’s remarks, delivered at a White House Iftar meal for Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast, were the president’s first on the controversial project, which has become a test of tolerance for Islam in post-9/11 America and sparked a national debate on freedom of religion.

The proposed site of the Islamic community center is seen after The Landmarks Preservation Commission ruled on August 3 that a 152-year-old building is not a historical site, and can be demolished making way for the construction of the mosque. AFP file

Intended to include a mosque, sports facilities, theater, restaurant and possibly a day care, the multi-story Islamic center would be open to all visitors to demonstrate that Muslims are part of their community, planners say.

But the proposed location, two blocks from the gaping Ground Zero hole, where the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, has touched raw nerves.

Obama acknowledged that the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood remains “hallowed ground,” and that 9/11 attacks “were a deeply traumatic event for our country.”

But he said American values required that all religious groups be treated equally and fairly.

“This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”

New York City has approved plans for the lower Manhattan building to be turned into a mosque and an interfaith venue called “Cordoba House.”

But hearings on whether the construction should be allowed prompted furious exchanges, with supporters accusing critics of racism and Islamophobia, and opponents warning the plan insulted the memory of the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Applause erupted when a New York city commission unanimously approved the project August 3, but others shouted “shame,” and waved signs reading “Islam builds mosques at the sites of their conquests.”

Obama acknowledged the “pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable,” but he called on Americans to “always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.”

“Al-Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion of Islam,” the president said. “In fact, Al-Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion — and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.”

Before an audience of prominent Muslim Americans, including administration officials, and Muslim members of Washington’s diplomatic corps, Obama paid tribute to US history of accepting and engaging Muslims.

He cited the example of president Thomas Jefferson, who he said hosted the first White House Iftar, more than 200 years ago.

But the appeal to US history is unlikely to convince those most opposed to the mosque, which has attracted increasingly strident criticism, raising fears among US Muslims of an Islamophobic backlash.

A Florida church has already said it will hold a “Koran-burning” on September 11 this year, and Muslim advocacy groups say they have reached out to law enforcement officials seeking extra vigilance.

But Obama said while America’s diversity contained the seeds of conflict, US values were stronger and would always overcome difference.

“Time and again, the American people have demonstrated that we can work through these issues, stay true to our core values, and emerge stronger for it. So it must be — and will be — today,” he said.

Source: SGGP

Fire near Russian nuclear centre grows

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

MOSCOW (AFP) – Wildfires raging close to Russia’s main nuclear research centre have grown in size and emergency services are working round the clock to contain the blaze, officials said on Friday.

Russia has sent thousands of firefighters to douse wildfires close to its top nuclear research centre in Sarov, a town in the Nizhny Novgorod region still closed to foreigners as in Soviet times.

A Russian firefighter sprays water on a forest fire blaze at the Losiny Ostrov nature reserve in Moscow. AFP

“The fire which appeared in the eastern part of the nature reserve two days ago after lightning struck a pine tree has grown in size and now presents a certain danger,” the head of the emergencies ministry for Mordovia, Major General Vyacheslav Kormilitsyn, said in a statement.

Meanwhile the first significant rain for weeks poured down on Moscow on Friday although forecasters said the heatwave that has left tens of thousands of hectares of land ablaze and destroyed a quarter of Russian crops would continue over the next days.

Despite signs of public frustration with the authorities, a heavy police presence ensured only a few dozen activists turned out for a protest against the Moscow mayor’s handling of the crisis, several of whom were then arrested.

A dramatic storm with rain throughout the night hit Moscow. Temperatures up to 32 degrees Celsius were expected later in the day — hotter than usual but still cooler than temperatures edging up to 40 degrees recorded earlier.

There was little sign of the smog from the wildfires that had blighted the Russian capital in the last week but new reports emerged accusing the authorities of hiding the true health toll from the heatwave.

Moscow’s top health official has already said the mortality rate had doubled in the heatwave, with hundreds more deaths every day than in usual periods. However the federal authorities have refused to confirm these figures.

The Interfax news agency quoted Moscow doctors as saying they had been forbidden to give “heatstroke” as a cause of death to keep a lid on the statistics.

“We received the order not to use the diagnosis ‘heatstroke’. We are told that the statistics for heatstroke were mounting up,” one doctor told the news agency.

“There was no official order, everything is has been communicated orally,” the source added.

News website even published a picture of what it said was an informal order pinned up in a Moscow hospital saying: “Attention! Do not use the diagnosis heatstroke!”

“This is done so that the statisics, including cases of death connected with the heatwave, do not mount up,” a medical source told the website. There was no immediate official confirmation.

Several dozen activists gathered outside Moscow’s city hall Thursday evening for an unsanctioned protest against mayor Yuri Luzhkov, where they were quickly surrounded by riot police.

Around 20 people were arrested including veteran human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov and Left Front leader Sergey Udaltsov, who was prevented from joining the demonstration.

Luzhkov controversially remained on holiday as the city’s health crisis mounted, only returning on Sunday.

With the full impact of the drought and fires becoming clear, President Dmitry Medvedev said one quarter of Russia’s crops had been lost and many farms were now on the verge on bankruptcy.

Russia has banned grain exports and US government slashed its 2010-11 global supply forecasts by around 2.5 percent from last month’s estimates, on lower than expected production from the former Soviet Union.

Fires have also blazed in neighbouring Ukraine, with the emergency services working to put out a two-hectare (five-acre) peat bog fire 60 kilometres (35 miles) from Chernobyl.

But the authorities have said the situation is under control.

Source: SGGP

Russia steps up battle to contain fire near nuclear site

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

MOSCOW, Aug 12, 2010 (AFP) – Russia on Thursday sent a special firefighting train to join over 3,400 firefighters battling to douse wildfires close to its top nuclear research centre, officials said.

While no blazes had been registered on the territory of the nuclear research centre in Sarov in central Russia itself, a nearby nature reserve has been on fire for around a week.

Authorities on Thursday were boosting firefighting teams to more than 3,400 people to keep the fire from spreading to Sarov, a town in the Nizhny Novgorod region still closed to foreigners as in Soviet times.

The nature reserve is located in nearby region of Mordovia and tree leaves and pine needles on the surface — and not the trees themselves — now are burning and smouldering, said Mikhail Turkov, a spokesman for the emergencies ministry’s Volga regional branch.

“Two planes and two helicopters are currently circling over Sarov,” Turkov told AFP. “Reconnaissance is being constantly conducted from the air.”

More than 3,400 people and a firefighting train were involved in putting out the fires, while a second train was currently on its way to the scene. The firefighting trains contain vast amounts of water and special hoses.

Volunteers relax as they prepare for extinguishing a fire at a forest near the village of Tokhushevo ,some 50 km outside Sarov on August 11, 2010. AFP

A new fire in the area broke out late Wednesday when lightening hit a pine tree, the local emergencies ministry said.

A spokeswoman for the Sarov nuclear center confirmed to AFP there were no fires on the centre’s territory and said its staff was not being evacuated. She declined to give further details.

Two soldiers were killed by blazing trees as they strove to put out a fire close to the centre on Monday.

Russia is battling what experts say is the worst heatwave in its millenium-long history which has affected nearly all areas of life and may shave off one percent from Russia’s gross domestic product, according to some estimates.

Source: SGGP

Man charged in boat crash near Statue of Liberty

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

A New Jersey man was charged with vehicular manslaughter after a boat crash near the Statue of Liberty that killed a groom-to-be and injured two other men.

New York City police said 39-year-old Richard Aquilone of Jersey City, N.J., was out on the water Friday evening with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 2 and 3, when their 30-foot boat hit a smaller craft.

Police said Jijo Puthuvamkunnath, 30, of Bergenfield, N.J., and two friends were in the 17-foot boat anchored off Liberty Island that was struck by Aquilone.

Puthuvamkunnath was taken to Jersey City Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of head injuries. His two friends, both also 30, were treated for minor injuries.

In this July 2, 2010 image taken from video and released by WCBS-TV in New York, rescue teams respond to a fatal boat accident near the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

No one on the larger boat was injured.

Aquilone was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs and endangering the welfare of a child.

He was arraigned on the charges Saturday. A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said Aquilone pleaded not guilty and bond was set at $50,000. She did not know the name of his attorney.

Puthuvamkunnath was due to marry his girlfriend, Sissy Chacko, on Aug. 28, said his aunt Aleyamma Varughese, who answered the phone at Puthuvamkunnath’s home Saturday.

“He was a very, very wonderful young man,” Varughese said. “He was loved by everybody.”

Source: SGGP

VN-Index closes near 550

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

The Vietnam’s benchmark VN-Index advanced on May 4 as the long holidays failed to interrupt upwards momentum on the country’s stock markets.

VN-Index, which tracks 226 companies and four mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, gained 1.24 percent, or 6.75 points, to finish at 549.12 points. Liquidity on the city bourse was extremely high as trading volume topped a seven month high with more than 89.16 million shares, worth VND3.1 trillion, being traded.

Among the index members, 159 rose, 42 fell, and 29 remained unchanged.

Big gainers included Gia Lai Cane Sugar Thermoelectricity Joint Stock Company (SEC), DIC Investment and Trading Joint Stock Company (DIC), Do Thanh Technology Corporation (DTT), and Ha Noi P&T Construction & Installation Joint Stock Company (HAS). They all rose by the daily maximum allowed limit of 5 percent.

From May 4 to July 4, Cap Thanh Long, brother of Cap Thanh Dung, deputy director of Gia Lai Cane Sugar Thermoelectricity JSC, registered to sell 50,000 shares, sending his holdings to 33,000 shares.

Domesco Medical Import Export Joint Stock Corporation (DMC) added up 4.99 percent to trade at VND48,400.

The Hanoi-based construction company Ocean Group JSC (OGC) won the position of the most active stock in volume with more than 8 million shares, followed by Saigon Commercial Bank or Sacombank (STB) with 7.55 million shares. Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Company (CII) came next with 3.92 million shares.

H.A.I Joint Stock Company (HAI) lost the daily maximum allowed 5 percent limit to trade at VND39,900 from VND42,000.

Royal International Corporation (RIC) fell by 4.86 percent to VND33,300. The company’s shareholders meeting on April 17 approved this year business plan to achieve total revenue of VND319.35 billion, and net profit of VND79.424 billion.

Vinpearlland Tourism Joint Stock Company (VPL) slid 4.63 percent to VND51,500.

The Hanoi’s HNX-Index finished at 184.31 points, gaining 4.62 points, or 2.57 percent. Trading volume reached 44.5 million shares, worth VND1.64 trillion.

The UPCoM-Index rose 1.44 points to 48.51. A total of 216,623 shares changed hands at VND3 billion.

Source: SGGP