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Posts Tagged ‘tests’

Vietnam tests ‘Chinese satay’ after revelation of toxic cancer-causing substance

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:37 am

Following revelations made by the Chinese media, who stated that their satay might contain a toxic cancer-causing substance, Vietnamese authorities on December 21 took samples from some markets in the North for testing.

After the Chinese media revealed that satay might contain a toxic cancer-causing substance, Vietnamese authorities immediately collect the Chinese satay bags from local markets

The Vietnam Food Administration and the Ministry of Health investigated markets in Hanoi and the northern provinces in order to collect food samples of the Chinese satay (or pot-au-feu spices).

The revelation has caused fear in Vietnam as many people have used these spices for years.

In Dong Xuan market, the biggest wholesale market in Hanoi, Chinese products are displayed besides locally-made satay and other spices. China’s satay is sold at VND10, 000 a pack.

In addition, Chinese products have no expiry date on their packaging and no Vietnamese language labeling.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, deputy head of the administration, said Chinese companies have not announced the quality of these products in Vietnam. Furthermore, the display of these products in this country violates Vietnam’s food hygiene and safety regulations.

Phong warned Vietnamese customers to be careful in selecting and buying products that have no clear indications of its origin.

Source: SGGP

Markets to issue verdict on stress tests

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 at 11:17 am

 European bank stress tests will themselves be tested on Monday when investors return to markets in Europe and Asia with a verdict on an unprecedented bid to restore confidence in the EU banking sector.

Market reaction will be crucial to determine whether tests on the health of 91 EU banks, published on Friday, have dispelled suspicions that hidden problems and incorrectly priced risks lurk in their balance sheets.

The unprecdented decision to publish detailed results of the tests follows the global financial meltdown and the crisis in Europe in the last six months, compounded by doubt about the solvency of some banks.

The tests imagine a level of crisis arising from economic downturn, a stock market collapse or a government debt crisis, testing each bank and the system against the given level of distress.

File photo shows people standing outside the headquarters of Hypo Real Estate bank in Munich, Germany.

The results found that only seven banks, five in Spain and one each in Germany and Greece, were unprepared to absorb a new financial crisis.

But analysts were instantly dismissive of the tests, saying the bar was too low to assess the capacity of European banks — many of which hold bonds issued by debt-riddled governments — to overcome fresh financial pressures.

European bank regulators took the unprecedented step of making the results public, although they delayed the release until after stock markets had closed in Europe.

On Wall Street, however, where trading was still going on, analysts said investors were in general relieved by the findings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day on Friday with a gain of 0.99 percent.

Investors in Asia and later in Europe will have their say on Monday.

“The market reaction is likely to be one of some disappointment,” said Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit Group.

He said the overall capital shortfall uncovered by the tests on the 91 banks, 3.5 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars), “is so small, and so out of line with prevailing market expectations, that it will be regarded with some scepticism.”

He described the testing exercise as a first step toward transparency “but insufficient to bring about … rapid and major improvement in confidence in the European banking system.”

The underlying worry is that if banks in general become nervous that their neighbours have potentially dangerous weaknesses, they could become increasingly reluctant to do business with each other.

They would also park funds in safe places, rather than lend normally, in case a link in the banking system becomes insolvent, sparking a domino effect and causing the interbank market to dry up.

Suspicions about about the strength of banks have lingered since the end of last year and well up whenever there is talk of economic recovery faltering.

This lack of confidence became acute three months ago when the Greek debt crisis showed signs of engulfing Spain, Portugal or Ireland.

One concern was that governments with weaker economies — having worsened their own deficits and debt by rescuing some banks — faced a risk that banks might then not want to buy their debt bonds.

Normally, banks hold and buy large quantities of sovereign bonds, considered low risk, easily convertible into cash and therefore representing a matching factor of top quality so-called Tier One capital that banks need to stay solvent.

But the problem became so acute that the European Central Bank broke a golden rule and stood by to buy government bonds from banks that needed funds but had difficulty in borrowing on the markets in the normal way.

The ECB was in effect both supporting the balance sheets of some banks, and also indirectly supporting the government bond market and therefore the ability of governments to fund overspending.

The effect could be to overstrain the balance sheets of the banks as well as increase problems for governments selling bonds.

This explains why one of the test criteria was whether banks could survive the shock of a sudden fall in the price of government bonds.

But the stress tests did not involve the scenario of a eurozone country becoming insolvent and its bonds becoming almost worthless — a fear in recent months given that Greek bonds are now rated in a less than investment phase.

“The prospect of an outright sovereign default, which is what has worried markets most, has not even been considered,” said Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics.

The stress tests are a legacy of the global financial meltdown that erupted in late 2008 following the failure of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, a victim of the subprime mortgage crisis.

The chain reaction unleashed by that meant government around the world had to bail out banks to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, underwriting the banks’ debts by borrowing extensively themselves — through issuing bonds.

A measure of the exercise’s success should become apparent in the movement of two key interbank interest rates — the Libor rate for dollars and the euro-based Euribor rate — in the next few days.

Source: SGGP

EU stress tests bring moment of truth for banks

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 11:17 am

PARIS, July 23 (AFP) – The European banking system faces a moment of truth Friday when regulators reveal whether it is strong enough to cope with any fresh crisis or needs another huge injection of cash to keep it afloat.

Much depends on the outcome.

The authorities are claiming that the results of the ‘stress tests’ on 91 top lenders will largely be positive, with any problem banks requiring more capital likely to be corralled off safely and then bailed out.

Analysts say that would be a positive outcome — but the tests have to be rigorous and tough enough to convince investors that the books have not been cooked to produce the desired results.

It is about confidence, they say, in the banks, in the regulators, in the financial system and ultimately in the prospects for recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s.

“We should all be bracing ourselves for relief to flow through European financial markets (on the results),” Credit Agricole strategist Mitul Kotecha said.

“More likely, questions will be asked about why did so few banks fail and why the tests were not rigorous enough?”

The global financial crisis devastated the banks, claiming victims among the most iconic names in the business as once abundant credit markets dried up.

Others had to be bailed out to the tune of tens of billions of dollars (euros) by governments who effectively covered the bad debt of the banks by borrowing extensively themselves through issuing bonds.

That at least stabilised the economy, allowing a recovery from early last year, but the cost was heavily indebted governments whose own troubles now threaten the recovery they worked so hard for.

The markets reason that if governments such as Greece and Spain face problems managing their debt, then their sovereign bonds, bought up by the banks to bolster their books, might now be worth a lot less.

Investors want to know exactly how much less, so they can judge if the banks are really sound and can be trusted to pay back what they borrow.

At the same time, governments with huge debt burdens are slashing spending to balance their budgets, which puts economic growth at risk, in turn hitting business and the banks which fund it, to create a dangerous vicious circle.

The problems came to a head earlier this year when Greece had to seek an IMF-EU bailout and Brussels with the International Monetary Fund set up a trillion-dollar fund to protect the whole eurozone project.

To ease nerves, the authorities agreed to test 91 lenders, accounting for 65 percent of the European banking system, promising they would stop the rot and restore credibility, as a similar exercise had done in the United States.

The IMF warned Tuesday of what was at stake.

“Some uncertainty regarding the stringency of the tests is likely to remain,” the IMF said in the report, calling for more transparency and a wider assessment to be made.

The Fund said it wanted “a more detailed disclosure” of outcomes, together with remedial actions by weak institutions to cope with low capital levels.

Stock markets rose sharply on Thursday, in part as investors anticipated a largely positive review of the banks which posted some very sharp gains.

In London, which gained nearly two percent, analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said banks were well-supported, partly on “an expectation that the larger banks should pass (Friday’s) stress tests without too many problems.”

Analysts said, however, that the key issues remained.

“The stress tests now need to give us two crucial indications,” said UniCredit analyst Loredana Federico.

“First, how much more will banks suffer if (economic) growth is significantly lower and sovereign bonds come under more pressure, and second; how many ailing banks are hiding behind the veil of … reassuring eurozone numbers,” Federico said.

ING strategist Jeroen van den Broek said “the greatest fear is that the tests show too little diversification between the good, the bad and the ugly, and is seen by the market as being too optimistic.

“The outcome simply must be realistic; a true classification of the European banking system with necessary capital injections lined up will, in the long term, be beneficial to banking confidence,” he said.

The test results are to be published by the London-based Committee of European Banking Supervisors at 1600 GMT on Friday.

They are expected to show how each bank would cope if economic growth slows sharply, if money owed is not paid, if stock markets plunge or if there is a crisis which slashes the value of government bonds on their books.

The bottom line of the tests is how the balance sheets of the banks would look once they had been adjusted for the effects of such shocks — in other words, would they have enough capital to continue operating.

Source: SGGP

Spanish minister confident over stress tests

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

MADRID, July 20, 2010 (AFP) – Spain’s finance minister forecast on Tuesday that the European banking ‘stress test’ results to be released this week would show that Spain’s financial system is solid.

The European Union is releasing the results of the tests of the strength of Europe’s leading banks on Friday and much focus will be put on the details of banks in Spain, as well as Greece and other nations with high debt levels.

“When all the figures are known, we will see that the truth is that our financial system is solid and ready to face the future,” Finance Minister Elena Salgado told Spanish National Radio (RNE).

Salgado said the Spanish results would include the major traditional banks and regional lending institutions that were recently reorganised. She said the results would be released in all “transparency”.

Major banks such as Santander and BBVA are believed to have ridden out the international financial crisis in good shape but many regional institutions have been merged in recent weeks because of financial difficulties.

Salgado said the reorganisation has brought “strength and solvency”.

The results of stress tests to assess a lender’s capacity to withstand economic or financial upheaval will be released Friday at 1600 GMT, the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS) said on Monday.

The committee, charged by the European Commission to oversee publication of the tests, will release overall results after the closure of European stock markets on its website.

Source: SGGP

Tests blame some Toyota accidents on drivers

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Transportation Department tests of “dozens” of data recorders from Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration found many drivers mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

A Lexus SUV is seen traveling on a highway in Sunrise, Florida. (AFP file)

“The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes,” the report said.

Yet the findings, part of a broad investigation into Toyota’s recalls, “don’t exonerate the car maker from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: ‘sticky’ accelerator pedals that don’t return to idle and floor mats that can trap accelerators to the floor,'” the report added.

The data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration included a sampling of “reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing,” the newspaper noted.

The Transportation Department however, “found that throttles were wide open and brakes not engaged on Toyotas involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration,” the report said, citing unnamed sources.

Toyota has pulled around 10 million vehicles worldwide since late last year, mostly due to acceleration problems.

The company is looking to improve its recall process following heavy criticism of the way it handled safety issues in the United States blamed for more than 80 deaths.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda in June apologized to shareholders for the recall crisis.

In Japan, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said Wednesday: “We haven’t received any official information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet, so I cannot comment.”

He added: “We are still giving them information about our own evaluations. We are still working for solutions on issues such as sticking accelerator pedals and pedals trapped in the mat. In no case have we found electronic throttles control to be the cause of unexpected acceleration.”

Source: SGGP

Contest tests students’ history skills, in English

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Contest tests students’ history skills, in English

QĐND – Monday, May 31, 2010, 20:59 (GMT+7)

Nearly 2,000 secondary school students in Hanoi on May 30 participated in the first round of a competition designed to promote the study of the capital’s history in English.

The contest aims to provide Hanoi school students the opportunity to understand more about the capital’s history while at the same time improving their English language skills to celebrate 1,000th anniversary of the city, according to organisers.

The first round included tests on events, celebrities, cultural and historical sites, cuisine, costumes and traditional occupations typically associated with Hanoi.

In addition to the tests, students gave singing and dancing performances and told stories about the capital in English.

Nguyen Viet Anh of Hanoi’s Phan Dinh Phung Secondary School said, “we joined the contest to understand and improve our knowledge about our capital, its history and culture. It’s a significant way to celebrate the great event. Although many people thought that teenagers would not pay much attention to common issues such as the capital’s 1,000th anniversary, we’re proving that it’s not so.”

The competition was jointly held by the Hanoi Department of Education and Training and Apollo, and sponsored by Nokia-Ovi.

About 500 students will be selected to participate in the second and third rounds in July. The final ceremony is expected to be held at the Hanoi Opera House in August with a pool of 180 million VND (about 9,500 USD) worth in prizes for the winners.

Source: VNA/ Photo: Dantri

Source: QDND

Vietnam tests children’s medicine recalled in US

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm

The Vietnam Drug Administration is testing two children’s and infant medications following a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall of over 40 over-the-counter drugs.

Vietnam will test children’s and infant’s medications to ensure patients’ safety

According to PhytoPharma, most of the Tylenol and Zyrtec liquid children’s products in Vietnam are made in Thailand and around 10,000 bottles of Infant’s Tylenol 15ml was recently imported into Vietnam in January while Zyrtec10 mg was imported from Italy four times over the 2009-2010 period, with 10,000 packets brought in each time (a packet has 10 tablets).

Although the imported drugs were not made in the United State and other nations in which the FDA had wanted recalls, VDA still checked the two drugs to ensure patients’ safety, the administration said.

Deputy health minister Cao Minh Quang instructed the departments of health in provinces and cities to recall the Tylenol and Zyrtec liquid children’s products made in the US as they could have entered Vietnam illegally ways.

Employees at drugstores in Ho Chi Minh City said now that city residents had read the news, they did not want to take the medications.

Related article;
Hospitals to keep close eyes on recalled child medications

Source: SGGP

China orders quarterly mortgage stress tests

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 8:29 am

Chinese banking regulators have ordered lenders to conduct quarterly stress tests on mortgages as the government tries to clamp down on bad loans and rein real estate speculation.

All financial institutions must follow centralised rules for curbing property loans and ensuring risks are strictly controlled, Liu Mingkang, head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said in a statement late Tuesday.

China has tried to clamp down on ballooning lending, which hit a record 9.6 trillion yuan last year, as it fears a growth of soured loans that could hit banks.

Liu said this month banks had been ordered to reassess all loans to local government companies on a “project-by-project” basis

And policymakers have raised bank reserve ratios twice since the start of the year — effectively limiting the amount of money they can lend.

Beijing has also recently announced a range of new measures to prevent the growth of asset bubbles and soaring property prices.

Data showed property prices in 70 cities jumped 11.7 percent in March, the fastest year-on-year rise for a single month in five years.

Over the past week, the government has tightened restrictions on advance sales of new property developments, introduced new curbs on loans for third home purchases, and raised minimum down payments for second homes.

China’s economy still faces serious challenges this year even though the economy showed steady recovery in the first quarter, Liu said in the statement.

Lenders must effectively control their full year new loan growth, adjust the pace of lending and optimize their credit procedures, Liu added.


Source: SGGP

Tests find foam food packages safe in Vietnam: official

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 12:37 pm

The National Institute for Testing Food Hygiene and Safety has carried out tests on polystyrene foam food packages and determined they don’t pose a health threat, said a health official on March 31.

A roadside vendor serves up hot food in a polystyrene foam carryout container (Photo: Thanh nien)

Nguyen Cong Khan, head of the Food Safety and Hygiene Department under the Ministry of Health, said the institute tested over 10 foam food package samples taken from roadside eateries in Hanoi.

The containers were subjected to heat and acid tests, but scientists failed to find any chemicals leaching out that would cause cancer or threaten human health.

Mr. Khan said the research was conducted on domestically made foam food packages after China recently announced a ban on the containers for food carryout.

He also warned that while the recent tests had not shown the Vietnamese containers to be dangerous, people should remain wary as some small-scale foam manufacturers may not meet quality standards for safety.

Moreover, there is no way to identify good-quality from low-quality products in terms of health safety, so many vendors simply use the cheapest ones available.

Other experts who were not involved in the recent tests have said that all foam carryout containers release toxic chemicals when used to hold hot food.

Dr. Tran Van Ky of the Vietnam Food Safety Association and Dr. Nguyen Xuan Mai of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, said foam and plastic packages are recycled products.

As such, during the processing of the containers, manufacturers must use industrial dissolvable and adhesive chemicals mixed with impurities, heavy metals and toxic substances.

Vietnamese people have used these foam packages for years to contain hot food. Sidewalk eateries and higher-end restaurants both use the containers, saying that currently, no affordable alternatives exist.

Related article:
Health ministry to investigate polystyrene food containers

Source: SGGP

Child tests positive for bird flu

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 at 6:10 am

A three-year-old boy is the country’s fifth to contract avian influenza this year. 

The child, from the southern province of Binh Duong, was taken to Ho Chi Minh City’s Children Hospital II on March 10 with symptoms including a high fever and cough. Tests later confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus.

He was then quarantined in the hospital’s Infectious Ward and placed on a breathing machine.

Doctors said they first suspected the boy had contracted dengue fever, but X-rays showed he had developed pneumonia and breathing difficulties, not normally associated with dengue.

The boy’s relatives said the family lived in a neighborhood where vendors sell live poultry, yet they were not aware of any sick chickens in the area nor had the child consumed any poultry.

The HCMC Department of Health convened a meeting soon after the case was announced with experts and doctors from the city’s Pasteur institute, Tropical Disease Hospital, and other medical personnel to discus the case and redo blood tests on the child.

Dr. Hung of the Pasteur Institute said that an update would be announced on March 17 and that the institute’s staff would investigate the boy’s neighborhood.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share