Financial News from AFP

  • Japan industrial production falls 3.4% on-month in February: govt AFP - 10 hours ago
    Japan industrial production falls 3.4% on-month in February: govt

    Japan's factory production in February fell by a worse-than-expected 3.4 percent month-on-month, turning down from a solid rise in January, according to official data released on Monday. The latest figures from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry missed economists' median forecast of a drop of less than two percent and reversed a revised 3.7 percent rise seen in January. "Industrial production shows signs of increase at a moderate pace," it said in the February report, using the same phrase for January.

  • Execs at Dutch bank ABN Amro give up pay rises after uproar AFP - 16 hours ago
    Execs at Dutch bank ABN Amro give up pay rises after uproar

    Dutch state-owned bank ABN Amro on Sunday said its board members had spurned a 100,000-euro pay rise following public outrage. "The six members of the ABN Amro managing board have renounced the 100,000-euro ...

  • Greece seeks 'happy ending' as creditors mull loan deal AFP - 16 hours ago
    Greece seeks 'happy ending' as creditors mull loan deal

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in remarks published Sunday he hoped key talks with international creditors would yield a "happy ending" in the standoff over the country's crippling debt crisis. Athens is set to present a list of economic reform proposals to international creditors this week in a bid to unblock a new 7.2 billion euro ($7.8 billion) tranche of EU-IMF loans and avoid a debt default. Tsipras' remarks came after Germany's Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said Friday he opposed giving Greece any more emergency loans, accusing it of frittering away trust. European paymaster Germany has been leading the push for austerity in Europe, with Greece complaining that the punishing budget cuts demanded were damaging its economy and threatening to force it out of the eurozone.

  • Swiss Dufry to buy Italy's WDF to create duty free giant AFP - 21 hours ago
    Swiss Dufry to buy Italy's WDF to create duty free giant

    Switzerland's Dufry group will acquire majority stake in chief rival World Duty Free (WDF) in a $3.8 billion (3.6-million-euro) deal to create the biggest travel retailer in the world. The Basel-based company will shell out 10.25 euros per share for 51.1 percent share in airport tax and duty free retailer WDF, owned by Italy's Benetton family. Dufry, which operates some 1,650 stores in airports, cruise liners, railway stations and department stores around the world, employs 20,000 people in 60 countries. The acquisition helped Dufry to register a record turnover of 4.2 billion Swiss francs ($4.3 billion) last year -- a 17.5 percent rise over 2013.

  • Tsipras seeks 'happy ending' with EU AFP - 22 hours ago
    Tsipras seeks 'happy ending' with EU

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in remarks published Sunday he hoped key talks with the debt-crippled country's creditors would yield new financing and a "happy ending" in the standoff. Athens is set to present a list of economic reform proposals to international creditors on Monday in a bid to unblock a new 7.2 billion euro ($7.8 billion) tranche of EU-IMF loans and avoid a debt default. European paymaster Germany has been leading the push for austerity in Europe, with Greece complaining that the punishing budget cuts demanded were damaging its economy. Ratings agency Fitch cut Greece's credit rating Friday to "CCC" -- meaning debt default was a "real possibility" -- but said nevertheless it expected Athens would survive its cash squeeze.

  • Vietnam rice boom heaping pressure on farmers, environment AFP - Sun, Mar 29, 2015 12:03 PM AEDT
    Vietnam rice boom heaping pressure on farmers, environment

    Rice farmer Nguyen Hien Thien is so busy growing his crops that he has never even visited Can Tho, a town only a few miles from his farm in the southern Mekong Delta. Experts say Vietnam's drive to become one of the world's leading rice exporters is pushing farmers in the fertile delta region to the brink, with mounting costs to the environment. As a scientist, I want to see more being done to protect farmers and the environment," said Vietnamese rice expert Vo Tong Xuan. This now generates far more of the crop than needed to feed Vietnam's 90 million population and has catalysed a thriving export industry.

  • Cocoa king Ivory Coast wants to cash in on chocolate AFP - Sun, Mar 29, 2015 10:48 AM AEDT
    Cocoa king Ivory Coast wants to cash in on chocolate

    Ivory Coast reigns as the world's top cocoa producer but it wants to sell more than the beans, turning them into the even more lucrative chocolate, from breakfast spread to candy bars. During the 2013-14 season, Ivorian cocoa producers saw profits of 2.13 billion euros ($2.3 billion), according to Ivory Coast's coffee-cocoa council. As one local analyst in the sector put it: "It's not normal that cocoa should leave Ivory Coast and then come back, it's an aberration". In neighbourhoods of the economic capital Abidjan, cocoa beans are being converted into a paste that can be used to make chocolate bars.

  • For Britain's poorest, food aid becomes a way of life AFP - Sun, Mar 29, 2015 7:37 AM AEDT
    For Britain's poorest, food aid becomes a way of life

    Clutching a bag of pasta, canned pears and beef, David Kirk leaves a food bank in one of Britain's poorest corners -- his sixth visit in a few weeks. "It's certainly a big help," the tattooed 54-year-old said as he loaded the free supplies into his car in the town of Camborne in Cornwall in the southwest of England. The growing numbers of Britons turning to food banks run by charities to get by has become a key political issue weeks from a May 7 general election. The first question thrown at Prime Minister David Cameron in a prime time television grilling on Thursday was about how many food banks had sprung up during his five years in power.

  • Ruble bounce rare ray of sunshine for crisis-hit Russian economy AFP - Sun, Mar 29, 2015 6:57 AM AEDT
    Ruble bounce rare ray of sunshine for crisis-hit Russian economy

    It's been a torrid time of late for the Russian economy as the fallout from Ukraine and tumbling oil prices have plunged the country into financial crisis. "The economy is sliding into recession, elements of the banking system remain vulnerable and financial sanctions remain in place," he said.

  • Anticipation and angst as Europe ends milk quotas AFP - Sun, Mar 29, 2015 6:39 AM AEDT
    Anticipation and angst as Europe ends milk quotas

    European dairy farmers are facing the end of three decades of milk quotas on Wednesday with a mixture of anticipation and angst as it will allow them to serve growing demand in emerging markets, but could also cause a crash in prices. In northern Europe, farmers have hailed the move as a chance to cash in on the growing global thirst for milk, particularly in China. The Netherlands and Germany, Europe's largest producer, are gearing up for increases of 20 percent.

  • Brazil uncovers multibillion-dollar tax fraud AFP - Sat, Mar 28, 2015 11:58 PM AEDT
    Brazil uncovers multibillion-dollar tax fraud

    Brazil is already reeling from the biggest graft scandal the country has known, a $3.8 billion scam involving inflated contracts between construction companies and state oil giant Petrobras, causing a storm after dozens of politicians were implicated. The new scandal, dubbed Operation Zeal, comes following a federal police probe into an alleged scam at CARF, an offshoot of Brazil's tax authority that oversees appeals on tax disputes. According to police, the body managed to obtain tax appeals board rulings in the companies' favor by either cutting penalties or waiving them altogether. "The investigations, begun in 2013, showed the organization acted within the body sponsoring private interests, seeking to influence and corrupt advisors with a view either to securing the cancellation or reduction" of penalties from tax authorities, a police statement explained.

  • China Construction Bank net profits climbs 6% AFP - Sat, Mar 28, 2015 1:17 PM AEDT
    China Construction Bank net profits climbs 6%

    China Construction Bank, the nation's second largest lender by assets, said its net profit rose six percent in 2014 from a year earlier, as interest income rose. Net profit for 2014 was 227.83 billion yuan ($36.69 billion), up from 214.66 billion yuan in 2013, it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Friday. "Net interest yield rose steadily, driven by an increase in net interest income over the previous year," the bank said.

  • Russia 'to join China-led development bank' AFP - Sat, Mar 28, 2015 12:16 PM AEDT
    Russia 'to join China-led development bank'

    Russia is to sign up to the Chinese-led development bank AIIB, first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov said Saturday at an international forum in China, cited by Russian news agencies. "I'd like to inform you that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the decision that Russia will participate in the capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)," Shuvalov said at China's Boao Forum, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.

  • Microsoft buys Office collaborator app LiveLoop AFP - Sat, Mar 28, 2015 6:27 AM AEDT
    Microsoft buys Office collaborator app LiveLoop

    Microsoft said it has purchased the office mobile app LiveLoop, which allows multiple users to collaborate on PowerPoint presentations simultaneously. The purchase is the latest by tech giant Microsoft, after recent acquisitions of other mobile apps for professional use. "We are excited to welcome the talented team from LiveLoop to help build great collaboration across Office applications, part of our strategy and vision to reinvent productivity," Microsoft said in a statement. LiveLoop allows users to share PowerPoint presentations -- a Microsoft Office program -- and PDFs online among collaborators who can access and synchronize the material from any mobile device.

  • Europe resumes Galileo satnav deployment AFP - Sat, Mar 28, 2015 5:54 AM AEDT
    Europe resumes Galileo satnav deployment

    Europe resumed deployment of its beleaguered Galileo satnav programme on Friday, launching a pair of satellites seven months after a rocket malfunction sent two multi-million euro orbiters awry. Galileo's seventh and eighth satellites blasted off from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 2146 GMT (6:46 pm local time), to join four orbiters already in the constellation. "I am delighted to announce that according to our onboard... system, Adam and Anastasia have been safely separated on their targeted medium-Earth orbit," Stephane Israel, chairman of the Arianespace launch company said in comments broadcast live on the European Space Agency (ESA) website early Saturday. Galileo will be a rival to the US GPS and Russia's Glonass satellite navigation systems, but unlike them, will be under civilian control.

  • Fed weighs rate hike 'this year': Yellen AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 11:52 PM AEDT
    Fed weighs rate hike 'this year': Yellen

    The Federal Reserve is considering raising near-zero interest rates this year even though this may slow the US recovery, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Friday. The Federal Open Market Committee is now "giving serious consideration to beginning to reduce later this year some of the extraordinary monetary policy accommodation currently in place," Yellen said in a speech in San Francisco, according to the prepared text. Earlier this month, the Fed's policy arm opened the door to a federal funds rate hike as early as midyear, dropping the word "patient" in its post-meeting statement. Still, the recovery from the Great Recession that ended in 2009 appeared on track enough to sustain a rate hike.

  • Fitch cuts Greece's rating amid default worries AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 11:31 PM AEDT
    Fitch cuts Greece's rating amid default worries

    Ratings firm Fitch cut Greece's credit rating Friday amid worries that the eurozone country is running perilously close to defaulting on its sovereign debt. Fitch lowered Greece's rating by two notches to the high-risk level of "CCC" from "B," but said that nevertheless it expected the government would survive its cash squeeze. "Lack of market access, uncertain prospects of timely disbursement from official institutions, and tight liquidity conditions in the domestic banking sector have put extreme pressure on Greek government funding," Fitch said in a statement. The rating downgrade came as the new anti-austerity Greek government raced to reach a deal with its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors by next month before state coffers run dry.

  • Europe hoists first navigation satellites post mislaunch AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 11:24 PM AEDT
    Europe hoists first navigation satellites post mislaunch

    Europe launched two navigation satellites Friday for its rival to America's GPS system, the first additions to the Galileo constellation since a technical mishap misdirected two orbiters last year. Galileo's ...

  • Intel in talks with Altera on tie-up AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 11:09 PM AEDT
    Intel in talks with Altera on tie-up

    US tech giant Intel is in talks with rival Altera on a tie-up to broaden the chipmaker's product line amid growth in Internet-connected devices, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The Journal said such a deal for Altera, with a market capitalization of $10.4 billion before Friday, would be Intel's largest acquisition ever. Altera, which designs processors for phone networks, cars and other devices, would help Intel diversify its product line amid slumping demand for personal computers.

  • 'Bubble' talk leaves US stocks lower AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 10:59 PM AEDT
    'Bubble' talk leaves US stocks lower

    The Nasdaq Composite Index, which has outperformed the broader market in 2015, fell the most over the week, dropping 135.20 points (2.69 percent) to 4,891.22. Heading into the week, the Nasdaq stood above 5,000, rarified territory for an index that took 15 years to claw back near an all-time high set in 2000. Semiconductor stocks were another weak segment in the index. "The biggest story we saw was the mini-correction in biotechs and the mini-correction in semiconductors," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist of Wunderlich Securities.

  • Oil market jumps on Yemen unrest AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 10:28 PM AEDT
    Oil market jumps on Yemen unrest

    World oil prices rose sharply this week as Saudi Arabian jets struck rebel targets in Yemen, sparking fresh supply fears in the crude-rich Middle East. Many commodities were also buoyed as weak US data sent the dollar sliding, denting confidence in the world's top economy and throwing into question the timeline for a long-awaited Federal Reserve interest rate hike. OIL: Prices rallied on Wednesday and Thursday after a Saudi Arabia-led coalition bombed Huthi Shiite rebels in support of Yemen's embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. "The geopolitical tensions in Yemen are pushing (oil) prices higher," Daniel Ang, an investment analyst with Phillip Futures, told AFP.

  • US stocks snap 4-day slide AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 9:28 PM AEDT
    US stocks snap 4-day slide

    Wall Street stocks rose Friday, snapping a four-day losing streak as traders shrugged off weaker-than-expected US economic growth in the fourth quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 34.43 points ...

  • European airlines told to have two in cockpit at all times AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 9:21 PM AEDT
    European airlines told to have two in cockpit at all times

    Transport ministries and aviation authorities in Germany, Austria and Portugal announced earlier Friday that they would be requiring the adoption of the so-called "rule of two" which is already standard in the United States. The regulation would come into immediate effect for Portugal's national airline, TAP Portugal, Secretary of State for Transport Sergio Monteiro said. Air France and KLM followed suit saying in a statement that they would implement EASA's recommendation "as soon as possible". Belgian companies -- Brussels Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, and Jetairfly -- also said they would put in place the two person rule along with Thomas Cook.

  • Fed mulls interest rate hike 'this year': Yellen AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 9:10 PM AEDT
    Fed mulls interest rate hike 'this year': Yellen

    The Federal Reserve is considering raising the United States' near-zero interest rates "this year" even though this may slow the economy, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Friday. Earlier this month, the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's policy arm, opened the door to a federal funds rate hike as early as midyear. "A modest increase in the federal funds rate would be highly unlikely to halt this progress, although such an increase might slow its pace somewhat," the Fed chief acknowledged.

  • Oil dives 4.7% on easing Yemen worries AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 8:43 PM AEDT
    Oil dives 4.7% on easing Yemen worries

    Oil prices sank Friday, giving back some gains from a two-day surge, as traders kept an eye on the Saudi-led air assault against Shiite rebels in Yemen. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery snapped a six-day winning streak, plunging $2.43 to $48.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The global benchmark, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in May, shed $2.78 to settle at $56.41 a barrel on the Intercontinental Exchange in London. "The petroleum markets are retreating as tensions over the Saudi-led airstrikes against Huthi positions inside Yemen ease," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures.

  • ANA orders three Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 7:13 PM AEDT
    ANA orders three Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners

    Japan's All Nippon Airways has ordered three 787-10 Dreamliners, becoming the first airline in Asia to operate all three versions of the high-tech jetliner, Boeing said Friday. The new 787-10 is the largest of the Dreamliner family, capable of carrying 323 passengers up to 13,000 kilometers (8,078 miles), a distance that represents more than 90 percent of the world's twin-aisle routes, according to the US aerospace giant. "We are honored to play such an important role in ANA's continued success as they look to expand their fleet to include the entire family of 787 Dreamliners," said Ray Conner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive, in a statement. ANA currently operates the world's largest 787 fleet with 34 Dreamliners, built with lightweight composite components that helped to lower fuel consumption.

  • Carnival orders 9 cruise ships as earnings rise AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 7:03 PM AEDT
    Carnival orders 9 cruise ships as earnings rise

    Cruise giant Carnival Friday reported better earnings on lower fuel costs as it ordered nine new cruise ships from shipbuilders in Germany and Italy. Carnival, the world's largest cruise company, ordered five ships from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and four ships from Germany's Meyer Werft. The new ships will be delivered from 2019-2022 and are intended to serve established cruise markets in North America and Europe as well as newer venues such as China, Carnival said. "These will be the most efficient ships we have ever built and the great guest experience will create even more excitement around cruising -- helping new cruisers realize the superior vacation experience and value that cruising offers versus land-based vacations," said Arnold Donald, chief executive of Carnival.

  • Greek reforms will put economy on track: Athens AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 6:54 PM AEDT
    Greek reforms will put economy on track: Athens

    Greece said Friday the reform proposals it will soon present to its creditors will put the country's economy on track without the pain of austerity. A government document said the proposals, to be finalised by technical experts this weekend, would bring in 3.0 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in revenue, without resorting to wage and pension cuts. The measures would also see the crisis-hit Greek economy grow by 1.4 percent this year, the document said. Greek experts "will go to Brussels tonight for a Saturday meeting, to finalise the reform list that will be presented on Monday," a Greek government source told AFP.

  • Greece, Yemen keeps European stocks jittery AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 6:45 PM AEDT
    Greece, Yemen keeps European stocks jittery

    Europe's main stock markets diverged Friday as dealers awaited news on a deal over Greece's finances next week, while also tracking unrest in Yemen. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended the day down 0.58 percent at 6,855.02 points. "On Friday, shares in Europe extended the recovery started a day earlier as concerns over the situation in Yemen eased but are nevertheless still looking at one of the worst weeks of 2015," said analyst Jasper Lawler at CMC Markets. Focus remained on Greece on Friday, as Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann says he is opposed to giving the troubled eurozone country more emergency loans, charging the new government in Athens with frittering away a lot of trust.

  • Airbnb inks Rio Games rooms link AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 6:37 PM AEDT
    Airbnb inks Rio Games rooms link

    Organizers of next year's Rio Olympics and online accommodation provider Airbnb on Friday signed a partnership agreement to provide thousands of fans with a place to stay during the three-week event. The deal will see Airbnb provide 20,000 rooms during the first Games in South America but as many as 80,000 could be made available, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia told a presentation in Rio. Gebbia and Games CEO Sidney Levy inked the agreement which links fans buying tickets -- which go on sale from Tuesday -- through to the Airbnb website. "Airbnb will be the official alternative accommodation services provider for the 2016 Olympic Games," said Gebbia, whose company started up in 2008.

  • Dutch power restored after cut causes chaos AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 6:10 PM AEDT
    Dutch power restored after cut causes chaos

    A massive power cut caused chaos in and around the Dutch capital Amsterdam on Friday, including halting all flights at Schiphol International Airport before supplies were restored. "Normal electricity has been has been restored. Inbound flights are landing and outbound flights are taking off," Schiphol spokeswoman Inge van Rijn told AFP. The Dutch capital of Amsterdam also ground to a halt, with rail and tram transport severely disrupted, stranding thousands of commuters.

  • Brazil stagnates in 2014, recession looms for 2015 AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 6:05 PM AEDT
    Brazil stagnates in 2014, recession looms for 2015

    Hosting the World Cup in June and July and gearing up for the Olympics next year failed to reverse the drag of rising inflation, a ballooning deficit and a $4-billion kickbacks scandal at state oil giant Petrobras that has tarnished Brazil's largest company and President Dilma Rousseff's party. Rousseff has never managed to match the blistering 7.6-percent GDP growth Brazil posted in 2010, the last year in office of her charismatic predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. "Looking forward, the questions are how deep will the recession be in 2015, when will Brazil start to recover and how fast," said Robert Wood, Brazil analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Agostini predicted India, whose economy is growing at an annual rate of more than seven percent, would surpass Brazil this year as the world's seventh economy.

  • Europe stocks close mixed AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 5:57 PM AEDT
    Europe stocks close mixed

    Europe's main stock markets closed mixed on Friday, with London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ending the day down 0.58 percent at 6,855.02 points. Frankfurt's DAX 30 index added 0.21 percent to 11,868.33 ...

  • Airbnb teams up with Rio Games to provide rooms for fans AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 4:58 PM AEDT
    Airbnb teams up with Rio Games to provide rooms for fans

    Organizers of next year's Rio Olympics and online accommodation provider Airbnb on Friday signed a partnership agreement to provide thousands of fans with a place to stay during the three-week event. The deal will see Airbnb provide 20,000 rooms during the first Games in South America but as many as 80,000 could be made available, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia told a presentation in Rio. Gebbia and Games CEO Sidney Levy inked the agreement which link fans buying tickets -- which go on sale from Tuesday -- through to the Airbnb website. "Airbnb will be the official alternative accommodation services provider for the 2016 Olympic Games," said Gebbia, whose company started up in 2008.

  • French consumer confidence hits five-year high AFP - Fri, Mar 27, 2015 4:52 PM AEDT
    French consumer confidence hits five-year high

    French consumer confidence has hit a five-year high, the Insee statistics agency said on Friday, signalling that households feel more optimistic about the country's growth. The composite indicator -- which measures the view taken by households of the economic situation -- gained one point and reached 93 this month, its highest value since November 2010. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the latest data showed that growth could pick up quicker than expected. Nevertheless the new figures show that French households feel more optimistic about their personal financial situations and living standards, with consumer spending also on the rise.