Financial News from AFP

  • Japan factory output turns down in July as China demand slumps AFP - 11 hours ago
    Japan factory output turns down in July as China demand slumps

    Japan's factory output contracted a worse-than-expected 0.6 percent on-month in July, official data showed on Monday, owing to lacklustre demand at home and as a slowdown in China weighs on exports. The reading published by the industry ministry was weaker than the median forecast for a modest 0.1 percent rise in a survey of economists by Bloomberg News. "Production is sluggish because private consumption and exports remain weak," Toru Suehiro, an economist at Mizuho Securities, told Bloomberg News.

  • Japan factory output down 0.6% month-on-month in July: govt AFP - 13 hours ago
    Japan factory output down 0.6% month-on-month in July: govt

    Japan's factory output fell 0.6 percent month-on-month in July, worse than market expectations, official data showed on Monday. The reading from the industry ministry was weaker than the median forecast ...

  • Rolls Royce cooperating with Brazil corruption probe AFP - 15 hours ago
    Rolls Royce cooperating with Brazil corruption probe

    Britain's Rolls-Royce is cooperating with investigators in a massive corruption scandal at Brazilian state oil giant Petrobras, a spokesman said on Sunday. The engineering company confirmed it had been contacted by investigators involved in the probe, which has engulfed Brazil's political and business establishment amid allegations of a massive kickbacks scheme. "We are cooperating with investigating authorities in Brazil but are unable to comment further on a continuing investigation," a Rolls-Royce spokesman said in a statement.

  • Ferry travel disrupted as Calais blockaded anew by French sailors AFP - 15 hours ago
    Ferry travel disrupted as Calais blockaded anew by French sailors

    Protesting French seamen blockaded the port of Calais on Sunday, stranding thousands of cross-Channel ferry passengers on a busy bank holiday weekend in Britain. About 15 sailors from the bankrupt firm Scop SeaFrance took to the water in two lifeboats, a source at the port said. "Traffic is totally blocked, as a safety measure, as there are lifeboats in the port," the harbour master in Calais said.

  • Calais port blocked anew by protesting French seamen AFP - 17 hours ago
    Calais port blocked anew by protesting French seamen

    Industrial action by French seamen blocked the port of Calais yet again on Sunday, stranding hundreds of passengers waiting to board ferries for England. "Traffic is totally blocked, as a safety measure, as lifeboats are in the port," the harbour master in Calais. Hundreds of passengers were unable to board ferries for Britain as a result.

  • 'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt AFP - 18 hours ago
    'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt

    Italian energy giant Eni on Sunday announced the discovery of the "largest ever" offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean, in Egypt's territorial waters. The discovery, confirmed by Egypt's oil ministry, could hold a potential 30 trillion cubic feet (850 billion cubic metres) of gas in an area of about 100 square kilometres (40 square miles), Eni said in a statement. "It's the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea and could become one of the world?s largest natural-gas finds," the firm said.

  • 'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt: Eni AFP - 19 hours ago
    'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt: Eni

    Italian energy giant Eni on Sunday announced the discovery of the "largest ever" offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean, in Egypt's territorial waters. The discovery, confirmed by Egypt's oil ministry, could hold a potential 30 trillion cubic feet (850 billion cubic metres) of gas in an area of about 100 square kilometres (40 square miles), Eni said in a statement. The so-called Zohr project is "the largest gas discovery ever made in Egypt and in the Mediterranean Sea," it said, adding the find would meet Egypt's own natural gas demands for decades.

  • South Africa inaugurates massive new power plant AFP - 20 hours ago
    South Africa inaugurates massive new power plant

    President Jacob Zuma inaugurated on Sunday the first unit of a massive new coal-fired power plant in South Africa, hailing it as a step away from the country's energy woes. The Medupi power station, situated north of Johannesburg, is to produce 4,800 megawatts of electricity by 2019, when it is expected to be operating at full capacity. South Africa has suffered through rolling blackouts, known as load shedding, as the state-owned utility Eskom has sought to ease pressure on its stable of ageing and poorly-maintained power stations.

  • Street-wise 'Straight Outta Compton' beats out box office AFP - 20 hours ago
    Street-wise 'Straight Outta Compton' beats out box office

    "Straight Outta Compton" grabbed another top spot on weekend ticket sales charts, according to estimates Sunday, extending the rap film's rule over the North American Box office for its third week running. The film about pioneering rap group N.W.A. took in some $13.2 million in sales, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said. It was half the haul "Straight Outta Compton" had last week but took the film's total take-in to $134.13 million.

  • Alcatel-Lucent boss under fire over huge reported bonuses AFP - 21 hours ago
    Alcatel-Lucent boss under fire over huge reported bonuses

    France's government and unions Sunday called on the head of telecoms equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent to renounce reported bonuses of some 14 million euros he could receive after the firm was swallowed up by its rival Nokia. Michel Combes, who has headed the French-American company since 2013, is due to step down as part of a 15.6-billion-euro ($17.4billion) deal to create the world's biggest supplier of mobile phone network equipment. The Journal du Dimanche newspaper, citing official documents and current share values, said Sunday he could receive almost 14 million euros in bonuses over three years.

  • 11 dead, dozens hurt in fire at Saudi oil giant housing complex AFP - 22 hours ago
    11 dead, dozens hurt in fire at Saudi oil giant housing complex

    At least 11 people were killed and 219 injured in Saudi Arabia Sunday when a fire broke out at a residential complex housing employees of oil giant Saudi Aramco, authorities said. Photographs published on the civil defence website showed plumes of black smoke rising from the windows of one of the buildings. Firefighting teams "are combing all towers to ensure there are no people" trapped inside, said the civil defence.

  • Qatar exports plunge over 40 pct in year AFP - 23 hours ago
    Qatar exports plunge over 40 pct in year

    Energy-rich Qatar's exports plunged more than 40 percent in value in the year up until July 2015, on the back of a slump in petrol and hydrocarbon sales, official figures showed Sunday. State news agency QNA, citing figures from the development planning and statistics ministry, said exports for July totalled 23.5 billion Qatari riyals ($6.5 billion, 5.8 billion euros). The figure represented a drop of around one percent on June, but a massive 41.7 percent fall compared to July 2014, QNA said.

  • Suzuki to buy back shares as Volkswagen row settled AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 11:50 AM AEST
    Suzuki to buy back shares as Volkswagen row settled

    Japan's Suzuki Motor said on Sunday it plans to buy back its shares sold to Volkswagen after an international arbitration court settled a dispute between the two automakers. The ruling came four years after the Japanese small car maker attempted to end an alliance with the German auto giant, which has refused Suzuki's repeated demands to sell back the 112.21 million shares, or 19.9 percent of Suzuki. Arbitrators at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) ruled the alliance has been terminated and ordered Volkswagen to dispose of Suzuki shares, the Japanese company said.

  • Modi backs down on India's controversial land reform AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 10:09 AM AEST
    Modi backs down on India's controversial land reform

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced he was ditching an executive order aimed at making it easier for business to buy land, in a major setback for his reformist government. Modi said he would let the ordinance lapse on Monday, following large-scale farmer protests led by a resurgent opposition to the reform, which he pledged soon after forming government last year. In his monthly radio address to the rural heartland, the premier lashed out at what he described as the spreading of false rumours that made farmers oppose the reform.

  • German corporate giants suspected in Greek corruption cases AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 7:26 AM AEST
    German corporate giants suspected in Greek corruption cases

    Siemens, Daimler, Rheinmetall -- the cream of German industry -- have been mired in cases of alleged corruption in Greece, the country that Berlin has repeatedly admonished for the parlous state of its economy. No date has been set yet for 19 former executives of German engineering group Siemens to appear in Greek court, but it is expected to be one of the biggest financial trials of the decade in Greece. Bavaria-based Siemens, whose links to Greece go back to the 19th century, is suspected of having greased the palms of various officials to clinch one of the country's most lucrative contracts -- the vast upgrade of the Greek telephone network in the late 1990s.

  • Chinese tourists unfazed by currency fall, market turmoil AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 5:42 AM AEST
    Chinese tourists unfazed by currency fall, market turmoil

    China's currency devaluation and slowing economy have caused enormous turmoil in world financial markets, but they have not really bothered tourists like Henry Lee. Lee is among tens of millions from China's growing middle class who travel across the globe every year for leisure. A record 117 million Chinese travelled overseas in 2014, according to the Sydney-based Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) -- more than double the 57 million in 2010 -- and experts expect that trend to continue.

  • Hong Kong banks turn to start-ups for tech edge AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 5:21 AM AEST
    Hong Kong banks turn to start-ups for tech edge

    Hong Kong's towering skyline is dominated by major banks and investment houses -- but smaller start-ups are playing an increasing role on the financial landscape. The number of "FinTech" start-ups in Hong Kong -- offering technology tailored to the world of finance -- is rising rapidly, taking advantage of the city's position as an industry hub and gateway to China. "I think that what you're finding with a lot of these traditional institutions is the recognition that their customers and consumers are all demanding more from them," said Adrian Seto, director of FinTech innovation at consultancy Accenture.

  • ECB mulls policy response to market turmoil over China AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 4:41 AM AEST
    ECB mulls policy response to market turmoil over China

    The European Central Bank looks set to keep its monetary policy gunpowder dry when its decision-making governing council convenes next week, despite the recent turmoil that has engulfed global markets, analysts said. It has been a chaotic week for stock markets around the world, spooked by fears of economic slowdown in China. The ECB, for its part, is unlikely to be panicked into any knee-jerk policy moves, particularly since its radical asset purchase programme known as quantitative easing, or QE, finally appears to be bearing fruit, central bank watchers said.

  • Regulator orders 95 Nexen pipelines suspended in Canada AFP - Sun, Aug 30, 2015 2:21 AM AEST
    Regulator orders 95 Nexen pipelines suspended in Canada

    The oil and gas producer Nexen Energy, a Canadian subsidiary of China's CNOOC, was forced to suspend operations Saturday at 95 pipelines after a major leak last month. The leak in Alberta, western Canada, spilled some 31,500 barrels (five million liters) of oil sands, prompting concern and criticism from environmental groups. The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) ordered the immediate suspension after it accused Nexen of "noncompliant activities" at the firm's Long Lake oil-sands operations in terms of maintenance and monitoring.

  • China premier insists economy 'within appropriate range' AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 6:47 PM AEST
    China premier insists economy 'within appropriate range'

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has issued assurances over his country's economy after global markets were roiled by concerns over its slowing growth, state media reported on Saturday. Top global markets ended the week Friday largely recovered from China-induced panic selling, but market watchers remain worried the turmoil in the world's number two economy will drag down global growth.

  • The Fed won't wait for 2 pct inflation to raise rates: Fischer AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 6:07 PM AEST
    The Fed won't wait for 2 pct inflation to raise rates: Fischer

    Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer warned Saturday that the US central bank will not wait for inflation to hit two percent before raising interest rates. Fischer said he was confident that US inflation was on track to meet the two percent target that the Fed considers a sign of a healthy economy, even though changes in the personal consumption expenditure index "have recently been only above zero" due to temporary factors like declining oil prices.

  • China imposes limit on local government debt: report AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 1:10 PM AEST
    China imposes limit on local government debt: report

    China has imposed a limit on local debt, state media reported Saturday, as the world's second-largest economy tries to control massive borrowing by its regions. The standing committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) approved the ceiling of 16 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion) in local debt for this year, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The NPC is China's Communist Party-controlled legislature.

  • China scraps loan-to-deposit ratio cap: report AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 11:23 AM AEST
    China scraps loan-to-deposit ratio cap: report

    China on Saturday scrapped a two decade limit on the percentage of funds banks can lend out relative to deposits, state media reported. China's commercial banking law has since its enactment in 1975 stipulated that no more than 75 percent of a bank's deposits could be offered as loans, the official Xinhua news agency said. The NPC is China's Communist Party-controlled legislature.

  • Obama defends Shell Arctic drilling decision AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 10:15 AM AEST
    Obama defends Shell Arctic drilling decision

    Two days before heading to Alaska to raise climate change awareness, US President Barack Obama on Saturday defended his controversial decision to allow Shell to drill in the Arctic's Chukchi Sea. The Obama administration's green light for the Anglo-Dutch oil giant angered environmental groups which have decried the "hypocrisy" of the president, who in recent months has stressed the need for aggressive actions against climate change. "I know there are Americans who are concerned about oil companies drilling in environmentally sensitive waters," Obama said in his weekly address, noting that the drilling leases had been purchased before he took office.

  • Brazil tumbles into recession AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 10:08 AM AEST
    Brazil tumbles into recession

    Brazil has slipped into recession, the government said Friday, deepening the gloom in the world's seventh largest economy already battered by falling commodity prices, political crisis and a corruption scandal. GDP had already been down 0.7 percent in the first quarter, the government statistics agency IBGE said, revising that figure down further from the earlier estimate of minus 0.2 percent. Brazil is now in its biggest contraction for six years and with the 2015 slump forecast to extend in milder form through 2016, economists believe the country is headed for the longest recession since 1931.

  • Myanmar approves first-ever national minimum wage AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 7:26 AM AEST
    Myanmar approves first-ever national minimum wage

    Myanmar's government has approved the country's first-ever national minimum wage, state media reported on Saturday, after months of bitter negotiations with labour groups and employers. The wage has been set at 3,600 kyat ($2.80) "for a standard eight-hour work day" and takes effect from Tuesday, said the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper. Myanmar has seen a wave of protests for better pay and conditions, particularly among workers in the growing garment sector, after decades of direct junta rule came to an end in 2011.

  • China fears keep markets on edge as stocks rally AFP - Sat, Aug 29, 2015 1:17 AM AEST
    China fears keep markets on edge as stocks rally

    Top global markets ended the week Friday largely recovered from China-induced panic selling, but market watchers remain worried the turmoil in the world's number two economy will drag down global growth. "There still does not seem to be the macro foundations for indices to fully recover from their corrections, as concerns over China and uncertainty over Fed rate hikes continue to linger," said IG Markets analyst Angus Nicholson. On Friday, Moody's slashed its 2016 growth forecast for leading G20 economies to 2.8 percent from 3.1 percent, predicting contractions in Brazil and Russia and lower demand for manufactured goods in Korea and Japan due to China.

  • Panama Canal cancels limits on cargo size after rain AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 11:20 PM AEST
    Panama Canal cancels limits on cargo size after rain

    The Panama Canal is suspending plans to limit ships' cargo size in response to a drought, after recent rainfall increased water levels, officials said Friday. Three weeks ago, the Panama Canal Authority announced plans to cut ships' maximum draft from the usual 12.04 meters (39.5 feet) to 11.89 meters, starting on September 8. While water levels in the canal have still not returned to normal, the rains "have made it possible to suspend the restrictions," the authority said.

  • Rebekah Brooks to return as News Corp UK chief executive: report AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 11:17 PM AEST
    Rebekah Brooks to return as News Corp UK chief executive: report

    British former tabloid news editor Rebekah Brooks is to return to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp as chief executive of its UK division, the Financial Times reported on Friday. Brooks, who formerly edited The Sun and The News of the World, resigned as chief executive in 2011 at the height of a scandal over the hacking of phone voice mails by journalists. Speculation has grown in recent months that Brooks, 47, might return to the Murdoch empire.

  • Pentagon joins Silicon Valley in 'flexible' tech hub AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 9:55 PM AEST
    Pentagon joins Silicon Valley in 'flexible' tech hub

    The Pentagon is building a tech hub in Silicon Valley to help create new gadgetry for the supersoldiers of the future as well as tech-savvy consumers. A plan unveiled Friday called for a new Manufacturing Innovation Institute to be based in San Jose, California to work on new kinds of flexible technology that can be used both on the battlefield or for civilian health, smart homes and cities. The $171 million plan announced by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will get $75 million in federal funds, and bring together electronics and semiconductor companies like Applied Materials, Apple, United Technologies, Hewlett-Packard and Qualcomm with users of the technology such as Boeing, General Motors, the Cleveland Clinic, Corning and Motorola.

  • Fed's Fischer: 'haven't made decision yet' on rate rise  AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 9:21 PM AEST
    Fed's Fischer: 'haven't made decision yet' on rate rise 

    Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said Friday that the door remains open for the Fed to lift interest rates next month, after a week of China-sparked global markets turmoil. Fischer said no decision had been made ahead of the US central bank's September 16-17 meeting, with policy makers still watching to see how deep the fallout is from China's downturn. Fischer told CNBC television in an interview that while the US economy remains strong, it was "too early to tell" whether the markets turmoil sparked by China has lessened the argument for a long-expected increase in the federal funds rate.

  • Dow ends choppy day slightly lower; Nasdaq gains AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 8:35 PM AEST
    Dow ends choppy day slightly lower; Nasdaq gains

    US stocks ended a rocky week on a muted note Friday, with the Dow dipping and Nasdaq advancing as fears about a global economic slowdown due to China tested sentiment. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 11.76 points (0.07 percent) at 16,643.01. The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.21 (0.06 percent) at 1,988.87, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 15.62 (0.32 percent) at 4,828.32.

  • Oil prices pump out big two-day rally AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 7:52 PM AEST
    Oil prices pump out big two-day rally

    Crude oil prices scored big gains for a second straight day Friday, capping a wild week as traders seemed to view the recent nose-dive as overdone. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for October delivery jumped $2.66 (6.3 percent) to finish at $45.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • US oil rallies second day; WTI up 6.3% AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 7:04 PM AEST
    US oil rallies second day; WTI up 6.3%

    On Thursday WTI prices rocketed 10.3 percent, rebounding from more than six-year lows. "It's just incredible," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group. When oil prices went below $40 a barrel, that was a signal people thought that because of China, the global economy was going to grind to a halt," he said.

  • Switzerland dodges recession with 0.2% growth AFP - Fri, Aug 28, 2015 6:55 PM AEST
    Switzerland dodges recession with 0.2% growth

    Switzerland's economy expanded by 0.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, the economic affairs ministry said Friday, allowing the country to dodge a recession. The meagre growth from the first quarter came after the Swiss economy contracted by 0.2 percent during the first three months of the year, which had left many analysts forecasting that the wealthy Alpine nation would slip into recession. The GDP growth can especially be attributed to a steep drop in imports.