Financial News from AFP

  • Lloyds Banking Group says net profit rockets to £2.0bn AFP - 10 hours ago
    Lloyds Banking Group says net profit rockets to £2.0bn

    Lloyds Banking Group announced soaring annual profits Wednesday on lower charges linked to an insurance scandal, as it awaits a full return to the private sector following a state bailout. Net profit surged more than four times to £2.0 billion ($2.5 billion, 2.4 billion euros) in 2016 compared with net profit of £466 million a year earlier, LBG said in an earnings release. LBG said it took another £1.0-billion hit to compensate customers who were mis-sold insurance, although this was much reduced compared with a bill of £4.0 billion in 2015 regarding the same issue.

  • British bank Lloyds says net profit rockets to £2.0bn AFP - 10 hours ago
    British bank Lloyds says net profit rockets to £2.0bn

    Lloyds Banking Group announced soaring annual profits Wednesday on lower charges linked to an insurance scandal, as it awaits a full return to the private sector following a state bailout. Net profit surged ...

  • Most Asia markets up as Hong Kong rebounds AFP - 10 hours ago
    Most Asia markets up as Hong Kong rebounds

    Hong Kong led most Asia markets higher Wednesday after the previous day's HSBC-fuelled plunge, but Tokyo struggled with a stronger yen. Regional traders woke up to the now-common sight of a record close on Wall Street as the US returned from the Presidents' Day holiday to higher oil prices and healthy eurozone economic data. The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong -- which is at levels not seen since summer 2015 -- suffered a meltdown Tuesday after HSBC announced a slump in profits last year and warned of uncertainty from Brexit and Donald Trump.

  • S.Africa budget throws light on fractured ANC AFP - 14 hours ago
    S.Africa budget throws light on fractured ANC

    South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers the annual budget in parliament Wednesday as he battles to revive the economy and head off loyalists of the president who seek to oust him. Gordhan, a popular figure in South Africa and among international investors, is widely seen as being at loggerheads with President Jacob Zuma, who has shrugged off a series of recent corruption scandals. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been engulfed by friction between Zuma's plans for funding "radical economic transformation" and Gordhan's stand against graft and uncontrolled expenditure.

  • Dutch corporate takeover defences tough to breach AFP - 14 hours ago
    Dutch corporate takeover defences tough to breach

    Corporate takeovers can be tricky in the Netherlands, as US food giant Kraft Heinz found out before performing a sudden U-turn in its surprise move on Unilever, experts say. Kraft Heinz on Sunday announced it was dropping its $143 billion (135 billion euro) offer to buy the Anglo-Dutch Unilever -- barely two days after vowing to press ahead with the bid that would have created the world's second-largest food giant behind Nestle. Rotterdam-based Unilever had on Friday snubbed the offer, saying it "fundamentally undervalues" the company that has brands like Marmite, Magnum ice cream, Lipton tea and Knorr soups in its portfolio.

  • Milan laughs while Rome cries AFP - 14 hours ago
    Milan laughs while Rome cries

    While rays of sun warm the elegant marble monuments on Rome's skyline, Milan lies under grey crowds heavy with pollution. "Milan is experiencing a moment of extraordinary transformation, becoming one of the most interesting hubs internationally," says Giuliano Noci, a strategy professor at the Polytechnic School in Milan. "Milan was able to capitalise on the World Expo" of 2015, which attracted 21.5 million people, including 6.5 million foreigners, Noci said.

  • Italy taxis stop strike over 'Uber' benefits AFP - 16 hours ago
    Italy taxis stop strike over 'Uber' benefits

    Taxi drivers in Italy striking over delays to legislation regulating Uber and car-hire services stopped their protests late Tuesday after reaching a deal with the government. The six-day strike had left commuters stranded across the country, with taxis taking only emergency fares for disabled people or those needing to get to hospitals, and led to scuffles in Rome as protesters clashed with police. Drivers say the current rules benefit ride-hailing service Uber or NCCs -- cars rented with a driver -- because unlike taxis they can buy licences in smaller towns, where they cost less, but use them to work in cities.

  • 'Lego Batman' spanks 'Fifty Shades Darker' at box office AFP - 17 hours ago
    'Lego Batman' spanks 'Fifty Shades Darker' at box office

    Featuring the voice of Will Arnett as the caped crusader, the Warner Bros spinoff of the "The Lego Movie" took $42.7 million from Friday to Monday for a two-week total of $107.3 million, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations said. The 3D, computer-generated action comedy follows Batman as he tries to save Gotham City from being taken over by the Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis. Universal's second installment of the steamy "Fifty Shades" franchise based on the novels of E.L. James made $22.7 million for a total of $91.4 million while fantasy feature "The Great Wall" debuted at number three with a disappointing $21 million.

  • US Treasury's Mnuchin tells IMF to monitor currencies AFP - 19 hours ago
    US Treasury's Mnuchin tells IMF to monitor currencies

    US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday called on the International Monetary Fund to provide "candid analysis" of exchange-rate policies in member countries. Mnuchin spoke by phone with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in what was among the first contacts between the fund and the administration of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused countries like China of using trade and currency policies to cheat its trading partners. Trump also threatened during the election campaign to slap tariffs on imports from China and declare the country currency manipulator, which would set in motion a process that could allow the United States to take retaliatory action.

  • World stocks mostly grind higher, but HSBC weighs AFP - 20 hours ago
    World stocks mostly grind higher, but HSBC weighs

    World stocks regained momentum on Tuesday, lifted by rising oil prices and strong eurozone economic data, but a massive earnings drop at banking giant HSBC kept a lid on London and Hong Kong. All three ...

  • Yahoo price slashed as Verizon proceeds with buy AFP - 20 hours ago
    Yahoo price slashed as Verizon proceeds with buy

    A price cut had Verizon on track Tuesday to go ahead with the purchase of Yahoo's internet business, and share the costs from a pair of epic hacks that threatened to derail the deal. Yahoo slashed the price of its core Internet business by $350 million. The announcement settled concerns that the cyber attacks and how they were handled by the California-based firm might scuttle the acquisition or result in an even deeper cut to the price.

  • US stocks again close at new records; Dow up 0.6 percent AFP - 20 hours ago
    US stocks again close at new records; Dow up 0.6 percent

    US stocks jumped Tuesday with retailers and energy firms among the winners as positive sentiment about President Donald Trump's economic agenda again lifted the market to fresh records at the close. All ...

  • Duck cull hits French foie gras production AFP - 21 hours ago
    Duck cull hits French foie gras production

    The French government on Tuesday ordered the slaughter of 360,000 ducks in a bird flu-hit southwest region at the forefront of the foie gras industry. The cull will effectively wipe out production of foie gras in the Landes area that accounts for a quarter of the total French production of the controversial delicacy made from the livers of force-fed ducks and geese. "We are going to have to move quickly in the slaughter of the ducks so that we can stabilise the whole area," Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said.

  • Yahoo slashes price of Verizon deal $350 mn after data breaches AFP - 23 hours ago
    Yahoo slashes price of Verizon deal $350 mn after data breaches

    Yahoo slashed the price of its core Internet business in the sale to Verizon by $350 million following a pair of major data breaches at Yahoo, the two companies announced Tuesday. Under revised terms of the delayed deal, Verizon's purchase the Yahoo assets will now total $4.48 billion. Yahoo still faces probes and lawsuits related to the cyber attacks, which affected more than 1.5 billion accounts.

  • Russian and Libyan state oil giants sign deal AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 6:38 PM AEDT
    Russian and Libyan state oil giants sign deal

    Russia's Rosneft oil giant has paved the way for investment in Libya's oil sector by signing a Cooperation Framework Agreement with the National Oil Corporation of Libya, it was announced Tuesday. The agreement was signed Monday on the sidelines of London's International Petroleum Week by NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla and Rosneft chairman Igor Sechin, according to the NOC. Under the deal, the two state companies will establish a joint working committee to explore possible cooperation in various fields, including exploration and production.

  • World stock markets grind higher, but HSBC weighs AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 6:22 PM AEDT
    World stock markets grind higher, but HSBC weighs

    World stocks regained momentum on Tuesday, lifted by rising oil prices and strong eurozone economic data, but a massive earnings drop at banking giant HSBC kept a lid on London and Hong Kong. Equity markets ...

  • Wal-Mart scores solid US sales; earnings dip AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 6:08 PM AEDT
    Wal-Mart scores solid US sales; earnings dip

    Wal-Mart Stores benefited from increased sales in US stores and online during the critical holiday shopping quarter, although earnings fell on higher expenses, according to results released Tuesday. The world's biggest retailer saw net income fall nearly 18 percent in the fourth quarter to $3.8 billion compared to the final three months of 2015. Revenues rose 1.0 percent to $130.9 billion.

  • Burger King's parent buys Popeyes chicken AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 5:22 PM AEDT
    Burger King's parent buys Popeyes chicken

    Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Canada's Tim Hortons donut shops, said Tuesday it has reached a deal to buy American fried chicken chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. The sale price is US$1.8 billion, or US$79 per share, according to a statement, representing a 27 percent premium over Popeyes' recent average stock price.

  • Paris visitor numbers hit in 2016 after attacks AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 4:51 PM AEDT
    Paris visitor numbers hit in 2016 after attacks

    Paris saw a drop of 1.5 million tourists in 2016 as fears linked to terror attacks scared off visitors, especially from China and Japan, figures showed Tuesday. The number of international visitors to the French capital fell almost nine percent in 2016, with numbers from Japan plummeting more than 40 percent and Chinese visitors down by more than 20 percent. Major tourist attractions such as the Louvre museum, the Musee d'Orsay and Disneyland Paris saw visits drop between nine and 13 percent.

  • HSBC profit drop weighs on stock markets AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 4:21 PM AEDT
    HSBC profit drop weighs on stock markets

    A massive drop in profits at banking giant HSBC helped push London and Hong Kong stocks into negative territory on Tuesday, while a firm Wall Street gave eurozone markets a boost. Protectionist fears under ...

  • Peugeot in 'fruitful' talks with Merkel over Opel merger AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 4:19 PM AEDT
    Peugeot in 'fruitful' talks with Merkel over Opel merger

    French carmaker PSA on Tuesday said its chief executive Carlos Tavares had held a "fruitful discussion" with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over his firm's planned takeover of General Motors subsidiary Opel. Tavares "presented the rationale to create the path for a European champion" by combining Opel with PSA'S Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, the firm said in a statement. The surprise announcement last week that PSA was eyeing Opel prompted fears in Germany that the prospective new owner could cut non-French jobs if the deal goes ahead.

  • EU agrees new rules to close tax loopholes for multinationals AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 4:09 PM AEDT
    EU agrees new rules to close tax loopholes for multinationals

    EU finance ministers agreed Tuesday to close loopholes that multinational firms exploit to pay low or no taxes by shopping for better deals outside the 28-nation bloc. The agreement to tackle so-called "hybrid mismatches" aims to end the erosion of taxable bases of corporate taxpayers in the European Union. "Today is yet another success story in our campaign for fairer taxation" said Pierre Moscovici, the EU's top economic affairs official.

  • US stocks add to records after solid retail earnings AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 3:49 PM AEDT
    US stocks add to records after solid retail earnings

    Wall Street stocks rose early Tuesday, adding to records, as solid holiday-quarter earnings from Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot lifted retailers. On the first session of the holiday-shortened week, Wal-Mart jumped 2.7 percent after reporting a 1.8 percent gain in fourth-quarter comparable sales at US stores. Home Depot gained 1.0 percent after reporting an 18.6 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings.

  • China delays nuclear reactor start again AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 3:41 PM AEDT
    China delays nuclear reactor start again

    Two nuclear reactors being built in the southern Chinese city of Taishan will come onstream months later than planned, said China General Nuclear Power (CGN), which runs the project together with France's EDF. "Taishan Nuclear recently organised a comprehensive evaluation on subsequent engineering construction plan and relevant risks, and after due consideration, it is decided to adjust the construction plan of Taishan project," CGN said in a statement filed late Monday to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

  • French carmaker PSA eyes tie-up with Malaysia's Proton AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 3:33 PM AEDT
    French carmaker PSA eyes tie-up with Malaysia's Proton

    French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen hopes to become a strategic partner for struggling Malaysian group Proton, a company spokesman told AFP on Tuesday. "We've made an offer to Proton that fits in with the process that Proton has embarked upon and is in line with the exchanges we have had with them," the spokesman said. Proton is seeking a "foreign strategic partner" to turn itself around.

  • Italy taxis strike over 'Uber' benefits AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 2:01 PM AEDT
    Italy taxis strike over 'Uber' benefits

    Hundreds of taxi drivers protested in Rome Tuesday as a strike over delays to Italian legislation regulating Uber and car-hire services entered its sixth day. Commuters have been stranded in several cities across the country, with taxis from Rome to Milan, Turin and Naples taking only emergency fares for disabled people or those needing to get to hospitals. The row is over the government's decision to suspend until the end of 2017 the introduction of norms to control car-hire and car-share services.

  • Bayer ups dividend ahead of annual results AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 1:55 PM AEDT
    Bayer ups dividend ahead of annual results

    German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer said Tuesday it will pay out an increased dividend for 2016, pointing to a "very successful" year ahead of its annual results release. Supervisory board members approved executives' plan to pay shareholders 2.70 euros ($2.84) per share at the firm's annual general meeting, up from 2.50 euros for 2015, the group said in a statement. "The year 2016 was very successful for Bayer.

  • Britain's Brexit bill to be 'very hefty', EU's Juncker AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 1:46 PM AEDT
    Britain's Brexit bill to be 'very hefty', EU's Juncker

    Britain will have to pay a "very hefty" bill to leave the European Union and negotiating a new relationship with the bloc will take years, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned Tuesday. Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to trigger the Brexit negotiations by the end of March following the shock referendum in June last year. "It will be a difficult negotiation that will take years for us to agree on the exit terms and on the future architecture of relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union," Juncker told the Belgian parliament.

  • Peugeot to respect job pledges if Opel deal goes ahead AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 1:42 PM AEDT
    Peugeot to respect job pledges if Opel deal goes ahead

    French carmaker PSA has promised to uphold job guarantees at Opel if its plan to take over the German arm of US giant General Motors goes ahead, the firm and worker representatives said Tuesday. At a meeting Monday with Opel's works council and the powerful IG Metall union, PSA chief Carlos Tavares "reaffirmed (the French group's) commitment to respect the existing agreements in the European countries and to continue the dialogue with all parties," a joint statement said. Opel workers have secured a jobs guarantee from the current management that runs until the end of 2018 and a pledge to continue investing in German sites until 2020, among other deals.

  • HSBC profits plunge as bank navigates political storms AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 1:23 PM AEDT
    HSBC profits plunge as bank navigates political storms

    HSBC profits plunged last year on huge writedowns and restructuring charges, the banking titan said Tuesday, warning of uncertainty over Brexit and Donald Trump's economic policies. Profit before tax stood at $7.1 billion, down 62 percent after HSBC slashed the value of its private banking activity in Europe by $3.2 billion over an acquisition made in 1999. HSBC was hit also by restructuring costs of $3.1 billion following its announcement in 2015 to cut 50,000 jobs and exit non-core markets.

  • Telefonica sells Telxius stake to KKR AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 1:20 PM AEDT
    Telefonica sells Telxius stake to KKR

    Heavily indebted Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica said Tuesday it has agreed to sell up to 40 percent of its infrastructure unit Telxius to US investment fund KKR for 1.27 billion euros ($1.35 billion). Telefonica said it would keep a majority stake and operational control of Telxius, which operates telecoms towers and undersea fibre optic cables, and would continue to consolidate it into its accounts. "The combination of Telefonica's industrial expertise and KKR's financial and operational support will help Telxius as it continues to scale and grow," KKR's head of Spain, Jesus Olmos, said in a Telefonica statement.

  • HSBC profits plunger on rising protectionism, Brexit fears AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 12:39 PM AEDT
    HSBC profits plunger on rising protectionism, Brexit fears

    Protectionist fears under Donald Trump and uncertainties caused by Brexit sparked a huge plunge in 2016 profits, global banking giant HSBC said Tuesday. Unveiling a 90 percent fall in its net profit, the bank said ongoing volatility and surging populism around the world would continue to hit its bottom line. "We highlight the threat of populism impacting policy choices in upcoming European elections, possible protectionist measures from the new US administration impacting global trade, uncertainties facing the UK and the EU as they enter Brexit negotiations," group chairman Douglas Flint said in a statement filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

  • HSBC profit plunge weighs on stock markets AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 12:38 PM AEDT
    HSBC profit plunge weighs on stock markets

    A massive drop in profits at banking giant HSBC helped push London and Hong Kong stocks into negative territory on Tuesday, while eurozone markets bounced off Asian gains to edge higher. Protectionist ...

  • Rising protectionism, Brexit fears spark HSBC profit fall AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 12:29 PM AEDT
    Rising protectionism, Brexit fears spark HSBC profit fall

    Protectionist fears under Donald Trump and uncertainties caused by Brexit sparked a huge plunge in 2016 profits, global banking giant HSBC said Tuesday. Unveiling a 90 percent fall in its net profit, the bank said ongoing volatility and surging populism around the world would continue to hit its bottom line. "We highlight the threat of populism impacting policy choices in upcoming European elections, possible protectionist measures from the new US administration impacting global trade, uncertainties facing the UK and the EU as they enter Brexit negotiations," group chairman Douglas Flint said in a statement filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

  • Miners back in profit on recovering metals prices AFP - Tue, Feb 21, 2017 11:54 AM AEDT
    Miners back in profit on recovering metals prices

    Two of the world's top mining firms returned to profit with a bang on recovering iron ore and coal prices, higher output, cost cutting and asset sales, results showed Tuesday. BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, posted net profit of US$3.2 billion (3.0 billion euros) for the second half of 2016, a sharp contrast with the post-tax loss of $5.7 billion posted in the same period in 2015. At the same time, Anglo American said its full-year net profit came in at $1.6 billion in 2016 compared with a loss after tax of $5.62 billion during 2015.