Financial News from AFP

  • Lufthansa to suspend flights to Venezuela from June 17 AFP - 15 hours ago
    Lufthansa to suspend flights to Venezuela from June 17

    German airline Lufthansa said Sunday it will suspend flights to Venezuela from next month owing to the economic crisis in the country. The service, three times a week, was Lufthansa's only flight between Germany and Venezuela, he said, adding that it was not clear at this point when it would be resumed. Currency controls in Venezuela make it impossible for airlines to convert their earnings into dollars and send the money abroad.

  • World's longest rail tunnel sees light at end of decades' wait AFP - 15 hours ago
    World's longest rail tunnel sees light at end of decades' wait

    When Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner came up with the idea to build the world's longest rail tunnel under the Alps in 1947, he predicted the visionary project could be finished by the start of the 21st century. Gruner's sketch and technical paper called "Journey through the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) in the year 2000" planted the seeds for a venture that will be launched this week and aims to transform travel through the heart of Europe. Constructing the 57-kilometre (35-mile) rail tunnel took just over 12 billion Swiss francs ($12 billion, 11 billion euros) and some 2,400 workers, according to Swiss government statistics.

  • Good vibrations: the Hollywood sex toys creating a buzz AFP - 16 hours ago
    Good vibrations: the Hollywood sex toys creating a buzz

    Set in a sprawling industrial campus 15 minutes' drive from Hollywood's Walk of Fame, "Doc Johnson" is unrecognizable from its origins as a fishing tackle shop bought by Chad's father and mentor, Ron, 40 years ago. Today, his 500-plus workforce pours six tons (4,450 kilograms) of molten materials every day into molds of penises, vaginas and other orifices, supplying retailers and individuals across the world.

  • Japan's Abe may leave tax hike to next PM: reports AFP - 19 hours ago
    Japan's Abe may leave tax hike to next PM: reports

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to push back his debt-loaded country's next tax hike for two and a half years, when he will likely have left office, reports said Sunday. Abe on Saturday told his close aides, including Finance Minister Taro Aso, that he intends to push back a planned raise in taxes to October 2019, according to Japanese media. Abe's premiership will end in September 2018 unless his ruling Liberal Democratic Party approves an exceptional measure to extend his leadership.

  • In high-rise Hong Kong, fine wines lurk in British war bunker AFP - 19 hours ago
    In high-rise Hong Kong, fine wines lurk in British war bunker

    In high-rise, high-priced Hong Kong, even millionaires don't always have room to store their fine wine collection at home, but a converted British war bunker offers space-crunched oenophiles the perfect solution. Built by Her Majesty's government in the 1930s to hold munitions, the "Little Hong Kong" bunker complex was the last Allied position to fall to the invading Japanese on 27 December 1941 -- two days after the surrender of the British governor. Collectors may rest assured that this spirit endures, says Gregory De 'Eb company principal of Crown Wine Cellars.

  • Luxury brands struggle to attract Internet generation AFP - 21 hours ago
    Luxury brands struggle to attract Internet generation

    Seducing hyper-connected "Millennials" poses an increasing challenge for luxury brands, which find their markets slowing as young, skeptical consumers force them to rethink strategies. Goldman Sachs estimates that 92 million Americans are in the Millennial generation -- born between the early 1980s and the 2000s -- surpassing the famed cohort of postwar Baby Boomers who are now approaching a geriatric phase. The huge pool of Millennial consumers grew up with the Internet, smartphones and a sharing economy in which owning things like cars is seen as almost unhip.

  • Brexit: A long, complicated divorce AFP - 22 hours ago
    Brexit: A long, complicated divorce

    A British exit from the European Union would plunge the two parties into a messy divorce and force them build a new relationship after a marriage of more than 40 years. Here are the logistical and legal details of how the split would work, and the key issues that Brussels and London would have to negotiate if Britons vote for a "Brexit" in the June 23 referendum. Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty says that "any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements".

  • British florist sees rosy future in Brexit AFP - 22 hours ago
    British florist sees rosy future in Brexit

    For Briton Damian Duffy, who has run flower shops for 20 years, a Brexit would feel like a "huge party". This despite British Prime Minister David Cameron, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a host of multinationals all warning of a painful economic fallout should Britain vote to exit the European Union in a referendum on June 23. "Everyone in this country who is not in big business has had life made more expensive and more difficult to live" as a result of Britain being part of the EU, said Duffy, the 48 year-old owner of Rosanna's flower shop in Watford, a commuter town northwest of London.

  • German economy minister blasts Merkel on EU-US trade treaty AFP - Sat, May 28, 2016 6:59 PM AEST
    German economy minister blasts Merkel on EU-US trade treaty

    Germany's economy minister lashed out at Chancellor Angela Merkel for her "wrong" stance on a huge EU-US free trade pact in an interview to be published Monday, signalling a deepening rift within the government over the controversial accord. Sigmar Gabriel, also the vice chancellor, told the RND group of regional papers that his Social Democratic Party "doesn't wish to be part of a bad deal", as he warned against a hastily negotiated agreement on the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Washington and Brussels want the TTIP completed this year before Obama leaves office, but it has faced mounting opposition on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Private firm hired to hunt for EgyptAir black boxes AFP - Sat, May 28, 2016 6:46 PM AEST
    Private firm hired to hunt for EgyptAir black boxes

    Egypt has hired a private firm to help find EgyptAir MS804's black boxes in an area narrowed down by an emergency signal sent when it hit the Mediterranean last week. The Egyptian-led investigative committee said in a statement on Saturday that Deep Ocean Search (DOS) was taking part in the search, after the civil aviation ministry in Cairo said it had contracted the company. "The investigative committee has received a satellite report which indicated that an ELT (emergency locator transmitter) had been detected, and it has relayed the coordinates to the search" teams, the statement said.

  • French govt keeps up tough line as petrol shortages ease AFP - Sat, May 28, 2016 4:09 PM AEST
    French govt keeps up tough line as petrol shortages ease

    The French government maintained a hard line Saturday ahead of a fresh wave of protests over a bitterly-disputed labour law that has seen demonstrators blockading oil refineries and strikes paralysing the transport network. The escalating unrest, which has gathered pace over the last week sparking petrol shortages that forced the government to dip into strategic fuel reserves, comes just weeks before football fans flood into the country for the Euro 2016 championships. At issue is a controversial labour law which the government forced through parliament without a vote aimed at freeing up France's famously-rigid labour market and bringing down high unemployment.

  • Australian Dion Lee a designer for all seasons AFP - Sat, May 28, 2016 1:43 PM AEST
    Australian Dion Lee a designer for all seasons

    Fashion retail is experiencing a seismic shift: the audience is global, seasons are increasingly irrelevant and the rise of social media means consumers don't want to wait for runway styles. Designer Dion Lee, the breakthrough star of Australian fashion who has worked with Kanye West and whose clothes are worn by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett, understands such challenges better than most. Lee launched his brand in Sydney -- which has opposing seasons to the the fashion capitals of Europe and North America.

  • China's richest man declares war on Disney with giant theme park AFP - Sat, May 28, 2016 1:43 PM AEST
    China's richest man declares war on Disney with giant theme park

    The Chinese conglomerate Wanda on Saturday opened its first theme park, with its billionaire boss declaring war on Disney weeks before the American entertainment giant launches a similar attraction in Shanghai. "Wanda City", in southeastern Nanchang, comprises a giant mall set over two square kilometres (miles), as well as an 80-hectare theme park boasting "the highest and longest roller coaster and the highest drop tower in China", according to a statement by the group. "We want to be a model... and highlight Chinese influence in the cultural domain," Wanda founder Wang Jianlin said during an opening ceremony at the park as he referenced an "invasion" of foreign cultures, according to state television channel CCTV.

  • Panama Papers law firm closes Jersey, Gibraltar offices AFP - Sat, May 28, 2016 1:22 AM AEST
    Panama Papers law firm closes Jersey, Gibraltar offices

    The law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers revelations is closing its offices in the British-dependent territories of Jersey, Isle of Man and Gibraltar, it Tweeted. Mossack Fonseca "will be ceasing operations" in those territories, "but we will continue serving all of our clients," it said. "This decision has been taken with great regret, as Mossack Fonseca has had a presence in these locations for more than 20 years," the Panama-based law firm added.

  • Poll finds Venezuela shortages to exceed 80 percent AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 11:02 PM AEST
    Poll finds Venezuela shortages to exceed 80 percent

    More than 80 percent of basic consumer products including food and medicine are now in short supply in Venezuela, a poll says. Stores are facing greater shortages than households, president of pollster Datanalisis Luis Vicente Leon said Friday. Datanalisis expects inflation of 450 percent, and predicts purchasing power will drop by at least 40 points compared to 2015.

  • Putin in Greek trip as EU sanctions talks loom AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 9:46 PM AEST
    Putin in Greek trip as EU sanctions talks loom

    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed several economic deals with Athens on Friday during a visit to Greece aimed at reinforcing a relationship with one of his few friends in the EU amid tensions with the West. The visit, Putin's first to the EU since December, comes at a low ebb in relations between Russia and Europe over the conflict in Ukraine that broke out in 2014, with sanctions still in force against Moscow. It also comes as Athens desperately seeks to come out of recession.

  • US stocks, dollar gain as Yellen talks rate hike AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 9:27 PM AEST
    US stocks, dollar gain as Yellen talks rate hike

    US stocks and the dollar climbed Friday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen implied that interest rates could be lifted soon. Yellen's much-anticipated remarks came after European markets had already ...

  • Like the petrol, Parisians' patience for strikes runs dry AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 8:26 PM AEST
    Like the petrol, Parisians' patience for strikes runs dry

    French estate agent Benjamin Pastor finally found a filling station that had not run out of petrol on Thursday after four others turned him away. Like many other Parisians, his sympathy is in short supply for a three-month-long campaign by unions against the government's hotly contested labour reform. "Absolutely not," Pastor told AFP when asked if he supported the rolling transport strikes and hardline industrial action that has hobbled or shut six of France's eight oil refineries.

  • Bank hackers linked to wider campaign: researchers AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 7:47 PM AEST
    Bank hackers linked to wider campaign: researchers

    The hackers behind the $81 million heist from the Bangladesh central bank have likely been involved in a series of attacks on the financial system, a US security firm has concluded. Researchers at the security firm Symantec also found that the malware used in the bank hacks shares code with that used in the massive 2014 cyberattack against Sony Pictures. Symantec said a bank in the Philippines has been attacked by the group that hit the Bangladesh central bank and attempted a heist from the Tien Phong Bank in Vietnam.

  • British MPs condemn 'lurid claims' of Brexit debate AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 7:28 PM AEST
    British MPs condemn 'lurid claims' of Brexit debate

    A cross-party parliamentary committee on Friday condemned the "arms race of ever more lurid claims" on both sides of Britain's European Union referendum debate, saying it was confusing the public. Lawmakers on the Treasury committee highlighted the "highly misleading" claim by the "Vote Leave" campaign that Britain could save £350 million (460 million euros, $512 million) a week by leaving the bloc. It is impoverishing political debate," said committee chairman Andrew Tyrie, a member of the ruling Conservative party.

  • Yellen: Rate rise likely appropriate in 'coming months' AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 6:57 PM AEST
    Yellen: Rate rise likely appropriate in 'coming months'

    Speaking at Harvard University, Yellen said she believed US economic growth and the labor market would continue to strengthen after the first-quarter slowdown, and that the Fed's early-2016 worries over the global economy and market volatility had diminished. "The economy is continuing to improve," Yellen confirmed.

  • Argentine president proposes amnesty for tax dodgers AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 6:49 PM AEST
    Argentine president proposes amnesty for tax dodgers

    Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who has been swept up in the Panama Papers controversy over offshore assets, announced plans Friday to grant amnesty to those who repatriate undeclared funds from overseas. The conservative president, who has launched sweeping pro-business reforms since taking office in December, said the country needed Argentines to invest at home to boost the sputtering economy. "Argentines have billions of pesos overseas because they didn't trust in the state.

  • How labour reforms pushed France into crisis AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 6:19 PM AEST
    How labour reforms pushed France into crisis

    France's Socialist government is locked in a standoff with trade unions over a proposed labour law that has sparked strikes and protests across the country. Two weeks before France hosts the month-long Euro 2016 football tournament, industrial action has caused fuel shortages and disrupted transport, while mass demonstrations against the reforms have often turned violent. - February 17: A bill called the El Khomri law, drafted by Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri, is unveiled with the aim of making the French labour market more flexible.

  • French government hits back against striking workers AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 6:17 PM AEST
    French government hits back against striking workers

    The French government fought back Friday in a bitter labour dispute with unions, sweeping away blockades at fuel depots after President Francois Hollande vowed to "stand firm" over the reform that sparked the industrial action. A defiant Hollande said he would not give in to the unions' demands to withdraw the measures that the Socialist government hope will free up France's famously rigid labour market. Authorities stepped up their offensive early in the morning, when riot police swept away a blockade of burning tyres at an oil depot near a Total refinery in Donges, western France.

  • Yellen: Rate rise 'probably' appropriate in 'coming months' AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 5:57 PM AEST
    Yellen: Rate rise 'probably' appropriate in 'coming months'

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday that given the pace of US economic growth, a Fed decision to increase interest rates could be on the cards soon. "The economy is continuing to improve," Yellen confirmed. Yellen's comments sent Wall Street stocks tumbling and the dollar higher.

  • Bright welcome for Philips Lighting share sale AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 5:55 PM AEST
    Bright welcome for Philips Lighting share sale

    Investors happily switched into Philips's lighting division shares at their Amsterdam debut Friday, over a century after the Dutch electronics giant sold its first light bulb. From an opening level of 21 euros, Philips Lighting's share price went on to climb to a high of 21.77 euros in morning trade. "Today with the listing of Philips Lighting as a standalone company on Euronext Amsterdam, we begin a new chapter in the long history that started... 125 years ago," Philips Lighting chief executive Eric Rondolat said in a statement.

  • German FM floats possible 'step by step' easing of Russia sanctions AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 5:41 PM AEST
    German FM floats possible 'step by step' easing of Russia sanctions

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday floated the possibility of a "step by step" reduction of EU sanctions against Russia if there is headway on ending the conflict in Ukraine. "I hope that by the end of June there will be progress and then we can see if we can reduce the sanctions step by step, or if we stay with the measures we have right now," Steinmeier told reporters in Tallinn.

  • French aviation body tells airlines to fuel abroad amid strikes AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 5:19 PM AEST
    French aviation body tells airlines to fuel abroad amid strikes

    France's civil aviation body wants airlines to fuel up abroad during the current protests at refineries and depots to ensure two complete flights, an Air France spokesman told AFP Friday. Planes flying into Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport from elsewhere in Europe, for example, would need to have enough fuel for both the outward and return flights, the spokesman said. Air France had been following the recommendation since Friday afternoon, he said.

  • Oil faces struggle to keep above $50, as OPEC looms AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 5:11 PM AEST
    Oil faces struggle to keep above $50, as OPEC looms

    World oil prices may struggle to sustain a push beyond $50 a barrel after hitting the key level for the first time this year, analysts warned Friday. Crude futures topped $50 a barrel on Thursday, as production disruptions in Canada contribute to a drop in US crude inventories. Slumping prices, resulting in crude trading at under $30 a barrel in February from above $100 two years ago, made it unprofitable for some shale companies to compete with traditional producers like OPEC and Russia.

  • Global stocks cautious ahead of US Fed chief speech AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 4:30 PM AEST
    Global stocks cautious ahead of US Fed chief speech

    World stock markets steadied Friday as traders treaded cautiously ahead of a speech by US central bank chief Janet Yellen that could shed more light on a coming rate hike. A modest upgrade to the estimate for US economic growth at the start of the year helped send US shares marginally higher ahead of a long holiday weekend. Shares in London's FTSE, Paris' CAC and the DAX in Frankfurt all edged marginally higher.

  • Russia to extend Western food ban to 2018: PM AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 3:52 PM AEST
    Russia to extend Western food ban to 2018: PM

    Russia plans to extend its embargo on Western food products by a year and a half, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Friday, as the European Union prepares to debate renewing sanctions against Moscow. "I have ordered proposals to be drawn up to extend the retaliatory measures not by a year but until the end of 2017," Medvedev said in comments released by the government. The measure, which would have to be approved by President Vladimir Putin, is aimed at boosting Russia's agricultural sector.

  • Turkey visitors down over 30% in April as tourism slumps AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 3:44 PM AEST
    Turkey visitors down over 30% in April as tourism slumps

    The number of foreigners visiting Turkey crashed by almost 30 percent in April as tourists stayed away due to security fears following a wave of attacks and tensions with Russia, statistics showed Friday. Some 1.75 million foreigners came to Turkey in April, down 28.07 percent on April 2015, the tourism ministry said in its latest release. Arrivals from Russia were down 79.3 percent, with tourism from what was once a key consumer of tours to Turkey almost wiped out by the row over Ankara's shooting down of a Russian plane in November last year.

  • Germany floats 'step by step' reduction of Russia sanctions AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 3:36 PM AEST
    Germany floats 'step by step' reduction of Russia sanctions

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday floated the possibility of a "step by step" reduction of EU sanctions against Russia if there is progress on ending the conflict in Ukraine. "I hope that by the end of June there will be progress and then we can see if we can reduce the sanctions step by step, or if we stay with the measures we have right now," Steinmeier told reporters in Tallinn. EU sanctions imposed on Russia's banking, defence and energy sectors over its actions in neighbouring Ukraine expire in July.

  • Militants attack Nigerian state oil, gas pipeline in Niger delta AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 2:31 PM AEST
    Militants attack Nigerian state oil, gas pipeline in Niger delta

    Militants have attacked Nigerian state oil and gas pipelines in the Niger delta, the second sabotage in two days following an assault on Chevron infrastructure, a state official said Friday. The attack on a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline took place late Thursday near Warri, a city in Nigeria's increasingly volatile oil-producing south. "Another crude pipeline was attacked Thursday night near Batan oil field in Warri," Eric Omare, a Delta state governor aide and spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council, one of the largest ethnic groups in the region, told AFP.

  • US raises first quarter growth estimate to 0.8% AFP - Fri, May 27, 2016 1:10 PM AEST
    US raises first quarter growth estimate to 0.8%

    The US economy grew slightly faster in the first quarter of 2016 than originally thought, hitting a 0.8 percent annual pace, the Commerce Department said Friday. The revision, from the original estimate of a very slow 0.5 percent expansion, was not as high as economists had expected, underscoring some persistent weakness, especially in manufacturing. As in the original estimate, which was based on less complete data on gross domestic product, the main reason for the first quarter slowdown was a significant decline in business investment in buildings and equipment.