Financial News from AFP

  • General Electric in talks to buy Alstom AFP - 10 hours ago
    General Electric in talks to buy Alstom

    US industrial giant General Electric is in discussions to take over France's Alstom in a deal which could cost more than $13 billion, Bloomberg reported. General Electric declined to comment on what a spokesman referred to as "rumors and speculation," but the report said an agreement could be announced next week. Alstom, like GE, builds trains and power generation equipment, but its specialty is the high-speed TGV trains and rail-signalling technology that the US company lacks. The American firm is flush with cash, while Alstom, hit by the European slowdown, has been selling assets and cutting staff to reduce debt.

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars AFP - 13 hours ago
    Facebook profits triple as mobile soars

    Facebook profits tripled to $642 million in the first quarter on a 72-percent surge in revenues helped by strong gains in mobile users and mobile advertising. Demonstrating that it is successfully following the shift from personal computers to mobile devices -- which a year ago appeared to pose a huge challenge for the company -- Facebook said Wednesday that advertising revenues were up 82 percent to $2.27 billion from a year ago. One year ago, mobile ads were less than one-third, and three months ago they were 53 percent. After announcing $21 billion in ambitious acquisitions during the quarter, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the results show the company nevertheless is "staying focused on execution" and carefully improving the company's core business.

  • Apple splitting stock as iPhone sales soar AFP - 13 hours ago
    Apple splitting stock as iPhone sales soar

    Apple on Wednesday courted investors with stock split plans as hot iPhone sales pushed up profits while underscoring pressure for the company to unveil "the next big thing." Apple shares jumped more than seven percent to $565.25 in after-market trade following the release of January-March earnings figures showing profit of $10.2 billion on $45.6 billion in revenue. The earnings report came with Apple chief Tim Cook hinting that new products are on the way from the maker of iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macintosh computers. "We're very proud of our quarterly results, especially our strong iPhone sales and record revenue from services," Cook said in a press release.

  • Apple to boost share buyback and split stock AFP - 14 hours ago
    Apple to boost share buyback and split stock

    Apple on Wednesday said that it plans to buy back an additional $30 billion worth of shares and split its stock. The moves backed by the Apple board were announced as the California company reported a profit of $10.2 billion on $45.6 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year. The earnings figures came with Apple chief Tim Cook hinting that new products are on the way from the maker of iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Macintosh computers. "We?re eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market."

  • Facebook profits nearly triple to $642 mn; mobile soars AFP - 15 hours ago
    Facebook profits nearly triple to $642 mn; mobile soars

    Facebook profits nearly tripled in the first quarter to $642 million on a 72 percent surge in revenues, helped by strong gains in mobile users and mobile advertising. Demonstrating that it is successfully following the shift from personal computers to mobile devices -- which a year ago appeared to pose a huge challenge for the company -- Facebook said Wednesday that advertising revenues on its huge social network were up 82 percent to $2.27 billion from a year ago. One year ago mobile ads were less than one-third, and three months ago they were 53 percent. Earnings per share came in at 25 cents;

  • Bangladesh factory tragedy boosts 'Made in NYC' campaign AFP - 15 hours ago
    Bangladesh factory tragedy boosts 'Made in NYC' campaign

    Her calm, deft movements were a contrast to the upbeat buzz emanating from New York's newly revitalized historic garment sector, which over the years had fallen victim to cheaper overseas labor and production. Now a burgeoning "Made in NYC" movement has been given a boost by the Bangladesh factory disaster one year ago that sent shockwaves around the world and hit home in the Big Apple, industry experts say. The collapse of the nine-story Rana Plaza complex on April 24, 2013 -- where dozens of Western retailers were using cheap labor to produce their clothing lines -- killed 1,138 people and injured more than 2,000. It prompted industry-wide soul searching and for some, it was a chilling echo of a long-ago tragedy in New York when a fire in 1911 in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory left 146 dead -- one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the city.

  • Tech sector losses break S&P's 6-day streak AFP - 15 hours ago
    Tech sector losses break S&P's 6-day streak

    Broad selling in tech stocks pulled US markets lower Wednesday, cutting short a six-day streak of gains by the S&P 500. Boeing, Dow Chemical and Delta Air Lines registered strong gains on better than expected ...

  • Apple reports profit of $10.2 bn in quarter AFP - 15 hours ago
    Apple reports profit of $10.2 bn in quarter

    Apple on Wednesday reported that it made a profit of $10.2 billion in the first three months of this year on revenues that inched up to $45.6 billion. The quarterly earnings figures came with Apple chief ...

  • Brazil leader wants Internet to be run 'by all' AFP - 16 hours ago
    Brazil leader wants Internet to be run 'by all'

    Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff took aim at US dominance of the Internet Wednesday, appealing for a new system that would make running of the online world "open to all." Rousseff had called a two-day NetMundial meeting in a bid to curb abuses following the furore sparked by allegations of US spying revealed in documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Rousseff's own Internet communications were targeted by NSA surveillance, prompting the Brazilian leader to call on the United Nations last year to oversee a new global legal system to govern the Internet. "Internet governance should be multipartite, transparent and open to all," she said in a speech opening the meeting, attended by officials from 80 countries.

  • Facebook earnings jump to $642 mn on 72% revenue gain AFP - 16 hours ago
    Facebook earnings jump to $642 mn on 72% revenue gain

    Facebook profits jumped to $642 million in the first quarter on a 72 percent surge in revenues, helped by gains in mobile users and mobile advertising, the company reported Wednesday. Advertising revenues were up 82 percent from a year ago, and earnings from mobile ads comprised 59 percent of that, compared with 53 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

  • Strike halts work on Panama Canal expansion AFP - 16 hours ago
    Strike halts work on Panama Canal expansion

    Work to expand the Panama Canal -- interrupted earlier this year for a dispute over cost overruns -- halted Wednesday, this time for a strike by workers demanding higher wages. "The project to enlarge the Panama Canal ... is paralyzed," said Saul Mendez, secretary general of the construction-worker union Suntracs. Work had halted for 15 days in February in a row over who would pay for an estimated $1.6 billion in cost overruns in the multi-billion-dollar project to build extra locks on the 80-kilometer (50-mile) waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the consortium running the expansion project, said that Suntracs workers "are heeding the call to strike," which "is impacting the work schedule of this project."

  • Sweden Investor group announces sharp Q1 profit drop AFP - 17 hours ago
    Sweden Investor group announces sharp Q1 profit drop

    Swedish investment giant Investor on Wednesday said its first-quarter profits slumped by a quarter, underlining the Nordic country's vulnerability to international instability. From January to March 2014 ...

  • Brazil hosts meeting to craft Internet governance rules AFP - 19 hours ago
    Brazil hosts meeting to craft Internet governance rules

    Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff took aim at US dominance of the Internet Wednesday, appealing at an international meeting for global governance that would give no state greater weight than others. Rousseff called the two-day NetMundial meeting in a bid to curb abuses following the furore sparked by allegations of US spying revealed in documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Rousseff's own Internet communications were targeted by NSA surveillance, prompting the Brazilian leader to call on the United Nations last year to oversee a new global legal system to govern the Internet. "Internet governance should be multipartite, transparent and open to all," she said in a speech opening the meeting, attended by officials from 80 countries.

  • Boeing lifts profit outlook as jetliner demand booms AFP - 20 hours ago
    Boeing lifts profit outlook as jetliner demand booms

    US aerospace and defense giant Boeing raised its 2014 profit outlook Wednesday despite a first-quarter profit slide, citing strong demand for its new jetliners. A sharp rise in pension costs from a change in retirement plans offset Boeing's robust commercial aircraft deliveries as airlines seek to renew aging fleets with more fuel-efficient jetliners. Boeing posted net profit in the first quarter of $965 million, down 12.7 percent from a year ago but nevertheless better than analysts expected. Boeing took a $334 million charge for retirement plan changes.

  • Amazon Prime wins streaming deal with HBO AFP - 20 hours ago
    Amazon Prime wins streaming deal with HBO

    Amazon scored a deal Wednesday to distribute old shows from premium cable TV channel HBO to its monthly Prime subscribers, landing a blow on rival Netflix in the streaming video battle. Amazon said the multi-year deal would allow it to stream top HBO shows from past years like "The Sopranos", "The Wire" and others to Prime Instant Video service customers, who pay a monthly fee for unlimited viewing. Until now HBO had distributed its shows via streaming to customers of its own HBO GO service. The shows could also be watched on a pay-per-view basis via Amazon and other redistributors.

  • Russian steel group NLMK warns against EU sanctions, job losses AFP - 20 hours ago
    Russian steel group NLMK warns against EU sanctions, job losses

    The European arm of Russian steel giant NLMK has warned the EU against imposing economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis, officials said on Wednesday. The European Commission confirmed it had received a letter, which was also sent to Belgium, Denmark, France and Italy where NLMK has operations, spelling out that such sanctions would inevitably lead to heavy job losses. NLMK said all concerned should consider the "possible negative impact" sanctions could have on its European business, on consumers and other partners in Europe, as well as on the European economy as a whole, La Libre Belgique reported, citing the letter. Caroline Marlair, a spokeswoman for NLMK Europe, said separately the "letter is not a threat, it is a letter of prevention ... to make people aware of the possible consequences."

  • France outlines 'optimistic' pledge to get economy back on track AFP - 21 hours ago
    France outlines 'optimistic' pledge to get economy back on track

    France on Wednesday outlined its strategy for bringing its public finances into line with eurozone rules via an anticipated economic upturn branded "optimistic" and spending cuts that face fierce opposition within the ruling Socialist party. Presenting a plan yet to be approved by the European Commission, Finance Minister Michel Sapin vowed that the eurozone's second biggest economy, currently doing little more than stagnating, would soon pick up sufficient momentum for France to bring its budget deficit down to the EU ceiling of three percent of GDP in 2015. But the government's growth projections from now until the end of President Francois Hollande's term in 2017 were described as "optimistic" by its own independent spending watchdog. France was placed under surveillance by the European Commission earlier this year, having been twice granted extra time to meet the three-percent deficit target that is the centrepiece of the budget rules for members of the European single currency.

  • Eurozone April business activity nears 3-year high: Markit AFP - 21 hours ago
    Eurozone April business activity nears 3-year high: Markit

    Eurozone business activity hit a near three-year high in April as a modest economic recovery gained momentum and began creating much-needed jobs, a closely watched survey showed on Wednesday. Markit Economics said its Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for April, a leading indicator of overall economic activity, jumped to 54 points from 53.1 in March, the highest reading since May 2011. "The eurozone has started the second quarter on a solid footing," Markit chief economist Chris Williamson said in a statement. "A welcome quickening in the pace of growth of business activity in April means the region is expanding at the fastest rate for almost three years," Williamson said.

  • S. Korean cosmetics firm LG Household eyes Elizabeth Arden AFP - 23 hours ago
    S. Korean cosmetics firm LG Household eyes Elizabeth Arden

    South Korea's LG Household & Healthcare said Wednesday it was considering a purchase of global cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. "We are considering acquiring two or three big cosmetics firms, including ...

  • Eurozone deficits improve but debt mounts: data AFP - 23 hours ago
    Eurozone deficits improve but debt mounts: data

    Eurozone public finances improved in 2013 as the economy finally turned the corner on a record recession but total debt levels remained dangerously high, official data showed on Wednesday. That was in line with the European Union ceiling and down from 3.7 percent in 2012, the Eurostat statistics agency said. The overall figures are broadly in line with growing signs that the worst of the eurozone debt crisis, which at one point threatened to destroy the euro, is over although several member countries will be applying budget rigour and deep economic reforms for years to come. Public finances in bailed out Greece and Portugal sent signals of marked improvement on Wednesday, Spain signalled faster recovery, and France -- seen as lagging on reforms -- detailed new policies to put its economy in shape.

  • China yuan touches 16-month low against dollar AFP - 23 hours ago
    China yuan touches 16-month low against dollar

    China's yuan currency extended its downtrend against the dollar Wednesday to touch a 16-month low, despite the country's central bank fixing its trading point for the unit at a higher level. The unit fell to as low as 6.2466 to the dollar, its weakest level since December 2012, according to Dow Jones Newswires. But it closed at 6.2373, only slightly weaker than Tuesday's close of 6.2370, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The People's Bank of China had set the mid-point for trading at 6.1599, compared with 6.1610 on Tuesday.

  • Ericsson posts strong Q1 profit despite falling sales AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 12:44 PM AEST
    Ericsson posts strong Q1 profit despite falling sales

    Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson on Wednesday announced a sharp rise in its first quarter net profit despite falling sales. Analysts have been forecasting stronger sales due to the expansion of high speed data networks by Asian and European mobile operators but Dow Jones newswires pointed to continuing flat sales in Western Europe in the first quarter. "The main reason behind the decline in sales is ... lower revenues from two large mobile broadband coverage projects in North America ... and the impact from reduced activity in Japan," chief executive Hans Vestberg said in a statement. Nonetheless, net profit leaped by 75 percent to 2.12 billion kronor (233 million euros, $323 million) compared to 1.2 billion kronor in the same period in 2013 when the company had large restructuring costs.

  • Spain forecasts stronger economic outlook in 2014-15 AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 12:15 PM AEST
    Spain forecasts stronger economic outlook in 2014-15

    Spain on Wednesday forecast faster economic growth in the next two years as the nation emerges from a long downturn with unemployment still topping 26 percent. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said the eurozone's fourth-largest economy would expand by an average of 1.5 percent in 2014 and 2015. Until now, the government's official forecast has been for economic growth of 1.0 percent in 2014 and 1.5 percent in 2015. De Guindos said the brighter outlook would be incorporated into Spain's growth, deficit and employment targets for 2014-2017, which are to be submitted to the European Union.

  • Portugal raises 750 mn euros in key bond issue AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 12:02 PM AEST
    Portugal raises 750 mn euros in key bond issue

    Portugal breezed through a key bond market test on Wednesday, enjoying sharply lower borrowing costs just weeks before it exits a 78-billion-euro ($108 billion) rescue programme. The successful bond market auction was crucial for the country, showing it can raise its own finances once the international bailout, extended three years ago, comes to an end on May 17. Portugal will be the second eurozone nation after Ireland to emerge from European Union-IMF bailouts, which have forced crisis-hit governments to apply deeply unpopular austerity measures so as to rein in bulging public deficits. Portugal raised 750 million euros in the auction of benchmark 10-year government bonds, offering a yield of 3.575 percent, according to the body that manages public debt, the IGCP.

  • WhatsApp says it now has half billion users AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 11:06 AM AEST
    WhatsApp says it now has half billion users

    WhatsApp now has 500 million regular, active users around the world, the free mobile messaging service being acquired by Facebook said. WhatsApp said Tuesday on its blog that its users are also sharing more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos a day. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in February that his social network is acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion. The stock and cash purchase marries WhatsApp's steadily growing user base with Facebook's 1.2 billion active users.

  • China pork firm scales down HK listing on volatility concerns AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 9:48 AM AEST
    China pork firm scales down HK listing on volatility concerns

    Chinese pork producer WH Group has slashed a planned initial public offering in Hong Kong by almost two-thirds blaming concerns about the strength of the city's stock market, a report said Wednesday. The firm, which last year bought US giant Smithfield Foods in a landmark multi-billion-dollar deal, said this month it hoped to raise up to US$5.3 billion with a share sale and listing on April 30. It would have made it the biggest IPO globally in a year and Hong Kong's largest since US insurer AIA raised $20.5 billion in 2010. However, it now plans to raise up to US$1.88 billion and list on May 8, Dow Jones Newswires said, citing people close familiar with the situation.

  • Eurozone deficits improve, debt mounts: data AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 9:33 AM AEST
    Eurozone deficits improve, debt mounts: data

    Eurozone public finances improved in 2013 as the economy finally turned the corner on a record recession but total debt levels remained dangerously high, official data showed on Wednesday. The overall figures are broadly in line with signs that the causes and impact of the eurozone debt crisis, which at one point threatened to destroy the euro, are fading. Total accumulated debt, however, increased to 92.6 percent of gross domestic product, up from 90.7 percent, rising even further above the European Union 60-percent limit. The continued increase in debt levels reflects the high cost of the economic slump and debt crisis as governments borrowed heavily in an effort to stabilise their economies.

  • Japan's Seibu Holdings jumps 11% on Tokyo stock market debut AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 7:19 AM AEST
    Japan's Seibu Holdings jumps 11% on Tokyo stock market debut

    Japanese railway and hotels giant Seibu Holdings jumped nearly 11 percent on its return to the Tokyo stock market on Wednesday, a decade after it was de-listed following a major accounting scandal. The stock finished at 1,770 yen ($17.25) from its 1,600 yen initial public offering price, valuing the group at about 605 billion yen ($5.89 billion) and marking a solid result after some recent IPO bombs in Japan. Seibu shares were priced at the bottom end of the company's proposed range after the Tokyo stock market lost momentum recently and global investors become more selective about which Japanese shares they buy. Its return to trading comes about a month after shares in Japan Display -- the world's biggest maker of screens for smartphones and tablets and a key Apple supplier -- plunged 15 percent on their Tokyo debut, following a $3.2 billion initial public offering.

  • China yuan hits 16-month low against dollar AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 6:36 AM AEST
    China yuan hits 16-month low against dollar

    China's yuan currency extended its downtrend against the dollar on Wednesday to hit a 16-month low, despite the country's central bank fixing its trading point for the unit at a higher level. That compared with Tuesday's close of 6.2370, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. However, the People's Bank of China had set the mid-point for trading at 6.1599, compared with 6.1610 on Tuesday. The yuan has fallen repeatedly in recent months, with many dealers believing the depreciation is a deliberate move by the central bank to target speculative funds betting on continued rises.

  • Fifty years of Mustang cool: is China along for the ride? AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 5:43 AM AEST
    Fifty years of Mustang cool: is China along for the ride?

    From Steve McQueen to "The Fast and the Furious", the Mustang has long cruised through American pop culture, but Ford is hoping its snarling sports car will find a new generation of fans as it turns 50: in China. When the latest Mustang was driven on stage by CEO Alan Mulally at the Beijing Auto Show on Sunday, its equine emblem -- the galloping free spirit of the American West -- struck a chord in the Year of the Horse. Now it wants to break into the equally crowded sports car segment. Shanghai-based analyst Namrita Chow believes name and logo recognition will make or break Mustang in China.

  • Australia boosts air power with $11.6 bln purchase of 58 F-35s AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 5:23 AM AEST
    Australia boosts air power with $11.6 bln purchase of 58 F-35s

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Wednesday the purchase of 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters costing Aus$12.4 billion ($11.6 billion) in a major defence upgrade to maintain Australia's regional edge. The new aircraft will bring Australia's total JSF force to 72, with the first due to arrive in 2018 and enter service in 2020. The deal with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin includes an option to buy a further 18 planes and is additional to the purchase of 14 F-35s Australia already approved in 2009. Abbott said the planes would cost about $90 million each but noted that one of the largest defence purchases Australia has ever made was budgeted for.

  • Australia to buy 58 US F-35s for $11.6 bln AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 3:46 AM AEST
    Australia to buy 58 US F-35s for $11.6 bln

    Australia will purchase 58 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at a cost of Aus$12.4 billion ($11.6 billion) in a major upgrade to defence capabilities, the government said. The new aircraft will bring Australia's total JSF force to 72 aircraft, with the first due to arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service in 2020. "The F-35 will provide a major boost to the Australian Defence Force's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement released late Tuesday. The deal with US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is in addition to 14 F-35s Australia already approved in 2009.

  • China manufacturing improves slightly in April AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 3:43 AM AEST
    China manufacturing improves slightly in April

    Chinese manufacturing activity improved slightly in April as domestic demand showed "mild improvement", HSBC said on Wednesday, but it warned the world's second-largest economy was still showing signs of weakness. While the figure shows the country's crucial manufacturing sector is still shrinking it is doing so at a slower rate. "Domestic demand showed mild improvement and deflationary pressures eased," HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in a statement.

  • Japan's Seibu Holdings valued at $5.6 bln on relisting AFP - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 2:31 AM AEST
    Japan's Seibu Holdings valued at $5.6 bln on relisting

    Japanese railway and hotels giant Seibu Holdings returned to the Tokyo stock market on Wednesday, a decade after it was de-listed following a major accounting scandal. The stock rose 5.4 percent from its initial public offering price to 1,687 yen in morning trade, valuing the group at about 576 billion yen ($5.6 billion). The IPO price was at the bottom end of the company's proposed range as the Tokyo stock market has lost momentum recently and global investors are becoming more selective about Japanese shares. The firm's return to trading comes about a month after shares in Japan Display -- the world's biggest maker of screens for smartphones and tablets and a key Apple supplier -- plunged 15 percent on their Tokyo debut, following a $3.2 billion initial public offering.

  • Earnings, big pharma deals give S&P 500 6th straight gain AFP - Tue, Apr 22, 2014 8:52 PM AEST
    Earnings, big pharma deals give S&P 500 6th straight gain

    Solid earnings and major pharmaceutical-sector deals lifted stocks Tuesday, producing a sixth straight day of gains for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 65.12 ...