Squeezed by debt crisis, Greeks ditch cars for bikes

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Greece's dire economic plight has forced thousands of businesses to close, thrown one in five out of work and eroded the living standards of millions. But for bicycle-maker Giorgos Vogiatzis, it's not all bad news. The crisis has put cash-strapped Greeks on their bikes - once snubbed as a sign of poverty or just plain risky - and Greek manufacturers are shifting into fast gear. … [Read more...]

Man United NY float could free up cash for players

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Manchester United plans to cut its debt with a New York flotation that should free up cash for top players after a barren season in which it was replaced at the top of English football by rich rivals Manchester City. Benfica's players warm up during a training session at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, northern England, November 21, 2011.Photo: REUTERS The American Glazer family, owner of the NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will keep its grip on the 19-times English champions after the planned U.S. float by using a dual share structure. The club has filed to raise up to $100 million to reduce its debt pile of 423 million pounds. ($663.20 million). That is a provisional figure and the size of the issue could yet increase. United ditched plans to raise up to $1 billion in Asia, home to many of United's 659 million global fans, and the move to North America, where English football has a much smaller following, was surprising when flagged last month. However, … [Read more...]

Investors to move with times

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In November Vietnam's stock market witnessed low liquidity with stock prices plunging to lows not seen in several years and some stocks were not worth a cup of tea. Investors can take comfort in the fact that the only way is up for markets The market's mood seems to have darkened with news some commercial banks failed to pay back interbank market loans despite some positive signs the economy may be turning the corner. Inflation cools but risks remain for 2012 November's consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.39 per cent on-month, bringing the 11 months' CPI up 17.5 per cent against the end of last December. Stabilising inflation is positive news. December expects to see no sudden jump in commodity prices, even though the Lunar New Year is coming as hikes in key input materials like electricity, oil and gas, water have not been seen. Inflation risks for 2012, however, remain due to following reasons: - Global crude oil returned to $100 a barrel which will have negative … [Read more...]

Bottom feeders flag bourses to turn corner

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Vietnamese equities plunged to new lows in several months with increasing bottom-fishing efforts, indicating that the market bottom is around the corner. Many investors think the only way is up for the market Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange's VN-Index ended last week at 426.51 points, the lowest level since late July, 2009. For the whole last week, VN-Index lost 15 points or 3.5 per cent against the previous week. Hanoi Stock Exchange's plunged to below 100 points, closing at 99.10 points on November 19. The domestic markets ended lower last week after the State Bank tightened monetary policies by hiking base rate by additional 1 per cent point in early November while narrowing the open market operations (OMO) window to just seven days, compared to 14 and 28 days earlier, making the inter-bank rate spark to as high as 35 per cent. Market analysts said the market's crash was similar to early 2009. It is noticeable that the efforts of bottom-fishing by domestic investors have been … [Read more...]

French auto sales struggle, production dives

Workers of the PSA Peugeot Citroen carmaker plant of Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Paris suburb. (AFP/Lionel Bonaventure)

Sales of new cars in France rallied slightly in July when French brands did well with new models, but in the first six months of the year output by French carmakers plunged by 20.8 per cent, trade data showed on Thursday. PARIS: Sales of new cars in France rallied slightly in July when French brands did well with new models, but in the first six months of the year output by French carmakers plunged by 20.8 per cent, trade data showed on Thursday. Overall sales rose by 0.9 per cent to 150,248 in July, the CCFA body representing manufacturers said. But July this year contained one more business day than the comparable period last year and if this were stripped out, sales fell by 3.5 per cent. July is an important month for sales since many motorists buy a car before leaving on their summer holidays. A spokesman for the CCFA said that the July figure marked the first upturn since October 2011. The French market, in common with many others, was hard hit by the effects of the … [Read more...]

Fiat first quarter profit soars

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Italian auto giant Fiat said Thursday its net profit in the first quarter soared ten-fold to 379 million euros ($500 million) thanks to its US partner Chrysler, without which it would be in the red. The group had banked 37 million euros in profit in the first quarter last year -- before snapping up a majority stake in the US automaker in a move which has more than offset poor Fiat results in a sluggish European market. Chrysler, which fell under Fiat's operational command in June 2009 when it emerged from a government-supported bankruptcy, reported its own four-fold leap in first quarter profit on Thursday to $473 million (357 million euros). "Chrysler is firing on all cylinders. I have really no bad news to share with you," Sergio Marchionne, chief of both Fiat and Chrysler, said in a conference call. Built on sales gains that surpassed the industry average, Chrysler's results set an "incredible foundation for 2013," Marchionne said, adding "most of our plants now are being … [Read more...]

As profits surge, Europe’s carmakers rev up global ambitions

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Two years after a world economic downturn all but wiped them out, European carmakers have bounced back to the spotlight with Volkswagen aiming to be the industry leader and Fiat carving out a global brand for itself. Unfettered of their obligations to repay state aid and riding out the expiry of government "cash-for-clunkers" schemes that initially plunged their revenue, carmakers this week gave rosy outlooks for the rest of fiscal 2011. Germany's Volkswagen reported a three-fold profit leap in the three months from January through March to 1.71 billion euros (USD2.5 billion), selling two million cars, a new milestone for Europe's biggest automaker. The comparable figure for 2010 was 473 million euros. Finance director Dieter Poetsch said a cash pile worth 19.6 billion euros gave the group impetus to overtake General Motors and Toyota and become the leading global car maker by 2018. With respect to 2011, Chairman Martin Winterkorn, who has boosted VW's fortunes since he took … [Read more...]

US consumer confidence takes recession beating

Shoppers on Fifth Avenue in New York City. US consumer confidence tanked in October amid growing worries about jobs in the recession-wracked economy, boding ill for the key holiday shopping season, the Conference Board said Tuesday. (AFP Photo)

US consumer confidence slumped in October amid worries about jobs in the recession-wracked economy, boding ill for the important holiday shopping season, the Conference Board said Tuesday. The private research firm said its consumer confidence index declined for the second month in a row, to 47.7 in October from a revised 53.4 in September. The September reading initially was reported at 53.1. The decline in the October index was much steeper than expected by Wall Street, with most analysts expecting a 53.5 reading. The downbeat start of the fourth quarter raised a red flag over consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of activity in the world's largest economy and is particularly crucial for retailers' year-end holiday sales. Lynn Franco, research director of the Conference Board, said that labor market condition played "a major role in this grimmer assessment." "Consumers also remain quite pessimistic about their future earnings, a sentiment that will likely … [Read more...]

Vietnamese should be prouder of goods produced domestically

Your Say (11-09-2009) Vietnamese should be prouder of goods produced domestically Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers how to promote made-in-Viet Nam products. Here are some of the opinions we received: Pham Thanh Truyen, Vietnamese, HCM City Vietnamese enterprises need to do more. Unlike other countries in Asia, Vietnamese people prefer foreign products. Ten or 15 years ago, few doubted that foreign products were superior to local ones. Unfortunately, that mindset hasn't changed. It is undeniable that nowadays Vietnamese products have vastly improved in terms of quality and packaging. The difficulty is getting that message across? It's useless to just say "Hey! My products are not as bad as you think". It's also ineffective for enterprises to act on their own. There needs to be central government help. The recent campaign to encourage Vietnamese to consume domestically made products launched by the Politburo is a good example. … [Read more...]

No meeting for Korean leaders at Russian WW2 event

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye South Korean President Park Geun-hye will not attend an event in Moscow to mark the end of World War Two in Europe and instead send an envoy, an official said on Monday, dashing the possibility of a rare meeting with the North's leader. Russia has said the North's Kim Jong Un would attend the May 9 celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the war's end, which would be his first trip overseas since taking power in 2011 after the death of his father. "The president will not be going," a South Korean government official said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The country's foreign ministry said over the weekend that a ruling Saenuri Party member of parliament's foreign affairs committee, who is also a special aide to Park, would attend as her special envoy. The government official and the foreign ministry did not elaborate on why Park had chosen not to attend. If Park and Kim were both to travel to Moscow for the event, it would … [Read more...]

South Korea condemns Japanese books as bid to repeat ‘past mistakes’

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Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi make a toast during a banquet at the South Korean Foreign Minister's residence in Seoul March 21, 2015. T South Korea condemned on Monday Japan's approval of textbooks that it said distorted history by claiming disputed islands, summoning Japan's ambassador and warning that the approval was a sign Japan was prepared to repeat its colonial wartime past. The strongly worded protest came just over two weeks after the foreign ministers of the neighbors and China pledged to improve ties and overcome tension over history and territory, and to try to work for a summit meeting of their leaders soon. South Korea's foreign ministry said the book approval was "yet another provocation that distorts, reduces, and omits clear historic facts to strengthen its unjust claims to what is clearly our territory". "The Japanese government is in effect saying it will repeat its … [Read more...]

Czech president bans US ambassador from Prague Castle

President Milos Zeman has "closed the door" of Prague Castle to the US ambassador following comments perceived as critical of the Czech's decision to attend a World War Two commemoration in Moscow, according to local media reports on April 5. European Union leaders are boycotting the ceremony in May over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict but Zeman -- who has frequently departed from the EU line-has said he would attend. "I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel," Zeman told news portal Parlamentni Listy. "I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels." "Ambassador (Andrew) Schapiro has the door to the castle closed." A presidential spokesman told local media that Schapiro could still attend social events at Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president. Schapiro told Czech television earlier this week it would be "awkward" should Zeman attend the ceremony as the … [Read more...]

Czech president bans U.S ambassador from Prague Castle: media

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President Milos Zeman has "closed the door" of Prague Castle to the U.S. ambassador following comments perceived as critical of the Czech's decision to attend a World War Two commemoration in Moscow, according to local media reports on Sunday. European Union leaders are boycotting the ceremony in May over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict but Zeman -- who has frequently departed from the EU line -- has said he would attend. "I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel," Zeman told news portal Parlamentni Listy. "I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels." Czech President Milos Zeman speaks during an interview with Reuters at Prague Castle in Prague. "Ambassador (Andrew) Schapiro has the door to the castle closed." A presidential spokesman told local media that Schapiro could still attend social events at Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president. Schapiro … [Read more...]

Japanese row over U.S. island base move deepens

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Protesters holding placards shout slogans at a rally against Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration in central Tokyo March 22, 2015. More than 10,000 people joined the protest, according to the organizer. Placard (L) reads in Japanese "No to A A clash between Japan's central government and Okinawa island, host to the bulk of U.S. troops in Japan, deepened on Monday when the southern island's governor ordered a halt to underwater work at the site of a planned relocation of a U.S. Marine base. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government and Okinawa have been on a collision course since anti-base conservative Takeshi Onaga was elected governor last November and ruling party candidates were trounced in a December general election. Onaga told a news conference that he was ordering local defence ministry officials to halt the underwater survey work, which the prefecture fears is harming local coral reefs, a prefecture official said. If those activities are not stopped within a … [Read more...]

China says Japan ties face test, opportunity this year

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China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, in Beijing, November 10, 2014. Photo: Reu China's relations with Japan face a "test" this year linked to whether Japan can properly atone for its wartime past, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday. Li made the remarks to reporters at the end of China's annual parliamentary session. Tension between Asia's two largest economies, long strained by territorial disputes and historical issues from the World War Two, has abated in recent months. "It is true that the current China-Japan relationship is in difficulty," Li said. "The crux of the issue is how the war and that part of history are viewed." Ties faced both "a test and an opportunity", he said. China will hold a military parade at the end of this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and … [Read more...]

Testing Beijing, Japan eyes growing role in South China Sea security

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Seventy years after its imperial forces were kicked out of the South China Sea, Japan is quietly moving back into the region, forging security ties with the Philippines and Vietnam as both Southeast Asian nations try to cope with China's territorial ambitions. Tokyo's security cooperation is broad-based: It is supplying maritime patrol boats to the two countries while Japan will hold its first naval exercises with the Philippines in the coming months. Japanese military doctors are even advising Vietnamese submariners on how to deal with decompression sickness. Japan is providing this help, and more, in a calibrated escalation of involvement to avoid a backlash from Beijing, said Japanese sources with knowledge of the assistance. Manila and Hanoi are the two capitals most at odds with Beijing over the South China Sea. Japan itself is embroiled in a bitter row with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, further to the north. Tokyo has no territorial claims in the South … [Read more...]

China to hold parade, invite leaders to mark World War Two anniversary

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China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (unseen) at Miraflores Palace in Caracas July 20, 2014. China will hold a military parade this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and invite the leaders of major countries involved in the war to attend, the foreign ministry said, events probably aimed at Japan. Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and Beijing rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this. In the last two years ties have also deteriorated sharply because of a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, though Chinese and Japanese leaders met last year in the capital, Beijing, to try and reset relations. President Xi Jinping will oversee events including the military parade, a reception and an evening gala, China's Foreign Ministry … [Read more...]

California couple, married 67 years, die holding hands

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A California couple, married 67 years, died hours apart while holding hands this month, their daughter said on Thursday. Floyd Hartwig, 90, and wife Violet, 89, died on Feb. 11 in their home in Easton, California, outside Fresno, their family said. The couple had known each other since they were children and married in 1947 while Floyd was on leave from the Navy, going on to settle in a ranch in Easton. "They enjoyed working side by side their entire lives," said daughter Donna Scharton. "They were very loving. Very hard-working. Not into materialistic things." Each had battled illnesses in recent years. Violet had dementia and had suffered strokes. Floyd, who survived bladder and colon cancer, had been diagnosed with kidney failure, family said. Floyd and Violet had been given hospice care in the last weeks of their lives, and with the end near, family members pushed their beds together, Scharton said. Floyd died first, holding Violet's hand. She passed away five hours later, … [Read more...]

‘American Sniper’ gives us the war we wished for, and that may win it an Oscar

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Bradley Cooper playing Chris Kyle in ‘American Sniper.’ Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster American Sniper is a war movie about an actual conflict and based on the life of a celebrated soldier. But one big reason the film is such a big hit is that it succeeds as an action movie. In action movies, unreflective, spectacularly skilled and violent heroes face down horrible, threatening and sometimes alien evil. Back stories and character development are far less important than the fight sequences, the underlying tension and the battle between good and evil — us versus them. Great war movies, like Eastwood’s own films about World War Two, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, or the classic films that followed the Vietnam War, are very different. For all their violence, they grapple with serious issues and profound conflicts — whether within society, among groups of soldiers or in one individual’s emotions. Vietnam War movies often feature … [Read more...]

No to Netanyahu: Jews’ loyalty to Denmark runs deep

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Floral tributes are placed at the site, where a Danish Jew was shot dead as he stood guard at a Jewish confirmation at the weekend, in front of the synagogue in Krystalgade, Copenhagen, February 16, 2015. Photo: Reuters Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's calls for Jews to move to Israel after attacks in Paris and Copenhagen may strike a chord with thousands of French Jews but will likely fall on deaf ears in Denmark. While French Jews are moving to Israel at an unprecedented rate, Danish Jews embrace their country. Denmark has a generous welfare system and a healthy economy, and Sunday's attack on a synagogue may do little to change the loyalties of Danish Jews. One guard died on Saturday when a gunman attacked a Copenhagen synagogue, which followed a shooting at a cafe hosting a conference on free speech. The incidents came less than a month after 17 people were killed in Paris when Islamist gunmen attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and later targeted a Jewish … [Read more...]