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...]

Working with global community only way to fight terrorism-Japan PM

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scratches his face during an upper house committee session at the parliament in Tokyo February 2, 2015. The only way to fight terrorism is by working with the international community and boosting mechanisms to ensure the Japan must work with the international community to fight terrorism and boost ways to ensure the safety of its people, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday, a day after Islamic State militants said they had beheaded a Japanese journalist. The militants said on Sunday they had beheaded Kenji Goto, a veteran war reporter, after international efforts to secure his release through a prisoner swap failed. They killed another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, a week before. Abe reiterated his denunciation of the militants and said Japan was firmly committed to fulfilling its responsibility as a member of the global community in fighting terrorism. "If we don't move together because we're scared of terrorists it will be just as the … [Read more...]

U.S. would welcome Japan air patrols in South China Sea

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The United States would welcome a move by Japan to extend air patrols into the South China Sea as a counterweight to a growing fleet of Chinese vessels pushing Beijing's territorial claims in the region, a senior U.S. Navy officer told Reuters. Currently, regular patrols by Japanese aircraft only reach into the East China Sea, where Tokyo is at loggerheads with Beijing over disputed islands. Extending surveillance flights into the South China Sea will almost certainly increase tensions between the world's second- and third-largest economies. "I think allies, partners and friends in the region will look to the Japanese more and more as a stabilizing function," Admiral Robert Thomas, commander of the Seventh Fleet and the top U.S. navy officer in Asia, said in an interview. "In the South China Sea, frankly, the Chinese fishing fleet, the Chinese coast guard and the (navy) overmatch their neighbors," Thomas said. China’s foreign ministry said it had no immediate comment on the … [Read more...]

Rebels advance in Ukraine, Moscow faces sanctions threats

>> Russia warns West not to blackmail it over Ukraine

Russian-backed rebels pushed forward on Monday with a new offensive that has brought all-out war back to eastern Ukraine after a five-month ceasefire, bringing U.S. and European threats of tighter Western financial sanctions against Moscow. Washington and Brussels are both considering new measures after accusing Russia of openly supporting the latest rebel advance in Ukraine with money, arms and troops on the ground. Ambassadors of NATO countries and Ukraine were due to meet in Brussels to discuss a response to the fighting, their first such emergency meeting since August. Moscow denies playing a military role, and Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of prolonging the conflict by refusing to talk to the rebels. He also said a "foreign NATO legion" was fighting alongside Ukrainian forces. The government in Kiev said it had ordered a state of emergency across the two rebel-dominated provinces and placed all Ukrainian territory on high alert. Its military said seven … [Read more...]

Greek vote is a rejection of failed plans, not austerity-UK’s Osborne

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The head of radical leftist Syriza party Alexis Tsipras raises his fist to supporters after winning the elections in Athens January 25, 2015. Greek leftist leader Tsipras hailed the projected victory of his anti-austerity Syriza party in Sunday's snap ele The Greek election result is not a defeat of austerity but a defeat of failed economic plans and should act as a reminder to Britain that it needs to stick to what it is doing, finance minister George Osborne said on Monday. Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election on Sunday, promising that five years of austerity, "humiliation and suffering" imposed by international creditors were over. "People get tired of economic failure, they tired of rising unemployment ... what you see is not a defeat of austerity, it is a defeat of economic plans that don't work and in Britain we have got an economic plan that is working," Osborne told BBC radio. Osborne, whose governing Conservative … [Read more...]

Rebels press Ukraine offensive, Obama promises steps against ‘Russian-backed aggression’

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Pro-Russian separatists stand next to a military truck in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, January 21, 2015. Pro-Moscow rebels, backed by what NATO says is the open participation of Russian troops, pressed on with their offensive on Sunday after restarting the war in eastern Ukraine with the first all-out assault since a truce five months ago. U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington was considering all options short of military action to isolate Russia. The European Union called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers of its 28 member states. "We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the ceasefire and the aggression that these separatists -- with Russian backing, Russian equipment, Russian financing, Russian training and Russian troops -- are conducting," Obama told a news conference during a visit to India. "I will look at all additional options that are available to us short of military confrontation and try to address this issue. And we will be in close consultation with … [Read more...]

China protests over Japan’s comments on border dispute with India

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China on Monday lodged a protest with Tokyo after Japanese media quoted Japan's foreign minister as saying that a disputed border region between China and India belonged to India, in the latest source of friction between the two Asian rivals. Japan's foreign ministry played down the issue, saying it could not confirm Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's reported remarks. It added that it hoped India and China could resolve their dispute peacefully. Tensions between China and Japan have risen in recent years, fuelled by a row over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. Their relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of China before and during World War Two. Japan's Sankei Shimbun, a conservative daily, quoted Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as saying in New Delhi on Saturday that Arunachal Pradesh that lies on the contested border was "India's territory". China disputes the entire … [Read more...]

Offbeat films “Birdman”, “Budapest Hotel” capture Oscar’s eye

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Show business satire Birdman and colorful caper The Grand Budapest Hotel on Thursday captured nine Academy Award nominations each, including best picture, for a year recognized for its original feats in filmmaking. Joining the two Fox Searchlight releases in the best picture race is "Boyhood", whose director, Richard Linklater, pushed cinematic boundaries by making it over 12 years with the same actors. Boyhood received six nominations overall and comes to the race as a frontrunner after winning the Golden Globe for best drama last weekend. "It's harder and harder to get any film made, and all of these movies are really original and difficult", said Tim Gray, awards editor for entertainment industry publication Variety. "On the scale of difficulty, all of these are off the chart". British World War Two biopic The Imitation Game garnered eight nominations, including best picture and best actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. American Sniper, an Iraq war film by director Clint … [Read more...]

Russia invites N. Korean leader to Moscow for May visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two, the Kremlin's spokesman said on Friday. It would be Kim's first foreign visit since taking the helm of the reclusive east Asian state in 2011. His personal envoy came to Moscow last month in the framework of efforts by the two Cold War-era allies to improve relations. "Yes, such an invitation was sent," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state news agency TASS. Russia marks the former Soviet Union's World War Two victory every year on May 9. Moscow needs North Korean cooperation in boosting natural gas exports to South Korea as Gazprom wants to build a gas pipeline through North Korea to reach its southern neighbor. Pyongyang is also seeking support from Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, against international criticism over its nuclear program. The U.N. … [Read more...]