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...]

Blues legend B.B. King dies at 89

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U.S. blues legend B.B. King performs onstage during the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 2, 2011. Blues legend B.B. King, who took his music from rural juke joints to the mainstream and inspired a generation of guitarists from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan, has died in Las Vegas. He was 89. News of King's death, confirmed late Thursday on a Facebook page linked to the website of his daughter Claudette, triggered shockwaves across social media, with blues, rock and country music stars lining up to pay tribute. King was hospitalized in April for a few days after suffering from dehydration related to Type 2 diabetes. In May he said in a Facebook post that he was in hospice care at his home. Born on a plantation to sharecropper parents, he outlived his post-World War Two blues peers - Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker - to see the rough music born in the cotton fields of the segregated South reach a new audience. "Being a … [Read more...]

U.S. Marines look to nurture integrated Asia-Pacific amphibious forces, China excluded

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U.S. military forces aboard Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) manuevre on South China Sea near the shore of San Antonio, Zambales during the annual "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) war games with Filipino soldiers in northern Philippines in this April 21, 2015 file photo. The U.S. Marine Corps is bringing together foreign commanders from amphibious forces deployed mostly in the Asia-Pacific for a conference aimed at taking steps to integrate operations, with China excluded from the event, according to officials and planning documents. The effort centers on a first-of-its-kind conference between the Marine Corps and military officials from 23 countries that opens in Hawaii on Monday. More than half the nations attending are from Asia, including some embroiled in territorial disputes with China such as Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam. On the agenda will be amphibious assault tactics, including ship-to-shore assaults, and a demonstration of shore landing tactics, said a USMC … [Read more...]

Vladimir Putin calls Ukraine fascist and country’s new law helps make his case

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A member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) waits to depart to the frontline in eastern Ukraine, in central Kiev As Ukraine continues its battle against separatists, corruption and a collapsing economy, it has taken a dangerous step that could further tear the country apart: Ukraine’s parliament, the Supreme Rada, passed a draft law last month honoring organizations involved in mass ethnic cleansing during World War Two. The draft law — which is now on President Petro Poroshenko’s desk awaiting his signature — recognizes a series of Ukrainian political and military organizations as "fighters for Ukrainian independence in the 20th century" and bans the criticism of these groups and their members. (The bill doesn’t state the penalty for doing so.) Two of the groups honored — the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) — helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust while also killing close … [Read more...]

Abe’s cabinet to approve Japan security bills; voters wary, confused

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) shakes hands with U.S. Congress Democratic Party minority leader Nancy Pelosi prior to their meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, May 8, 2015. Photo: Reuters Japan's cabinet was set to approve on Thursday bills to implement a drastic shift in security policy allowing the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two, although the public is divided and wary of the change. The planned changes, reflected in new U.S.-Japan defence guidelines unveiled last month, set the stage for Japan to play a bigger role in the bilateral alliance as Tokyo and Washington face challenges such as China's growing military assertiveness. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet adopted a resolution last July reinterpreting the pacifist constitution to drop a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defence, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack. Abe is expected to hold a news conference after his cabinet … [Read more...]

Russia plans army training exercises with China, India

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SOCHI, Russia - Russian land forces will join troops from China, India, Mongolia and Belarus in a series of joint military training exercises during the second half of this year, President Vladimir Putin's office said on Wednesday. The announcement, issued as Putin met top Russian military brass in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, will stir unease in Western capitals, whose relations with Moscow have deteriorated sharply during the year-long Ukraine crisis. Moscow has become especially keen to build closer economic and other ties with the Asian giants China and India since the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia last year over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean region. The joint military training exercises will have a focus on peace-keeping and anti-terrorist activities, the statement said. Training exercises are also planned with troops from member countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB), which includes Russia and several … [Read more...]

Putin says Ukraine peace ‘moving forward’ despite problems

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10 that the peace process in eastern Ukraine was progressing despite difficulties. Merkel reaffirmed her support for the peace efforts and repeated her calls to Putin to use his influence with pro-Russian separatists battling Kiev government forces to end a conflict in which more than 6,000 people have been killed since April 2014. "There is every reason to believe the Minsk process is moving forward, though with problems," Putin told a joint news conference with Merkel, referring to the peace deal signed in February in the Belarussian capital. "With all the problems in east Ukraine, it has nevertheless become quieter," he said, adding that direct dialogue between the Kiev government and the separatists was crucial for peace. Relations between Russia and Germany, which have multi-billion-dollar trade and energy links, have soured sharply over Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean region … [Read more...]

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon hails the of victory over fascism

Ban is among leaders attending the anniversary in Gdansk. Photo: AP

(VOVworld) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon joined world leaders at a ceremony in the Polish port of Gdansk to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe. In his remarks, Ban said the various commemorative ceremonies taking place throughout Europe and beyond remind everybody of the tremendous shared sacrifice and the huge price of victory over fascism, paid through countless lost lives and devastating destruction. He said the key principles of the Charter and all modern principles of international law were formulated as direct responses to war: non-aggression, the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for human rights. Ban will visit Ukraine before going to Moscow to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism scheduled for this Saturday. … [Read more...]

Europe and US mark VE Day anniversary

Media caption Poland holds ceremony marking the end of World War TwoEvents are being held across Europe to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two on the continent. European leaders gathered in the Polish port of Gdansk for a midnight ceremony at the site where the first shots of the war were fired. The Gdansk commemoration was seen as a slight to Russia's Victory Parade on Saturday, which has been boycotted by Western leaders because of Ukraine. There will also be ceremonies in Paris, London, Berlin, as well as Washington. 'Parade of cynicism' The commemoration in Gdansk was marked with a 21-gun salute on the stroke of midnight. Beams of light illuminated a monument to Polish defenders in Westerplatte and the national anthem was played. In a speech, Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski said the war had started with the co-operation of two totalitarian regimes led by Hitler and Stalin. He went on to say that the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945 did not bring … [Read more...]

Abe voices ‘repentance’ on WW2, touts Japan’s new security role

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WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed "deep repentance" over Japan’s role in World War Two in a speech to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, even as he declared Tokyo’s emergence as a global security player in the face of China’s rising power. Using the high-profile platform to strike a note of measured contrition, Abe insisted that Japan must not avert its eyes from the suffering of Asian people from its wartime behavior but stopped short of issuing his own apology, instead upholding statements by his predecessors. Abe’s comments on Japan’s war record drew criticism from some U.S. lawmakers who hoped he would go further and did little to placate critics in South Korea and China, where he is accused of trying to whitewash history. But the conservative premier chose to focus his landmark speech more on the future of the U.S.-Japan military alliance and press skeptical lawmakers to back a Pacific trade pact. "We now hold high a new banner … [Read more...]

N.Korea’s Kim ordered execution of 15 officials this year- South’s spy agency

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. REUTERS/KCNA North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of 15 senior officials this year as punishment for challenging his authority, South Korea's spy agency told a closed-door parliament meeting on Wednesday. A vice minister for forestry was one of the officials executed for complaining about a state policy, a member of parliament's intelligence committee, Shin Kyung-min, quoted an unnamed National Intelligence Service official as saying. "Excuses or reasoning doesn't work for Kim Jong Un, and his style of rule is to push through everything, and if there's any objection, he takes that as a challenge to authority and comes back with execution as a showcase," Shin said. "In the four months this year, fifteen senior officials are said to have been executed," Shin cited the intelligence official as saying, according to his office. Shin added four members of the Unhasu Orchestra, where Kim's wife, Ri Sol Ju, previously performed as a … [Read more...]

No U.S.-Japan trade breakthrough expected during Abe visit: White House

The White House on Friday dashed hopes of a breakthrough on U.S.-Japan trade when President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet in Washington next week, further delaying a major 12-nation Pacific trade pact. "We're not there yet," said Caroline Atkinson, Obama's deputy national security adviser. A deal between Japan and the United States is vital to clinching a Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, as their economies account for 80 percent of the group. Obama also sees the TPP, which would cover a third of world trade, as an important counterweight to China's growing clout in the region. Atkinson said substantial progress had been made in intense, high-level negotiations in Tokyo this week but more work was needed, especially on the thorny issues of autos and agriculture. "We expect the leaders ... to have the opportunity to discuss what should be the next steps together. But we do not expect any announcement of a final deal," she told reporters in a conference call … [Read more...]