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...]

Japan’s Lower House passes security bill

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (3rd R) and his cabinet members react after the passing of controversial security bills during a lower house session at the parliament in Tokyo, July 16, 2015. (AFP photo)

(VOVworld) - Japan's Lower House on Thursday approved a controversial security bill which allows for considerable changes to the country’s defense policy. The changes would allow Japanese troops to fight overseas for the first time since World War Two. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government affirmed that the changes are crucial to confronting new security challenges. If it’s passed by the National Diet of Japan, the bill will realize the historical decision that Abe's cabinet made a year ago, under which Tokyo will reinterpret the constitution and allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense or help to defend others such as the US and its allies even if Japan itself is not attacked. … [Read more...]

Philippines reinforcing rusting ship on Spratly reef outpost – sources

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Filipino soldiers wave from the dilapidated Sierra Madre ship of the Philippine Navy as it is anchored near Ayungin shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Ritchie A. Tongo/Pool The Philippine navy is quietly reinforcing the hull and deck of a rusting ship it ran aground on a disputed South China Sea reef in 1999 to stop it breaking apart, determined to hold the shoal as Beijing creates a string of man-made islands nearby. Using wooden fishing boats and other small craft, the navy has run the gauntlet of the Chinese coastguard to move cement, steel, cabling and welding equipment to the BRP Sierra Madre since late last year, two navy officers who have been inside the vessel told Reuters in recent interviews. The 100 meter-long (330-foot) tank landing ship was built for the U.S. Navy during World War Two. It was eventually transferred to the Philippine navy, which deliberately … [Read more...]

Lawmakers bash US Army plan to cut 57,000 troops and civilians

Lawmakers on July 8 sharply criticized long-announced US Army plans to cut nearly 60,000 soldiers and civilian personnel due to tight budgets, warning it was risky and short-sighted at a time of Middle East conflict and rising tensions with Russia. Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Armed Services Committee, called the decision to cut 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilian personnel "another dangerous consequence of budget-driven strategy" pursued by President Barack Obama. Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush told veterans in Hudson, New Hampshire, that the United States "can't lead without a strong military" and pursuit of the planned cuts would leave the country with "the smallest Army that we've had since the start of World War Two." The cuts would reduce the active-duty Army from about 490,000 soldiers to about 450,000. The Army had about 490,000 soldiers before the 2001 attacks, a number that rose to about 570,000 in 2010 before reductions began. … [Read more...]

China lobbies hard ahead of Manila’s South China Sea arbitration case

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An aerial file photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015. REUTERS/Ritchie B. Tongo/Pool/Files China's claims to the disputed South China Sea will come under international legal scrutiny for the first time this week, but while Beijing has officially refused to take part in the case filed by the Philippines at a U.N. tribunal, it has made its presence felt. Indeed, Manila's international legal team was heading to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to initially argue that the five-judge panel has jurisdiction to hear the case, Philippine Foreign Ministry officials told Reuters. That is because of concerns China raised in a public position paper in December about the tribunal's jurisdiction over the matter, according to court statements. A little-noticed decision by the tribunal's panel in … [Read more...]

Japan PM Abe’s ratings slip amid doubts about his security policy

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Protesters holding placards participate in a rally against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration in Tokyo, Japan, June 27, 2015. Hundreds of people joined the demonstration on Saturday against Abe's policies in Tokyo's Shibuya area. The placard (C) reads in Japanese, "Love the war" (top) and "Reaper Prime Minister" (bottom). Photo: Reuters Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is slipping in the face of doubts about his more muscular security policy, a newspaper survey released on Monday showed, amid concerns Abe's ruling party wants to muzzle its media critics. Abe has promised key ally Washington that he would enact bills to implement a historic defence policy shift this summer. But in a sign that goal looked tough, his ruling bloc last week extended the current session of parliament to Sept. 27. The percentage of voters opposing Abe's cabinet rose to 40 percent, the highest since he took office in December 2012 promising to reboot the economy … [Read more...]

Japan, China, South Korea consider autumn summit: Nikkei

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South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se addresses reporters with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) about the 2+2 Ministerial meetings, at the State Department in Washington October 24, 2014. China, Japan and South Korea are considering holding their first trilateral summit in three years, offering a potential stage for the first one-on-one meeting between Tokyo and Seoul's leaders, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday. The talks would resume cooperation among East Asia's three biggest economies that had been on hold since 2012 because of territorial disputes and what Seoul and Beijing see as Japan's reluctance to confront its wartime past. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida are expected to confirm this weekend the leaders' intentions to hold the summit, the Nikkei said. Yun is visiting Tokyo for the first time in four years on Sunday. The summit could take place between September and November in South … [Read more...]

Japan PM Abe’s support lowest since 2012 amid doubts about security bills

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet has fallen to the lowest level since he took office in 2012, to just over 40%, with nearly two-thirds of voters opposed to his muscular defense policy that would end a self-imposed ban on the military fighting overseas, a weekend media survey showed. The survey by Nippon Television Network coincided with weekend rallies by thousands protesting the legislation, which would allow Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack. Abe's cabinet adopted a resolution last July reinterpreting the pacifist constitution to allow the dramatic shift in security policy. In April, Abe told the US Congress that the changes, already reflected in new US-Japan defense cooperation guidelines, would be enacted this summer. But the outlook for passage in the current session of parliament, set to end next week but which may be extended until early August, has been clouded by growing … [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...]