Japan's manufacturers plan to limit production increases this month and in July, signalling that the economy may be slow to recover from its worst post-war slump.

Gains in output will slow to 3.1 per cent in June from May and 0.9 per cent next month, a Trade Ministry survey released yesterday showed.

Production climbed 5.9 per cent in April and May, the fastest pace in 56 years, the report said.

Industrial production is showing signs of "upward movement", said the ministry. Strong gains among companies making transport equipment, electronic parts and steel products contributed to the improvement in output.

However, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 1 per cent yesterday, due to concerns that demand for Japanese cars and electronics would be too weak to sustain a recovery amid swelling unemployment at home and abroad. Even after boosting output to rebuild depleted inventories, Japanese manufacturers are making 30 per cent fewer goods than they were one year ago.

"The slowdown in the outlook numbers definitely casts doubt on just how sustainable this recovery is," said Mr Tetsuro Sugiura, chief economist at Mizuho Securities Research Institute.

"Companies have been rebuilding stock based on the idea that demand would recover, but however you look at it, it's hard to see that happening." BLOOMBERG

From TODAY, Business – Tuesday, 30-Jun-2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Posted: 30 June 2009 0240 hrs

Steve Jobs

WASHINGTON: Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has returned to work after a medical leave of absence during which he underwent a liver transplant, according to press reports on Monday.

"Steve is back to work," Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, told The New York Times and other US media outlets. "He is currently at Apple a few days a week and working from home the remaining days."

"We are glad to have him back," Dowling told the newspaper.

The Times said the Apple spokesman declined to say exactly when the 54-year-old Jobs, the visionary behind the wildly successful Macintosh computer, iPhone and iPod, returned to work or to discuss his health.

Apple last week released the first public comment from Jobs since he went on medical leave of absence in January, a brief statement in which he lauded the sales of Apple's latest model iPhone.

Apple has been notoriously secretive about Jobs's health since he underwent an operation in 2004 for pancreatic cancer.

A Tennessee hospital confirmed last week that Jobs had received a liver transplant and said his prognosis was "excellent."

Apple's fortunes have been uniquely linked to Jobs, who returned to the California company in 1997 after a 12-year absence and turned around the flagging technology giant.

- AFP /ls

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1882–January 18, 1949)...Image via Wikipedia

Now he really is a big name, and that name is accompanied with a big scandal, with a big sentence of 150 years in jail… so much for being a fraud of such a financial magnitude…


Posted: 29 June 2009 2345 hrs

Bernard Madoff

NEW YORK: Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in jail Monday for masterminding an "evil" multi-billion-dollar investment scam that cheated thousands of people around the world.

"It is the judgment of this court that Bernard Madoff should be sentenced to 150 years in jail," Judge Denny Chin said, as he handed down the maximum term possible on 11 charges of fraud, theft and perjury.

He described Madoff's crimes as "extraordinarily evil" and said it was "not merely a bloodless crime that takes place on paper but one that takes a staggering human toll."

The tough sentence came even after Madoff, the former chairman of the Nasdaq, made a courtroom apology to his victims. "I am sorry," he told them simply. "I don't ask for forgiveness."

"I leave a legacy of shame to my family. I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain. I live in a tormented state," said the disgraced 71-year-old financier who now faces spending the rest of his life in prison.

"I cannot offer an excuse for my behavior," he added. "How do you excuse deceiving investors... and 200 employees?

"How do you excuse lying to my sons and two brothers? How do you excuse lying to a wife who stood by you for 50 years and still stands by me? There is no excuse for that."

Some of Madoff's victims vented their fury as they addressed the court.

Fraud victims stage protest following the sentencing hearing for Madoff

Cheryl Weinstein blasted Madoff as "a monster" and a "beast."

"He walks among us. But he is a beast who has fed upon us to satisfy his own needs... I am asking you to keep in a cage behind bars," she said.

Breaking into tears, Burt Ross, who lost five million dollars, said Madoff "has truly earned his reputation of being the most despised person in America today."

"I only hope that his jail sentence is long enough so that his jail cell becomes his coffin," said Michael Schwartz, 33, who said the money stolen from his family had been set aside to take care of his mentally disabled brother.

As court-appointed liquidators struggle to recover the missing billions, Judge Chin told the court: "I don't get the sense that Bernard Madoff said all that he could or told all that he knows."

Chin gave Madoff 10 days to appeal the sentence, but said there had not been a single letter from friends or family testifying to his good deeds. "The absence of such support is telling," he said.

And Madoff's wife, Ruth, finally broke her silence Monday to lash out her husband, saying: "All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed; disbelieving the nightmare they woke to.

"The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known all these years," she said in a statement.

"Many of my husband's investors were my close friends and family. And in the days since December, I have read, with immense pain, the wrenching stories of people whose life savings have evaporated because of his crime."

The verdict came some six months after the biting economic downturn forced Madoff to unmask himself as behind one of the biggest financial scams in history.

Prosecutors say about 13 billion dollars was handed to Madoff. The financier himself has talked about losing some 50 billion dollars, which is believed to be the amount that would have been paid out had the funds been properly invested.

Among Madoff's victims were Hollywood celebrities, international movers and shakers, some of the world's most famous banks and Jewish charities, some of which were forced to close after the scheme unraveled.

Madoff's jail cell.

Madoff told the court in March that of the billions of dollars that passed through his hands during the three-decade scam, he never invested one cent in the market. Instead he stashed the funds in a Chase Manhattan bank account.

The funds were then used to pay out "dividends" to investors in what is known as a "Ponzi scheme."

Chin has ordered that Madoff forfeit over 170 billion dollars in illegally obtained assets. And in an accompanying order, a district court also stipulated that Ruth Madoff be stripped of 85 million dollars in assets, leaving her with 2.5 million dollars in cash.

One lingering issue is how to return the stolen funds. Of the billions of dollars that were lost, prosecutors say only one billion dollars has been recovered.

The judge deferred the issue of restitution for another 90 days to give court-appointed liquidators more time to recover the missing funds.

- AFP /ls

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Index ...Image via Wikipedia

06/30/2009 | 07:33 AM

NEW YORK – A jump in oil prices sent investors rushing to put money into the stock market in the final days of the second quarter.

Energy, industrial and materials stocks pulled the market higher in light trading Monday as investors raced to keep up with the gains in oil.

Crude rose $2.33 to settle at $71.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after China said it would boost oil reserves and Nigerian militants partly shut down an offshore oil platform.

With the quarter's end coming up on Tuesday, some money managers were making last-minute adjustments to their portfolios just ahead of issuing quarterly reports to their clients. A benchmark against which many funds are compared, the Standard & Poor's 500 index, is up 16.2 percent since the start of the April-June quarter.

Analysts cautioned against seeing the upswing as a sign of conviction among investors that it was time to move into the market ahead of an economic recovery. Stocks seesawed in the early going but jumped after oil gained.

After running the S&P 500 index up 37 percent since March on a litany of "less bad" economic data, investors have become more cautious about the pace of the economy's recovery this month and are looking for more concrete signs of growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90.99, or 1.1 percent, to 8,529.38. The S&P 500 index rose 8.33, or 0.9 percent, to 927.23, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 5.84, or 0.3 percent, to 1,844.06. Stocks ended last week mixed.

There was little economic news Monday but the week, which is abbreviated by the Independence Day holiday on Friday, brings key data that could give investors a better sense of where the economy is headed.

Of particular importance is the monthly employment report due out Thursday. Though considered a lagging indicator of the country's economic health, the unemployment rate is still one of the most closely watched gauges of the economy. The labor market is intricately tied to many facets of the economy including consumer spending.

Investors also will get reports on consumer confidence and manufacturing this week.

The Dow is up 30.3 percent from a 12-year low on March 9, though it has fallen 3.1 percent from a five-month high on June 12. The blue chips are now down only 2.8 percent in 2009.

Harry Rady, chief executive of Rady Asset Management, is concerned that although the market's rally has lost steam in the past three weeks traders are still too optimistic about how quickly the economy can recover.

"I see a bit of complacency creeping into the market," he said. "The market has run up and that has the inverse effect of what it should."

Rady sees trouble in the continuing retreat of a gauge of fear in the stock market, and contends that investors are overlooking danger spots in the economy like heavy debt loads and weakness in the dollar.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, is a measure of stock market volatility that has been easing since early March. The VIX is down 37 percent in 2009 and stands below 26. The historical average is 18-20. It hit a record 89.5 in October at the height of the financial crisis.

Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to a light 4 billion shares compared with 5.1 billion traded Friday. Volume was heavy Friday because of the annual reconstitution of the Russell 3000 index forced investors to make changes to their portfolios.

Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.48 percent from 3.53 percent late Friday.

The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold prices fell.

The gains in commodities lifted energy, industrial and materials stocks. Exxon Mobil Corp. rose $1.53, or 2.2 percent, to $70.58, defense contractor General Dynamics Corp. rose $1.54, or 2.8 percent, to $57 and Eastman Chemical Co. rose $1.38, or 3.7 percent, to $38.79.

Shares of Ford Motor Co. rose 17 cents, or 3 percent, to $5.78 after the automaker's top sales analyst said US auto sales might have stopped their month-to-month slide in June and could be down less than 30 percent for the first time since September. Automakers, which are expected to report June sales in the US on Wednesday, have been hit by a 37 percent drop in sales in the first five months of the year.

In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.61, or 0.5 percent, to 510.61.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.3 percent, Germany's DAX index advanced 2.3 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 2 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1 percent. - AP

From GMANews.tv; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

By Tang See Kit, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 29 June 2009 1730 hrs

Hyflux SINGAPORE: This year's Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) has seen more deals flowing in, despite the current economic downturn.

The four-day event, which ended last week, saw S$2.2 billion worth of deals signed. This is six times what was achieved last year.

The SIWW saw several industry players like Hyflux and GE inking deals to boost research and development as well as further enhance their global presence.

Singapore's water-technology firm Hyflux expanded its plans in the Middle East region by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Swiss-based ABB for the company's project in Algeria worth S$28 million.

Hyflux also entered a joint venture with General Desalination Company (GDC) to develop two seawater desalination plants in Libya.

The SIWW also witnessed industry players collaborating with educational firms to expand their research and development capabilities.

Multinational company GE entered a partnership worth S$150 million with the National University of Singapore (NUS) to work on a research and development centre to develop safe drinking water systems across Asia.

Event organisers said these deals signified that the water industry is poised for further growth across all sectors, despite the gloomy global economy.

SIWW's managing director, Michael Toh, said: "I think (for) the water industry, the solutions provided have to cover all these (different areas). You know, in the plant, you have instrumentation, (and) you need chemicals, you need the pumps, you need the valves. So I think as a whole, the industry will grow."

Currently, Singapore's Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI) aims to triple the value-added (VA) contribution from the water industry to S$1.7 billion, which represents 0.6% of the GDP, by 2015.

Employment within the sector is also expected to double to about 11,000 people, with a majority in the professional and skilled categories.

Moving forward, organisers are seeking to brand the Water Week as a global platform for water solutions.

Jimmy Lau, managing director of Singapore Airshow & Events, said: "The whole value chain of the water industry is here and there will continually be discussions going on and looking for solutions, which is what the Water Week here in Singapore concentrates on. And so we expect the event to throw up a lot more opportunities, both technology as well as getting more funding for projects for water."

The SIWW attracted more than 10,000 attendees from 85 countries, up from last year's 8,500 visitors. More than 420 companies from some 28 countries took part in the SIWW.

28 new products and technologies were also unveiled for the first time at the event's Water Expo's Innovation Corner.

- CNA/ir

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

By Yasmine Yahya, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 29 June 2009 1749 hrs

LanXessLogo SINGAPORE: German chemicals firm Lanxess is postponing the construction of its new butyl rubber facility in Singapore because of the continuing global economic crisis.

The plant had originally been planned to come on stream in 2012, but the firm said production is now scheduled for 2014.

Lanxess said it would use the two-year delay to finish developing an innovative technology for butyl rubber production, which would then be used at the new facility.

Chairman Axel Heitmann said the new technology uses less resources and is considerably more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly than current processes.

From today's perspective, he said the capital expenditures for the new plant would be slightly lower than the original 400 million euros.

Regardless of the postponement, Lanxess said it would continue to expand its presence in Singapore.

The company is currently negotiating with the Economic Development Board with a view of managing its global butyl rubber business unit from Singapore in the future.

- CNA/so

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

This early fall means no matter the disaster, it still saved a lot of other unspeakable disasters – were it have been already occupied…


Posted: 28 June 2009 1434 hrs

The collapsed 13-floor residential building which was under construction in Shanghai, China

SHANGHAI: A nearly-completed 13-storey Shanghai apartment building toppled over, killing a worker and raising concerns in China's largest city over construction standards, state media reported Sunday.

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng ordered a full investigation into the cause of the incident, which occurred Saturday in the southwestern part of the city, the Shanghai Daily reported.

"It was horrible. The building fell down very quickly after several workers ran out of it," Fang Zenghui, whose home faces the building from across the creek, was quoted as telling the newspaper.

"It was very loud. I was stunned and couldn't believe what I'd just seen," he said.

A 28-year-old migrant worker, surnamed Xiao, who entered the building to collect his tools, was killed after trying to jump out of a window as the building fell, the newspaper reported.

About 130 nearby households were evacuated and inspectors were examining the foundations of seven other identical buildings in the "Lotus Riverside" compound, saying they appeared to be intact Saturday evening, the report said.

The incident was a new blow for Chinese property developers, who have been severely hit by a sagging market amid the global financial crisis.

Those who bought apartments in the development were demanding refunds and explanations, the report said.

Developer Shanghai Meidu Real Estate and Shanghai Zhongxin Construction Co said they were contacting owners and negotiating refunds, the newspaper said, adding 77 per cent of the homes had been sold.

The building fell Saturday morning a day after about 83 metres (272 feet) of the nearby riverbank collapsed, apparently due to the construction of an underground parking garage being built on the site, the report said.

Construction company employees had been working through the night Friday to shore up the riverbank, the report said.

Concerns over poor construction and low-quality materials have plagued China's construction industry as the country rapidly builds up its cities and infrastructure needed to maintain its growing economy.

Anger over poor construction boiled over during after last year's earthquake in central China after about 7,000 schools collapsed and relatives of dead children spoke out against graft they believed led to shoddy construction.

- AFP/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Posted: 28 June 2009 1808 hrs

Residential property (top-R) on Victoria Peak overlooks the skyline of Hong Kong

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has still to emerge from the effects of the global economic slowdown despite early signs of returning stability, the city's chief executive Donald Tsang has said.

Tsang said that big challenges remained for the city, whose key industries of finance and exports have been hit hard by the crisis.

"There is no doubt we have yet to emerge from the impact of the financial tsunami," he said on local broadcaster RTHK's weekly Letter to Hong Kong.

"While recent statistics have shown some signs of economic stability returning, there are still many uncertainties in the global market."

He said reforms put in place after the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 meant Hong Kong had not suffered a breakdown in its financial system.

He said that the latest crisis presented similar opportunities to improve the city's economic fundamentals.

The government has pointed out six sectors the city should focus on -- including education and environmental industries.

Tsang countered accusations that such directives went against Hong Kong's free market economic principles.

"Hong Kong has thrived as a free and open market. This must and will continue," he said.

"At the same time, increasing globalisation and regional competition have resulted in a need for a strong government role in facilitating economic development.

"So, we are not picking winners. Rather, we are providing a more favourable environment for industries to become even bigger winners than they are now."

Hong Kong fell into recession in the third quarter of 2008 and in May the government slashed its growth forecast for this year, saying the economy would contract 5.5-6.5 percent in 2009, from a previous forecast of 2.0-3.0 percent.

- AFP/ir

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Posted: 28 June 2009 1457 hrs

Yangshan deep water port in Hangzhou Bay, south east of Shanghai.

SHANGHAI: The scene where Shanghai's river meets the sea is a snapshot of China's battle against the financial crisis - as well as the site of the port the country hopes can set the stage for the next boom.

Empty container ships - victims of China's export collapse - line the river banks in Shanghai's port.

Meanwhile, bulk carriers laden with raw materials - a bet on demand rebounding - wait at sea because ports cannot unload them fast enough.

"Just look at the Huangpu River," a shipping company dispatcher said, referring to the waterway that cuts through Shanghai. "There used to be a few ships anchored on the river but now you can see anchored ships everywhere."

"Charter rates are so low now we would rather anchor the ships and save the cost of crew and fuel," the dispatcher for state-run Shanghai Puhai Shipping Co. said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to reporters.

World shipping prices in the past week were down about 68 per cent from a historic peak in May last year, according to the Baltic Exchange Dry Index, which gauges international dry bulk good shipping prices.

Low shipping rates combined with weak commodity prices sparked a Chinese buying spree of iron ore and other commodities that has led to jams of bulk carrier traffic at Chinese ports.

But that has not offset volume lost due to seven straight months of plummeting exports, which were down 26.4 per cent year-on-year in May.

The volume handled at Shanghai's port was down 15 per cent in the first five months of 2009 after nearly a decade of 20 per cent annual growth, Shanghai International Port Group Vice President Huang Xin said this past week.

"This is the first time Shanghai's shipping container business declined since it went into full-scale operation (20 years ago), it shows how deeply the financial crisis has affected the real economy," Huang told a maritime conference in Shanghai.

Chinese shipbuilders fared even worse, with orders plunging 96 per cent to 1.18 million deadweight tons in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to government figures.

"This will be the worst year ever for the container port industry in terms of volume decline," Truong Bui, a consultant at Drewery Maritime Services said. "China's container traffic will not recover until 2011."

Despite the plunge in shipping demand, Shanghai - already the world's busiest port by total cargo volume - is charging ahead with plans initiated during boom times to more than double its capacity.

China's cabinet set ambitions for Shanghai even higher in April, declaring it would move up the value chain and become a full-service world-class shipping centre by 2020.

But building the infrastructure will be easier than developing the service side of that equation, Xu Jianqun, Shanghai's Construction and Transport Commission Secretary General, warned.

"We lack the related 'software' in terms of ship financing, reinsurance for ships and arbitration," Xu told the same conference. "This leaves Shanghai lagging behind other developed port cities in the world."

The centrepiece of its expansion will be the Yangshan Deepwater Port, which connects to the mainland via a 32.5-kilometre (20-mile) bridge.

Shanghai also plans to build the world's biggest shipbuilding yard on its northern Changxing island and put in place rail lines to better link the port to industrial powerhouse regions, Xu said.

On the services side, the Bank of Communications, part-owned by HSBC and China's fifth-largest bank, announced last month plans to create a ship financing division.

Some argue the need for the extra capacity is debatable but Torben Skaanild, chief executive of the Baltic and International Maritime Council, said Shanghai's moves come as the shipping industry faces a historic shift.

"The timing is probably absolutely perfect. There has been a shift in ship-owning towards the East and Asia," Skaanild said. "But there will be stiff competition because Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Korea are not going to let Shanghai stand alone."

- AFP/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

05:55 AM Jun 26, 2009

WASHINGTON - What is it with philandering politicians?

Mr Sanford with his wife Jenny, before he admitted to his affair. AP

Why do men in power - the ones on pedestals - think they are above their constituents and can get away with cheating on their spouses, particularly these days amid intense media scrutiny and when peccadilloes are arguably more politically damaging?

It is a long list of those who thought they could jet off to Argentina, cruise on the yacht Monkey Business, check into a hotel under an assumed name or use an escort service and never get caught, never have to come clean.

These days, the fallout can run the gamut. It can doom a career - former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey - or simply unleash the fury of a special prosecutor leading to impeachment - then-President Bill Clinton.

This was not always the way it was in the United States. There are politicians, presidents even, who did the dalliance dance privately and did not pay publicly: John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt, included.

No more. It's a different world today. A public with at-your-fingertips Internet has developed an insatiable appetite for scandal.

That makes it all the more inexplicable that these men tempt fate. And, particularly, men with presidential aspirations.

One possible explanation, said Mr Stanley Renshon, a political psychologist at City University of New York: "Narcissism is an occupational hazard for political leaders. You have to have an outsized ambition and an outsized ego to run for office."

To be sure, politicians do not necessarily have different reasons for cheating than non-politicians, and they do not necessarily cheat more often.

The difference: "They live their lives more in a fishbowl, and that has responsibilities and costs with it," said Mr Renshon, adding that an adulterous politician does not just betray his family's trust, but he also betrays the public's trust.

Indeed, when politicians get caught, their actions raise questions about their judgment, character and integrity as a leader.

"It does matter in public perceptions," said Mr Stephen Wayne, a Georgetown University government professor who has studied political psychology. When it comes to the highest positions in politics, he said, "we want to figure out who acts as a model for others".

On some level, it is easy to see why they cheat. Mr Fred Greenstein, a Princeton University professor

emeritus of politics, suggested adrenaline as the common denominator, saying that "for some individuals, the excitement of illicit sexual activity might feed the same desire" as "the excitement of politics".

There also is a clue in the kind of people drawn to politics.

These are men who relish seeking approval. These are men who adore getting praise and who often are surrounded by swarms of sycophants. These are men who, in some cases, need to exercise power and who think they are untouchable.

As leaders, these are also the type of men who are likely to break promises, manipulate and cut corners. They probably are big risk-takers. And they are prone to thinking of themselves first.

Just ask their wives, their mistresses or the security details that often are privy to indiscretions.

Not a year seems to go by without a Washington sex scandal, and both Democrats and Republicans are guilty.

Last year, former presidential candidate John Edwards and Mr Spitzer came before the public to admit they erred.

This month alone, it has been Mr John Ensign and Mr Sanford, two Republicans with national ambitions and mentioned as possible 2012 presidential candidates. Those dreams are likely over. AP

From TODAY, World – Friday, 26-Jun-2009; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A big blow, humungous, a financial loss as big as an airplane… errhh… it is the scale of a plane… well, it is an airplane…!


Posted: 26 June 2009 1122 hrs

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

SYDNEY: Australia's Qantas on Friday cancelled an order for 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, citing dramatic changes to the global economic environment.

Qantas said in a statement that it had reached agreement to "cancel orders for 15 B787-9s scheduled for delivery in 2014/2015".

Company CEO Alan Joyce said the cancellation had not been influenced by the delay of the aircraft's inaugural flight earlier this week due to a design flaw.

"Qantas announced its original B787 order in December 2005, and the operating environment for the world's airlines has clearly changed dramatically since then," he said.

The statement said Qantas and Boeing had also agreed to postpone delivery of a further 15 Dreamliners by four years.

"The latest delay is disappointing but ... we remain committed to the aircraft as the right choice for (budget offshoot) Jetstar's future international expansion, Qantas' growth, and as a replacement for Qantas' B767-300 fleet," Joyce said.

Boeing on Tuesday delayed the first flight and delivery of its 787 Dreamliner for the fifth time, to reinforce the aircraft's structure, and said a new schedule would be available in "several weeks".

Already nearly two years behind schedule, the carbon-composite Dreamliner has been touted to usher in an era of lighter, more fuel-efficient planes, and is seen as key to the aerospace giant's future.

The cancellation takes Qantas' total B787 orders from 65 to 50 by 2017, and follows a decision to more than halve its profit forecast in April and axe up to 1,750 jobs.

Qantas, at that time, deferred orders for four Airbus A380 superjumbos and 12 Boeing 737-800s, while saying it was in talks to delay delivery of 15 Dreamliners, due to a rapid and significant deterioration in the global economy.

- AFP/so

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

In dire situation…


Posted: 26 June 2009 0135 hrs

British Airways

LONDON: Struggling British Airways on Thursday said 800 staff had agreed to unpaid work and thousands more to pay cuts, helping the group save up to 10 million pounds (11.7 million euros, 16.3 million dollars).

After diving into a financial loss, the airline last month asked staff to work for free, while promising that chief executive Willie Walsh and BA's finance director Keith Williams would forgo their July salaries.

"This is a fantastic first response" to BA's cost-cutting programme, Walsh said in a statement on Thursday.

"I want to thank everyone who has volunteered to help us pull through this difficult period. This response clearly shows the significant difference individuals can make."

The world's leading commercial airlines are facing a major cash squeeze as the global economic slump crushes demand for plane tickets.

BA last month reported an annual loss of 375 million pounds, also blamed on high fuel costs. The airline has cut 2,500 jobs worldwide over the past year.

On Thursday, a BA spokesman told AFP: "800 (have) opted to work for free" for up to a month.

The airline added in a statement: "Nearly 7,000 British Airways staff have taken an early opportunity to apply for voluntary pay cuts in support of the airline's cost reduction programme.

"Of the 40,000-strong workforce, 6,940 employees had volunteered for unpaid leave, part-time working or unpaid work... Their actions will save the company up to 10 million pounds."

BA's announcement came shortly before the end of stock market trading. The airline's share price closed up 1.04 percent at 126.60 pence on London's FTSE 100 index, which ended Thursday down 0.64 percent at 4,252.57 points.

Staff who have offered to work unpaid will still receive shift allowances and other payments, although they will forego their basic pay.

However Mick Rix, representing the GMB union, hit out at BA for releasing data on pay cuts while negotiations were ongoing.

"I find it disgusting that the company can make the announcement today," said Rix.

"We are locked into hard negotiations on making significant financial savings but BA seems only interested in making headlines rather than reaching an acceptable deal."

Last week, union leaders urged British Airways pilots to accept shares in the company in return for a pay cut.

Under the deal agreed with British Airways, pilots will see their annual pay cut by 2.61 percent and most jobs safeguarded.

The pilots' pay cut would generate 16 million pounds of annual savings, while pilots would also have to increase their working hours to help save another 10 million pounds annually.

In return, pilots would in two years' time be eligible to receive a proportion of BA shares worth a total of 13 million pounds if company targets are met. The pilots will not however be able to sell the shares until June, 2014.


From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Posted: 26 June 2009 0533 hrs

A man fills his car with petrol at a service station

NEW YORK - Oil prices rose back above 70 dollars Thursday as renewed violence in key crude producer Nigeria and a forecast of a higher price range sparked buying.

New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, jumped 1.45 dollars to 70.12 dollars a barrel.

London's Brent North Sea crude for August rose 1.45 dollars to 69.78 dollars.

"The news from Nigeria (about) more attacks on oil facilities and the fact that two refineries are now shut down are supporting the market," said Andy Lipow, President at Lipow Oil Associates.

"The market has lived with Nigeria's supply disruption now for three years," he said.

Nigerian rebels on Thursday said they carried out a pre-dawn attack against Royal Dutch Shell facilities in a warning to Russia not to invest in the country's oil and gas industry.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said the attack was to coincide with a visit to Nigeria by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during which major energy investment deals were struck.

The attack on the Bille-Krakrama pipeline, which feeds the key Bonny export terminal in southern Rivers State, was carried out shortly after midnight Thursday.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua meanwhile on Thursday gave militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta 60 days to accept an amnesty offer in a bid to halt attacks on international oil companies.

MEND, the main militant group in the oil-rich southern Nigeria, stages regular attacks on oil installations as part of its campaign for a fairer share of oil wealth for locals in the Delta region.

Nigeria's oil production has been cut by a quarter over the past three years because of the attacks.

Crude oil futures plunged from record high points of more than 147 dollars in July 2008 to about 32 dollars in December as the economic downturn ravaged energy demand but the market has since clawed back ground on recovery hopes.

Oil prices had lost ground over the past week amid signs of a broader consolidation in the 65-75 dollar range, analysts at Barclays Capital said in a note to clients.

"Accompanying the transition in the macroeconomic backdrop, the oil market is, in our view, moving towards a transition period of very gradually improving demand, falling inventories, and prices closer to the desired range of key producers, which we would place in the 75-85 dollars region," the report said.

"While the current phase of market rebalancing might need to reach a more advanced stage before prices can comfortably move into producers' desired range, that move, in our view, is set to happen sometime through the year, with the broad trend for prices likely remaining to the upside."

- AFP /ls

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Posted: 24 June 2009 2114 hrs

JapaneseExecs Japanese businessmen

SINGAPORE: Companies in Asia are ramping up their workforce planning activities in response to the current economic downturn, according to a survey by global consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

The survey, released Wednesday, showed that more than seven out of every 10 companies in the region believe that workforce planning has become more important amid the current economic slowdown.

In fact, more than half have already begun to increase such activities within their organisations.

Workforce planning is the process by which an organisation aligns its workforce requirements to the business strategy using business analytics.

Although such planning is growing in importance, 60 per cent of those surveyed do not have a structured approach to workforce planning.

Instead, their attention is focused on immediate concerns like filling job vacancies, rather than longer term strategic issues relating to their workforce.

Asia Pacific Director of Watson Wyatt's Human Capital Group Russell Huntington said companies need to focus on longer term plans and review the capabilities needed in light of the current adverse business conditions.

He added that reducing employee costs cannot just be a numbers game, but should be a well thought-through, data-driven strategic exercise.

- CNA/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]