USA: More minority babies than whites in US: Census Bureau For the first time, there are more black, Hispanic and other minority babies being born in the United States than white babies, according to government data released on Thursday that confirm a long-growing trend. US Census Bureau data show the US is on its way to becoming ‘majority minority’, with almost half of all young children currently from minority groups, including Hispanic, black and Asian. As of July 1, 2011, 50.4 per cent of babies younger than age one were minorities or of more than one race, up from 49.5 per cent in 2010, the data showed. Among children younger than age five, 49.7 per cent were a minority or mixed race last year, up from 49.0 per cent in 2010, according to the agency, which tracks the US population. While the country has long been on course to see whites lose their majority, the latest figures make it clear that the next generations of Americans will look far different than today.
Parents of slain Chinese students sue California University
The parents of two Chinese graduate students slain near the University of Southern California (USC) last month have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, accusing the school of misrepresenting the area as safe and failing to provide security patrols. The 15 page
lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court comes just over a month after Ming Qu and Ying Wu, both 23, were fatally shot as they were sitting in a 2003 BMW car that had been double-parked. The early morning shooting deaths on April 11 occurred in front of Wu’s rented home over half a dozen city blocks from the campus, sparking a debate over whether USC provides adequate security measures in neighbourhoods adjacent to the Los Angeles campus where many students live.
UN observers’ chief calls for end to Syria violence
The head of a UN observer team says that no amount of
observers in Syria can achieve a permanent end to the violence without dialogue. Norwegian team leader Major General Robert Mood is calling for an end to the violence so that the mission can build on talks between the parties. He spoke at a news conference in the Syrian capital on Friday. More than 200 observers are currently
deployed in various towns and cities around Syria to monitor a cease-fire brokered by inter-national Peace Envoy Kofi Annan, but violations are reported by both sides every day.
IMF lauds Angola’s economic stabilisation efforts
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday hailed Angola’s actions to stabilise its economy after the 2008 financial crisis caused the price of oil, its main export, to plummet. “Three years after the abrupt decline in world oil prices that severely
affected its economy, Angola has attained an improved fiscal position, a more comfortable level of international reserves, a stable exchange rate and lower inflation,” said IMF Representative Mauro Mecagni. “Domestic arrears have been settled. Significant progress has also been made toward improving fiscal transparency and accountability,” said Mecagni on the global lender’s website after a two-week observation mission.
Australian shares continued to tumble on Friday after local investors panicked over the debt crisis in Europe. Australian shares opened at their lowest level this year and then continued their descent all day in response to falls on Europe’s main stock markets and the euro hitting a new four-month low against the US dollar. However, Lonsec Strategist Michael Heffernan said Australian shares had fallen even further than European markets. “Greece is certainly the word,” he said.
The Australian government has accused British American Tobacco Australia (Bata) of directly targeting teenagers with a new budget brand of cigarettes. Bata denies this, saying its new brand ‘Just Smokes’ is designed to compete with the black market. The new cigarettes are on sale for about 25 per cent less than the average packet. But Health Minister Tanya Plibersek accused Bata of targeting youngsters, who she said were the most price-sensitive smokers of all. However, Bata says the new cigarettes are designed to appeal to smokers who have been buying illegal products, which are even cheaper.
State-run Ashuganj Power Station Company Limited (APSCL) has signed a deal with a consortium of Swedish and Spanish firm to set up a 382 megawatt (mw) gas-fired combined cycle power plant on turnkey basis. The consortium of Inelectra International of Sweden and TSK Electronicay Electricidad of Spain signed the deal with the APSCL to build the plant within the next 27 months at a cost of USD 315 million. APSCL’s Managing Director Nurul Alam, Deputy Managing Director of TSK Alfonso Targhetta Codes and Inelectra International’s Country Manager of Spain Jose Antonio Antelo Souto signed the contract on behalf of their respective sides on Thursday.
Commerce Minister GM Quader has sought duty-free access of Bangladeshi products in Thailand to help grow trade volume between the two countries. “Bangladesh is interested to expand trade with Thailand…for this, duty-free access of Bangladeshi products to Thailand’s market is required,” Quader told during a meeting with visiting Thai Commerce Minister Boonsong Tenyapirom at his
Secretariat office in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday. The commerce minister invited Thai investments in the prospective areas. Thai Commerce Minister Tenyapirom agreed on Bangladesh’s proposal and said it would be implemented after required discussion in the high-level forum of both the countries.
China’s annual economic growth could slow to 7.5 per cent in the second quarter, largely due to curbs on the property sector and headwinds from external demand, the State Information Centre, a government think-tank, said in a report published on Friday. If the GDP forecast is accurate, growth in the second three months of 2012 would be the slowest since the first quarter of 2009, when the global economy was in the grips of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The forecast is in line with the government’s official 2012 growth target of 7.5 per cent set in March. But a fall below eight per cent would worry many investors who regard that rate of growth as the minimum needed to ensure sufficient job creation for China’s hundreds of millions of mainly poorly paid rural migrant workers.
China will exclude foreign firms from bidding in its second tender for shale gas blocks, despite a need for overseas tech-nology to help exploit massive reserves of gas trapped within shale rock formations in the world’s top energy user. China launched its shale gas push in late 2009, inspired by a shale boom in the US. Shale gas development is still at the early stage in China, where technically recoverable reserves of the unconventional fuel are estimated to be even higher than in the US. In its first public disclosure of requirements for bidders, the Ministry of Land and Resources said only domestic firms with registered capital of more than 300 million yuan could bid.
Ratings agency Moody’s has cut the credit ratings of 16 Spanish banks, a further blow to a country that is struggling to deal with the bad debts of its banking sector. It also cut the debt rating on Santander UK, a subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant. It comes after shares in struggling lender Bankia fell another 14 per cent. Fears about losses at Spanish banks have hit shares across Europe. The banks include Banco Santander and BBVA, the biggest banks in Spain. Ten of the 17 banks were also put on negative credit watch,
meaning that further downgrades are
possible. However, Andy Smith, a spokesman at Santander, said, “The change to Moody’s credit rating of Santander UK has no impact on our businesses in the UK or our plans for future growth.”
France’s new government has held its first cabinet meeting and announced a 30 per cent pay cut for President Francois Hollande and all his ministers. A campaign promise, the cut reduces Hollande’s monthly salary from 21,300 euros to 14,910 euros. The cut contrasts sharply with predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to increase his pay on entering office. But the opposition UMP party argues that
the new government has 14 more posts than Sarkozy’s first cabinet. However, it has also been pointed out that the outgoing
government included 31 posts, three fewer than the one that started work on Thursday.A cabinet of professors and diplomats has been sworn in at Greece to steer the debt-ridden Euro Zone state into repeat elections on 17 June. Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the
senior judge who has taken over as prime minister, said the cabinet’s sole task was to lead the country into the polls. The 300 MPs elected on May 6 are taking their seats for a single day. Voters punished the two mainstream
parties, which agreed the cuts required under international bailouts. A 130 billion euro bailout was agreed earlier this year, following a 2010 package of 110 billion euros. Fears that Greece may leave the Euro Zone are causing uncertainty about the monetary union’s
future, despite attempts by politicians and bankers to play down the potential impact.
India’s consumer price inflation accelerated in April to 10.36 per cent, making life harder for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as it looks to kick start a flagging economy, government data showed on Friday. In March, consumer prices rose 9.47 per cent. Consumer price-based food inflation accelerated to 10.18 per cent in April from 8.22 per cent in February, driven by a rise in prices of vegetables, eggs and fish products. Inflation as measured by India’s benchmark wholesale price index accelerated to 7.23 per cent in the year to April as price pressures for food, fuel and manufacturing items all picked up, data showed on Monday. RBI, which unlike other central banks, mainly uses the wholesale price index for monitoring inflation, slashed policy rates by a steeper-than-expected 50 basis points last month to boost a sagging economy.
As Indian software services firms wait out the lull in demand, the depreciating Indian rupee is opening up new opportunities while throwing up some challenges. Besides the translational gains fluffing up revenues and profits, Indian IT firms could also earn some brownie points with their clients by passing on some of the foreign exchange gains as savings to its US clients. IT firms could also plough back some of the extra income into sales and marketing efforts while riding out the lacklustre demand. The Indian rupee boost could even help Infosys, which said it is holding off on pay hikes, to give out salary increments to its employees.
Japan’s economy bounced back in the first quarter from a year-end lull, powering ahead of other major industrial nations, thanks to rebuilding of the tsunami-battered Northeast, solid private spending and some improvement in exports. The world’s
third-largest economy grew one per cent in the January to March quarter, just above a median forecast of 0.9 per cent. A 0.2 per cent contraction in the economy reported for the final three months of 2011 was revised to flat in the government data released on Thursday. The figures underlined expectations that growth would slow down during the rest of the year, partly as the impact of the rebuilding effort fades.
A group of Japanese firms is in talks to pay USD 4.4 billion for a stake in Australia’s Wheatstone gas field that had been set aside for bailed-out nuclear operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), as the country looks to shore up long-term energy supplies. Tepco, which is now under state control following last year’s earthquake and tsunami that devastated its Fukushima nuclear plant, had planned to buy the stake to secure additional supplies of liquefied natural gas. Amid concern that Chinese and other foreign companies could snatch the deal from cash-strapped Tepco, the utility asked trading house Mitsubishi Corp nd shipping company Nippon Yusen KK to step in, the Nikkei
Business Daily reported on Wednesday.
It is going to be another quarter of losses for Malaysia Airlines when it releases its first quarter 2012 results by month-end but its rival AirAsia will continue to grow its earnings amid rising jet fuel prices that is putting pressure on airlines’ margins. Analysts tracking AirAsia have mixed views as to how much the airline will turn in for the first quarter. An analyst with a local brokerage is expecting 140 million ringgit (excluding non-cash items and any one-off item). RHB Research is looking at core pre-tax profit of 175 million ringgit to 180 million ringgit while AmResearch is pointing to a flattish growth of 160 million ringgit to 170 million ringgit.
Gas Malaysia, part of an energy distributor linked to Malaysian billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, said it wants to raise about 734 million ringgit in an initial public offering in Kuala Lumpur. Existing stockholders, including MMC Corp, plan to sell 333.8 million shares with an indicative price of 2.20 ringgit each for individual investors, according to a listing prospectus. Pricing for institutions will be determined after a bidding process, Gas Malaysia said. The IPO comes amid resurgence in share sales in Malaysia, even though volatility in global stock markets has increased with concerns over potential international fallout from Greece’s debt crisis.
Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance (NASCoF) that no new tax will be imposed on genuine tax payers, instead efforts will be made to bring tax evaders under the tax regime. He stated this while attending the meeting of NASCoF here on Thursday. The committee, under the chairmanship of Fozia Wahab MNA, discussed the strategy regarding the preparation of forthcoming budget and to make it more growth and job oriented, besides providing relief to the people in the country.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic signed a protocol for the early completion of a regional electricity transmission project on Thursday for which Russia has offered a financing facility of USD 500 million. The Inter-Governmental Council meeting for CASA-1000 attended by the power ministers of the four countries agreed to take concrete measures for the implementation of the project, according to a statement issued here at the end of the two-day talks in Dubai. Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar signed the protocol on behalf of Pakistan.
Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, faced domestic fuel shortages after authorities restricted the transport of crude oil by rail, forcing several refiners to cut production, industry and market sources said. Analysts estimate that output of a quarter or more of refined oil products could be lost, threatening a repeat of last year’s fuel shortages following Russian Leader Vladimir Putin’s order to oil companies to curb pump prices. However, it is unlikely to dent crude exports, as Russia uses pipelines as its main method of transporting oil abroad. Russia’s transport-ation safety watchdog has banned the use of rail wagons designed to handle light oil products to ship crude and heavy fuel oil, following several rail accidents.
Russia’s richest man recognised the value of Facebook Inc three years ago when he invested in the social networking company and now stands to enjoy a payday of around USD one billion, propelling him further ahead of Russia’s oligarchs, who have largely stuck with oil and steel. Alisher Usmanov, who topped Forbes magazine’s annual list of
Russia’s richest investors in April, began his career making plastic bags and built his
fortune in metals and mining. He is now worth USD 18.1 billion, up from USD 2.6 billion six years ago, according to Forbes. It is Usmanov’s technology-related bets that have set him apart from his country’s rivals, and 2012 looks set to be a particularly lucrative year.
Thai food exports in the second and third quarters of 2012 are projected to decline, owing to the slowing global economy and higher Thai production costs, according to the National Food Institute (NFI). In April-June, the production is likely to slow in tandem with exports. Food exports in particular are forecast to drop 2.3 per cent valued at nearly 250 billion baht, said NFI Director Petch Chinnabutr. Exports of rice, frozen shrimp, processed tuna and processed fruit and vegetable are projected to decrease. Food exports are likely to continue slowing into the third quarter, but will rebound in the fourth quarter.
The Federation of Thai Federations (FTI) projected Thailand’s automobile production will reach 2.2 million units this year, resulting from resumption of full capacity operations, FTI Automotive Industry Club Spokesman Surapong Paisitpattanapong said on Thursday. Production for domestic sales accounted for 86,886 units or 61 per cent of total production. Auto production for the first four months of this year was nearly 642,000 units, an increase of 15 per cent from the same period last year. Fifty-six per cent or nearly 360,000 units were built for domestic sale, while 39 per cent or 55,000 units were produced for export. Auto exports from January to April accounted for 282,225 units
or nearly 44 per cent of all output.
Property firms suffered negative impacts from an increase in management and construction costs and delay on the part of buyers in transferring their residences in the first quarter of this year. Most of the companies reported a drop in net profit in the first quarter of this year when compared with the same period last year, according to financial results declared to the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Land & Houses reported net profit of 1.4 billion baht in the first quarter of this year, a 26 per cent drop year on year. Pruksa Real Estate recorded net profit of 633.03 million baht in the first quarter of this year, a 13.44 per cent drop year on year.
JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has agreed to testify before Congress over the bank’s recent trading losses, which have ignited a political debate over whether large US banks need to be reined in by regulators or new laws. US Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said in a statement on Thursday that his panel will invite Dimon to appear before Congress. He did not say on what date the committee wants
Dimon to testify but that it would follow a set of hearings with regulators on the trades and efforts to implement Wall Street reforms that will conclude on June 6. “As always, we will continue to be open and transparent with our regulators and Congress,” JPMorgan Spokesperson Kristin Lemkau said in a statement, adding Dimon will appear before the panel. Last week JPMorgan announced that it has suffered at least USD two billion in losses due to trades that went bad.
Lloyd Blankfein, Warren Buffett and other well-known chieftains of corporate America might be called to testify at the insider trading trial starting on Monday of former Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Procter & Gamble Co Director Rajat Gupta. Blankfein, who runs Goldman, and Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc, are among dozens of people that lawyers for the government and for Gupta said on Thursday might be mentioned or might testify at the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks. Others on proposed witness lists filed on Thursday in the Manhattan federal court are A G Lafley, a former P&G chairman and chief executive, and Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive of American Express Co and P&G director.
A small group of anti-war demonstrators staged a peaceful ‘die in’ on Thursday at President Barack Obama’s election campaign headquarters in Chicago to demand an end to the war in Afghanistan and unmanned drone aircraft attacks overseas. Despite calling ahead, some of the roughly 50 protesters said they were unable to deliver a letter to the Obama campaign calling for the United States to leave NATO and its violent mission of protecting the one per cent in the global economy who represent 99 per cent of corporate wealth in the world. The 99 per cent slogan has been the signature of the anti-Wall Street occupy movement, which says one per cent of the population holds too much economic wealth.