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Saudi British Bank
29 мая, 11:35

Saudi's Alawwal Bank picks JPMorgan to advise on merger -sources

Saudi Arabian lender Alawwal Bank , 40 percent owned by Royal Bank of Scotland, has picked JPMorgan to advise it on a proposed merger with Saudi British Bank (SABB), sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday. Senior management of SABB and Alawwal held talks with advisers on Sunday to discuss the principle of the merger and timeframe for its completion, one of the sources said.

23 августа 2015, 16:15

Saudi Arabia stocks lower at close of trade; Tadawul All Share down 6.86%

Saudi Arabia stocks were lower after the close on Sunday, as losses in the Real Estate Development, Insurance and Industrial Investment sectors led shares lower. At the close in Saudi Arabia, the Tadawul All Share fell 6.86% to hit a new 6-months low. The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were Alinma Tokio Marine Co (SE:8312), which rose 2.36% or 0.47 points to trade at 20.35 at the close. Meanwhile, The Saudi British Bank (SE:1060) fell 0.63% or 0.20 points to end at 31.70 and Banque Saudi Fransi (SE:1050) was down 1.27% or 0.41 points to 31.90 in late trade. The worst performers of the session were Anb Insurance (SE:8011), which fell 10.00% or 5.20 points to trade at 46.80 at the close. Saudi Industrial Development Co. (SE:2130) declined 9.98% or 1.27 points to end at 11.45 and Tourism Enterprise Co. (SE:4170) was down 9.97% or 3.62 points to 32.70. Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 165 to 1. Shares in The Saudi British Bank (SE:1060) fell to 52-week lows; down 0.63% or 0.20 to 31.70. Shares in Saudi Industrial Development Co. (SE:2130) fell to 3-years lows; falling 9.98% or 1.27 to 11.45. Shares in Tourism Enterprise Co. (SE:4170) fell to 3-years lows; down 9.97% or 3.62 to 32.70. Crude oil for October delivery was down 2.63% or 1.08 to $40.23 a barrel. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Brent oil for delivery in October fell 2.81% or 1.31 to hit $45.31 a barrel, while the December Gold contract rose 0.63% or 7.30 to trade at $1160.50 a troy ounce. EUR/SAR was up 1.30% to 4.2723, while USD/SAR fell 0.02% to 3.7516. The US Dollar Index was down 0.97% at 94.84.

08 сентября 2013, 04:52

The West Dethroned

“The European race’s last three hundred years of evolutionary progress have all come down to nothing but four words: selfishness, slaughter, shamelessness and corruption.” -- Yan FuAnthony Freda ArtPaul Craig RobertsActivist Post It only took the rest of the world 300 years to catch on to the evil that masquerades as “western civilization,” or perhaps it only took the rise of new powers with the confidence to state the obvious. Anyone doubtful of America’s responsibility for the evil needs to read The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. The “New American Century” proclaimed by the neoconservatives came to an abrupt end on September 6 at the G20 meeting in Russia. The leaders of most of the world’s peoples told Obama that they do not believe him and that it is a violation of international law if the US government attacks Syria without UN authorization. Putin told the assembled world leaders that the chemical weapons attack was “a provocation on behalf of the armed insurgents in hope of the help from the outside, from the countries which supported them from day one.” In other words, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Washington–the axis of evil.China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, and Argentina joined Putin in affirming that a leader who commits military aggression without the approval of the UN Security Council puts himself “outside of law.” In other words, if you defy the world, obama, you are a war criminal. The entire world is waiting to see if the Israel Lobby can push obama into the role of war criminal. Many are betting that Israel will prevail over the weak american president, a cipher devoid of all principle. A couple of decades ago before the advent of the american sheeple, one of the last tough Americans, Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly declared that “no US president can stand up to Israel.” America’s highest ranking military officer could not get an honest investigation of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; We are yet to see an american president who can stand up to Israel. Or, for that matter, a Congress that can. Or a media. The obama regime tried to counter its smashing defeat at the G20 Summit by forcing its puppet states to sign a joint statement condemning Syria. However the puppet states qualified their position by stating that they opposed military action and awaited the UN report. Most of obama’s bought-and-paid-for “supporters” are impotent, powerless. For example obama counts the UK as a supporting country because of the personal support of the discredited UK prime minister, david cameron, despite the fact that cameron was repudiated by the British Parliament in a vote that prohibits British participation in another of Washington’s war crimes. So, although cameron cannot bring the British people and the British government with him, obama counts the UK as a supporter of obama’s attack on Syria. Clearly, this is a desperate count of “supporting countries.” The Turkish puppet government, which has been shooting its peacefully demonstrating citizens down in the streets, with no protest from obama or the Israel Lobby, supports “holding Syria accountable,” but not itself, of course, or Washington. The puppet states of Canada and Australia, powerless countries, neither of which carry one ounce of world influence, have lined up to do the bidding of their Washington master. The entire point of having the top government job in Canada and Australia is the payoff from Washington. The obama cipher also claims the support of Japan and the Republic of Korea, another two countries devoid of all diplomatic influence and power of any kind. Helpless Japan is on the verge of being destroyed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, for which it has no solution. As the radiation leaks spread into the aquifer upon which Tokyo and surrounding areas rely, Japan is faced with the possibility of having to relocate 40 million people.Saudi Arabia, implicated in the transfer to al-Nusra rebels of the chemical weapons used in the attack, supports Washington, knowing that otherwise its tyranny is toast. Even the neoconservatives headed by obama’s shrill National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, want to overthrow the Saudis. Obama claims also to have support from France and Germany. However both Hollande and Merkel have stated clearly that a diplomatic solution, not war, is their first choice and that the outcome rests on the UN. As for Italy and Spain’s support, both governments are hoping to be rewarded with the Federal Reserve printing enough dollars to bail out their indebted economies so that both governments are not overthrown in the streets for their acquiescence to the looting of their countries by international banksters. Like so many Western governments, those of Italy and Spain, and, of course, Greece, support the international banksters, not their own citizens. The president of the European Commission has declared that the European Union, the central overlord over Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, does not support a military solution to the Syrian Crisis. “The European Union is certain that the efforts should be aimed at a political settlement,” Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters at the G20 meeting. The EU has the power to issue arrest warrants for the heads of EU governments that participate in war crimes. What this reveals is that the support behind the liar obama is feeble and limited. The ability of the Western countries to dominate international politics came to an end at the G20 meeting. The moral authority of the West is completely gone, shattered and eroded by countless lies and shameless acts of aggression based on nothing but lies and self-interests. Nothing remains of the West’s “moral authority,” which was never anything but a cover for self-interest, murder, and genocide. The West has been destroyed by its own governments, who have told too many self-serving lies, and by its capitalist corporations, who offshored the West’s jobs and technology to China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, depriving the Western governments of a tax base and the support of its citizens. It is difficult to know whether citizens in the West hate their corrupt governments any less than do Muslims, whose lives and countries have been devastated by Western aggression, or than do citizens of third world countries who have been impoverished by being looted by predatory First World financial organizations. The idiot Western governments have pissed away their clout. There is no prospect whatsoever of the neoconservative fantasy of US hegemony being exercised over Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, South America, Iran. These countries can establish their own system of international payments and finance and leave the dollar standard whenever they wish. One wonders why they wait. The US dollar is being printed in unbelievable quantities and is no longer qualified to be the world reserve currency. The US dollar is on the verge of total worthlessness. The G20 Summit made it clear that the world is no longer willing to go along with the West’s lies and murderous ways. The world has caught on to the West. Every country now understands that the bailouts offered by the West are merely mechanisms for looting the bailed-out countries and impoverishing the people.In the 21st century Washington has treated its own citizens the way it treats citizens of third world countries. Untold trillions of dollars have been lavished on a handful of banks, while the banks threw millions of Americans out of their homes and seized any remaining assets of the broken families. US corporations had their taxes cut to practically nothing, with few paying any taxes at all, while the corporations gave the jobs and careers of millions of Americans to the Chinese and Indians. With those jobs went US GDP, tax base, and economic power, leaving Americans with massive budget deficits, a debased currency, and bankrupt cities, such as Detroit, which once was the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. How long before Washington shoots down its own homeless, hungry, and protesting citizens in the streets? Washington represents Israel and a handful of powerful organized private interests. Washington represents no one else. Washington is a plague upon the American people and a plague upon the world. Addition Source:http://rt.com/news/g20-against-syria-strike-527/Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available. You can find more about him at his website where this article first appeared.

20 марта 2013, 15:41

Frontrunning: March 20

Cyprus works on Plan B to stave off bankruptcy (AP) Cyprus seeks Russian bailout aid, EU threatens cutoff (Reuters) Freddie Mac Sues Multiple Banks Over Libor Manipulation (BBG) Bernanke Seen Keeping Up Pace of QE Until Fourth Quarter (Bloomberg) Italian president seeks way out of political stalemate (Reuters) Chinese factories struggle to keep staff (FT) BlackBerry Inventor Starts Fund to Make Star Trek Device Reality (Bloomberg) South Korean banks, media report network crash (CBC) Osborne Should Be Fired, Voters Say in Pre-Budget Poll (Bloomberg) Obama Begins First Visit to Israel as President (WSJ) Anadarko finds ‘potentially giant’ oilfield (FT) Britain's Osborne boxed in by austerity on budget day (Reuters) MF Global reaches agreement with JPMorgan (FT) Overnight Media Digest WSJ * JP Morgan Chase & Co was downgraded in a confidential government scorecard over concerns about the company's management and its board, a blow to a firm that has long been considered one of the best-run on Wall Street. * Walgreen Co, Alliance Boots GmbH and AmerisourceBergen Corp are forming a partnership to distribute and sell prescription drugs, a move that could transform the way medications are purchased and shipped globally. * Federal regulators are investigating Microsoft Corp's relationship with business partners that allegedly bribed foreign government officials in return for software contracts, according to people familiar with the matter. * The European banks that own Visa Europe may soon decide to sell the credit-card organization to U.S.-based Visa Inc and set up a rival system in Europe. * SABMiller Plc and Diageo Plc are in a race to target lower-income African drinkers. One of the main ways brewers are expanding market share in Africa: specially negotiated tax deals that help them keep prices low. * Eclat Textile Co, the Taiwanese supplier to Lululemon Athletica Inc hit back saying the clothes it shipped weren't "problematic" after the yoga-clothes retailer blamed it for producing a shipment of pants that were unacceptably see-through. * The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp, known as Freddie Mac, sued more than a dozen of the world's biggest banks for alleged manipulation of interest rates, in the first government-backed private litigation over the rate-rigging scandal. * Volkswagen AG will recall 384,181 vehicles sold in China due to gearbox problems, according to China's quality-control agency, following a critical television report that illustrates the power of state-run media over foreign brands. * In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Brookfield Asset Management Inc is betting that it can put together the pieces of an investment that was undercut by the U.S. recession and drug wars. * Executives for American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc on Tuesday defended their planned merger against claims from consumer advocates who said it could lead to higher fares, fewer regional routes and decreased competition.   FT Finance minister George Osborne on Tuesday ordered ministers to come up with 2.5 billion pounds of extra spending cuts as the government seeks to use the proceeds of the cuts towards long-term investments. Cyprus's parliament overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout on Tuesday, throwing international efforts to rescue the latest casualty of the euro zone debt crisis into disarray. U.S. mortgage finance company Freddie Mac has sued more than a dozen big global banks and the British Bankers Association for alleged manipulation of the Libor benchmark interest rate. Budget Irish airline Ryanair handed Boeing its largest European order ever on Tuesday, a deal for 175 jets worth $16 billion. BAE Systems has frozen the pay of Chief Executive Ian King and two other top executives, after group earnings were hit by U.S. budget cuts and delays to a deal with Saudi Arabia. Oil and gas company BG Group is set to sign a 20-year contract worth as much as $20 billion to provide liquefied natural gas to the western Indian state of Gujarat IntercontinentalExchange has revised the structure of its proposed acquisition of NYSE Euronext to help the deal get regulatory approval. Spanish construction group FCC will announce on Wednesday a plan to sell more than 2 billion euros ($2.58 billion) worth of assets to cut debt as a result of the country's devastating property crash.   NYT * JP Morgan Chase & Co will make changes to protect consumers who have borrowed money from a rising power on the Internet - payday lenders offering short - term loans with interest rates that can exceed 500 percent. * Cyprus lawmakers rejected a 10 billion euro bailout package on Tuesday, sending President Nicos Anastasiades back to the drawing board to devise a new plan that might still enable the country to receive a financial lifeline while avoiding a default that could reignite the euro crisis. * Federal authorities are examining Microsoft Corp's involvement with companies and individuals that are accused of paying bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business, according to a person briefed on the inquiry. * Monster Beverage Corp, United State's biggest seller of energy drinks, has decided after a decade of selling the popular high-caffeine Monster Energy as a dietary supplement to market it as a beverage, a switch that will bring significant changes in how it is regulated. * In a forehead-slapping development, Neiman Marcus and two other retailers settled federal claims that they had marketed rabbit, raccoon and other real fur as fake fur. * A former candidate for governor of Oregon was arrested in Florida on Tuesday and accused of defrauding investors who hoped to buy shares of Facebook Inc before its initial public offering in 2012, federal authorities said. * Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista confirmed Tuesday that he was negotiating to sell part of his stake in MPX Energia SA , his natural gas and electricity generation company, which has over $3 billion in debt.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * The last time childhood friends Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin decided to work together, they ended up inventing the BlackBerry, creating the modern smartphone industry and turning Research In Motion into what was briefly Canada's most valuable company. Now, after revolutionizing the wireless industry and cementing their home base of Waterloo, Ontario, as a tech hotspot, the two men have reunited in a business venture that, albeit different, is no less bold. In an interview Wednesday, Lazaridis detailed a brand-new, $100-million venture capital fund that he will run with Fregin. Called Quantum Valley Investments, it is an initiative that pools some of the two wealthy men's money behind a vision to make Waterloo the centre of entirely new industries focused on the immense but largely untapped power of quantum computing. * With Keystone XL and other pipeline projects hanging in the balance, Alberta Premier Alison Redford says questions from opposition parties about the province's environmental record are "not good for Canada." Reports in the business section: * Canada's Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, has pressed Manulife Bank into reversing a mortgage rate cut, underscoring the government's determination to prevent lenders from stoking the housing market at a time of soaring consumer debt. NATIONAL POST * Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein is seriously ill in the Calgary seniors' facility that has been his home since 2011. Klein, who led Alberta from 1992 to 2006, has been suffering from frontal lobe dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. FINANCIAL POST * Alamos Gold Inc has abandoned its hostile bid for Aurizon Mines Ltd after a provincial regulator refused to strike down a controversial break fee from a rival offer. The move frees up Hecla Mining Co to complete a friendly C$796 million takeover of Aurizon, combining two companies focused on precious metals in North America. * In what appears to be a divide-and-conquer strategy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named a special representative Tuesday to investigate first hand why First Nations in British Columbia are so opposed to energy infrastructure projects, including the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.   China CHINA SECURITIES JOURNAL -- Dozens of companies have submitted self-examination reports to the China Securities Regulatory Commission for initial public offerings while others were planning to cancel the process ahead of a deadline, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. -- Stock investors are expected soon to be allowed to engage in margin trading six months after opening brokerage accounts rather than the current 18 months, several securities companies told the newspaper. -- Individual home loans in Shanghai increased 5.56 billion yuan in February from a year earlier, the city's branch of the People's Bank of China said. -- China's National Energy Administration said it will approve power projects during the 12th five-year plan that will be able to produce 28.72 million kilowatts. 21st CENTURY BUSINESS HERALD -- About 20 billion yuan from cash deposits flowed out of China's 'big four' banks in early March, an authority at a state-owned bank said. SHANGHAI DAILY -- Shanghai will take further measures to rein in car plate prices if current curbs fail to cool speculation at this month's auction, the government said. Auto license plates have sold at auction for record prices for eight straight months and surpassed 80,000 yuan in February. CHINA DAILY -- Debts accumulated by the now-defunct railways ministry could lead to price increases that may render train travel more expensive than flying, a leading rail engineer with the Chinese Academy of Engineering said. PEOPLE'S DAILY -- A survey by the People's Bank of China showed 68 percent residents think domestic house prices are unacceptably high and most of them think prices will continue to rise in the next quarter. Fly On The Wall 7:00 Am Market Spanshot ANALYST RESEARCH Upgrades AmerisourceBergen (ABC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at CitigroupBlackBerry (BBRY) upgraded to Overweight from Underweight at Morgan StanleyCummins (CMI) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at William BlairPolycom (PLCM) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at GoldmanSpreadtrum (SPRD) upgraded to Buy from Hold at JefferiesSyntel (SYNT) upgraded to Neutral from Negative at SusquehannaWalgreen (WAG) upgraded to Buy from Sell at CitigroupWalgreen (WAG) upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at JPMorganWalter Investment (WAC) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne Agee Downgrades AGCO (AGCO) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Wells FargoAmerisourceBergen (ABC) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at ISI GroupCardinal Health (CAH) downgraded to Buy from Strong Buy at ISI GroupCardinal Health (CAH) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at CitigroupCimarex Energy (XEC) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at FBR CapitalDeere (DE) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Wells FargoMaxwell (MXWL) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper JaffrayTesoro Logistics (TLLP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at WunderlichZynga (ZNGA) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill Initiations Cardinal Health (CAH) coverage resumed with an Overweight at JPMorganFortinet (FTNT) initiated with a Buy at MizuhoPalo Alto (PANW) initiated with a Neutral at MizuhoSarepta (SRPT) initiated with an Outperform at William BlairServiceNow (NOW) initiated with a Market Perform at Northland SecuritiesThe Fresh Market (TFM) initiated with a Strong Buy at Raymond JamesWhole Foods (WFM) initiated with a Market Perform at Raymond James HOT STOCKS American Realty (ARCP) offered to buy CCPT III for at least $5.7BJPMorgan (JPM), MF Global (MFGLQ) reached $546M settlementDeutsche Bank (DB) raised provisions for litigation, lowered net incomeDirecTV (DTV), Univision signed multi-year agreementKraft Foods (KRFT) sees long-term mid-to-high single digit EPS growthWilliams-Sonoma (WSM) sees three year EPS growth in low double-digits to mid-teensConocoPhillips (COP) announced significant oil discovery in deepwater Gulf of MexicoAdobe (ADBE) CEO told CNBC he sees 10%-15% CAGR as growth rate for ”Creative” businessErickson Air-Crane (EAC) acquired Evergreen Helicopters for $250MLATAM Airlines (LFL) lowered FY13 passenger ASK growth guidance EARNINGS Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:Lennar (LEN), Williams-Sonoma (WSM), AAR Corp. (AIR), Adobe (ADBE) Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:Cintas (CTAS) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) was downgraded in a confidential government scorecard by the the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency over concerns about the company's management and its board, a blow to a firm that has long been considered one of the best-run on Wall Street, the Wall Street Journal reports With Walgeen (WAG), AmerisourceBergen (ABC) and Alliance Boots forming a large new partnership to distribute and sell prescription drugs, the move could transform the way medications are purchased and shipped globally, the Wall Street Journal reports The Fed looks set to sustain its $85B monthly bond-buying stimulus despite improving U.S. economic data as a new flare-up in the euro zone crisis reminds officials of a risky global environment, Reuters reports Patent competition in the U.S. is usually a fierce arena for private companies, but now the South Korean and French governments are joining in as they launch patent-acquisition companies, with the goal of helping domestic technology firms and possibly making some money in the process. China and Japan are making moves into the business as well, Reuters reports South Korean stocks declined the most in two months, with the Kospi index extending losses in the last minute of trading as a possible cyber attack shut down computer networks at some of the largest banks and broadcasters, Bloomberg reports Retailers like Wal-Mart (WMT) see an opportunity to claim victory in a lobbying battle against online companies (EBAY) that don’t collect sales tax from their customers. They’re urging U.S. senators to take a non-binding vote this week to demonstrate support for allowing states to impose sales taxes on out-of-state online sellers, Bloomberg reports SYNDICATE Cardiovascular Systems (CSII) files to sell common stockHawaiian Electric Industries (HE) 6.1M share Secondary priced at $26.75Memorial Production (MEMP) files to sell 8.5M common unitsModel N (MODN) 6.74M share IPO priced at $15.50New Mountain Finance (NMFC) files to sell 2M shares of common stockNew Mountain Finance (NMFC) files to sell 4M shares of common stock for holdersParkway Properties (PKY) 11M share Spot Secondary priced at $17.25RLJ Lodging Trust (RLJ) files to sell 11.5M shares of common stock

16 марта 2013, 00:06

Coronavirus: is this the next pandemic?

Last September a doctor in a Saudi hospital was fired for reporting a new, deadly strain of the coronavirus. Now, with half of all confirmed cases ending in death, the World Health Organisation has issued a global alert and scientists are preparing for the worst• Coronavirus victim's widow tells of griefIn mid-June last year, Ali Mohamed Zaki, a virologist at the Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, took a call from a doctor who was worried about a patient. The 60-year-old man had been admitted to the hospital with severe viral pneumonia and the doctor wanted Zaki to identify the virus. Zaki obtained sputum from the patient and set to work. He ran the usual lab tests. One after another they came back negative.Puzzled by the results, Zaki sent a sample to a leading virology lab at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. While he waited for the Dutch team to examine the virus, Zaki tried one more test of his own. This time he got a positive result. It showed the infectious agent belonged to a family of pathogens called coronaviruses. The common cold is caused by a coronavirus. So is the far more deadly infection Sars. Zaki quickly emailed the Dutch lab to raise the alarm. Their tests confirmed his fears, but went further: this was a coronavirus no one had seen before.To alert other scientists, Zaki posted a note on proMED, an internet reporting system designed to rapidly share details of infectious diseases and outbreaks with researchers and public health agencies. The move cost him dearly. A week later, Zaki was back in his native Egypt, his contract at the hospital severed, he says, under pressure from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health. "They didn't like that this appeared on proMED. They forced the hospital to terminate my contract," Zaki told the Guardian from Cairo. "I was obliged to leave my work because of this, but it was my duty. This is a serious virus."Just how serious was clear by then. While Zaki had worked to identify the virus, the patient's health had declined. His pneumonia worsened; his breath got shorter. His kidneys and other organs began to falter and fail. Despite all the drugs and dialysis, and mechanical ventilation to help him breathe, the man was dead 11 days after he arrived at the hospital.On its own, the Jeddah case was more intriguing than terrifying. Though much was made of the virus being related to the one that causes Sars, which spread to more than 30 countries and killed 800 people in 2003, the two are genetically very different. Sars was scary because it spread so easily and killed so often. It circulated in families, and tore through hospitals. The Jeddah patient was but a single case.Or so it seemed. Since the virus came to light in September last year, the number of cases has risen to 15. More than half have died. The latest death was a 39-year-old man, reported by Saudi Arabia this week. The numbers are not yet alarming, but the steady appearance of fresh cases, and the fact that the infection has now spread from person to person, has sparked an intensive effort to understand the virus, and quietly prepare for the worst."We don't know whether this virus has the capability to trigger a full epidemic. We are completely in the dark about it," says Ron Fouchier, a molecular virologist at Erasmus Medical Centre whose lab identified Zaki's virus. "We think what we are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg, but we don't know how big the iceberg is, or where the iceberg is."Across from the Houses of Parliament on the bank of the river Thames is St Thomas's Hospital, London. In September last year, doctors at the intensive care unit were struggling to diagnose a 49-year-old man from Doha, Qatar, who had arrived by air ambulance with a serious respiratory infection. He was being treated in strict isolation. The man had a virus, that much was clear, but the nature of the infection was a mystery. He had recently visited Saudi Arabia.Stumped by the case, doctors at the hospital alerted the Health Protection Agency's Imported Fever Service which began its own investigation. Scientists ran tests on the Qatari man to exclude common infections. They then had a stroke of luck. The night they completed the first round of tests, two scientists on the HPA team logged on to proMED at home. There on the screen was a note published earlier that day from a Professor Zaki at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. It announced the discovery of a new and deadly coronavirus. The patient had almost identical symptoms to the Qatari man.The next day, a Friday, the HPA ran fresh tests. The results were ominous. Tests for specific and well-known coronaviruses came up negative. But a general test for the coronavirus family was positive. That strongly suggested they were dealing with the same bug that had killed the man in Jeddah. The HPA's investigation switched up a gear. By late that Saturday, they had examined the virus's genetic make-up and compared it with results Fouchier's team had worked up on the Saudi virus. The viruses were 99.5% identical. The HPA immediately told the World Health Organisation, which issued a global alert on the Sunday night."Suddenly this became much more interesting," says Tony Mounts, head of pandemic monitoring and surveillance at the World Health Organisation. "We now had two cases occuring several months apart, of a virus in the same family as Sars, and both cases had bad pneumonias." The severity of the infection was only one concern though. Just weeks later, millions of pilgrims were due to arrive in Mecca for hajj. If the virus was lurking in the region, this was the perfect chance for it to spread. "You have three million people coming in from all over the world who could potentially carry a novel pathogen home with them," says Mounts. "It took on some urgency."In the event, hajj came and went with no surge in cases. But more cropped up elsewhere in the region. A Doha man fell ill and was transferred to a specialist lung hospital in Essen, Germany. He recovered and was discharged a month later. Back in Saudi Arabia, the virus struck a household in Riyadh, where a man lived with his two sons. One of the younger men died. More worrying still was a cluster of cases in Jordan. In April 2012, 11 people, including eight healthcare workers, went down with a mystery respiratory illness. Posthumous tests on two who died were positive for the new virus. The others probably had the same infection, albeit more mildly, but follow-up tests were never done.Last month, British health officials reported the first infection in a UK resident. The man, Abid Hussain, who is in intensive care in Manchester, fell ill on a trip to the Middle East. He flew to Pakistan to visit family, but stopped in Mecca on the way home to pray for his son, Khalid, who was being treated for brain cancer. Soon after Abid arrived home, his son, who was on drugs to suppress his immune system, picked up the virus and died days later at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Abid's sister caught the virus too, but quickly recovered.Khalid leaves a wife, Azima, and twin boys, who will be three tomorrow. "They keep asking, 'Where's daddy? When is dad coming home?', but they're too young to know what's going on," Azima told the Guardian. The cluster of infections in the family has convinced scientists that the virus can spread from person to person, albeit rarely.As the counter clicked up on fresh cases of infection, scientists focused on some crucial questions. How easily does the virus spread? Where did it come from? How are people infected? As of now, the answers are a string of don't knows.There are no signs that the virus spreads easily from person to person. The HPA followed up 60-odd people, including doctors and nurses, who came into contact with the patient at St Thomas's Hospital. They traced more than 100 others who had contact with the British family. None tested positive for the virus.So far, so reassuring. But the virus will mutate and may adapt to spread more easily, scientists warn. "That is what we are worried about," says Eric Snijder, head of molecular virology at Leiden University. "If that happened you might get a pandemic variant that spreads easily, and that would be a major problem."No one knows where the virus came from, but scientists have an idea. When researchers ran the genetic sequence through a library of known coronaviruses, it closely matched a strain that resides in pipistrelle bats. If the connection with bats sounds familiar, there is good reason. The Sars virus was also tracked to bats, though it spread to humans via infected civet cats. The suspicion over the latest virus prompted the Saudi Arabian government to call in the Columbia University team to survey bats in the surrounds of Bisha city, home to the first patient identified with the virus by Zaki. The team has yet to publish its findings, but whatever they are, they will not complete the picture. The first animal found to harbour the virus might not be the one that spreads it to people.Many scientists suspect an intermediary beast is carrying the new bug from bats to people. Testimonies from those infected are few and far between: some patients are still in intensive care, others are dead. But hints may be emerging. The Doha man treated in Germany owned a goat farm and told doctors that some of his goats had been sick before he fell ill. That wasn't all. The animals' keeper also picked up a respiratory infection that was serious enough to land him in hospital. The story points to goats as a culprit until the other testimonies are considered: several patients reported no contact with animals.The new virus may be lurking in companion or farm animals in Saudi Arabia and perhaps Jordan and Qatar, but these countries are major importers of animals too. "I could easily imagine a situation where this virus is hiding out in bats in Sudan or Pakistan, their domestic livestock get infected, and are transported into these countries," says Mounts.No one expects an answer soon. For all the concern in public health agencies, almost nothing is being done on the ground to work out what animal, or animals, are spreading the virus to people. That, says Fouchier, is not good enough. He wants Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and neighbouring countries to test goats, sheep, camels, horses, and other animals for the virus. Since the expedition to survey bats in Bisha, efforts to screen animals for the virus have faltered. Asked what was being done in affected countries to trace the infection in animals, Juan Lubroth, the chief veterinary officer at the WHO said: "To my knowledge, there is no activity. We are very much in the dark."People in the region should be screened too, says Fouchier. He wants to see random tests at human blood banks to see how prevalent the virus is in the population. These tests, and those on animals, are simple and would nail two major questions: where is the virus hiding out, and how common is it?"We think the virus is circulating either among humans in a particular region of the world, or among animals, probably domestic animals, from which there is crossover into humans. Discriminating between those two possibilities is crucial, but very little is being done to find out," says Fouchier.Some of the countries concerned have bigger problems on their plates, but there is good reason to do the work. Sars was circulating below the radar of governments long before it began killing in the hundreds. The new virus has been picked up quickly, largely thanks to better surveillance brought in after Sars. A precautionary approach now could save scores of lives later.In the early days of the Sars outbreak, foot-dragging and a lack of openness by affected countries made containing the virus much tougher. The situation with the new coronavirus is similar, and has spurred European scientists to make early prepartions for an outbreak rather than nipping the virus in the bud. "We are now really taking an alternative path where Europe will prepare for the worst," says Fouchier. "We are going to have to do more now, not in terms of prevention, but in terms of intervention once this virus enters Europe more frequently."As a precaution, a European group called Silver, to which Fouchier belongs, has begun to screen hundreds of drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that might work against the virus. The rationale is simple: if more cases turn up, in Birmingham, Munich or Paris, then doctors at least have a drug they can reach for – a first line of defence. If the worst came to pass, and a pandemic threatened, the drugs may buy time to make a vaccine."We are down to seven or eight drugs that do something against the coronavirus, but we now need to repeat the process to be sure that activity means something," Snijder told the Guardian. Sooner or later, any promising drugs must be tested in animals, but here lies another problem. So far, there is no "animal model" in which to test the drugs.Zaki now works at Ain Shams university in Cairo. In the weeks ahead, he plans to check blood samples from patients at one of the city's hospitals to see if any infections have gone unnoticed or unreported. He stands by his decision to announce the strain to the world, despite the objections of Saudi health officials. "I wasn't sure at the time what was going on," he said. "I didn't know what I had in my hands."Additional reporting by Mark SmithInfectious diseasesMedical researchMicrobiologyHealth & wellbeingIan Sampleguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

13 февраля 2013, 16:35

Frontrunning: February 13

Obama Paints Wider Role for Government in Middle Class Revival (BBG) Obama to Seek a New Trade Deal With EU (WSJ)... or this is strawman why 2016 GDP will be higher Mobile phone sales fall for the first time since 2009 (Telegraph) Sequester Looms, No Deal in Sight (WSJ) Neither US party swallows a compromise (FT) Embattled Economies Cling to Euro (WSJ) For China, Spending Is Harder Than It Looks (WSJ) Bank of England's Sir Mervyn King says recovery in sight (BBC) - just a little more inflation first G7 fails to defuse currency tensions (FT) Japanese Leader Urges Firms to Boost Wages (WSJ) - so does the US one Fed Bank Chiefs Back Money-Fund Overhaul (WSJ), or force everyone out of MMFs and into stocks Comcast’s NBC Purchase Pushes Roberts Into Entertainment (BBG) Tesla CEO Clashes With New York Times Over Model S Review (BBG) Overnight Media Digest WSJ * U.S. President Barack Obama outlined an ambitious agenda in his State of the Union address Tuesday that included raising the minimum wage, increasing spending on infrastructure, attacking climate change and passing gun-control legislation. * Comcast Corp is buying General Electric Co's 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion, giving the cable operator full ownership of the film and television giant much sooner than expected. * Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook fired back against hedge-fund mogul David Einhorn, defending the company's distribution of cash to its shareholders and calling a recent lawsuit filed by Einhorn's firm "a silly sideshow." * Dell Inc's second-largest outside investor T.Rowe Price Group Inc said it opposed the proposed $24.4 billion buyout saying the proposal undervalues Dell. * In the latest shake-up at UBS, onetime investment-bank chief Carsten Kengeter is expected to resign in favor of Samuel Molinaro, who spearheaded the push to sell Bear Stearns in one of the financial crisis's opening acts. * Intel Corp confirmed plans to offer a paid Internet video service and accompanying set-top box, an unusual gamble for a chip maker that has rarely marketed directly to consumers. * WellPoint Inc named Joseph Swedish as its new chief executive, unexpectedly turning to a hospital-industry veteran to lead the second-largest U.S. health insurer through the challenging implementation of the health-care overhaul.   FT Comcast Corp said it would buy General Electric's remaining 49 percent equity stake in their NBCUniversal joint venture for about $16.7 billion. Barclays' new chief executive pledged a fresh course for the British lender, axing at least 3,700 jobs and pruning its investment bank as he seeks to rebuild its reputation and boost profitability after a series of scandals. Carsten Kengeter, UBS's former investment bank chief executive, will leave in a management overhaul of the Swiss bank's newly formed non-core unit, according to an internal memo. Goldman Sachs is set to lose one of its veteran dealmakers with the retirement of Henry Cornell as vice-chairman of its merchant banking division, according to an internal memo. Italian police arrested the head of defence group Finmeccanica SpA on Tuesday on a warrant alleging that he paid bribes to win an Indian contract. Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple Inc, said the company was considering ways to return its $137 billion cash pile to investors. Cook dismissed the lawsuit filed by activist shareholder David Einhorn as a "silly sideshow". Dell Inc's third-largest shareholder, T. Rowe Price Group, joined a growing number of investors putting pressure on Michael Dell and his partner Silver Lake to sweeten their $24.4 billion buyout offer for the PC maker. U.S. regulators have approved the $15.1 billion takeover of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc by China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd   NYT * U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to fight for a higher minimum wage, more government investment in schools and clean energy, and deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. * Comcast Corp agreed to pay $16.7 billion to acquire General Electric Co's remaining 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal. The deal accelerated a sales process that was expected to take several more years. * T.Rowe Price says it opposes the $24.4 billion takeover bid for Dell Inc as it currently stands, while Southeastern Asset Management has taken additional steps to fight the management buyout. Together they control nearly 13 percent of Dell's shares - the biggest holders of Dell stock outside of Michael Dell himself - and the move signals growing discontent with the transaction. * Carsten Kengeter, the former head of the investment bank of UBS, is resigning from the Swiss banking giant. * Nexen Inc said it received the last regulatory approval for its $15 billion sale to China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd, after the Obama administration declared the deal free from national security concerns. * Ryanair Holdings Plc, the discount European airline, said it planned to appeal should regulators block its bid for Aer Lingus Group. * WellPoint Inc, one of the nation's largest health insurers, said it had chosen an experienced hospital executive to lead it through sweeping changes created by the federal health care overhaul law.   Canada THE GLOBE AND MAIL * Ontario's opposition Progressive Conservatives have offered up a sweeping new road map for post-secondary education, advocating teaching-only professors, higher tuition fees for "elite programs," and a "colleges first" culture aimed at getting graduates jobs. * The chair of Toronto's public works committee has ordered a review after more than 100 "selfish" drivers delayed streetcars by parking in their paths after last week's snowfall. Reports in the business section: * It will take until at least 2017 before TransCanada Corp's much-vaunted plan to take oil across the country can take Alberta oil to Eastern Canada, a lengthy timeline that casts into question the role of that project in easing current pricing pain for the oil patch. * Mold-Masters Ltd, the innovative maker of injection moulding equipment for the plastics industry, has been sold to Ohio-based Milacron LLC for C$975 million. Mold-Masters was controlled by 3i Group PLC, a British private equity firm for the past five years. NATIONAL POST * Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she's prepared to testify before a legislative committee about the controversial cancellation of two gas plants. She says it's important that the information about the cancellations - which will cost taxpayers at least C$230 million - be released. She also noted that she asked the auditor general to add the canceled gas plant in Oakville to his current probe of the Mississauga project, which was canceled during the 2011 election campaign. FINANCIAL POST * Financial leaders of the world's richest countries, including Canada, are talking tough to emerging nations, warning their efforts to shore up domestic economies could lead to a currency war and possibly derail a global recovery.   Fly On The Wall 7:00 AM Market Snapshot ANALYST RESEARCH  Upgrades AMN Healthcare (AHS) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at SunTrustAvon Products (AVP) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at UBSComcast (CMCSA) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at Credit SuisseGroupon (GRPN) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Sterne AgeeMolina Healthcare (MOH) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at BofA/MerrillNavios Acquisition (NNA) upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at Wells FargoPhilip Morris (PM) upgraded to Neutral from Reduce at NomuraProtective Life (PL) upgraded to Neutral from Underperform at BofA/MerrillUTi Worldwide (UTIW) upgraded to Buy from Hold at JefferiesWestern Union (WU) upgraded to Underperform from Sell at CLSA Downgrades Bankrate (RATE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at CitigroupClearwire (CLWR) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond JamesCliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche BankCliffs Natural (CLF) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at CitigroupFossil (FOSL) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at FBR CapitalGartner (IT) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at BarclaysHeinz (HNZ) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at UBSInsperity (NSP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at SunTrustMeredith (MDP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Roth CapitalPike Electric (PIKE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Janney CapitalRexnord (RXN) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at BarclaysRuckus Wireless (RKUS) downgraded to Hold from Buy at NeedhamSapient (SAPE) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at First AnalysisSapient (SAPE) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at William BlairSapient (SAPE) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup Initiations Darden (DRI) initiated with an Underperform at CLSAFortune Brands (FBHS) initiated with an Overweight at BarclaysGreenHunter Energy (GRH) initiated with a Buy at WunderlichPiedmont Natural Gas (PNY) initiated with a Market Perform at Wells FargoPioneer Natural (PXD) initiated with an Outperform at Credit SuisseSandRidge Energy (SD) initiated with a Neutral at Credit SuisseTranS1 (TSON) initiated with an Outperform at JMP SecuritiesUSG (USG) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays HOT STOCKS Comcast (CMCSA) to acquire GE's (GE) 49% stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7B Comcast said it plans to repurchase $2B in stock in 2013GE raised share buyback plan to $35B, has $23B remainingeBay (EBAY) CEO Donahoe: U.S. consumer spending feels "stable," CNBC reportsJ. C. Penney (JCP) increased credit facility availability to $1.85BMoody's revised outlook on Citibank (C) to stable from negativeFMC Technologies (FTI) sees FY13 EPS $2.05-$2.25, consensus $2.36Cliffs Natural (CLF) sees healthy end markets for products in 2013Western Union (WU) sees FY13 constant currency revenue down low single digits Ball Corp. (BLL) to close Illinois plant, lay off 245 employees, take $21M chargeIbrutinib (JNJ, PCYC) received two oncology breakthrough therapy designations from FDAING Group (ING) to cut 2,400 employees by 2015 EARNINGS Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:Pioneer Energy (PES), Calpine (CPN), Valmont (VMI), Willis Group (WSH), Comcast (CMCSA), Higher One (ONE), Seattle Genetics (SGEN), Service Corp. (SCI), Western Union (WU), Netgear (NTGR) Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:Euronet (EEFT), Trulia (TRLA), Genesee & Wyoming (GWR), Blue Nile (NILE), Clearwire (CLWR), Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:LivePerson (LPSN), TranSwitch (TXCC), Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES The most explosive rally in Japanese stocks in years is setting the stage for Japanese companies to cash in through more IPOs. Suntory Holdings Ltd. could lead this year’s list, raising up to $5B via a listing of its core food and beverage unit this summer, the Wall Street Journal reports The leaders of all 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are backing a move to overhaul the $2.7T money-market industry, an unusual joint action likely to fuel debate about a group of funds whose troubles threatened the stability of the financial system during the 2008 credit crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports The U.S. stock market is unlikely to take much direction from Obama’s State of the Union, although the president was less combative in his tone than some on Wall Street expected. The speech provided little in the way of guidance as to whether the White House and Congress will come to a deal to head off large spending cuts that are set to come into effect as of March, Reuters reports Sales of mobile phones worldwide declined in 2012 for the first time since 2009 as consumers shunned cheaper feature phones, says research firm Gartner (IT). Total worldwide mobile sales to end users was down 1.7% to 1.75B units. Samsung (SSNLF) and Apple (AAPL) continued to dominate the market, with Samsung selling 385M phones in 2012, of which 53.5% were smartphones, with Apple selling 130M smartphones, Reuters reports Deutsche Bank (DB) expects that Saudi Arabia will soon allow foreigners to invest directly in local company shares, joining hedge fund Passport Capital in predicting the market is set to open, Bloomberg reports The cheapest Apple (AAPL) shares in a dozen years are encouraging some of the world’s largest investors to bet that the stock will rebound after losing 33% of its value on concerns of slowing profit growth, Bloomberg reports SYNDICATE BioMed Realty (BMR) files to sell 11.5M shares of common stockCliffs Natural (CLF) files to sell 9M common sharesNet Element (NETE) files to sell 4.34M shares of common stock for holdersSensata (ST) announces offering of 15M ordinary shares by holderseGain (EGAN) files to sell common stock

13 февраля 2013, 03:47

Petrogold: Are Russia And China Hoarding Gold Because They Plan To Kill The Petrodollar?

Michael Snyder, ContributorActivist Post Will oil soon be traded in a currency that is thousands of years old? What would a "gold for oil" system mean for the petrodollar and the U.S. economy? Are Russia and China hoarding massive amounts of gold because they plan to kill the petrodollar? Since the 1970s, the U.S. dollar has been the currency that the international community has used to trade oil around the globe. This has created an overwhelming demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt. But what happens when the rest of the globe starts rejecting the increasingly unstable U.S. dollar and figures out that gold can be used as a currency in international trade? The truth is that it doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure that out. Demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt would fall off the map and there would be a rush into gold unlike anything we have ever seen before. So are Russia and China accumulating unprecedented amounts of gold right now because they eventually plan to cut the legs out from under the petrodollar and they want to gobble up huge stockpiles of gold before the cat is out of the bag? Of course they will never admit this publicly, but there are rumblings out there that this is exactly what is happening.Not that you can really blame any nation that wants to get into gold right now. News outlets all over the globe are telling us that we are in the midst of a "currency war" as central banks all over the planet race to devalue their currencies. So why would anyone want to be in paper in such an environment? And of course the Federal Reserve is one of the biggest offenders. The Fed has been printing money like it is going out of style, and nobody at the Fed or in the U.S. government really seems too concerned that all of this money printing could be endangering the petrodollar. google_ad_client = "pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 6/30/10 */ google_ad_slot = "8230781418"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; But the truth is that the Fed is endangering the petrodollar. Just read some foreign news stories about the U.S. dollar. They mock us for our reckless money printing. In the end, our recklessness will make it very easy for the rest of the world to ditch the U.S. dollar. At some point, it will happen. In fact, there are persistent rumors that Russia and China actually intend to make it happen. Many believe that this is the reason both nations have been hoarding so much gold recently. Just check out how much gold Russia has been accumulating. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article...When Vladimir Putin says the U.S. is endangering the global economy by abusing its dollar monopoly, he’s not just talking. He’s betting on it. Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg. The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty. 'The more gold a country has, the more sovereignty it will have if there’s a cataclysm with the dollar, the euro, the pound or any other reserve currency,' Evgeny Fedorov, a lawmaker for Putin’s United Russia party in the lower house of parliament, said in a telephone interview in Moscow.And Russia's gold hoarding appears to have accelerated last year. According to one recent report, Russia added 3.2 million ounces of gold to their reserves in 2012 alone. But of even greater concern is China. Nobody really knows how much gold China has, because they do not tell us, but all indications point to the fact that Chinese gold hoarding has gone into overdrive. The following is from a Zero Hedge article from a few months ago...Because while earlier today we were wondering (rhetorically, of course) what China is doing with all that excess trade surplus if it is not recycling it back into Treasurys, now we once again find out that instead of purchasing US paper, Beijing continues to buy non-US gold, in the form of 68 tons in imports from Hong Kong in the month of June. The year to date total (6 months)? 383 tons. In other words, in half a year China, whose official total tally is still a massively underrepresented 1054 tons, has imported more gold than the official gold reserves of Portugal, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and so on, and whose YTD imports alone make it the 14th largest holder of gold in the world. Realistically, by now China, which hasn't provided an honest gold reserve holdings update to the IMF in years, most certainly has more gold than the IMF, and its 2814 tons, itself. Of course, the moment the PBOC does announce its official updated gold stash, a gold price in the mid-$1000 range will be a long gone memory.As I wrote about the other day, nobody produces more gold than China does, and nobody imports more gold than China does. Everyone agrees that China seems to have an insatiable appetite for gold, but nobody can agree on exactly how much gold they actually have. One recent estimate put China's gold reserves at more than 7,000 tons of gold, but it could even be much higher than that. Nobody really knows. So what are Russia and China up to? Well, for a long time both nations have expressed displeasure with the fact that the U.S. dollar is the de facto currency of the world. Leaders from both nations have suggested the possibility of adopting a new global reserve currency, but up to this point no real contenders have emerged to dethrone the U.S. dollar. So for now, the U.S. dollar reigns supreme in international trade. Sadly, even though most Americans greatly benefit from the petrodollar, most of them do not even know what it is. For those that do not fully understand the petrodollar, the following is a good explanation of the petrodollar from a recent article by Christopher Doran...In a nutshell, any country that wants to purchase oil from an oil producing country has to do so in U.S. dollars. This is a long standing agreement within all oil exporting nations, aka OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The UK for example, cannot simply buy oil from Saudi Arabia by exchanging British pounds. Instead, the UK must exchange its pounds for U.S. dollars. The major exception at present is, of course, Iran. This means that every country in the world that imports oil—which is the vast majority of the world's nations—has to have immense quantities of dollars in reserve. These dollars of course are not hidden under the proverbial national mattress. They are invested. And because they are U.S. dollars, they are invested in U.S. Treasury bills and other interest bearing securities that can be easily converted to purchase dollar-priced commodities like oil. This is what has allowed the U.S. to run up trillions of dollars of debt: the rest of the world simply buys up that debt in the form of U.S. interest bearing securities.And all of this has worked out very nicely for the United States. It has created a massive demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt. But what would happen if the rest of the world rejected the petrodollar system and adopted a "petrogold" system instead? A recent article by Jim Willie discussed how a petrogold system might work...The crux of the non-US$ trade vehicle devised as a USDollar alternative will be the Gold Trade Note. It will enable peer-to-peer payments to be completed from direct account transfers independent of currency, and most importantly, not done through the narrow pipes and channels controlled by the bankers with their omnipresent SWIFT code system among the world of banks. The Gold Trade Note will act much like a Letter of Credit, serve as a short-term bill, and maybe even push aside the near 0% short-term USTreasury Bills that litter the banking landscape. Any bond or bill earning almost no interest is veritable clutter. The zero bound USTreasurys open the door in a big way for replacement by a better vehicle. The new trade notes will involve posted gold as collateral, whose entire system for trade usage will bear a massive gold core that also will include silver and platinum, maybe other precious metals. The idea is to avoid the FOREX systems, to avoid the USDollar, and to avoid the banks as much as possible in a peer-to-peer system that can be executed between parties holding Blackberry devices or simple PC to complete the payments on transactions. If Gold is ignored by the corrupt bankers, then Gold will be the center of the new trade system and the solution in providing a globally accepted USDollar alternative.And Russia and China would greatly benefit from a petrogold system. Today, Russia is the number one oil exporter on the planet. China is the number two consumer of oil in the world, and at this point they are actually importing more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States is. Does it make sense that they should remain locked into a system that forces them to use U.S. dollars for all of their oil transactions? And now Russia even has the number one oil company in the world. The following is from a recent article by Marin Katusa...Exxon Mobil is no longer the world's number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp – oh, whoops. I mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia's state-controlled oil company. Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by British oil firm BP and a group of Russian billionaires known as AAR. One of the top-ten privately owned oil producers in the world, in 2010 TNK-BP churned out 1.74 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from its assets in Russia and Ukraine and processed almost half that amount through its refineries. With TNK-BP in its hands, Rosneft will be in charge of more than 4 million barrels of oil production a day. And who is in charge of Rosneft? None other than Vladimir Putin, Russia's resource-full president.And Russian gas giant Gazprom supplies a huge percentage of the natural gas that Europe uses...Gazprom, the Russian state gas company, already has Europe wrapped around its little finger. Russia supplies 34% of Europe's gas needs, and when the under-construction South Stream pipeline starts operating, that percentage will increase. As if those developments weren't enough, yesterday Gazprom offered the highest bid to obtain a stake in the massive Leviathan gas field off Israel's coast. Gazprom in control of Europe's gas, Rosneft in control of its oil. A red hand stretching out from Russia to strangle the supremacy of the West and pave the way for a new world order– one with Russia at the helm.Russia and China have a tremendous amount of leverage when it comes to energy. What if they got together with a bunch of oil producing nations in the Middle East and decided to set up a system where oil is traded for gold? Would not much of the rest of the world go along with such a system? Of course if that happened the U.S. financial system would crash. We would no longer be able to export our inflation to the rest of the globe and prices would rise dramatically. Demand for U.S. government debt would go through the floor and interest rates on that debt and on everything else in our economy would skyrocket. Economic activity would grind to a standstill and the financial markets would collapse. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-1897954795849722"; /* 468x60, created 7/28/12 */ google_ad_slot = "9833874419"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 60; And that would just be for starters. Most Americans simply don't understand that Russia and China have the power to collapse the U.S. economy by going to a gold for oil system. All they have to do is pull the trigger. The other day I wrote an article entitled "Show This To Anyone That Believes That 'Things Are Getting Better' In America" which discussed all of the reasons why the U.S. economy is already collapsing. But as bad as things are now, this is nothing compared to what things will be like when the petrodollar dies. So pay keen attention to anything in the news about Russia or China suggesting that oil should be traded for gold. When Russia and China pull the trigger, things will get messy very quickly.This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here. var linkwithin_site_id = 557381; linkwithin_text='Related Articles:' Enter Your Email To Receive Our Daily Newsletter Close var fnames = new Array();var ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';var err_style = ''; try{ err_style = mc_custom_error_style; } catch(e){ err_style = 'margin: 1em 0 0 0; padding: 1em 0.5em 0.5em 0.5em; background: FFEEEE none repeat scroll 0% 0%; font- weight: bold; float: left; z-index: 1; width: 80%; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz- initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial; color: FF0000;'; } var mce_jQuery = jQuery.noConflict(); mce_jQuery(document).ready( function($) { var options = { errorClass: 'mce_inline_error', errorElement: 'div', errorStyle: err_style, onkeyup: function(){}, onfocusout:function(){}, onblur:function(){} }; var mce_validator = mce_jQuery("#mc-embedded-subscribe-form").validate(options); options = { url: 'http://activistpost.us1.list-manage.com/subscribe/post-json? u=3ac8bebe085f73ea3503bbda3&id=b0c7fb76bd&c=?', type: 'GET', dataType: 'json', contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", beforeSubmit: function(){ mce_jQuery('#mce_tmp_error_msg').remove(); mce_jQuery('.datefield','#mc_embed_signup').each( function(){ var txt = 'filled'; var fields = new Array(); var i = 0; mce_jQuery(':text', this).each( function(){ fields[i] = this; i++; }); mce_jQuery(':hidden', this).each( function(){ if ( fields[0].value=='MM' && fields[1].value=='DD' && fields[2].value=='YYYY' ){ this.value = ''; } else if ( fields[0].value=='' && fields [1].value=='' && fields[2].value=='' ){ this.value = ''; } else { this.value = fields[0].value+'/'+fields[1].value+'/'+fields[2].value; } }); }); return mce_validator.form(); }, success: mce_success_cb }; mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').ajaxForm(options); }); function mce_success_cb(resp){ mce_jQuery('#mce-success-response').hide(); mce_jQuery('#mce-error-response').hide(); if (resp.result=="success"){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(resp.msg); mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').each(function(){ this.reset(); }); } else { var index = -1; var msg; try { var parts = resp.msg.split(' - ',2); if (parts[1]==undefined){ msg = resp.msg; } else { i = parseInt(parts[0]); if (i.toString() == parts[0]){ index = parts[0]; msg = parts[1]; } else { index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } } } catch(e){ index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } try{ if (index== -1){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } else { err_id = 'mce_tmp_error_msg'; html = ' '+msg+''; var input_id = '#mc_embed_signup'; var f = mce_jQuery(input_id); if (ftypes[index]=='address'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-addr1'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else if (ftypes[index]=='date'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-month'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else { input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]; f = mce_jQuery().parent(input_id).get(0); } if (f){ mce_jQuery(f).append(html); mce_jQuery(input_id).focus(); } else { mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } catch(e){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } BE THE CHANGE! 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21 ноября 2012, 13:35

"ЮТэйр" получила банковские гарантии от HSBC на $1,15 млн для покрытия рейсов в Саудовскую Аравию

Банк HSBC выпустил две банковские гарантии банку The Saudi British Bank (SABB) на покрытие рейсов, выполненных российской авиакомпанией "ЮТэйр" для перевозки паломников из Республики Ингушетия в Саудовскую Аравию на Хадж в октябре и ноябре 2012 года, говорится в сообщении банка. В соответствии с правилами предоставления транспортных услуг паломникам для совершения Хаджа, установленными Королевским Декретом Королевства Саудовская Аравия, каждый хадж-оператор должен предоставить в Генеральное Управление Гражданской Авиации или в Управление портами Саудовской Аравии две банковские гарантии от имени банка, зарегистрированного в Саудовской Аравии. Гарантии покрывают перелет паломников в обе стороны, а также их проживание и питание в случае задержки или отмены обратного рейса. Российский авиакомпания "ЮТэйр" совершила 10 специальных рейсов в обе стороны для паломников, совершавших Хадж, из г.

21 ноября 2012, 13:33

Банки группы HSBC выпустили банковские гарантии для «ЮТЭЙР»

Банк HSBC выпустил две банковские гарантии банку The Saudi British Bank (SABB) на покрытие рейсов, выполненных российской авиакомпанией ЮТэйр (UTair Aviation) для перевозки паломников из Республики Ингушетия в Саудовскую Аравию на Хадж в октябре и ноябре текущего года.

10 ноября 2012, 20:45

Saudi Arabia says not aware of Barclays probe

Saudi Arabia's market regulator said it was not aware of any investigation into a license it granted British bank Barclays three years ago, after a report that U.S. authorities are probing whether improper ...

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05 ноября 2012, 12:53

'Shameful And Embarrassing'

* Adds $800 mln to provision for lax anti-money laundering controls * Fine could be "significantly higher", likely to involve criminal charges * Takes $353 million charge for mis-selling in Britain * Underlying Q3 profits rise to $5 bln on bad debts drop * Shares down 1.4 percent By Steve Slater and Matt Scuffham LONDON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - A U.S. fine for anti-money laundering rule breaches could cost HSBC significantly more than $1.5 billion and is likely to lead to criminal charges, Europe's biggest bank said on Monday. HSBC said the U.S. investigation had damaged the bank's reputation and forced it to set aside a further $800 million to cover a potential fine for breaches in anti-money laundering controls in Mexico, adding to $700 million put aside in July. "It could be significantly higher," Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver told reporters on a conference call, saying the latest provision was based on discussions with the various U.S. authorities involved in the probe. The timing of any settlement is in the hands of regulators and is likely to involve the filing of corporate criminal and civil charges, the bank said. A U.S. Senate report in July slammed HSBC for letting clients shift potentially illicit funds from countries such as Mexico, Iran, the Cayman Islands, Saudi Arabia and Syria. HSBC had warned earlier in the year it could face criminal or civil charges as part of the investigation. The London-based bank has said the issue was "shameful and embarrassing" after the report criticised a "pervasively polluted" culture at the bank and said HSBC's Mexican operations had moved $7 billion into its U.S. operations between 2007 and 2008. "The report undoubtedly caused considerable reputational damage to HSBC. The extent to which that has resulted in loss of business is hard to measure, but it has undoubtedly damaged our brand," Gulliver said. He said a number of staff had left the firm as a result of the investigation and a number had had pay clawed back. Shares in HSBC were down 1.4 percent at 617.5 pence by 1130 GMT, slightly weaker than a fall in the European bank index. "The money laundering provision is a concern, particularly given the uncertainty on what the final figure might be," said Richard Hunter, head of equities at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown. The issue is another blow for the reputation of British banks, after rival Barclays was fined $450 million in June for rigging Libor interest rates and the industry has had to set aside more than 12 billion pounds to compensate UK customers for mis-selling insurance products. Gulliver said it would take time to clean up the mess. "There's a whole series of things that came from probably a decade in the 2000 to 2008-09 period that have surfaced now that the industry needs to sort out, remediate, and make sure doesn't happen again. "It will take a chunk of time to clean the system and then it will take a little bit longer than that for trust to be restored more fully," he said, adding that it was his job to get HSBC back to a position "where it's regarded as the best of the bunch". HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint will appear before UK lawmakers investigating culture and standards later on Monday. He will be quizzed alongside new Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins and Santander UK boss Ana Botin at 1600 GMT. COST CUTS, JOB CUTS HSBC reported an underlying profit - after stripping out the impact of disposals and changes in the value of its own debt - in the July-September quarter of $5.0 billion, up from a revised $2.2 billion a year earlier. It was helped by a bigger-than-expected drop in losses from bad debts and a solid performance by its investment bank arm. Underlying operating expenses rose by 16 percent during the quarter from a year ago due to higher compliance and regulatory costs, which the bank said amounted to $200 million to $300 million. Gulliver is well into a three-year restructuring plan to streamline the bank and he said he expects to surpass his target of cutting annual costs by $3.5 billion, after driving through $3.1 billion of savings already. But subdued revenue growth and the higher compliance costs left its underlying cost/income ratio at 63.7 percent in the third quarter, well above his 48-52 percent target. Gulliver admitted hitting that was "proving challenging", but said he remained committed to delivering it by the end of 2013. HSBC took another $357 million charge for mis-selling payment protection insurance in Britain, lifting the total amount set aside to $2.1 billion. The bank said it paid out $1 billion in compensation. Gulliver said more job cuts were likely before the end of 2013 at his bank, whose origins date back to 1865 as a financier of trade between Europe and Asia and operates in 84 countries. HSBC has cut almost 30,000 jobs in the last two years - close to what Gulliver had predicted under his revamp - although about half of those have been due to disposals. "In terms of the organic reduction, there's still some way to go," he said. He has sold or closed 41 businesses as part of that plan, including including selling its U.S. credit card arm and half of its U.S. branches, and said he was about three quarters of the way through that plan.

06 октября 2012, 14:09

Venezuela election result set to upset global oil politics

Hugo Chávez promises to increase production and reduce dependence on US market by doubling crude exports to AsiaWhile giant rallies in Caracas may be drawing the world's attention ahead of tomorrow's Venezuelan presidential election, the global significance of the vote can be found hundreds of miles to the east in the oil-soaked Orinoco Belt.According to studies, Venezuela has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become number one in the world for proven oil reserves, largely thanks to the heavy crude found in this vast alluvial plain.Whether this multi-trillion dollar asset is controlled by Hugo Chávez or the opposition challenger, Henrique Capriles, will influence which countries and companies are given the priority to exploit them and how much drivers around the world pay at the pump. According to a report this year by BP, Venezuela has reserves of 296.5bn barrels, about 10% more than Saudi Arabia and 18% of the global total. At the country's current levels of production, this would last about 100 years.If Chávez wins – as most polls suggest – he has promised to ramp up production and reduce his country's dependence on the US market by doubling crude exports to Asia. To further this goal, Venezuela plans to build a pipeline through Colombia to the Pacific which would reduce costs and transport times to China and other Asian markets.Capriles, who has mounted a strong challenge, says he would fire the oil minister, Rafael Ramírez, and rethink how crude is extracted and used. Until now Russian and Chinese companies have struck the biggest deals for future exploitation."We have to revise every deal. I think they are agreements that are not functioning," he said. During the campaign, he has also said he would halt subsidised oil shipments to Cuba, Belarus, Nicaragua and Syria. Critics say he is a stalking horse for US interests.Both Chávez and Capriles are calling for more investment so that Venezuela can increase not only output but also the quality of oil through the use of upgrading technology. But the volatile mix of politics and oil has made it difficult to secure partners.In recent years Venezuelan oil production has fallen due to poor maintenance, low investment and the loss of key workers. Plans to open new fields have been repeatedly delayed. The state-owned oil company PDVSA says the holdups are over. Last week its joint venture with Russia's Rosneft and Lukoil pumped its first barrel. Another operation, with a Vietnamese firm, has also reportedly begun. Projects with Chevron of the US, Spain's Repsol and others are due to start early next year.But there are still many empty blocks. Officials said BP, Shell and several other multinationals appear to be waiting to see if the government will change today before committing to possible joint ventures in the two main areas for expansion, Carabobo and Junín."There is a danger that British firms might miss out. In this country, oil and politics are intertwined. Many companies are waiting for the election result," said Osmel Molina, deputy manager of the Carabobo region. "They hope for higher profits if the political situation changes. That's why there is so much support for the opposition. They don't necessarily want to oust Chávez, but they do want a weak government so they can control the biggest oil resources in the world."Venezuela has an oil-dependent economy – PDVSA accounts for 95% of the country's export earnings. Domestically, the mix of populist politics, super-abundant oil and second-rate refining technology has left the country with a peculiar system in which the state sells crude for $100 (£61) a barrel, buys back petrol at $400, then sells it on to domestic drivers at such a discount that a full tank is cheaper than a cup of coffee. A gallon costs about 6p, leading to a lucrative cross-border petrol-smuggling business. Neither candidate has dared to commit to a raise.Oil rose to the centre of the political debate in 2003, when the sector was crippled by striking workers. The Chávez government, which had survived a coup attempt the previous year, sacked most of the management and many of the workers, saying that they were pawns in a US-backed effort to destabilise the country.The industry is now a bastion of government loyalists. Molina's office is decorated with portraits of Chávez and Simón Bolívar. Most of the staff wear red Chávez re-election campaign T-shirts. Four oilfields are named after battles of independence.Oil helps to explain why Chávez is vilified in the US. In 2000, a year after taking power, he made his first mark on global affairs with a tour of the Middle East to lobby key Opec members – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – to drive oil prices higher. Since then, the cost of Brent crude has risen from less than $20 a barrel to more than $100.Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were among the leaders who joined Chávez to drive up prices. Molina believes it is no coincidence that they were deposed and killed: "There's a plan in place to control the global oil market. Anyone who tries to erode the monopoly ends up in conflict with the [US] empire."In the past, Molina said foreign oil firms were paying only 3% royalties to the government, but Chávez pushed this up to 16%. He also helped to raise the value of the output from the Orinoco Belt by relabelling it as valuable heavy crude instead of cheap bitumin or tar, as it had previously been priced.Some accuse the US and multinationals of trying to influence the presidential campaign. "Transnationals want control of the oil here. They want the submission of Latin America to supply the market needs of the US," said Nicmer Evans, a political science professor at the Central University of Venezuela.But the outside influence cuts both ways. Since 2007, the government has received $42.5bn in loans from the China Development Bank, with the biggest tranche coming in the year ahead of an election in which Chávez has increased public spending, the minimum wage and pensions. This is repaid largely through shipments of 430,000 barrels of crude a day to China in repayment.Russian president Vladimir Putin showed his support with the gift of a puppy to Chávez this month.But geopolitics is not the only factor at play in deciding who gets to exploit and use this pool of oil. Geography, market demand and refining technology are also help to explain why the US – despite Chávez's rhetoric – remains Venezuela's biggest customer.The scale of the required investment will also be a struggle for any single country. Chávez has said Venezuela should look to the country's Faja oil belt and promised to invest $130bn in the region to double national oil production to six billion barrels a day, pushing Venezuela past Iran as the world's second-biggest producer. The money is needed to upgrade wells, processing plants, refineries, docks, roads and housing. Dire maintenance has plagued the industry, most recently with a huge fire at the Amuay refinery.Local people say that the main road between Morichal and Maturin has been cut off at least twice in the past month, once because floods swept away a bridge and once because of a protest by nearby residents against power shortages.VenezuelaAmericasHugo ChávezJonathan WattsVirginia Lopezguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds