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Asian and European industrial health under scrutiny this week
With China's leaders seeking to rebalance the world's industrial powerhouse more toward consumer spending, and with bad weather distorting most United States data since the start of the year, some clarity would be helpful. After private sector business surveys suggesting services activity around the world is on the up, investors and policymakers will shift their focus to industrial production figures for the euro zone, Britain, Japan and China. Industrial output growth in China, the world's second largest economy, is likely to have slowed further in January from 9.7 percent in December, hurt by weaker local and foreign demand. "China's export growth is likely to have softened in February after the surge in January due to the front-loading of exports before the Lunar New Year," said David Mann at Standard Chartered.
US commerce secretary in Gulf ahead of Obama visit
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) ? The U.S. Secretary of Commerce is in the Middle East where she said Sunday she will tell officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that closer economic cooperation with Washington is a way to build deeper security ties with the United States.
India set to challenge U.S. for election-spending record
By Sruthi Gottipati and Rajesh Kumar Singh NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian politicians are expected to spend around $5 billion on campaigning for elections next month - a sum second only to the most expensive U.S. presidential campaign of all time - in a splurge that could give India's floundering economy a temporary boost. India's campaign spend, which can include cash stuffed in envelopes as well as multi-million-dollar ad campaigns, has been estimated at 300 billion rupees ($4.9 billion) by the Centre for Media Studies, which tracks spending. That is triple the expenditure the centre said was spent on electioneering in the last national poll in 2009 - partly a reflection of a high-octane campaign by pro-business opposition candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, who started nationwide rallies and advertising last year. They are leaving no area untouched," said N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Centre for Media Studies.
IBM factory strike shows shifting China labor landscape
By John Ruwitch SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A wildcat strike at an IBM factory in southern China illustrates how tectonic shifts under way in the country's labor market are emboldening workers to take matters into their own hands, raising risks for multinationals. More than 1,000 workers walked off the job last week at the factory in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, after managers on March 3 announced the terms of their transfer to new ownership under Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd. Lenovo agreed in January to pay $2.3 billion for International Business Machine's low-end server business. The strike, which continued into Sunday, fits a growing pattern of industrial activism that has emerged as China's economy has slowed. A worsening labor shortage has shifted the balance of power in labor relations, while smartphones and social media have helped workers organize and made them more aware than ever of the changing environment, experts say.
China February inflation tame, room for policy easing
China's consumer prices rose at their slowest rate in 13 months in February as pork prices fell by their most in over a year, a sign that slowing growth rather than rising prices poses a bigger risk to the world's second-biggest economy. The consumer price index rose 2 percent in February from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday, exactly in line with market expectations. And in an indication that China's wobbly economy is fighting substantial slack, producer prices fell for the 24th consecutive month by dropping 2 percent, slightly above forecasts for a 1.9 percent drop. The tepid price data could fuel investor worries about the health of China's economy, which drew new concerns this week after figures showed export growth slumped by nearly a fifth last month.
China's inflation rate eases to 2 pct in February
BEIJING (AP) ? China's inflation rate eased in February to 2 percent year-on-year amid signs the world's second-largest economy might be cooling.
Shanghai Exchange gets approval for trading platform in free-trade zone
The Shanghai Stock Exchange has secured approvals from regulators to set up an international trading center in the free-trade zone, the chairman of the bourse said on Saturday. The move could pave the way for more foreign investors to tap the world's fourth-largest stock market by capitalization and also for foreign companies to issue shares in the world's second-largest economy. Gui Minjie, chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, said significant progress has been made in recent years allowing Chinese firms to list on overseas markets. However, no foreign companies are allowed to issue shares on Chinese bourses.
China February exports tumble unexpectedly
By Kevin Yao and Adam Rose BEIJING (Reuters) - China's exports unexpectedly tumbled in February, swinging the trade balance into deficit and adding to fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy despite the Lunar New Year holidays being blamed for the slide. A resilient Chinese economy is good news for the world, particularly for major commodity exporters such as Australia.
Over 95 percent of Chinese cities failed to meet environmental standards: minister
By David Stanway BEIJING (Reuters) - Almost all Chinese cities monitored for pollution last year failed to meet state standards, the vice-minister of environmental protection said on Saturday as he outlined the country's plans to redress the environmental consequences of rapid industrialization. Out of the 74 cities that Beijing monitored, 71 had various degrees of problems, Wu Xiaoqing said at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual parliament session in Beijing. The environment has emerged as one of Beijing's key priorities amid growing public disquiet about urban smog, dwindling and polluted water supplies and the widespread industrial contamination of farmland. China's environmental policy goals also serve a wider agenda, aimed at diversifying and "upgrading" the country's resource-intensive economy.
Zimbabwe diamond miners say quality declining
Anjin said on Friday a fall in the quality of the diamonds at its mine in eastern Zimbabwe was causing financial problems for the company. The ore we are mining we are recovering low-grade diamonds, which are not fetching much on the market," Anjin board member Munyaradzi Machacha told a parliamentary committee. We are really in serious financial problems. Our primary objective at the moment is to make sure the company survives." Half owned by China's Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group, Anjin is the biggest diamond miner in Marange.
China's February exports down 18 percent
BEIJING (AP) ? China's exports plunged by an unexpectedly large 18 percent in February, possibly denting hopes trade will help drive the slowing economy while communist leaders push ambitious promised reforms.
Mexico regulator says Slim's America Movil dominant in telco
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim's telecoms giant America Movil said on Friday it had been declared dominant in the telecoms sector by a new watchdog as widely expected, amid a government push to boost competition. Earlier in the day the regulator also declared as dominant in telecoms Slim's bank Inbursa and conglomerate Grupo Carso, which both have direct or indirect stakes in America Movil. It cited their "economic interests". Mexico is trying to spur competition in its tight-knit phone and TV industries through a wide-ranging telecoms overhaul passed last year. ...
US stocks muddled as Ukraine tensions fester
In twist, Mexico says non-telecom Slim firms dominate telecoms
By Alexandra Alper and Tomas Sarmiento MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's telecoms regulator on Friday declared two of billionaire Carlos Slim's major financial and industrial companies "dominant" in telecommunications, but has yet to slap the tag on Slim's flagship telecom company. It is widely expected that Slim's telecom company America Movil will be declared dominant, or having an outsized share in its market, although a spokesman said the company has not yet been notified. Mexico is trying to spur competition in its tight-knit phone and TV industries through a wide-ranging telecoms overhaul passed last year. The newly empowered Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) deemed Slim's bank Inbursa and conglomerate Grupo Carso, which both have direct or indirect stakes in America Movil, dominant in telecoms given their "economic interests," the companies said on Friday.
U.S. job growth offers upbeat sign for weather-beaten economy
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth accelerated sharply in February despite the icy weather that gripped much of the nation, easing fears of an abrupt economic slowdown and keeping the Federal Reserve on track to continue reducing its monetary stimulus. Employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month after creating 129,000 new positions in January, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate, however, rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent as Americans flooded into the labor market to search for work. "It reinforces the case for the economy being stronger than it's looked for the last couple of months," said Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services in Boston.
U.S. investigates two French banks for sanctions violations: source
By Emily Flitter NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. authorities are investigating whether two French banks violated anti-money laundering rules and economic embargoes on countries like Iran, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Regulators in New York and Washington are looking at potential violations by Credit Agricole and Societe Generale of U.S. economic sanctions imposed against the countries, the source said. In addition to the Iran sanctions violations, the investigation is looking at whether the banks broke embargoes against Cuba and Sudan, according to the source. The agencies involved include the U.S. Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the New York State Department of Financial Services and the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the source said.
U.S. consumer credit growth held back by credit card decline
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. consumer credit grew in January but was held back by a contraction in credit card usage that could be a negative sign for the economy. Total consumer credit rose by $13.7 billion to $3.1 trillion, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected consumer credit to rise by $14 billion in January. Revolving credit, which mostly measures credit-card use, fell by $226 million during the month. Revolving credit figures can be volatile. ...
Job gain in Feb. despite harsh weather lifts hopes
US employers add 175K jobs despite harsh weather
Fed's Dudley flags easy money now, rate rise around mid-2015
By Jonathan Spicer NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve is not about to back off its highly accommodative policy, though investor predictions of a rate rise by midway through next year are reasonable, an influential U.S. central banker said on Friday. New York Fed President William Dudley outlined some bright spots in the long U.S. recovery from recession, calling U.S. economic prospects "reasonably favorable." But Dudley, a key Fed decision-maker alongside Chair Janet Yellen, stressed that the labor market is still hobbled, saying in a speech he would like to see faster economic growth and more rapid progress in lowering unemployment and raising inflation. Dudley did not comment specifically on the Fed's bond-buying policy.