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Massachusetts monks tap brewing tradition to support aging members
By Scott Malone SPENCER, Mass. (Reuters) - Tucked off a two-lane highway in a hilly, wooded section of central Massachusetts, a group of Roman Catholic monks has embraced a centuries-old tradition they hope can sustain their aging members in a world of rapidly rising health costs. "We're trying to reinvent our economy," said Father Isaac Keeley on a recent tour of the abbey's low-slung stone buildings and starkly modern 30,000-square-foot brewery, nestled in a wooded property some 60 miles (97 km) west of Boston. "The health costs are huge," said Father Dominic Whedbee, the abbey's 65-year-old prior, the group's second-ranking member.
EU targets state-owned Russia banks in sanctions plan
By Justyna Pawlak and Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union would target state-owned Russian banks vital to financing Moscow's faltering economy in the most serious sanctions so far over the Ukraine crisis under proposals considered by EU governments on Thursday. Ambassadors of the 28-nation bloc met in Brussels to discuss options drafted by the executive European Commission in response to the downing of a Malaysian airliner in an area of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists. "If implemented such sanctions would be a serious blow to the Russian economy, exacerbating an already very likely recession this year and sustaining an economic depression for longer," said analyst Michal Dybula of BNP Paribas. The proposals included an arms embargo, although diplomats said it would apply to future deals and would not bar delivery of a French warship built for Russia under a 2011 contract.
IMF warns sanctions against Russia risk 'impact' on region
The International Monetary Fund warned Thursday that recent economic sanctions imposed against Russia could have a severe impact that would ripple through the region. "On a regional level, there's bound to be some impact," especially through trade channels, IMF spokesman William Murray said at a news conference. Murray said the impact was expected to be felt in economies "that have very active and direct trade links with Russia, particularly in eastern and central Europe and central Asia." The IMF spokesman highlighted that recent sanctions against Russia, "especially those that have imposed by the United States," signalled a step-up of geopolitical tensions and "could have a significant adverse impact on the Russia economy."
IMF lowers 2014 global growth forecast
The International Monetary Fund lowered its 2014 global economic growth forecast Thursday, warning of "negative surprises" from the United States and China and geopolitical risks in Ukraine and the Middle East. In the eurozone, still struggling to recover from recession, the growth estimate was unchanged at 1.1 percent, and the IMF reiterated concern about weak inflation in the 18-nation European bloc.
IMF says Israel-Gaza conflict already having economic costs
Israel and Gaza are already facing economic costs from the fighting between them that has raged for the past two weeks, a spokesman from the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday. The fiscal cost to Israel is estimated at 0.2 percent of its gross domestic product, though that number could increase if the fighting continues for long, IMF deputy spokesman William Murray said, citing figures from "various sources." He said the Israeli economy, especially the tourism industry and small and medium-sized firms, has also been hit, and GDP growth could slow further if the conflict continues. "However, we need to make clear that once the conflict ends, we expect growth in Israel to rebound relatively quickly," Murray said. "Heavy damage to buildings, water and electricity infrastructure is already apparent, aggravating an already critical humanitarian situation (in Gaza)," Murray said.
Russia's UK envoy: Western sanctions over Ukraine illegal and harmful
Western sanctions against Russia over its role in the crisis in Ukraine are illegal, counter-productive and could hurt the global economy, Russia's ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, said on Thursday. The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russian individuals and companies over Ukraine. "We believe they are illegal, unreasonable and counter productive," Yakovenko told a news conference in London. Some Western states are now mulling broader sanctions that would affect whole sectors of the Russian economy after a Malaysian airliner was downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine last Thursday, killing all 298 on board.
US new-home sales plummet in June
Stock indexes, euro inch up on euro zone data, U.S. earnings
By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major global stock markets edged higher while the euro rose from an eight-month low against the U.S. dollar on Thursday following upbeat euro zone data and stronger-than-expected U.S. earnings. The S&P 500 was barely higher as data showing sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell by the biggest amount since July 2013 offset profit news from companies including Facebook FB.O. Facebook's shares were up 5.4 percent at $75.14 and hit a record high of $76.74 in early trading, a day after reporting a surge in mobile advertising revenue. ...
Global economy starts second half on solid footing: PMIs
(Reuters) - China's factory activity expanded at its fastest in 18 months in July, while the euro zone's private sector also perked up, but the pace of U.S. manufacturing expansion slowed. While China is relying on increased government stimulus to steer its economy away from reliance on exports and towards consumer spending, Europe has taken the opposite approach, combining fiscal austerity with near-zero interest rates, and the U.S. is beginning to wind down its monetary expansion. "The strength of this morning's data from China and the euro zone offers some encouragement that there is some momentum building for the global economy at the start of the third quarter," said Mark Wall, European economist at Deutsche Bank. "The (U.S.) data suggest the sector is growing at an annualized rate of roughly 8.0 percent as we moved into the second half of the year," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
IMF cuts global growth outlook, warns of stagnation risk in rich nations
The International Monetary Fund on Thursday chopped its 2014 forecast for global economic growth to take into account weakness early in the year in the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies. The IMF warned that only some of the factors leading to the reduction were temporary, and said richer nations in particular faced the risk of economic stagnation unless they do more to boost growth through deeper reforms, such as investing in infrastructure or changing tax laws. In an update to its World Economic Outlook report, the IMF said the global economy should expand 3.4 percent this year, 0.3 percentage points below what it predicted in April. "Robust demand momentum has not yet emerged despite continued very low interest rates and easing of brakes to the recovery, including from fiscal consolidation or tight financial conditions," the IMF said, adding that all major advanced economies would do well to keep policy rates low for now.
IMF cuts US and global growth forecasts for 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) ? The International Monetary Fund foresees the global economy expanding less than it had previously forecast, slowed by weaker growth in the United States, Russia and developing economies.
Ukraine's Metinvest says shell-hit coke plant back at full capacity
Ukraine's largest steelmaker Metinvest said its Avdiivka coke plant had resumed working at full capacity after being hit by artillery fire and warned of the economic risks posed by the conflict in the country's east. "I can say without exaggeration that the combat operations have threatened not only the Avdiivka coke plant but also the entire Ukrainian economy," Avdiivka Chief Executive Musa Magomedov said in an online statement. Avdiivka, which produces 40 percent of Ukraine's coke - a key ingredient in steelmaking - was hit by shelling late on Monday, forcing it to halve output, as Ukrainian forces pressed their military campaign against the separatists. Metinvest said coke production had returned to a normal level of around 7,200 tonnes per day, although the facility was still experiencing problems with water and electricity supply.
European stocks rise on firm data, as EU eyes sanctions
European stock markets rose on Thursday and the euro recovered from an eight-month low as figures pointed to an uptick in growth in Europe and China. Shares were also helped by robust manufacturing data in China, the world's second-largest economy, which traders said outshone concerns about European Union sanctions against Russia. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index edged up 0.09 percent to stand at 6,804.29 points in mid-afternoon trading, boosted by strong eurozone purchasing managers' (PMI) data. "Eurozone growth rebounded in July," the private Markit research group, which published the eurozone PMI data, said while warning that the crisis in Ukraine could cloud the bloc's outlook.
Ghanaians protest against government's handling of economy
More than 2,000 Ghanaians took to the streets of the capital Accra on Thursday as part of planned nationwide protests against what they say is the government's mishandling of the economy. The demonstration was organised by the biggest labour union ? the Trades Union Congress (TUC) ? and was the first nationwide protest since President John Dramani Mahama took office in January last year. The president is under pressure to turn around the economy of the oil, cocoa and gold-producing nation, once regarded as one of Africa's hottest frontier markets but now saddled with high inflation and a stubbornly wide government deficit. "Fatal error, (President John) Mahama's government must reboot now", read one placard held up by a demonstrator.
Ukraine worries 'set to weigh' on eurozone economy
LONDON (AP) ? The escalating tensions in Ukraine, which have led to a sharp deterioration in relations between the West and Russia, could weigh on a modestly improving economic recovery in the 18-country eurozone.
UK retail sales hit 10-year high in second quarter, but stagnate in June
By Andy Bruce and William Schomberg LONDON (Reuters) - British retail sales rose between April and June at the fastest pace for a calendar quarter in 10 years despite stagnating last month, bolstering expectations that the economy has sustained its swift pace of recovery. Retail sales volumes rose 1.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, a latest sign of strength in Britain's economy which has put a first interest rate hike on the agenda of the Bank of England. Still, retail sales growth for June alone disappointed, rising just 0.1 percent from May and by 3.6 percent compared with a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. The ONS said a fall in clothing sales during the month was probably the result of delayed price-cutting on summer clothes by retailers who normally hold sales in June but may have held off this year due to good weather.
EU economic sanctions on Russia likely to be adopted next week
Proposed European Union sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy will not be adopted before next week, the European Commission said on Thursday. EU ambassadors were discussing Commission proposals to restrict Russian access to EU finance and defense and energy technology on Thursday. As and when the member states have decided ... how they want to proceed and exactly what they want to do, then at that stage the Commission ... will present legislative proposals," Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd told reporters. "Those legislative proposals would then have to be adopted by the appropriate procedures, by the member states, normally next week," he added.
For Californians, higher costs dampen support for clean energy
By Jennifer Chaussee BERKELEY Calif. (Reuters) - An overwhelming majority of California residents support the state's mandate for reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, so long as they do not bear the higher costs of cleaner energy themselves, a new public opinion poll shows. Eighty percent of adults surveyed believe climate change poses a serious threat to California's economy and lifestyle, and 68 percent back a 2006 law for lowering statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. For example, 76 percent of adults agreed with California's requirement that at least a third of all electricity it generates should come from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, by 2020. The same level of support was found for requiring oil refineries to produce gasoline and other fuels that yield lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Eurozone economy picking up steam despite France
LONDON (AP) ? A closely watched survey suggests economic growth in the 18-country eurozone picked up during July despite ongoing concerns over France, the currency bloc's second-largest economy.
Obama presses to close corporate tax loophole 'inversions'
By Jeff Mason LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will call on Thursday for an end to a corporate loophole that allows companies to avoid federal taxes by shifting their tax domiciles overseas in deals known as "inversions," White House officials said. Obama will make the comments during remarks about the economy at Los Angeles Technical College. Nine inversion deals have been agreed to this year by companies ranging from banana distributor Chiquita Brands International Inc to drugmaker AbbVie Inc and more are under consideration. The proposed changes, already put forward in Obama's annual budget, would be retroactive to May of this year and implemented independently of moves to achieve broader tax reform.