Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stocks Climb as Investors Await Fed - CNBC

Stocks Climb as Investors Await Fed - CNBC

Stocks are back in positive territory in what has been a volatile session for some individual stocks ahead of today's Federal Reserve policy announcement.

According to unconfirmed reports, the individual stock volatility was a result of an aggressive algorithmic trading program at Knight Capital Group [KCG  Loading...      ()   ]. Knight Capital would not confirm any problems to CNBC but a spokesperson said they are looking into trading issues.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500  and Nasdaq are all moving modestly higher.

DuPont [DD  Loading...      ()   ]is leading the blue-chip gainers, while Hewlett-Packard[HPQ  Loading...      ()   ] lags.

Telecoms and energy are the leading S&P sector gainers, while consumer staples lag.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, is trading below 19.

The Bank of England and the European Central Bank will announce interest rate and monetary policy decisions on Thursday.

After the S&P 500 rallied late last week on hopes the Federal Reserve and ECB will do more to stimulate growth, the index stalled over the past two sessions, shedding 0.43 percent yesterday, as investors await the policy announcements.

Equities finished July with the Dow up 1 percent, the S&P 500 up 1.3 percent and the Nasdaq gaining 0.2 percent.

According to Bespoke Investment Group, the market's performance on Fed days has been extremely strong. 37.6 percent of the equity market's gains since the Fed instituted its zero interest rate policy on December 16, 2008 have come on Fed days. "That means that nearly 40 percent of the market's gains since the end of 2008 have come on 3 percent of the trading days," Bespoke wrote in a report.

European shares are trading higher helped by some positive earnings announcements and hopes of stimulatory policy from the ECB and Bank of England. (Read More: US Raises Pressure for Euro Zone Crisis Action).

In economic news, Automatic Data Processing said July private sector employment increased by 163,000. The government's July jobs report is due out on Friday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, rose 0.2 percent in the week ended July 27.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index came in at 49.8 percent for July, versus expectations for a reading of 50.4 and a June reading of 49.7. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction.

Construction spending, meanwhile, rose 0.4 percent after a May increase of 0.9 percent.

“We think a moderate growth environment is going to be sustained in the U.S.," Bob Browne, Northern Trust chief investment officer, told CNBC. "The Fed is really focusing on avoiding recession. Whether they do something today, in August or in September, I think the markets really have to focus on that bias toward using monetary policy to keep the state of repair going.” Browne is overweight U.S. equities, underweight Europe and neutral on emerging markets.

Crude oil [CLCV1  Loading...      ()   ] inventories fell by 6.5 million barrels last week versus a forecast for a 0.7 million barrel drawdown, according to the Department of Energy.

Chrysler Group reported that July U.S. auto sales increased 13 percent, the best July sales in five years. Ford Motor [F  Loading...      ()   ] said sales fell 4 percent during the month due to lower fleet sales, while General Motors [GM  Loading...      ()   ]saw a 6 percent decline.

Out of China, the country's official purchasing managers' index slid to an eight-month low of 50.1 in July from 50.2 in June, suggesting the manufacturing sector is barely growing. A rival HSBC survey indicated the more market-sensitive private sector is starting to recover.

Turning to earnings news, Comcast [CMCSA  Loading...      ()   ] posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it benefited from customer additions for its Internet and phone services. Revenue rose 6 percent to $15.2 billion. Comcast is the majority owner of NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC and

Time Warner [TWC  Loading...      ()   ]reported lower net income on declines in its film, TV entertainment and publishing units. Revenue at the media giant fell 4 percent.

Mastercard [MA  Loading...      ()   ] posted better than expected second-quarter earnings but revenues came in weaker than anticipated.

Revenue rose 14.6 percent at motorcycle maker Harley Davidson [HOG  Loading...      ()   ], but missed expectations.

Costco [COST  Loading...      ()   ]reported net sales of $7.25 billion on a 7 percent jump in same-store sales.

Second-quarter earnings at Avon [AVP  Loading...      ()   ]plunged 70 percent on a 9 percent fall in revenue.

Nokia [NOK  Loading...      ()   ]shares surged in heavy volumes, with traders and analysts citing talk that Chinese PC maker Lenovo may be interested in the struggling Finnish cellphone maker. A Lenovo later quashed the market speculation it was interested in buying struggling Finnish cellphone maker Nokia.

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: FOMC mtg announcement; Earnings from Green Mountain Coffee, Hartford Financial, MetLife, Prudential Financial, Yelp

THURSDAY: Jobless claims, factory orders, chain-store sales; Earnings from GM, Sony, Clorox, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Time Warner Cable, AIG, Kraft, Activision Blizzard, LinkedIn, Sunoco, Opentable, Zipcar

FRIDAY: Employment situation, ISM non-mfg index; Earnings from P&G, Toyota, Beazer Homes, NYSE Euronext, Berkshire Hathaway

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France Introduces Financial Transaction Tax -

France becomes the first country in the European Union to bring in a tax on financial transactions today.

It was first proposed by the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who suggested a 0.1% levy on all share purchases involving France's biggest companies.

The country's new leader, Francois Hollande, has been sharply critical of the financial services industry and decided to double the tax to 0.2%, while applying it to all publicly traded businesses with a market value over 1bn euros. 

That means anyone buying shares, including credit default swaps, in 109 companies will have to shell out the extra euros to the French Treasury.

In a speech in June, President Hollande said the money raised will be partly used to fund AIDS research and is expected to generate 170m euros in 2012 and 500m euros next year.

But this tax is more than just income generation. It has also been designed to curb market speculation and was initially suggested as a pan-European measure - a concept which drew criticism from the UK.

London is home to Europe's largest financial sector, contributing an estimated 10% to Britain's economic output.

Prime Minister David Cameron told other European leaders in May: "[Such a tax] will put up the cost of people's insurance, put up the cost of peoples' pensions - it will cost many, many jobs.

"It will make Europe less competitive and I will fight it all the way."

Francois Hollande
France's Socialist leader Francois Hollande was elected in May

Sweden also opposes the idea, after a disastrous experience with a similar tax on financial transactions was introduced and then abandoned in the 1980s by the government in Stockholm.

The country set a 0.5% levy on all purchases and sales of equity securities in 1984, and then doubled the amount two years later after disappointing revenues.

The policy was abandoned after analysts revealed it had led to an exodus of traders.

Anders Borg, the Swedish finance minister, estimates that "between 90-99%" abandoned Stockholm and took their business to London.

Mr Cameron argues that if any EU countries wanted to set up the tax unilaterally, or in partnership with other countries, they should feel free to do so - as it could drive more business to the UK.

Germany, Italy and Spain have all indicated they would like to set up a similar levy but have yet to do so.

Ally Financial reports loss on bankruptcy-related charge - Reuters UK

Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.

Stocks hold gains ahead of Fed -

U.S. stocks held gains early Wednesday, as investors took in the latest economic data ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary-policy decision.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was slightly higher in early trading. So were the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

The Fed wraps up its two-day meeting Wednesday, and is due to announce the outcome of its latest policy meeting at 2:15 p.m. ET.

Investors are hoping the central bank is moving towards some form of stimulus to jumpstart the slowing economy, but expect that it will hold off from more aggressive actions, such as a third round of bond buying, or QE3.

"They will probably change the language in their statement, and nothing else," said Dan Greenhaus, head equity strategist at BTIG. "That's the consensus right now."

The European Central Bank will take center stage Thursday, when its Governing Council meets in Frankfurt. Investors are hopeful that the ECB will announce some form of new action, after central bank head Mario Draghi said last week that the institution will do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro.

"The Fed is of interest, but the main focus is on the ECB," said Greenhaus, adding that the outcome of Thursday's meeting is "highly uncertain."

Given the high expectations, investors have been reluctant to place big bets ahead of this week's central bank meetings.

Meanwhile, U.S. stocks closed down slightly Tuesday in another day of cautious trading ahead of the Fed meeting.

World markets: European stocks were mostly higher in afternoon trading. Britain's and France's CAC 40 rose 1.1%, while the DAX in Germany edged up 0.1%.

The gains came despite a spate of weak reports on manufacturing activity.

The Markit Final Eurozone Manufacturing PMI fell to 44 in July, a more than three-year low but roughly in line with forecasts. Manufacturing activity in the United Kingdom and Italy also slowed in July.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.9% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged higher 0.1%, while Japan's Nikkei lost 0.6%.

There were conflicting signals about manufacturing activity in China in July. HSBC's PMI for the month came in at 49.3, up from 48.2 in June. While the slowdown in activity eased a bit, a reading below 50 still indicates a contraction.

However, figures from the government showed that manufacturing in China expanded slightly during the month, but slowed from June. The China Federation of Logistics and Purchases's PMI came in at 50.1 in July, down from 50.2.

Economy: U.S. private-sector employers added 163,000 jobs in July, according to a report from payroll-processor ADP. Economists had expected an addition of 125,000 jobs.

The Institute for Supply Management said its Manufacturing Index edged higher in July to 49.8 from 49.7 in June. Economists expected the index to come in at 50.1, according to

The Census Bureau said construction spending rose 0.4% in June, compared with a forecasted 0.5% increase.

Data on auto and truck sales will also be released Wednesday.

Companies: Time Warner shares dipped after the media giant's reported reduced second-quarter revenue and earnings Wednesday despite improved results at its television networks unit. (CNNMoney is owned by Time Warner.)

Comcast reported better-than-expected earnings and sales figures for the second quarter, as the company added new customers for its Internet and phone services.

Shares of Avon Products fell after the company's second-quarter profit dropped 70% from a year ago and sales fell 9%, coming in below expectations.

Pharmaceutical company Allergan said earnings rose 21% in the second quarter from a year ago. It also announced plans to pay a quarterly dividend of 5 cents per share. The stock jumped 10%.

Harley Davidson shares sank 9% after the motorcycle maker reported sales growth that disappointed investors, even as profits rose.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and Japanese yen, but gained ground versus the British pound.

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as unusual trading roils shares - Reuters UK

Wed Aug 1, 2012 3:41pm BST

* Several stocks paused for unusual trading

* Markets wait for Fed

* Indexes: Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 0.13 pct, Nasdaq 0.0 pct (Recasts, adds details on trading)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were barely changed on Wednesday as the market became consumed with unusual trading that roiled seemingly unrelated shares on the NYSE.

Coming into the day, the market's main concern was the Federal Reserve, which at the conclusion of a two-day meeting later in the afternoon is likely to show it is ready to act to support a weakening U.S. economy but stop short of aggressive measures for now.

Stock-market traders, however, soon appeared more concerned with unusually volatile trading in a number of shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange, which resulted in the halt of several stocks that appear to be unrelated.

"I think that has disrupted all the normal activities - stocks are moving all over the place, they are weird, they are trading like millions of shares, 100 shares at a time, so something went haywire somewhere," said Stephen Massocca, managing director, Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

The trading sparked unusual activity in stocks such as Molycorp, which had traded more than 5.7 million shares in the first 45 minutes of trading. The stock usually averages about 2.65 million shares daily, and it was one of the stocks halted due to excessive volatility.

"How do you draw any conclusions (on the market) when something like this goes on? You just don't know, so the market is not operating efficiently," said Massocca.

Other traders called by Reuters said the unusual trading issues were their primary focus.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 22.78 points, or 0.18 percent, to 13,031.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 1.79 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,381.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.03 points, or 0.00 percent, to 2,939.55.

The Fed statement will come a day before a key meeting of the European Central Bank, after its president, Mario Draghi, heightened speculation of further ECB purchases of Italian and Spanish bonds by saying that he would do "whatever it takes to preserve the euro."

"We have the Fed today, the ECB tomorrow and everybody is waiting on central bank policy - right now the equity markets are being held together by easy money and if we don't get more of it soon we are likely to be disappointed," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer, Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

"We are going to need a monetary booster shot both from Europe and the U.S. to keep this party going."

The S&P 500 posted its biggest two-day percentage gain of the year to close out last week on increased expectations both the Fed and the European Central Bank will plan further actions to stimulate their respective economies at the meetings this week. However, the index has stalled over the prior two sessions as it reached levels not seen since early May.

Data from payrolls processor Automatic Data Processing showed private employers added 163,000 jobs in July, topping economists' expectations for 120,000 new jobs. Investors may use the report to glean clues on the health of the labor market ahead of Friday's non-farm payrolls report.

Other major companies announcing results include Metlife , Prudential Financial Inc and Tesoro Corp . (Editing by James Dalgleish, Dave Zimmerman)

Wenger hits out at reckless spending of rivals as he warns of financial doom - Daily Mail

By Sportsmail Reporter


Arsene Wenger has once again warned against the inevitable financial ruin faced by football and taken a swipe at rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Frenchman, who has long fought against cash inequality in the game, believes the vast wealth foreign investors have poured into their respective clubs has damaged football and the transfer market.

Wenger is continuing to strengthen his own squad at a level below the likes of Chelsea, who have already lavished 32million on Eden Hazard and 25million on teenager Oscar. The Gunners, meanwhile, have added Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud for a combined 23m.

But while pointing to the vast income generated by Emirates Stadium, compared with Stamford Bridge and Etihad Stadium, Wenger claimed the unlimited resources of others have had a negative impact on the game.

Swimming up stream: Arsene Wenger continues to battle against cash inequality

Swimming up stream: Arsene Wenger continues to battle against cash inequality

Contract rebel: Robin van Persie

Contract rebel: Robin van Persie

The Frenchman, in The Sun, said: 'We consider ourselves in a privileged position because we have a massive income. But overall we are not mega-rich because we do not have unlimited resources.

'A club can buy players like PSG has done or Manchester City or Chelsea, with unlimited resources, but overall football suffers. Look at the activity on the transfer market since the start of the summer.

'Europe at the moment is like the Titanic but we live in football like nothing matters. More than ever we have to run our club in a strict way because it looks like everybody suffers in Europe.

'I would be surprised if football is not touched by it at some stage. If you look at debt in football across Europe at the moment it is quite massive and we have to be responsible.

'We have to be ambitious but also make sure we are not getting in trouble financially.

Arsenal are currently negotiating.the terms of new contracts for Theo Walcott and Alex Song, while they were keen to tie Robin van Persie to a new contract before the Dutchman openly questioned the ambitions of the club last month.

'It is difficult for us because the wages in some other clubs are very high. But of course our players quite rightly compare themselves to the players of the other clubs.'

Here's what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Did he mention his own £7million a year salary when complaining about huge wages in football? No, thought not.....

You only get so many breaths in your lifetime Arsene and this outburst was wasting some of them. At this moment in time its pointless to whine about 'the rich clubs'. Arsenal are right in the middle of the kitchen, the heat has been turned up, get on with it.

Mr. Wenger maybe you should worry about your own team and let the owners and management of the teams you supposedly mention worry about their respective teams. I not sure his advise is required.

Well done all you proud City (1968) and Chelsea (1955 ) really have earned your recent plastic history

Keep whining. Keep winning nothing. Oh yeah. love it.

Wengers point is to simply spend what you can afford to spend. To spend what you earn. City and Chelsea do not spend what they earn. They spend the donatins charitably given to them by their opulent owners. If FFP is ever applied correctly, City and Chelsea wil suffer for it.

not an arsenal fan but wenger is spot on. man city chelsea and players agents are all whats wrong with the game nowadays!!

Wind your neck Whinger... If he had the resource that Man City and Chelsea had then he wouldn't be moaning about the situation. Lets face it there is only one team in London - Chelsea and one in Manchester and that's City, so stop your bleating. - Better Dead Than Red, Manchester, Where Else?, 01/8/2012 13:11 Usual response from an Emptyhead Chav whose team have "bought" one title in 4 decades....and bought a whole squad of mercenaries that's why they all were wearing number 12s in May... At least Wenger has WON 3 Premier League titles at a fraction of the cost Chequebook City have bought ONE for!!!

the smart guy is already laying out his excuses before another barren season starts. we'll see who'll help them get their top 4 this year.

It is the selling clubs that see the pound signs and hike the prices. Do you think the buying clubs WANT to pay 30% over the odds every time they make a purchase? This wasn't an issue for Wenger when Arsenal were one of the richest clubs, not so long ago. The guy is a grade 1 hypocrite. - mm, Gasimagusa, Cyprus, 01/08/2012 13:09 Oh no, another one who hasn't engaged the brain. Ask yourself this question. Do you really think that Wenger WANTS to sell his best players and see his team wrecked by clubs with monopoly money, doubling the wages and undermining the morale? As for your puerile comment about Arsenal being a rich club, I think you will find matey that Wenger tends to buy players we have never heard of for quite a reasonable price and then work his magic, RVP, Henry, Vieira, Clichy immediately spring to mind, the list is endless.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Small business hiring, paycheck size dips again in Houston - The Business Journal

Small business hiring was flat nationwide and decreased slightly in Houston for the month of July, SurePayroll’s most recent Small Business Scorecard shows.

Small business hiring was flat nationwide and decreased slightly in Houston for the month of July, SurePayroll’s most recent Small Business Scorecard shows.

Month-over-month, small business hiring declined 0.2 percent nationwide and 0.6 percent in Houston. SurePayroll analyzed small business data from 35 major metropolitan areas, and 15 had positive hiring.

Pittsburgh again saw the largest decline in small business hiring, down 4.3 percent. The Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area had the largest increase, up 1.2 percent.

Nationwide, small business paychecks were down 0.2 percent, and Houston’s were down 1.2 percent. Charlotte, N.C., experienced the largest decrease in small business paycheck size, down 2.1 percent, while Detroit experienced the largest increase, up 1.6 percent.

In June, Houston had experienced a small reversal in hiring and paycheck growth compared to the decreases seen in previous months.

The optimism outlook increased slightly from 60 percent to 62 percent. And 70 percent of small business owners said they would encourage other entrepreneurs to start a business, despite the current economic climate.

The scorecard includes data from more than 35,000 small businesses and “exclusively reflects the trends of the nation’s ‘microbusinesses’ — those with an average of eight employees,” SurePayroll’s website states.

Olivia Pulsinelli is the web producer for the Houston Business Journal's award-winning website.

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Ally Financial reports $898M 2Q loss due to ResCap - AP -

Government-controlled auto lender Ally Financial Inc. posted an $898 million second-quarter loss Wednesday, tipped into the red by the bankruptcy of its mortgage subsidiary.

Ally took a $1.2 billion charge related to the Chapter 11 filing in May of Residential Capital, with its portfolio full of weak subprime mortgages.

The second-quarter loss compared with a profit of $113 million for the same period of 2011.

The company, which is based in New York, said it had a core pre-tax loss of $753 million compared with $465 million a year earlier. That reflects continuing operations before taxes and some expenses.

Aside from ResCap-related items, the lender said it earned $533 million of core pre-tax income for the quarter. The company, which was GMAC Financial Services before changing its name in 2010, cited strong performance in auto finance and direct banking franchises.

The U.S. government owns 74 percent of Ally, which it got in exchange for a $17.2 billion bailout in 2009. Ally eventually hopes to sell stock to the public to repay the debt. But an initial public offering is on hold while the company addresses its financial challenges.

ResCap has weighed the most heavily on the bottom line. Buyers of loans made by that subsidiary have lawsuits pending against the company, arguing that it should repurchase loans that did not meet its stated standards. When it filed for federal bankruptcy protection, the subsidiary also was facing upcoming loan maturities and steep bond-related payments.

CEO Michael Carpenter said the lender is now on an accelerated path to repay its remaining U.S. Treasury debt. He said the ResCap bankruptcy continues to move forward and the company is pursuing alternatives for its international operations.

Ally said its North American Auto Finance arm posted a 13 percent increase in pre-tax income for the quarter, to $631 million.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

US STOCKS-Wall St rises after ADP, before Fed statement - Reuters

Wed Aug 1, 2012 9:49am EDT

* Fed likely to show readiness for action

* Construction spending, ISM manufacturing on tap

* Indexes up: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks opened higher on Wednesday after data on the labor market came in above expectations and ahead of the Federal Reserve's statement on the economy and the possibility of a n ew round of stimulus.

The Federal Reserve is likely to show it is ready to act to support a weakening U.S. economy but stop short of aggressive measures for now.

The Fed statement comes a day before a key meeting of the European Central Bank, after its president, Mario Draghi, heightened speculation of further ECB purchases of Italian and Spanish bonds by saying that he would do "whatever it takes to preserve the euro."

"We have the Fed today, the ECB tomorrow and everybody is waiting on central bank policy - right now the equity markets are being held together by easy money and if we don't get more of it soon we are likely to be disappointed," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer, Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

"We are going to need a monetary booster shot both from Europe and the U.S. to keep this party going."

The S&P 500 posted its biggest two-day percentage gain of the year t o close out last week on increased expectations both the Fed and the European Central Bank will plan further actions to stimulate their respective economies at the meetings this week. However, the index has stalled over the prior two sessions as it reached levels not seen since early May.

Data from payrolls processor Automatic Data Processing showed private employers added 163,000 jobs in July, topping economists' expectations for 120,000 new jobs. Investors may use the report to glean clues on the health of the labor market ahead of Friday's non-farm payrolls report.

At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department releases June construction spending and the Institute for Supply Management releases its July manufacturing index. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast construction spending to rise 0.4 percent and a 50.2 ISM reading.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 50.02 points, or 0.38 percent, to 13,058.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 3.47 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,382.79. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 10.06 points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,949.58.

Mastercard shares dipped 3.1 percent to $422.83 as one of the biggest drags on the S&P 500 after the world's second-largest credit and debit card processing network's quarterly revenue missed Wall Street estimates as worldwide purchase volume growth slowed to its lowest level in five quarters.

Phillips 66 climbed 3.2 percent to $38.79 after the largest U.S. independent refining company, posted a 14 percent jump in quarterly profit on stronger refining margins and chemical sales.

Harley-Davidson Inc lost 4.7 percent to $41.21 even after the company reported a better-than-expected 29.7 percent rise in quarterly profit, as its success in attracting young motorcycle buyers helped push sales higher.

Other major companies announcing results include Metlife , Prudential Financial Inc and Tesoro Corp .

According to Thomson Reuters data through Tuesday morning, of the 321 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported second-quarter earnings to date, 67.3 percent have reported earnings above analysts' expectations. Over the past four quarters, the average beat rate is 68 percent.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How mentoring can help a small business grow - The Guardian

How mentoring can help a small business grow - The Guardian

I founded my production company Glasshead in 1994 with a view to delivering outstanding quality in television, media and – once the internet was upon us – digital content. Through hard work and persistence we built up a great reputation.

We have been very successful with factual programmes such as My Monkey Baby and The Stuttering School, both for Channel 4. We have also won two interactive BAFTAs, again for Channel 4, most notably for Homework High, a free online service for kids, which also won two BIMA awards.

Our team at Glasshead is highly motivated and very talented. Fulfilling the role of managing director, I was very confident with the quality of creative work the company was doing. However, after we got our feet off the ground, I was concerned that my lack of business background was holding the company back and would prevent us from reaching our full potential.

I heard about a mentoring programme being run by Nesta which was targeted at creative companies like mine. With an impressive lineup of well-known names in the industry as mentors, the opportunity was too good to turn down. I applied with the aim of creating a more formal plan and a clear structure for the day-to-day practices of the company.

After successfully making it onto the programme, we were paired up with mentor Alex Graham, who is CEO of Wall to Wall TV and one of the leading producers of factual and drama-based content.

Mentoring in action

After our first meeting we decided to focus on managing and expanding the business, as well as improving various business processes in the company.

The mentoring relationship worked extremely well. I would usually set the agenda for our meetings, and Alex then worked through this, offering advice and comments that would result in a set of actions for me to complete.

Going through the day-to-day activities with Alex really opened my eyes to aspects of the business that perhaps I didn't pay enough attention to before. For example, I started to make better use of management information – such as company accounts and reports – to help inform strategic decision-making.

Talking to Alex also helped me target priority markets. We started the mentoring programme before the recession hit but even then, there were signs that the economy wasn't heading in the right direction so we identified other potential markets. Alex encouraged me to attend various events in other markets, including Realscreen in Washington, and gave me strategies to make contacts and find potential new avenues of work – all of which proved immensely useful.

The results

As a result of implementing the various strategies and Alex's mentoring, we have worked with five new major clients in the past couple of years including Discovery, Al-Jazeera, CBBC and currently BBC World. Like many other companies our size, we have been affected by the economy and government cuts but I can honestly say that without the mentoring programme it could have been a very different story. We're in business because we diversified at the right time.

One possible growth area for us is animation, where we're working closely with Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment looking for alternative funding models for future content. As we've been shortlisted for two children's BAFTAs for our previous animation work, this feels like a good fit.

My tips for running a business

As Alex used to constantly tell me; running a media business isn't brain surgery. Make sure you employ people who can sell ideas, in addition to hiring excellent creative staff. Relationships with clients are key so continuously work on that.

Always keep an eye on your overheads and don't delay in reducing them if the projects are slow in coming in. Set budgets, objectives and goals and then break them down to day to day tasks to make them manageable and achievable. Base important company decisions on information from management accounts and cashflow.

Finally, it's important to combine artistic satisfaction and profitability; this can be accomplished by using commercial projects to fund creative work.

Lambros Atteshlis is MD of TV and digital specialist Glasshead

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To receive more like this you can become a member of the Small Business Network here

We'd love to hear your views and thoughts in the comments but please remember not to disclose personal identifiable details.

London 2012: French Olympics 'would be interested in gold not money' says Francois Hollande - Daily Telegraph

Highlighting the fact that his Socialist government detested corporate greed and was solely interested in winning medals, Mr Hollande said: "We don't talk of money, we talk of gold."

Mr Hollande stopped short of directly criticising the British, however, saying: "The London Olympics have been very well organised. I'm not here to be a killjoy or to give lessons to the British. It's not worthy of France."

But Mr Hollande made it clear that he disapproved of corporate clients being given free tickets which they did not use.

Most of the events in London have, so far, been blighted by rows of empty seats.

Mr Hollande also enjoyed a joke at the expense of Prime Minister David Cameron, who had promised to roll out the "red carpet" for French people escaping high taxes.

Pointing to the fact that France was currently beating Britain in the medals table, Mr Hollande said: "The British have rolled out a red carpet for French athletes to win medals. I thank them very much for that, but the competition is not over."

In another dig – this time at the Euroscepticism of Mr Cameron's Conservatives – Mr Hollande also said that "it is the results of Europe that will count in the games.

"We will put the French medals into the Europe pot, so that the British will be happy to be European."

Before losing 2012 to London, Paris failed to win the 2008 Games, which were awarded to Beijing.

Mr Hollande, who replaced the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy as French president in May, attended a number of events involving French athletes on Monday, before returning to Paris.

France has had a successful Olympics so far – with seven medals, including three gold in the pool. Mr Hollande on Monday night watched Yannick Agnel defeat American Ryan Lochte in the 200m freestyle.

MONEY MARKETS-Hopes of ECB bond buying underpin trade - Reuters

Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:59am EDT

* Hopes high ECB will restart bond buying this week

* Only limited relief seen from such a move

* Market prices in 50 pct chance of rate cut by year-end

By Kirsten Donovan

LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Markets are pricing in around a 50 percent chance that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates again this year but are likely to react badly if they have to wait longer than a couple of days for it to revive its bond-buying programme.

ECB President Mario Draghi said last week the ECB would do "whatever it takes", spurring expectations that the central bank will reactivate the Securities Market Programme (SMP) at Thursday's policy meeting.

The SMP - which the Bundesbank opposes - has been dormant for months but would be used to buy Spanish and Italian bonds in the secondary market.

The prospect of this has pushed yields on bonds issued by the two struggling countries sharply lower, but the rally is showing signs of running out of steam.

"Some of the confidence generated by Draghi is already fading - you can see that in the fall in Bund yields today," said BNP Paribas rate strategist Matteo Regesta.

"To make sure the relief rally we've seen is not further interrupted, at the very least we need a reactivation of the SMP. An interest rate cut by itself would fall short of what the market is expecting.

Money markets aren't expecting a cut in either of the ECB's two main interest rates this week, or the "bazooka" option of granting the euro zone's rescue fund a banking license, allow it to exchange bonds it buys for fresh cash from the ECB.

The main refinancing rate is at 0.50 percent, while the deposit rate paid to banks who park cash overnight is at zero. A cut in the deposit rate is increasingly priced in from September onwards, which would mean it would turn negative.

"Speculation may be overdone," said Commerzbank rate strategist Benjamin Schroeder.

"There are complications with negative rates but with the comments from the ECB members, the speculation could still run further."

The overnight Eonia rate, which is currently around 10 basis points above the deposit rate, is indicated at around 2 basis points by year-end, suggesting a deposit rate of around minus 10 basis points.


Financial markets are looking for a clear policy response from Draghi at the ECB's Thursday policy meeting .

Nineteen of 24 euro money market traders polled by Reuters said the ECB will soon resume bond buying.

"The bar has been raised very high for the ECB to deliver something," Schroeder said.

But analysts said even another round of bond buying would be unlikely to stabilise markets in the longer term, although it might ease the next few weeks combined with a sharp drop in new bond issuance over the summer period.

"It won't offer lasting relief, but it would allow August to be relatively stable," BNP Paribas' Regesta said.

"The real bazooka, even without activation, would be to grant the (euro zone rescue fund) a banking license... Just the presence of this vehicle with unlimited firepower would bring some peace to primary and secondary markets but we're not going to get that this week." (Editing by John Stonestreet)

My parents never have any money - should I get a job? - The Sun

I HAVE just finished my first year in the Sixth Form but I’ve failed two out of my three subjects.

I’d love to go back and try again but I just can’t concentrate. My parents have no money and are constantly in debt, so I’m worried about it all the time.

I’m a boy of 16 and all my life my parents have struggled with money. My mum is on the minimum wage and my dad works long hours for low pay.

My parents have always taken out loans to buy things for Christmas and birthdays. One December I found my mum out in the cold in the back garden crying about money.

My parents inherited a large amount of money when my Nan died. They paid off all their debts and got a better car. It was the best time in my life. I even forgot what it was like not to have any food or drink in the house for over a week.

Now that money is all gone. I don’t know how they have managed to spend it all but they have.

My parents are borrowing money again from family and friend just to pay off debts but then they owe even more.

My mum loves playing bingo. She spends at least £40 a week playing online and goes out to bingo twice a week and spends between £40 and £60.

It’s horrible at school. I live in a poor area but my school is in a wealthy area and it gets on my nerves to see everyone else dressing in nice clothes and with money all the time.

I want to drop out of education and get a full-time job, but I don’t like the thought of working five or six days a week for minimum wage for the rest of my life, like my parents.


Go back to your school and ask to talk to the head of sixth form about whether you could return and do resits. I know it’s school holidays now but you should be able to get hold of someone.

Explain what’s been going on at home and how worried you are. They should be able to give you some support, and a quiet place to study away from the problems at home.

If you can’t go back, look for a job which involves training at the same time as being paid. Your local Job Centre can tell you about apprenticeships and other opportunities.

Get your dad on his own and explain that you think your mum needs help with her addiction to bingo. I’m emailing my leaflet about living with a gambler for you to pass to him.

You also need support for yourself. Get Connected will help you sort this out (0808 808 4994,

Good luck and please let me know how you get on.

Today's Daily Drama is about a woman who cheated on her fella with her friend's boyfriend. Do you think you should always confess if you’ve cheated or does honesty mean more heartache? Tell me on my Facebook page today.

Money well spent: Teenager who fell over while carrying Olympic torch is bought a new prosethetic limb by Britain’s biggest Euromillions winners - Daily Mail
  • Kieran Maxwell had his left leg amputated after getting rare and aggressive cancer Ewings Sarcoma
  • Last month while walking with his current prosthetic limb he fell while carrying the Olympic torch
  • Euromillionaires Colin and Chris Weir pay five-figure-sum for a new lightweight leg for the 13-year-old
  • 'He'll be able to walk, run and climb just like his friends,' his emotional mum Nicola said today

By Martin Robinson


A 13-year-old who lost a leg to cancer will get a new life-changing prosthetic limb from Britain's biggest-ever lottery jackpot winners.

Heartrendingly Kieran Maxwell had to be helped from the ground after he fell carrying the Olympic torch last month in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, because of his current heavy artificial leg.

But now he will be able to 'walk, run and climb just like his friends,' his emotional mother Nicola said today, thanks to Euromillionaires Colin and Chris Weir.

Scroll down for video

Brave: Kieran Maxwell carrying the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay soon before he stumbled and fell because of his current prosthetic leg

Brave: Kieran Maxwell carrying the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay soon before he stumbled and fell because of his current prosthetic leg but hopefully those problems will soon be over for him

Despite undergoing gruelling chemotherapy the brave 13-year-old had his left leg amputated below the knee in March last year.

He was diagnosed with the rare and aggressive cancer called Ewings Sarcoma, which affects fewer than 30 children a year, in October 2010.

Since then Kieran has been determined to remain active but his current replacement limb is heavy and slows him down, so his parents Nicola and Alistair decided to try to raise the cash to buy him a lighter model from the US.

But Euromillions winners Colin and Chris Weir from Ayrshire - who scooped 161 million in a draw a year ago - heard about Kieran's battle and stepped in with a five-figure donation to buy the new leg outright.

And Kieran is said to have 'screamed with delight' at the life-changing news and will have his leg within six weeks.

The unexpected donation came after the grandmother of Kieran’s school friend, who lives in the same village as the Weirs, contacted them to ask if they could help.

Happy: EuroMillions lottery winners Chris Weir and her husband Colin Weir say it is a privilege to spend a little of their 161m on Kieran

Happy: EuroMillions lottery winners Chris Weir and her husband Colin Weir say it is a privilege to spend a little of their 161m on Kieran

Hero: His mother and family are incredibly proud of the happy teenager who lost a leg to cancer but will now get a new limb

Hero: His mother and family are incredibly proud of the happy teenager who lost a leg to cancer but will now get a new limb

Mum Nicola Maxwell said: 'Kieran is our hero and we have been touched by all the support and kindness we’ve received since he was diagnosed with cancer.

'We thought it was going to take a long time to raise the money for a new prosthetic leg, but this donation from Chris and Colin means Kieran can get his new leg within six weeks. We can’t explain how much this means to us and Kieran.

'He screamed when he heard the news because it means that not only will he be able to walk again like all his friends, he will be able to run and climb too.

'We can’t thank the Weirs enough, because this will really change his life.

Heartbreaking: Kieran's bravery was clear for all to see when he fell while holding the Olympic torch because of his current artificial limb. He got up and dusted himself off in yet another incredible show of strength

'Kieran started yelling and dancing around when he heard. He couldn't believe it. I am still pinching myself.

'What they have done for Kieran will be a small drop in the ocean for them but for him it will change his life.

'He can go back to being a normal boy. He can be himself. Words cannot describe what they have done.'

The Lottery winners paid tribute to his bravery and said it was privilege to help.

Mrs Weir said: 'When we heard about Kieran and his family’s fantastic efforts to raise money for a new prosthetic leg, we had to help.

'It is a privilege to support him and, with this new leg, we hope he will continue to be determined to remain active and live life to the full.'

Kieran's parents will continue to fundraise, but will now hand over proceeds to the Toma Fund, which helps teenagers with cancer. 

Here's what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Aww how lovey :-)

Nice to see such kindness being displayed. How much they won and how much they donate is irelevant. To Kieran's family it is priceless.

Great gesture...very kind..

If money can buy you everything,then this lovely couple deserve the world! To share there luck like they have, i wish you every happiness x

Restores your faith in some folk. Heartwarming to see...

what a wonderful selfless gesture to make to a wonderful, inspirational young boy. big,big smiles all round even from my grumpy teenage kids :-))

There really are some lovely people in this world.

How kind and

I hope the people who have millions and live useless meaningless lives take a tip from this lovely couple, help people instead of wasting millions on the nonsense you think are important like cars and clothes.

Good news and hope they do more good deeds

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Mitt Romney Ohio Ad Stars Business Owner Who Relied Heavily On Government Contracts - Huffington Post

Mitt Romney Ohio Ad Stars Business Owner Who Relied Heavily On Government Contracts - Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- The star of the most recent Mitt Romney campaign ad criticizing President Barack Obama for arguing that government can play a constructive role in helping business has major business dealings with government entities.

Dennis Sollmann, the owner of Sollmann Electric Company, appears in a Romney web ad released Monday morning that plays off the president's now infamous "you didn't build that" line.

“I mean, I’m thinking, 'You’ve got to be kidding me,'" Sollmann says in the ad. "He was trying to say: ‘Hey, you didn’t build that business on your own. The government helped you build it.’ And that’s what ticked me off more than anything. Mr. President, unfortunately you have no idea how we here in Midwestern Ohio have to try to run a small business from daylight till night."

An electric construction company in Sidney, Ohio, Sollmann Electric has done work on commercial, residential and industrial properties. It has also serviced "hospitals, government and educational" facilities -- many of which rely on taxpayer funding. Neither Sollmann nor his company returned a request for comment as to how much money in government contracts they have earned. But a quick Google search turned up several instances in which the company either sought out or worked directly with government entities.

According to notes from a Jan. 26, 2006 meeting of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, Sollmann Electrical Company was rewarded a $915,117 contract for work in the Trotwood-Madison City school district.

Notes from a May 31, 2007 meeting of the same body show that Sollmann Electrical Company placed a $1,080,700 bid to do work in the Dayton County School District. This was the lowest bid offered and the commission recommended that it be finalized.

According to notes from a May 25, 2010 meeting of the School Facilities Commission, meanwhile, Sollmann Electrical Company was awarded a $1,689,829 contract for work in the Miami East school district.

Sollmann was also a contractor for work on the Horace Mann School in Dayton, Ohio, according to an Ohio School Facilities Commission form filled out in April 2008. Horace Mann is a public school, an official there said.

In November of 2011, Sollmann made a $274,792 bid with the Ohio Department of Administrative Services to do work on a building expansion at Rhodes State College, another public school.

The first project listed on Sollmann's own website is the work it did building Memorial Middle and High School in St. Marys, Ohio. An official at the school confirmed that it is a public school that was recently completely rebuilt.

The Obama campaign has argued that Romney's attacks over the "you didn't build that" line are woefully unfair, distorting the actual meaning of the president's words.

“The latest ad out of the Romney campaign once again blatantly takes the President's words out of context, showing their campaign will do and say anything,” Jessica Kershaw, press secretary of Obama For America - Ohio, told the Dayton Daily News.

The Obama campaign may take comfort in knowing that, through these web ads, the Romney campaign is seemingly making its point for them. This is not the first time that a businessman tapped by the Romney campaign to whack the president for acknowledging the government's role in a company's economic success has, himself, relied on the government to help with his business. It was reported last week that Jack Gilchrist, the owner of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, N.H. who starred in another Romney ad, had received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds from the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority in 1999, as well as sub-contracts from the U.S. Navy in 2008.

  • Romney Ad: Obama Attacks Success

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  • Romney Ad: 'We Are Not Doing Fine'

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Also on HuffPost:

Business booming for HSBC as they rake in £44m per DAY in profit - Daily Mirror

HSBC has made more than £500 every SECOND this year... despite being hit by three scandals.

Britain’s biggest bank announced profits jumped 11% to £8.1billion between January and June.

The bank has set aside more than £1.2billion to cover looming compensation for mis-selling payment protection insurance and investments and a hefty fine for allowing money laundering.

HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver said: “It is right that we be held accountable for past shortcomings. We are profoundly sorry for our mistakes, and are committed to putting them right.”

The recent money laundering controversy in which drug cartels and potential terrorists banked with HSBC is expected to cost the bank £445million or more.

Bosses warned the final punishment by US authorities could be “significantly higher” than that after a scathing report found it shifted £4.5billion in suspicious funds from Mexico, and billions more from countries such as Iran, Syria and Russia.

Tory Lord Green has been caught up in the scandal as he was HSBC group executive chairman at the time – before he was made Trade Minister by PM David Cameron.

HSBC also increased the expected cost of settling claims by customers mis-sold PPI by another £340million in the second quarter, taking the total for the first half of 2012 to £637million.

The scandal could cost HSBC more than £1billion in total.

The bank announced today it also expects to pay around £150million in compensation for mis-selling complicated investment products to small and medium-sized businesses.

HSBC is making savage cuts to save money including axing about 28,000 staff worldwide. It also closed 27 UK bank branches this year.

Owen Tudor, of the Robin Hood Tax campaign, said: “Coughing up compensation for the latest scandal is a sticking plaster – banks continue to profiteer at the public’s expense.

Despite the recession, business is booming for banks so it is clear they can afford to pay more for the damage they have caused our economy and society.”

Putting profits above all else can be very, very costly - business editor Graham Hiscott's analysis

NOT long ago, HSBC was deemed one of the better banks.

It hadn’t needed a taxpayer bailout, it was defying the economic gloom and its reputation was intact.

The first two of those are still true, but the last has taken a serious knock. It took a £1.27billion hit for scandals in the first half of the year, and the figure could soar with a punishing money laundering penalty expected and a possible rate rigging fine.

The fact that amid all this it still made £8billion is, quite simply, staggering.

HSBC’s Asian arm is storming and today’s results will do nothing to dampen speculation that it will move its HQ that way, too.

We need HSBC to do well, it’s a London-based success with more than 200,000 shareholders.

But we also need it to remember its roots, to remember individual customers even though it’s a banking Goliath, and remember that slack rules and an obsession about profits above all else can prove very, very costly.

Stocks to watch at noon on Tuesday -

STOCKS to watch on the Australian stock exchange at noon on Tuesday:

AQA - AQUILA RESOURCES LTD - up 20 cents, or 9.90 per cent, at $2.22

The environmental authority supports Aquila Resources' proposed port for its $6 billion iron ore project in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

BRG - BREVILLE GROUP LTD - up six cents, or 1.28 per cent, at $4.76

Shares in kitchen appliance maker Breville Group are higher after it said it expects full year earnings to grow by up to 40 per cent.

CTX - CALTEX AUSTRALIA LTD - up nine cents, or 0.64 per cent, at $14.21

Caltex Australia says it is confident of getting investor support for its $300 million capital raising despite a ratings agency casting doubt on its balance sheet last week.

HDF - HASTINGS DIVERSIFIED UTILITIES FUND - down one cent, or 0.39 per cent, at $2.54

The Takeovers Panel has rejected a request to look into aspects of one of the two takeover bids for energy infrastructure investor Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund (HDF).

MAQ - MACQUARIE TELECOM GROUP LTD - up 60 cents, or 7.32 per cent, at $8.80

Business-only telecommunications provider Macquarie Telecom has upgraded its earning guidance for the 2012 financial year by about 10 per cent.

MTS - METCASH LTD - up three cents, or 0.89 per cent, at $3.38

Grocery wholesaler Metcash has paid $46.5 million to take complete ownership of hardware chain Mitre 10.

ORG - ORIGIN ENERGY LTD - up 38 cents, or 3.28 per cent, at $11.95

Higher commodity prices have driven a three per cent rise in Origin Energy's full year revenue, despite lower production of gas.

World stocks rise on continued hopes of ECB action - The Guardian

BANGKOK (AP) — World stock markets rose again Monday as expectations remained high for strong European Central Bank action to stem the continent's chronic debt crisis.

Sentiment was also helped by U.S. second quarter growth not slowing as much as feared. The world's No. 1 economy grew just 1.5 percent in the April-June quarter after 2 percent growth the previous quarter but some analysts had predicted a bigger slowdown.

Markets are pregnant with speculation that the ECB will resume buying government bonds to lower the borrowing costs of struggling countries such as Spain and take other major steps to support the region's economy.

Investors hope such moves would prevent Spain from being forced to seek a bailout that would be much more expensive than earlier rescues of Portugal, Greece and Ireland. A major Spanish crisis could imperil the euro currency union and in turn tip the world economy into recession.

Global markets were roiled early last week as Spain's borrowing costs soared but rallied after ECB chief Mario Draghi on Thursday vowed that the central bank was ready to do what it takes to keep intact the euro currency shared by 17 European nations. A day later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said they too would safeguard the euro. The ECB's next scheduled meeting is Thursday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will meet Monday with Draghi and Germany's finance minister to discuss the challenges facing Europe and the global economy.

"There is high expectation that the European Central Bank may reactivate its bond purchase program again to prevent Spain from evolving into a full-blown crisis," analysts at Singapore's DBS Bank said in a report.

In morning European trade, Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.4 percent at 5,649.78 and France's CAC 40 added 0.7 percent to 3,303.34. Germany's DAX rose 0.7 percent to 6,733.01. Wall Street was poised to lose ground with Dow futures off 0.3 percent and broader S&P 500 futures down 0.4 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed up 0.8 percent at 8,635.44 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.6 percent to 19,585.40. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.9 percent to 4,245.70 and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.8 percent to 1,843.79. China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.9 percent to 2,109.91.

In energy trading, benchmark crude for September delivery was up 23 cents at $90.35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 74 cents on Friday to finish at $90.13 per barrel in New York.

In currencies, the euro was down 0.3 percent at $1.227. The dollar fell 0.3 percent to 78.26 yen.

STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Sakari Resources up after Q2 result - Reuters UK

Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:37am BST

Shares of Sakari Resources Ltd rose to the highest in nearly two weeks after the coal producer posted a 66 percent increase in its second-quarter net profit from the previous three months on the back of lower costs and higher output.

Sakari shares gained as much as 4.7 percent to S$1.33, the strongest level since July 19. Sakari stock has fallen 28 percent so far this year.

Nearly 28 million Sakari shares changed hands, 1.2 times the average full-day volume over the past 30 days. Sakari was among the top traded stocks by both value and volume in the Singapore market.

The company turned in net profit of $23.9 million for the quarter ended June, up from $14.5 million in the preceding three months. But net profit fell 39 percent from a year earlier.

"Year-on-year, coal prices had fallen quite a lot and we had expected the weaker performance. But the quarter-on-quarter improvement was actually a lot stronger than what we expected," said Carey Wong, an analyst at OCBC Investment Research.

"The key reasons for the improvement in margins is that they managed to sustain the average selling prices, and they have also managed to reduce cash costs slightly faster than what we expected."

1135 (0335 GMT) (Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore;


11:18 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Deutsche cuts COSCO, Yangzijiang target prices

Deutsche Bank cut its target prices for COSCO Corp Singapore Ltd and Yangzijiang, citing poor outlook for the Chinese shipbuilding sector.

Shares of Yangzijiang were 0.5 percent lower at S$1.005 by 0305 GMT. They have risen 10.4 percent so far this year. COSCO was down 0.5 percent at S$0.955. It has gained 9 percent this year, compared with the FT ST Industrial Index's 13.7 percent rise.

"Operating conditions and outlook in the Chinese shipbuilding sector remain challenging," due to declining new orders, falling ship prices, weak vessel financing and intensifying competition amongst Chinese yards, said Deutsche Bank in a report.

The brokerage cut its target price for Yangzijiang to S$1.10 from S$1.20, kept its 'hold' rating, and lowered its new order assumptions in 2012-2014 by 13-33 percent.

It also lowered COSCO's target price to S$1.00 from S$1.10, maintained its 'hold' rating and cut its new order assumptions for 2012-2013 by 11-17 percent. As a result, it trimmed its net income estimates for the shipbuilder by 9.1-9.4 percent over the same period.

1111 (0311 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore;


09:56 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-OCBC raises target on Tiger Airways

OCBC Investment Research raised its target price on Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd to S$0.83 from S$0.76 and maintained its buy rating, citing the Singapore budget carrier's improved operations.

Tiger shares were up 0.7 percent at S$0.695 and have risen around 9 percent so far this year versus the 15 percent gain in the FT ST Small Cap Index.

Tiger's passenger yields in its fiscal first quarter rose 9 percent from a year earlier, while the fall in average jet fuel prices provided some cost relief, OCBC noted.

OCBC said the first-quarter operating profit posted by Tiger's Singapore operations bodes well for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year as it is no longer burdened with excess aircraft, allowing it to moderate its capacity expansion in 2013.

Tiger's Australian unit is primed for recovery with the ramping up of its operations to 60 sectors a day, after being hit by flying restrictions, and the expected peak travel season later in the year, OCBC said.

For a related story, click

0946 (0146 GMT)

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore;

Asian stocks push higher as ECB hopes build - The Guardian


AP Business Writer= Hong Kong (AP) — Asian stocks pushed higher on Monday as expectations continued to build that European policymakers will unleash powerful measures to battle the continent's debt crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose 0.6 percent to 8,691.60 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent to 19,748.73. South Korea's Kospi rose 1.4 percent to 1,868.92 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.8 percent to 4,280.00. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and New Zealand also rose.

Investors are pinning their hopes on a European Central Bank meeting later this week where many expect ECB President Mario Draghi to announce big plans to support the euro, following his comments last week that the bank is "ready to do what it takes" to save the beleaguered currency. Spain's borrowing costs have surged, raising the risk that one of Europe's biggest economies will need a potentially unaffordable bailout that would strain the euro currency union.

"It's all about the ECB at the moment," strategist Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne, said in a commentary. "Mr Draghi has made people believe we will see a strong policy response to the rise in peripheral European bond yields," Shamu said. He cautioned that the chances of investors being disappointed following Thursday's meeting are very high.

China's Shanghai Composite edged 0.1 percent lower to 2,107.25 as investors appeared unimpressed by a government announcement the day before that it will launch projects to attract private investments in energy, health and other industry sectors in an attempt to reverse an economic slump.

U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers are also meeting this week, adding to hopes of more monetary stimulus for the world's biggest economy.

On Wall Street on Monday, U.S. stocks fell as investors took a more wary approach, waiting for action from Europe's leaders to follow their talk. The Dow Jones industrial average fell less than 0.1 percent to close at 13,073.01. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 also edged down less than 0.1 percent to 1,385.30, while the Nasdaq dropped 0.4 percent to 2,945.84.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.2289 from $1.2261 in late trading Monday. The dollar weakened to 78.19 Japanese yen from 78.21 yen.

Oil prices rose. Benchmark crude for September delivery was up 21 cents to 89.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 35 cents to $89.78 on Monday. In London, Brent crude was up 10 cents at $106.30 on the ICE Futures exchange.

Four Flintshire council staff suspended in financial probe - BBC News

Four council staff have been suspended over alleged operational and financial irregularities, it has emerged.

The staff are employed by Flintshire's Streetscene section which looks after refuse collection, street cleaning and grass cutting.

North Wales Police said they had been informed.

Council chief executive Colin Everett said interim arrangements had been made to ensure "continuity of service until the investigation is complete".

Mr Everett added no further information could be provided to avoid "risks of identifying the individuals involved or prejudicing the investigation".

Morning business round-up: HSBC sets aside $2bn - BBC News

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

HSBC has put aside $2bn (£1.3bn) to cover potential mis-selling claims and money-laundering fines as it announces a sharp rise in first-half profits.

The bank is setting aside $1.3bn to cover UK mis-selling compensation and $700m for any US fines following the money laundering accusations.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver described the bank's failure of anti-money laundering controls as "shameful" and "embarrassing".

Pre-tax profit for the first six months of 2012 was $12.7bn, up 11% on the $11.5bn the bank made a year ago. But that figure was boosted by $4.3bn of asset sales in the US.

Investors concerns about Italy and Spain seem to have eased, as comments from European leaders suggest authorities are preparing measures to help the debt-laden countries.

Business headlines

Yields on Spain's 10-year bonds, which indicate its cost of borrowing, dropped to 6.5% in open market trading from last week's record high of 7.5%. A higher interest rate, or yield, indicates greater investor nervousness.

Italy meanwhile sold 5.48bn euros (£4.2bn) at a lower interest rate than in June. Five-year bonds were sold with an interest rate of 5.29%, compared with 5.84% in June, and 10-year bonds at 5.96%, significantly below June's 6.19%.

There were results from two of Europe's biggest airlines, Air France-KLM and Ryanair.

Losses widened at Air France-KLM to 895m euros ($1.1bn, £700m) in the three months to June, against a 197m euro loss a year earlier.

It took a one-off charge of 368m euros to cover redundancy payments as part of plans to cut 10% of its workforce.

Revenues rose 4.5% in the quarter to 6.5bn euros, with the number of passengers up by 2.4%.

However, the carrier saw a drop in its freight business due to the weak economic backdrop in Europe.

Fuel costs hit Ryanair's profits, knocking 29% off net profit for the three months to the end of June.

Ne profit was 99m euros ($122m; £77m), down from the 139m euros the company made a year earlier.

The Irish airline said traffic growth and an increase in average air fares helped to increase revenue by 11% to 1.28bn euros.

In Asia, Japanese output fell for the third straight month, prompting renewed fears the economy is losing steam.

Factory output dipped 0.1% in June, compared to the previous month. It follows a 3.4% decline in May.

The fall was mainly due to lower output in the machinery, iron and steel sectors, data showed.

Looking ahead, two of the world's biggest technology firms , Samsung and Apple, will face each other in court in California later in one of the biggest trials of its kind.

The tech firms have accused each other of intellectual property infringement.

Billions of dollars of payments could be triggered from one business to the other and sales bans imposed if the jury finds one or both parties guilty.

Submitted documents and testimony are also likely to throw fresh light on decision making processes and deals made by the two tech firms with others.

Today's Business Daily programme from the BBC World Service looks at the climate change policies of America's biggest oil company, Exxon Mobil.