Money becomes new church battleground - The Guardian Money becomes new church battleground - The Guardian

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Money becomes new church battleground - The Guardian

Money becomes new church battleground - The Guardian

The Rev Paul Perkin seemed bewildered by the question: what was his take on the latest scheme for conservative evangelical churches to withhold money from the rest of the Church of England in order to keep it out of the hands of liberals, gay people or women priests?

"I can't talk about that," he said. "You'll have to ask James Paice." Both men are vicars in south London. And both are directors of the company set up last month to implement this scheme, the Southwark Good Stewards Company. It is the latest, and perhaps the most serious, move in a bitter power struggle within the CofE and the wider Anglican communion.

Not contributing to central funds could represent a serious threat to the rest of the CofE, whose cohesion depends in part on a redistribution of money from rich, largely suburban and middle-class parishes to the inner cities and the countryside where congregations are too small and the buildings too old to be economically sustainable.

Although the Good Stewards Company claims not to be separating from the rest of the CofE, this reading is plausible only if you assume it is the rest of the CofE that has separated from Christianity.

The money will be made available only to churches that commit themselves to a rejection not just of homosexuality, but of liberalism: they must sign "in good faith" a declaration that they will "reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed … Pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord." Such people include the present archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The involvement of Perkin in this protest brings it very close to the heart of the institutional church. His is one of the most prosperous and well connected parishes in England: St Mark's, Battersea Rise, in south London, which hosted an international meeting of conservative bishops last month. Apart from encouraging others to hold back money, it is also preparing a network of sympathetic lawyers in case the church fights back.

St Mark's has a long history of financial and political links with conservative churches outside England, but it also stands very close to the central networks of the CofE. Until last year, the church's most senior civil servant, William Fittall, who is the secretary general of its governing body, the General Synod, was a regular worshipper there, a licensed reader who sometimes preached for them.

Before last month's meeting, the congregation were treated to a sermon from the archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, one of the leaders of the conservative movement, who said: "The world has invaded the church. So the contest we have, as Bible-based, Bible-believing Christians, is on two fronts. It is against the world, but it is also against those in the church who have come to terms with the world, who have made their peace with the world, who have compromised with the world, who have given up biblical standards in order to be thought well of in the world."

He warned the congregation they would be vilified, discriminated against, and turned into second-class citizens for their beliefs. "Alas, the truth of the matter is that there are occasions in which the church is being used to persecute the church," he said.

Last year, the evangelical parties blocked the appointment as bishop of Southwark of the two liberal candidates, Jeffrey John, who is gay, and Nick Holtam, who is sympathetic to gay marriage. The compromise candidate, Christopher Chessun, has failed to promote any evangelicals in his first year in office. This month 100 of them demanded, and got, a meeting with the bishop to complain about this.

Even those among conservatives who do not support the financial boycott, and they are a majority, now feel aggrieved at the lack of promotion for evangelicals.

And among the others, the dream of financial independence from the rest of the church has been nurtured for years.

The Rev Richard Perkins, who runs a small independent but still Anglican chapel in Southwark, once blogged: "Why would you give money to a corrupt central administration that'll use it to fund ministries which we oppose? … We shouldn't fund heresy. That's disgraceful."

These tensions are mirrored in the wider Anglican communion, which the conservatives hope to control because they far outnumber the liberal churches of the Anglo-Saxon world. They believe they speak for the true CofE, never mind what the archbishop of Canterbury or the synod may decide. They have set up a body calling itself the Anglican Mission in England.

Five retired English bishops, among them Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester who was the evangelical candidate for archbishop of Canterbury last time, have promised to act as bishops for those clergy who sign up to the pledge not to accept women bishops or tolerate gay people in the church. It is not at all clear that these arrangements are legal, since the authority of the bishops over their clergy is established by the law of England. But any legal battle would be enormously expensive and time consuming. There is no sign that the rest of the Church of England has the stomach for it.

One crisis is approaching rapidly. This summer the synod must decide whether to accept legislation allowing women to become bishops that will not make special provision for their opponents. The present draft is the product of years of wrangling. If it goes through unamended Nazir-Ali predicts that more clergy will come over to his organisation. They will attempt to leave the rest of the CofE, taking their money and their churches with them – all the while claiming, as their rhetoric already suggests, that it is the rest of the church that has left them.

But if the bishops water down the draft to avoid this open split the other side – a great majority of the church – will probably rebel. Campaigners for women bishops threaten to vote the whole measure down rather than accept amendments that would give them a permanent second-class status. The bishops meet later this month to decide and their space for compromise is vanishingly small.

Euro worries slam U.S. stocks - MSN Money
Charley BlaineUpdated: 2:25 p.m.

You can't blame Facebook (FB) for today's market slump. The stock is up 72 cents to $31.72 today after two days of losses.

Blame Dell (DELL), which missed Street estimates badly with its fiscal-first quarter earnings. Blame Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which reports results after today's close and has been falling in sympathy with Dell.

But above all, blame Europe and the debate of Greece's future as a eurozone nation. The turmoil on the continent has pushed the euro to its lowest level against the dollar in two years. That means investors seeking safety see that safety in the greenback. That means lower U.S. interest rates.

The euro crushing knocked gold (-GC) and metals lower. It briefly pushed crude oil (-CL) below $90 a barrel for the first time since October. And it has hurt the stocks of big companies that generate large portions of their business in Europe. Think Dell, IBM (IBM), 3MM (MMM) and big banks.

The result: The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) are off 160 points to 12,343 at 2:25 p.m. ET. There is a little good news in that number: The blue chips have been down as many as 191 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) is down 16 points to 1,301 There's a little good in that number, too: The index dropped under 1,300 but has climbed back. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) is off 31 points to 2,808. The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) is down 29 points to 2,510.

Dell is by far the worst performer among S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 stocks. Hewlett-Packard is the worst performer among the 30 Dow stocks and the 5th worst S&P 500 performer.

Dell was down $2.73 to $12.36; it hit a 52-week low of $12.31. The personal-computer maker reported 43 cents a share after one-time charges are excluded. Wall Street was looking for 46 cents. Revenue fell to $14.42 billion from $15.02 billion a year ago. It guided lower for the second quarter.

Business was especially weak in notebook sales; they're getting cannibalized by tablets such as Apple's (AAPL). Sales to the public sector were weak and Europe was weak.

HP was down $1.02 to $20.76. It also hit a 52-week low of $20.76. The company faces the same environment and is expected to announce a huge round of job cuts when it reports later today.

Apple, normally the biggest influence on the Nasdaq-100, was up $2.95 to $559.92.

A bias to the downside
Only two of the 30 Dow stocks are higher: Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and Coca-Cola (KO).

Meanwhile, only 53 S&P 500 stocks are higher, led by Expedia (EXPD) and Big Lots (BIG). And 21 Nasdaq-100 stocks are higher, led by Expedia (EXPE) and Avago Technologies (AVGO).

Crude oil slumps, along with gold
Crude oil was down $1.83 to $90.02 a barrel in New York; it had traded as low as $89.28. Brent crude was off $2.17 to $106.03 a barrel after falling to as low as $105.25 a barrel.

The national average retail price of gasoline was $3.678 a gallon, down slightly from $3.68 on Tuesday, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.  The price is now down 6.6% since peaking in early April.

Gold was at $1,548.70 an ounce, down $27.90, near the close in New York. It had fallen to as low as $1,532.80. Silver (-SI) and copper (-HG) fell 66 cents to $27.519 an ounce and 9.1 cents to $3.396 an ounce. Gold is off 1.2% for the year, with silver down 1.4% and copper 1.2%.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell to a record low 1.719% from Tuesday's 1.793%. If you think that's low, the 30-year German bund rate fell under 2%. A two-year Swiss note yields -0.1%. Yes, you pay for the safety.

Facebook rises while the lawsuits start
While Facebook's shares were higher today, the controversy over the messy initial public offering continues.

Three Facebook investors filed a civil lawsuit today in New York, alleging the company and its underwriters failed to properly disclose changes to analysts' forecasts made at the underwriting banks.

The suit follows reports that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs analysts cut their revenue forecasts on Facebook during the investor roadshow, a change that wasn't widely disseminated, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Late Tuesday, Massachusetts sent a subpoena to Morgan Stanley following the reports. Several other plaintiffs' lawyers have said they filed suits over the offering in other courts throughout the country, seeking class-action status.

The New York law suit, which also seeks class-action status, alleges the changes made to Facebook's offering document, which said that mobile-user growth could slow revenue growth, didn't accurately portray the impact on Facebook's finances.

How much chaos would a Greek departure from the eurozone cost?
In Europe, the question was when Greece would leave the Eurozone and how much chaos that would cause. Germany's Bundesbank said a Greek departure would be "manageable."

A bad day for European stocks immediately got worse. British, German and French stocks closed down more than 2%. The euro was trading at $1.2566.

A summit on the Greek question was to be held tonight, and there was little confidence anything positive would happen.

"The meeting may reveal a growing rift within the group as the anti-austerity movement gathers pace," David Song, currency analyst at Daily FX, told the Guardian newspaper in London. "However, it seems as though the European Central Bank will carry its wait-and-see approach into the second-half of the year in an effort to secure its independence."

More life in housing
If you're hungering for some good news, let us guide you to the April new-home sales report.

The report showed that sales of new homes rose 3.3% from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000 units. That's also up 9.9% from a year ago.

Now, don't get too excited. The February sales rate was 358,000 units, and the April sales rate is still off 75% from the 2005 peak of 1.39 million units. That, of course, was during the housing bubble. A more or less sustainable level of new-home sales may be 720,000 units, the 20-year average between 1983 and 2002.

The supply of new homes was just 5.1 months, down from 5.2 months in March and 6.7 months a year ago.

Luxury builder Toll Bros. (TOL) said it earned 10 cents a share on revenue of $373.7 million, up from a loss of 28 cents a share and revenue of $319.7 million a year ago.  "The spring selling season has been the most robust and sustained since the downturn began," CEO Douglas Yearley said in a statement. Shares rose 25 cents to $27.28.

Stocks Cut Losses, but All S&P Sectors Lower - CNBC

Stocks shaved most of their losses in the final hour of trading Wednesday, with the Nasdaq entering positive territory, but investors were still focused on worries over a possible Greek exit.

Stocks started to claw back in the final half hour of trading after a meeting between Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and French President Francois Hollande in which the two agreed to consider all measures to boost European economic growth, including euro zone bonds.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was still trading lower, led by H-P [HPQ  Loading...      ()   ] and Intel [INTC  Loading...      ()   ]. The blue-chip index was down more than 190 points at its session low.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq turned narrowly mixed. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, surged above 24.

Among the key S&P sectors, health care lagged, while materials turned higher.

“People want to see if the new French President can lead a group of activist growth stimulators or if Germany will keep driving the bus,” said Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services. “That’s the key thing traders will take away from today’s [summit] and they’ll be watching the euro for that.”

The euro fell below $1.26, hitting its lowest against the dollar since July 2010. The German 30-year bund yield tumbled below 2 percent for the first time ever. And oil prices slumped to seven-month lows with U.S. light, sweet crude settling below $90 a barrel.

“This is a market that’s nervous over the deteriorating situation in Greece and Europe and waiting for a policy response that can assuage fears,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Investors were rattled in the previous session after Greece's former Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said the risk of Greece leaving the euro is real, and that an exit would have "catastrophic" economic consequences for Greece and the rest of the euro zone. However, he later clarified to CNBC that no exit preparations were underway.

Still, worries over Greece's potential exit kept investors on edge, with other European officials echoing Papademos' sentiment, according to reports. European stocks fell sharply, reversing a two-session recovery rally.

Meanwhile, investors were also nervous ahead of an information EU summit in Brussels later this afternoon where European leaders are expected to discuss growth-boosting measures and the prospect of common euro zone bonds. However, most strategists were doubtful that any new developments would happen.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the meeting will "only exchange opinions" and "won't decide anything," according to reports.

“This is a market that demands flexibility and caution,” cautioned Krosby. “There will be rumors that come out of this meeting—and rumors can move the market both up and down.”

Facebook [FB  Loading...      ()   ]traded higher, struggling to recover sharp losses from the last two trading sessions. Needham initiated coverage of the firm with a "buy" rating and a $40 price target. (Read More: Morgan Stanley Under Review Over Handling of Facebook)

Dell [DELL  Loading...      ()   ] plunged after the IT giant forecast disappointing second-quarter revenue as U.S. and European corporate tech spending weakens and consumer personal computer sales continue to shrink. At least nine brokerages slashed their price target on the firm. Other tech companies traded lower, including Microsoft [MSFT  Loading...      ()   ], AMD [AMD  Loading...      ()   ] and Juniper Networks [JNPR  Loading...      ()   ].

Rival Hewlett-Packard [HPQ  Loading...      ()   ] is scheduled to post after the closing bell tonight. The Dow component is also expected to announce steep layoffs during its earnings report.

Wal-Mart [WMT  Loading...      ()   ] was among the only Dow stock trading higher, earlier touching a 12-year high.

Toll Brothers [TOL  Loading...      ()   ] edged higher after the luxury homebuilder posted earnings that beat expectations and reported a strong jump in new orders, thanks to a strong spring selling season.

Guess [GES  Loading...      ()   ] jumped after the clothing maker reported a quarterly profit that beat market expectations. And PetSmart [PETM  Loading...      ()   ] surged after the pet products retailer posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook. At least nine brokerages boosted their price target on the firm.

Ford [F  Loading...      ()   ] received its second "investment grade" credit rating, allowing the second-largest U.S. automaker to reclaim its Blue Oval insignia and other assets it mortgaged in 2006 to fund its turnaround plan.

Meanwhile, Ariba [ARBA  Loading...      ()   ] was trading flat after European software company SAP [SAP  Loading...      ()   ] said it plans to buy the company in a deal valued around $4.3 billion, the latest sideswipe against rival Oracle [ORCL  Loading...      ()   ] in the fast-growing Internet-based computing market.

On the economic front, new home sales rose 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 343,000-unit annual rate in April, according to the Commerce Department, beating expectations for a 335,000-unit reading.

Treasurys prices held near session highs after the government auctioned $35 billion in 5-year notes at a high yield of 0.748 and bid-to-cover of 2.99.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, jobless claims, 7-yr note auction, BlackRock shareholders mtg, Goldman Sachs shareholders mtg, McDonald's shareholders mtg; Earnings from Costco, Tiffany
FRIDAY: Consumer sentiment, USDA food prices outlook

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Save Money Purchasing A Used Vehicle - Examiner

The most common concern in purchasing any used vehicle, of course, is the price, interest and payment plan (if applicable). Obtaining a good deal is a matter of deciding what you can afford budget wise. However, one of the most often overlooked facets to used car purchases is not the base price or monthly payments, but the condition of the vehicle, resale value, fuel economy (engine and vehicle size) and repair expenses for parts and labor. Your job stability and frequency of income also plays a major part in determining what is truly affordable for your family budget. Put all of these considerations together before signing that contract, a contract that could have you locked into steep long-term payments, with a vehicle that will soon need extra service and major repair.

Job and Budget Concerns

A permanent, full-time job is the best assurance when entering into a used car contract, or any major purchase. Good to great credit scores are also beneficial, if not a solid requirement. A decent part-time job can be okay, provided you have the added income of another household member who can shoulder some of the financial burden. If you have a job that pays on commission, you will need to know your accurate average draw per month (after taxes), and factor in seasonality income, if it applies. The ideal time to sign a used car contract is when you have just paid off another major expense, like a doctor bill, landscaping modification, room addition, or another car payment. Check your emotions¯obey your logic¯Time your used car purchase when you know, emphatically, that it will not put a strain on your overall budget and expenditures.

Dollars and (Sense)

According to financial expert's rule of thumb: your total debt payments shouldn't be any higher than roughly 36 percent of your gross yearly income. If you make $50,000 per year, your totaled debt payments should not exceed a yearly income of $18,000. This is a base average, but allows for a safe margin for just about any budget. Divide the figure by 12 and it will indicate $1,500 per month. So if your total debts for the month are $1,300, then it leaves room for only a $200 monthly car payment. Avoid contracts that stipulate 60 or 70-month long-term durations. A basic rule of thumb states that you should be able to pay the vehicle off in three years or less. Also try to keep your interest rates down, and this will depend on your credit rating. Anywhere from 5 to 9 percent will be much more digestible than 13 to 19 percent. Get an insurance quote on the vehicle before you make the purchase.

Make Model and Year

Owning a BMW or Audi might give you an ego boost and impress the neighbors, but you will end up paying extra for service, parts and labor down the road. Exotic foreign make vehicles generally have much higher repair costs than domestics, like Ford or Chevrolet. Dealership repairs are even higher, where per-hour labor costs can approach triple digits. Luxury cars equipped with extras like seat warmers, electric antennas, light-sensing headlights, GPS, and other electrical add-ons will most certainly be factored into the price. Ask yourself if you need these options and are willing to pay extra for them. Vehicles that are 3 to 5 years old (generally) are good used car bets, provided the mileage does not exceed around 150,000 miles. The lower the mileage, the better, unless the vehicle has a very poor service record or major visual damage. Consider smaller four-cylinder and V-6 options for engine size. These smaller engines have met with vast improvements in horsepower and fuel economy, even in the last few decades. Refer to the Kelly Blue Book for used value, which can help you determine the best vehicle for resale.

Visual Condition

Tires should be a first consideration when visually inspecting the outside of the vehicle, since replacements can run into the hundreds of dollars. Bald tires show neglect and raise safety issues. The horizontal bridges (or wear bars) should be visually prominent  across the breadth of the tire tread. You would like to have at least half of the original tire tread showing, or between 4/32 to 6/32 of an inch remaining. All navigational lights, brake lights, directional, head and taillights should be operational, with lenses intact. The window panes, especially the front, should be free of blemishes, cracks and chips. Test the structural integrity of the car exterior by knocking on the body panels: doors, fenders, hood, trunk and roof. This simple test can determine if body putty has been used as a repair procedure after an accident.

Major Components and Engine

Have a certified mechanic check the vehicle out before purchase. It's well worth the investment and precaution. Or a potential buyer can perform their own cursory inspection. Look for evidence of major fluid leaks, like transmission fluid, antifreeze, brake fluid, gear and engine oil. Tapping or clacking sounds can point to worn or collapsed hydraulic lifters, or solid lifters in need of adjustment. White-blue smoke can indicate excessive oil consumption, while black smoke and rough idle or starting, can signify excessive fuel consumption. Any noise originating from the front end can point to worn ball joints or A-arm bushings, tie rod ends or other worn suspension parts. A vehicle should not drift or pull as it is driven down a straight, slightly crowned road. Any vehicle pull can denote a worn suspension part or a need for alignment.

Service Records

Obtain the service records of the vehicle beforehand, and find out if the vehicle has been properly serviced at regular intervals. Door jamb stickers can indicate light service intervals, like oil changes and tuneups. Go online to use a vehicle history report, such as Carfax. By listing the vehicle's license plate or VIN (vehicle identification number) in the Carfax database, you can obtain information on the vehicle's sales history, accident record, and major engine and component repair information. Such a vehicle history report will also warn against liens and vehicle theft, verifying that it has a "clean" title.

World stocks fall amid political turmoil in Greece - Yahoo Finance

BANGKOK (AP) -- World stocks dived Wednesday after a failure by Greece's political leaders to form a coalition government set the stage for new elections next month, keeping Europe's debt crisis center stage.

The turmoil in Greece sent European shares lower in early trading. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.9 percent to 5,388.93 and Germany's DAX slid 1 percent to 6,335.93. France's CAC-40 was down 0.4 percent at 2,036.30.

Wall Street was also headed for a lower opening, with Dow Jones industrial futures losing 0.1 percent to 12,589. S&P 500 futures were 0.2 percent down at 1,325.90.

Asian benchmarks recorded sharp losses earlier in the day.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 1.1 percent to close at 8,801.17, its lowest close since Jan. 30, amid discouraging economic news. Core private-sector machinery orders fell 2.8 percent in March, the first drop in three months, Japan's Cabinet Office said.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng plummeted 3.2 percent to 19,259.83 and South Korea's Kospi fell 3.1 percent to 1,840.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 2.4 percent to 4,165.50 amid sliding commodities prices.

Newly elected Greek leaders — hotly divided over how to resolve the country's economic crisis — failed Tuesday to form a new government. That means new elections must be held in June.

Some investors fear a win by parties that oppose unpopular austerity measures necessary for Greece to qualify for urgently needed bailout money. Without the money, the country would likely default on its debt and leave the euro common currency.

"The Greek crisis will continue to frustrate markets, keeping sentiment under pressure," analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong wrote in an email.

Mainland Chinese shares also lost ground, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index falling 1.2 percent to 2,346.19. The Shenzhen Composite Index dropped 1.4 percent to 942.04. Shares in real estate, cement producers, furniture makers and financial companies weakened.

Elsewhere, blue-chip shares across sectors throughout Asia registered sharp losses. South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. plunged 6.2 percent and Hyundai Motors Co. shed 4 percent. In Japan, Toyota Motor Corp. lost 2.1 percent. Nomura Holdings Inc. lost 1.5 percent.

Shares of major Chinese shipping companies plummeted amid fears of weakness in Europe, a critical export market. Hong Kong-listed China Shipping Container Lines Co. sank 5.2 percent. China COSCO Holdings Co. dropped 3.7 percent.

"The Chinese shipping sector is down sharply and continues to downtrend," said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. "The market is not good right now, but I expect a technical rebound is coming."

Falling commodities prices hurt Australia's mining sector. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's largest mining company, lost 4.1 percent. Rio Tinto Ltd. was down 3.9 percent. Paladin Energy Ltd. tumbled 9.3 percent.

Benchmark oil fell $1.56 to $92.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 80 cents Tuesday to finish at $93.98 per barrel in New York — oil hasn't finished that low since Dec. 19.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2716 from $1.2734 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 80.36 yen from 80.27 yen.


AP researcher Fu Ting contributed from Shanghai.

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