Financial Worries Add to Cancer Patients' Burden - US News and World Report Financial Worries Add to Cancer Patients' Burden - US News and World Report

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Financial Worries Add to Cancer Patients' Burden - US News and World Report

Financial Worries Add to Cancer Patients' Burden - US News and World Report

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- A small study gives a snapshot into the financial anxieties that plague many patients with advanced cancer and their spouses, even as they struggle against the disease itself.

Four of every five such American patients and their spouses-caregivers in the study said they had concerns about meeting medical costs and suffered "financial stress." Worries about paying medical costs also were tied to lower mental and physical health, the study found.

"Across the board, the longer they were in treatment or reaching the end of life, there were [financial] concerns. There were concerns whether it came to their own well-being or their families' well-being," said study lead author Fay Hlubocky, a clinical psychologist and ethicist at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

She reported the findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago.

The study involved 52 patients with advanced cancers, all of whom were enrolled in clinical trials, and their spouses. While patients in clinical trials are a slightly different group than that seen in the general population (because some expenses of treatment may be paid for), Hlubocky said the numbers from her study "are borne out in the literature generally" for patients battling cancer outside of such trials.

Patients ranged in age from 28 to 78, with a median age of 61. All were married, two-thirds had more than a high school education, and just over half made less than $65,000 a year. Forty-five percent of the patients were employed, as were two-thirds of spouses-caregivers. Each patient and their spouse were asked about a wide range of financial concerns, and they also took part in standard tests assessing depression, anxiety, quality of life and mental/physical health.

The researchers found that at the beginning of the study, 82 percent of the patients and 69 percent of the spouses reported "medical cost concerns," while 79 percent of the patients and 81 percent of spouses said they had "financial stress." Queried a month later, the level of "medical cost concerns" had risen -- 85 percent of patients and 72 percent of spouses now cited such worries.

People who encountered "unexpected" costs related to care had higher anxiety and depression scores than those who did not, the study found. Quality-of-life scores were lower for patients who had financial worries, and the physical and mental health of the spouses-caregivers seemed to decline as medical care cost worries persisted, the study found.

What were patients and their spouses worried about? According to Hlubocky, it ranged from the "little things" -- parking and hotel accommodations, gas and mileage getting to and from doctors' appointments -- to much larger concerns, including insurance coverage (or lack thereof), how to provide for loved ones after death, and even bankruptcy.

Some participants expressed real anxiety in meeting their financial obligations. "We had to pay for an additional hospitalization for a small-bowel obstruction, and insurance would not cover it," one patient told the researchers. "If we had to sell our house to pay, we'd do it."

Other patients felt their illness threatened their livelihood. "My employer has an attendance policy that if violated too many times will result in termination," the patient said. "My appointments have to be midday usually." The patient considered going on disability, "but that would not pay for my insurance."

One expert said these types of fears are all too common for people coping with cancer.

"It is certainly true that the impacts beyond diagnosis and treatment are tremendous for cancer patients," said Dr. Sylvia Adams, ASCO spokeswoman and assistant professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City. "They do face several challenges. And as this article shows, there is a substantial number of patients who feel that there is anxiety and depression and lower quality of life associated with worries about financial stability."

Adams said that, even for people with insurance, costs can quickly escalate. These include medication co-pays, transportation costs, time missed from work, child-care issues and the cost of in-home medical devices.

Stocks for a small-cap bounce - MSN Money

Since the stock market began to turn lower two months ago amid renewed fears about the European debt crisis, small-cap stocks have fared worse than their larger peers. It shouldn't be a surprise -- often when fears hit and the market falls investors lean toward stocks of larger companies, assuming they will be more stable and steady during tough times.


Many quality small-caps can thus get unfairly punished during such periods, creating bargains among the market's little guys. That's what's happening with many smaller stocks right now according my Guru Strategies ideas (each of which is based on the approach of a different investing great).

Very often, investors who take advantage of such bargains get a big boost when the market turns back up again, as smaller stocks outperform larger stocks when fears subside and investors begin to take on more risk.

In 2010, for example, the market really began to turn upward after its summer doldrums on Aug. 30. Over the next three months, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($COMPX) gained about 12.6%; the Vanguard Small Cap ETF (VB) jumped more than 20%. Last year, after stocks bottomed on Oct. 3, the S&P rose about 16.2% over the next three months; the Vanguard Small Cap ETF gained more than 21%.


I'm not saying the market has bottomed, or that you should try to time the market. What's more important here is that many high-quality small-caps are trading on the cheap. So even if they don't snap back today or next week, they're still the sort of longer-term bargains you should consider for your portfolio. (And if they do happen to turn around sooner rather than later, all the better.) Here are several my models are high on right now:


L.B. Foster Company (FSTR): Pittsburgh-based Foster ($275 million market cap) makes construction and other products that range from rail joints to bridge decking to water well piping. My Benjamin Graham-inspired model is high on the stock.

Graham, known as the father of value investing, was a very conservative investor, and this approach looks for companies with good liquidity (current ratio of at least 2.0) and a strong balance sheet (long-term debt should not exceed net current assets).

Foster has a 3.2 current ratio, no long-term debt, and about $160 million in net current assets. It also trades for a reasonable 14 times three-year average earnings, and just 0.88 times book value.


Darling International (DAR): Darling ($1.7 billion market cap) is in the business of rendering -- turning animal by-products from butcher shops, grocery stores, food service companies, and meat and poultry processors into oils and proteins used by agricultural, leather and chemical firms. It also recycles cooking oils used by restaurants into useable products like animal feed and industrial oils, and it recycles bakery waste into by-products like cookie meal (an animal feed ingredient).


Darling has been an explosive grower, upping earnings per share at a 47% pace over the long haul (I use an average of the three-, four-, and five-year earnings per share figures to determine a long-term rate.) That makes it a fast-grower according to my Peter Lynch-based model -- Lynch's favorite type of investment.

Lynch famously used the price to earnings to growth ratio to find bargain-priced growth stocks, and when we divide Darling's 10.9 price-to-earnings ratio by that long-term growth rate, we get a PEG of just 0.23. That easily comes in under this model's upper limit of 1.0. While it will be tough to maintain such a high growth rate, the stock is cheap enough that it would be a bargain at even half its current growth.


The model I base on the writings of hedge fund guru Joel Greenblatt is also high on Darling. Greenblatt's approach is a remarkably simple one that looks at just two variables: earnings yield and return on capital. Darling's 15% earnings yield and 49.7% ROC make it one of the top stocks in the market right now according to this approach.


Fred's (FRED): Fred's ($500 million market cap) operates more than 700 discount general merchandise stores in the southeastern United States. Like many discount retailers, it's done quite well in recent years, and my Lynch-based model likes its 22.2% long-term growth rate and 14.6 price-to-earnings ratio. Those figures make for a bargain-priced 0.66 PEG ratio.


Another reason my Lynch model likes Fred: The firm's debt/equity ratio is a mere 1.7%.


MWI Veterinary Supply (MWIV): This Idaho medical equipment small-cap ($1.2 billion) keys on a very specialized group of end users: animals. It sells its products, which include pharmaceuticals, vaccines, parasiticides and pet food and nutritional products, to veterinarians in the U.S. and U.K. In the past year, it has taken in more than $1.8 billion in sales.


MWI has actually outperformed the market since the downturn, but my models still think there's value in the stock. It gets strong interest from my Martin Zweig-inspired model, which likes the firm's long-term earnings per share growth (24.9%) and long-term sales growth (22%). It also likes that earnings per share have increased in each year of the past half-decade, and that MWI's debt is less than 20% of its equity.


My Lynch-based model, meanwhile, likes MWI's 24.9% long-term earnings per share growth rate. Its price-to-earnings is on the high side (24.1), but the firm's growth is high enough that its PEG ratio still comes in at 0.97, just under the model's 1.0 upper limit. And my James MWIVO'Shaughnessy-based growth model likes that it has upped earnings per share in each year of the past half-decade, and that it has an 81 relative strength and 0.65 price-to-sales ratio.


LSB Industries (LXU): LSB ($600 million market cap) manufactures a range of hydronic fan coils, heat pumps, large custom air handlers and other products used in commercial and residential air-conditioning systems, as well as chemical products for mining, quarry and construction, agricultural and industrial acid markets.


LSB gets strong interest from the approach top money manager Kenneth Fisher laid out in his 1984 classic "Super Stocks." Fisher pioneered the use of the price-to-sales ratio (PSR) as a valuation metric, finding it to be a better indicator than the more popular price-to-earnings ratio. This model looks for cyclical and industrial-type firms to have PSRs below 0.8. LSB's is 0.74, a good sign. The model also likes LSB's reasonable 26% debt-to-equity ratio, 26.2% long-term inflation-adjusted earnings per share growth rate, and three-year average net profit margins of 6.4%.


My Lynch-based model also likes LSB, thanks to its 28.6% long-term earnings per share growth rate and 8.2 price-to-earnings ratio, which make for a stellar 0.29 PEG ratio. It also likes the company's reasonable debt load.


I'm long FSTR and MWIV. 

John Reese is founder and CEO of Validea Capital Management and, a premium investment research site, and the author of "The Guru Investor: How to Beat the Market Using History's Best Investment Strategies".

US STOCKS-Wall St gains 2 pct on talk of Spain solution - Reuters UK

Wed Jun 6, 2012 9:33pm BST

* EU studying ways of rescuing Spanish banks-sources

* All 10 S&P sectors higher; tech, energy lead

* Tempur-Pedic shares plunge after revising forecast

* Stocks up: Dow 2.4 pct, S&P 2.3 pct, Nasdaq 2.4 pct (Updates to close)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks jumped on Wednesday, giving the S&P 500 its best day since December, as talk of a rescue of Spain's troubled banks and hopes for more monetary stimulus sparked a rebound from recent selling.

After a 6 percent fall by the S&P 500 in May that took the index below its key 200-day moving average on Friday, the market was ripe for a rebound, analysts said. Buying was strong across the broad market, with all 10 S&P 500 sectors gaining ground.

"The market was at least getting close to the point of seller exhaustion. Once that happens, the pressure to cover short positions increases," said Chris Burba, a short-term market technician at Standard & Poor's in New York.

The S&P 500 also held above the psychologically important 1,300 level, while the Dow inched back into positive territory for the year.

"Capitulation occurred as the S&P hit its 200-day average, and now an oversold bounce is under way," said Burba, who noted that volume levels also increased on Friday

The energy, financial and technology sectors, all of which are tied to strong global demand, led gainers Wednesday. Among the big banks, shares of Bank of America shot up 7.6 percent to $7.64 and shares of Morgan Stanley climbed 8.4 percent to $13.94, both extending gains just ahead of the close.

European sources said German and European Union officials were seeking solutions for Spain's weakened banks, the latest worry in the fiscally troubled euro zone. Madrid has not yet requested assistance and is resisting political conditions.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi suggested earlier Wednesday that further stimulus to tackle the euro zone's debt crisis would not necessarily be forthcoming, but speculation persisted that the ECB could act if financial market tensions intensify further.

The ECB left interest rates unchanged following its meeting Wednesday.

In the United States, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart said the central bank may need to consider further monetary easing if a wobbly U.S. economy falters or Europe's crisis creates more of a financial shock.

Investors will be keen to hear from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is due to testify on the economy before a congressional committee on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 286.84 points, or 2.37 percent, at 12,414.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 29.63 points, or 2.30 percent, at 1,315.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 66.61 points, or 2.40 percent, at 2,844.72.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 had their biggest daily percentage increases since Dec. 20.

The S&P 500 is now up 4.6 percent for the year so far, but remains well off its highs of the year.

In U.S. economic news, U.S. non-farm productivity fell more than expected in the first quarter as companies gave more hours to employees but only modestly expanded output.

Adding to the day's slightly more upbeat news on U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book summary that U.S. economic growth picked up over the two prior months and hiring showed signs of a modest increase.

Facebook Inc is making it easier for advertisers to reach the growing ranks of users on smartphones and mobile devices, taking a significant step toward addressing one of investors' most pressing concerns and broadening its appeal to marketers. The stock rose 3.6 percent to $26.81.

On the down side, shares of Tempur-Pedic International Inc. fell 48.7 percent to $22.39 after revising its full year forecast. (Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Stocks rise even as European Central Bank fails to offer fresh stimulus - Winnipeg Free Press
A shovel and a jackhammer stand near the Euro sculpture in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, March 7, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Michael Probst

Enlarge Image

A shovel and a jackhammer stand near the Euro sculpture in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday, March 7, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Michael Probst

TORONTO - A rally on the Toronto stock market extended to a second session Wednesday as traders continued to pick up stocks that have been beaten down amid concern about the potential global impact of the European Union's drawn-out debt crisis.

The S&P/TSX composite index jumped 125.69 points to close at 11,633.4 on top of a 172-point surge Tuesday. The index had been up as much as 179 points Wednesday morning but gains eroded as the gold sector turned sharply lower, even as bullion closed at a one-month high. The TSX Venture Exchange was up 17.07 points to 1,302.64.

Buyers moved in following a drop of almost two per cent last week that left the market down about 10 per cent from the highs of 2012 in late February.

"It’s a relief rally," said John Stephenson, portfolio manager at First Asset Funds.

"Many people have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity to get in. And hope springs eternal."

The Canadian dollar was up 0.95 of a cent to 97.29 cents US as traders waded into riskier assets such as equities, commodities and resource-based currencies.

Gains were also supported by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest regional survey on the economy.

The Fed’s so-called Beige Book found that the U.S. economy grew moderately in most regions of the country this spring and companies kept hiring. This was a hopeful sign after a spate of gloomy data released last week, including a huge miss in expectations for job creation during May.

New York's Dow Jones industrials surged 286.84 points to 12,414.79.

The Nasdaq composite index gained 66.61 points to 2,844.72 and the S&P 500 index was ahead 29.63 points to 1,315.13.

The rise also reflected rumours that Germany and European Union officials were moving quickly to find a way to rescue Spain’s hobbled banks.

Markets have been whipsawed over the last month by growing worries about the eurozone debt crisis, including the possibility that Greece could be forced to leave the monetary union. But concerns have greatly increased in recent days about the health of Spanish banks, which are loaded with billions of toxic loans as a result of the collapse of the country's housing sector.

Spain needs money to rescue its ailing banks, but can currently only receive such aid from the EU in a government bailout package. Madrid adamantly wants to avoid such a solution, as it would mean fellow eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund would be allowed to impose fiscal policies on the country.

The country has been forced to pay higher interest rates on its debt, coming close last week to the seven per cent level that is widely viewed as unsustainable.

The yield on Spain’s key 10-year bond edged down to 6.24 per cent Wednesday morning on hopes the European Union may be moving closer toward adopting measures that could alleviate the country’s financial crisis.

The TSX energy sector advanced 2.64 per cent as commodity prices moved higher with the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up 73 cents to US$85.02 a barrel. Prices have been buffeted over the past few weeks as the worsening eurozone crisis has stalled an already fragile global economic recovery with commodities hitting multi-month lows. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) gained 94 cents to $29.24 and Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) ran up $1.59 to $32.47.

Prices for copper, viewed as an economic bellwether as it is used in so many applications, jumped nine cents to US$3.38 a pound and the base metals sector gained 3.4 per cent. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) rose 90 cents to $32.31 while Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) gained 42 cents to $10.56.

Financials were also supportive, up 1.16 per cent as Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) moved ahead 62 cents to $54.98 while Sun Life Financial (TSX:SU) was 84 cents higher to $21.35.

Laurentian Bank's B2B Trust (TSX:LB) will pay about $415.5 million in cash to acquire the trust operation of AGF Management Ltd. (TSX:AGF.B). AGF's shares gained 52 cents to $12.24.

Laurentian Bank (TSX:LB) also said that it will boost its quarterly dividend by two cents to 47 cents per common share. Laurentian shares gained $1.11 to $42.35.

The gold sector drifted into negative territory, down about one per cent while bullion prices also improved with the August contract ahead $17.30 to US$1,634.20 an ounce, its highest close in a month. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:IMG) faded 48 cents to $41.30.

Traders also took in a major shakeup of the senior management at Canada’s biggest gold company, which has been disappointed by its stock performance.

Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) says Aaron Regent has been replaced as president and chief executive officer by Jamie Sokalsky, who was the Toronto-based company’s chief financial officer. Barrick stock declined $2.17 at $41.53, down sharply from its 52-week high of $55.36.

The European Central Bank said earlier in the day that it was keeping its key rate unchanged at one per cent.

There had been hopes ECB President Mario Draghi would also indicate the bank is prepared to cut the rate next month to stimulate a weakening eurozone economy and at the same time approve more stimulus measures in an effort to spur governments to take action themselves.

But Draghi has said the central bank cannot make up for inaction by governments.

Analysts say the bank is now likely to see what European leaders can come up with at a summit at the end of this month.

"But the problems that have plagued the eurozone are unlikely to get resolved any time soon because at the heart one is poor design and the euro itself is flawed because there is no fiscal part of it," added Stephenson.

World stocks, commodities rally on stimulus hopes - YAHOO!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World stocks, commodities and the euro rallied on Wednesday as European officials urgently explored ways to rescue Spain's debt-laden banks and expectations grew major central banks would act to bolster a slowing global economy.

But comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi offset some of the optimism after he dashed hopes for more long-term, cheap loans, saying it was not up to the ECB to make up for other institutions' lack of action.

The ECB resisted pressure to provide more support for the euro zone's ailing economy at its regular monthly policy meeting by holding its main interest rate steady at 1 percent.

"Markets again look to central bankers like dogs to pieces of meat. Will the dog get the meat and will it taste as good?" said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak in New York.

"Draghi didn't bring the meat the market dogs were hoping for as he seems to be standing pat for now, likely waiting for more stress to develop before announcing something new of substance."

The debt crisis in Europe showed signs of escalating after Spain, the euro zone's fourth-biggest economy, said on Tuesday it was effectively losing access to credit markets due to prohibitive borrowing costs and appealed to European partners to help revive its banks.

Recent disappointing economic data from the United States and China, as well as signs of a euro area slowdown, have been piling up pressure on the world's central banks to make some response.

"The market's expectation regarding further policy action globally is picking up," said Ian Stannard, an executive director at Morgan Stanley.

"We could well see easing taking place throughout many of the G10 countries," he said. "We believe that quantitative easing from the Fed is also very much back on the table."

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Wednesday the Federal Reserve may need to consider additional monetary easing if a wobbly U.S. economy falters or Europe's troubles generate a broader financial shock.

Investors are waiting for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the U.S. congressional Joint Economic Committee on Thursday.

U.S. stocks rallied at the open. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 119.69 points, or 0.99 percent, at 12,247.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 13.77 points, or 1.07 percent, at 1,299.27. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 35.24 points, or 1.27 percent, at 2,813.35.

The MSCI World Equity Index jumped 1.5 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1.8 percent.

The euro gained 0.4 percent to $1.2497, well off the near two-year low of $1.2286 set on Friday, but the single currency retreated from a session high of $1.2528 on Reuters data.

"It appears no more Band-aids are forthcoming from the (European) central bank, which has disappointed some euro bulls," said Ronald Simpson, managing director of global currency analysis at Action Economics in Tampa, Florida.

Brent crude surged to an intra-day high of $100.90 a barrel before easing back to $100.72, up $1.88. U.S. crude climbed $1.30 to $85.59.

Gold rose more than 1 percent to $1,634.09 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 12/32, with the yield at 1.6116 percent.

Stocks rise ahead of ECB meeting - Belfast Telegraph
World stock markets have perked up as a meeting of the European Central Bank raises hopes for some type of action to ease the continent's debt and banking crisis.

The meeting of the ECB's governing council, to be held later, gave hope to traders downcast by a dismal slew of economic data, including a disappointing US jobs report and a months-long slowdown in Chinese manufacturing.

European shares rose in early trading. The FTSE 100 in Britain, where markets were closed on Monday and Tuesday for Jubilee celebrations, gained 1.5% to 5,336.86. Germany's DAX rose 1.9% to 6,084.43 and France's CAC-40 gained 2% to 3,045.93.

Wall Street appeared set for gains, with Dow Jones industrial futures rising 0.8% to 12,222 and S&P 500 futures adding 1% to 1,298.

Asian stocks, meanwhile, rose following the release of data by the Institute for Supply Management that showed US non-manufacturing activity edging up to 53.7 last month from an April reading of 53.5.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.8% to close at 8,533.53. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.4% to 18,520.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.3% up to 4,055.30. Benchmarks in Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan also moved higher, but those in mainland China fell. Markets in South Korea were shut for a public holiday.

Some analysts said investors were hanging on to hopes for action by central banks and other authorities to stimulate growth, including a new round of quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve.

"Right now what is keeping the market alive is just accommodative policies from governments around the world," said Lee Kok Joo, head of research at Phillip Securities in Singapore.

"If we look at market activity closely, the volume doesn't seem to be so strong. There are still a lot of people who are not believers yet who are just staying on the sidelines, waiting for clearer visibility."

That might come on June 17 when Greece holds elections that could determine whether the country will leave the euro currency union. A messy exit from the currency bloc by Greece would be sure to hit financial markets.

Stocks to watch at close on Wednesday -

Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange:

AGK - AGL LTD - up 11 cents at $15.22

AGL Energy has raised $356.1 million through the institutional stage of its $900 capital raising to help pay for the Loy Yang brown coal power station.

ALS - ALESCO CORPORATION LTD - up eight cents at $2.01

DLX - DULUXGROUP LTD - down one cent at $2.93

Takeover target Alesco Corporation expects to report an annual underlying profit above the figure it had previously anticipated, after a strong finish to its fiscal year.

BHP - BHP BILLITON LTD - down six cents at $31.10

Iron ore from the Pilbara may be Australia's biggest current mining earner but BHP Billiton's boss says the miner needs to be ready for when that ends.

TEN - TEN NETWORK HOLDINGS LTD - in trading halt, last traded at 64 cents

Ten Network is raising $200 million to strengthen its balance sheet through the offer of new shares to existing shareholders.

WHC - WHITEHAVEN COAL LTD - up 10 cents at $3.98

Whitehaven Coal says it is better placed now to develop the highly regarded Maules Creek coal project in NSW after it sold a stake in the development.

Stocks up more than 1% in global rally - Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK -- Stocks rallied on Wall Street following the European Central Bank's announcement that it would keep pumping cheap money into the continent's troubled banks.

Major U.S. indexes were up more than 1% shortly after the opening bell, following a global stock rally from Asia to Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 154 points, or 1.3%, to 12,283 in early trading.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 17 points, or 1.4%, to 1,303.

The technology-focused Nasdaq rose 42 points, or 1.5%, to 2,820.

The ECB on Wednesday decided to keep interest rates at a record low of 1%, allowing troubled banks easy access to funds.

The Eurozone's debt crisis remains unresolved, however. The continent's most troubled economy, Greece, is set to hold elections June 17, and it is unclear whether the country will remain in the common monetary system.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve may be considering monetary solutions to shore up the economy, given continued distress in Europe and signs of a slowing American recovery, the Wall Street Journal reported.


Home price index shows April strength

Economic report drives stocks slightly higher 

Low interest rates are hampering retirement plans, survey says



Business as usual for the Royal family as they go straight back to work after Diamond Jubilee triumph - Daily Telegraph

Mr Rajapakse, whose Range Rover did not carry a flag because of security concerns, was jeered by hundreds of Tamils and other human rights campaigners who accuse him of torturing prisoners. He had earlier been forced to cancel a speech to the Commonwealth Economic Forum.

The Queen appeared relaxed about the presence of the protestors as she was handed a bouquet on her arrival by nine-year-old Aduke Badale, the daughter of one of the Secretariat’s staff.

Wearing a floral print silk dress by Stuart Parvin and a blue wool crepe hat, the Queen was welcomed by Mr Sharma, who told the guests: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all on this very special day in the history of the Commonwealth.”

The Queen was presented with a plaque on which the leaders expressed their “profound admiration and abiding appreciation for the manner in which Her Majesty has diligently and faithfully served the Commonwealth”.

The lunch was the Queen’s second official engagement of the day, following an audience with the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, during which she unveiled a new portrait of herself by the Canadian artist Phil Richards, commissioned by the Government of Canada.

In Scotland the Prince of Wales, or Duke of Rothesay as he is known north of the border, opened the biennial Scotsheep event in the grounds of Dumfries House, the stately home renovated by charities brought together by the Prince in Cumnock, Ayrshire.

Carrying a shepherd’s crook and wearing a flat cap, or bunnet, and black wellies, the Prince told farmers it was “a shame” that he had not been able to visit the previous day, but joked that he had had “a very busy few days”.

He had travelled to Scotland immediately after Tuesday’s Jubilee events and spent the night at Dumfries House before opening the event, which is the flagship show of Scotland’s National Sheep Association.

The Duke of Cambridge was heading back to Anglesey to resume his work with his RAF Search and Rescue Squadron and Prince Harry has returned to his Apache helicopter duties with the Army.

Next week the Queen will resume her round-Britain Diamond Jubilee tour by visiting Nottingham, Lincolnshire Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire.

The Duke of Edinburgh is expected to be out of hospital by then, but will wait for advice from doctors before any decision is made on whether he is well enough to accompany the Queen, as he is scheduled to.

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