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At its first meeting at Áras an Uachtaráin, the new Government decided to reduce the pay of the Taoiseach, Government Ministers and Minsters of State, March 09, 2011.
China today reported a $7.3bn trade deficit - - the biggest
in seven years.
Exports rose 2.4% in February
from a year before, the lowest since 2009 and imports jumped
19.4%, according to official data released today.
The Lunar New Year holidays
fell during the month.
The European Union remained China's largest trade
partner in the period, with EU-China trade up 16.3% year on year to US$76.2bn
Meanwhile, trade with the United States rose 22.6% year on year to $60.5bn
dollars while China-Japan trade jumped 28.8% year on year to $48.85bn dollars.
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said earlier this week during the ongoing
annual parliamentary session, that it was possible that China would register
trade deficits in some months, as the growth of imports would likely soon
outpace that of exports.
Origin Enterprises: The food and agri services group today reported tha profits
for the six months to the end of January rose by 3% to €613.3m. Operating
profits for the six months rose by 14% to €24m.
The company said its agri-services division saw a 61% jump in operating profits
to €12.6m due to the improved operating environment for farming. However,
operating profits at its food division fell by 38% to €5.05m.
Goodbody's Liam Igoe commented --
"Origin Enterprises’ interim results were well
ahead of our forecasts, which is captured in the fact that adjusted EPS (at
11.5c) was 28% higher than forecast of 8.9c. The better results reflect an
improving background for farmers due to rising soft commodity prices.
The H1 performance combined with the announced
acquisitions of UAP and Rigby Taylor means we will likely increase our full-year
EPS forecast to around 41c. In the company’s core Agri-Services, which now
represents 100% of the consolidated activities, operating profits increased by
61% to €12.6m, on the back of sales up 23% to €569m and margins that were 50bps
higher at 2.2%.
The improved H1 results were due to increased
volumes purchased by farmers (+8%), resulting from higher UK autumn plantings of
winter wheat (especially beneficial for the Masstock’s crop protection
products), favourable harvest and planting conditions and rising soft commodity
prices. They also reflect, however, somewhat easier comps with last year, when
lower pricing led to some deferral of input purchases (especially fertilisers)
into H2, whereas the reverse in happening in FY11.
In Ireland, fertiliser sales were
“satisfactory” in this slower period of the year, as were feed ingredients,
though volumes were slightly lower due to good fodder conditions and higher
prices - though margins improved. Origin has announced two significant
acquisitions, which will further consolidate its leading farm advisory business
in the UK with Masstock. UAP provides similar services to Masstock across the
UK, though its 100 agronomists (Origin currently has 190), though its product
range is somewhat less extensive than Masstock (esp. fertilisers and seed).
Rigby Taylor is a more niche player in
agronomy services, by focusing on the UK leisure sector. We expect there should
be good synergy potential with these deals. Combined EBIT of £7.4m will be
mostly realised in FY11 due to the normal high seasonality of this sector and
should, in its own right, add 3.5c to EPS."
Former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi speaks to Cheng Lei about the problems facing Europe as the economic divide within the region widens:
Bad news from Asia pushes down on stock
prices: Davy economist, Conall Mac Coille, commented - -"Asian
stock markets fell this morning on bad news from both the Chinese
and Japanese economies. Japanese GDP growth in Q4 was revised down
to a fall of 1.3%, from a decline of 1.1% in the previous release.
This out-turn was slightly worse than the revision down to a 1.2%
decline that the market had expected. Consumer spending in Japan
fell by 0.8% in the fourth quarter, in part due to the end of a
government subsidy in September on fuel efficient cars. This
suggests that Japanese consumer spending may bounce back in Q1. And
as in the other major economies, PMIs and industrial production data
indicate that output should grow robustly in the first quarter.
Far more surprising was the news
that the Chinese economy's trade balance was in deficit in February.
The market had expected the trade surplus of $11.3bn in January to
narrow to $4.9bn, so the news that there was a deficit of $7.3bn is
very surprising. The Chinese trade deficit appears to be due to a
collapse of exports. Year-on-year export growth was just 2.4%
compared with the market's expectation for growth of 27.1%. This
means that there must have been a sharp contraction of exports in
February. Imports were also stronger than expected, at 32.6%
compared to the market's expectation of 19.4%.
There has been little
macroeconomic news to explain the decline in the Chinese trade
deficit. Consumer spending and activity appears to have gained
momentum in most of the developed economies in Q1. So, perhaps the
impact of the Chinese New Year — which had a temporary impact on the
size of Chinese trade balance in 2010 - had a larger negative
effect on the trade balance this year than the market had expected.
Similarly, higher oil and
commodity prices may have choked off demand. But the data suggest
that Chinese export growth fell off a cliff in February, so these
explanations are not particularly compelling. Data mis-measurement
cannot be ruled out also. So the market will focus on data over the
coming months to see if the decline in Chinese exports is
predominately due to temporary factors. And if there really has been
a sharp decline in Chinese exports we should see commensurate
weakness in the US import data released later today."
Kit Juckes, global head of foreign exchange strategy at Societe Generale, expects the BoE to raise rates in May. He also assesses the upcoming changes to the MPC board:
The world's richest man remains Mexican teleco tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, who
retains the number 1 position in the Forbes rich list list for a second year.
His wealth jumped by $20.5bn to $74bn.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was second with an estimated $56bn and American
nvestor Warren Buffett was third with $50bn.
The richest person Irish resident at 103rd rank and wealth of $8.8bn, is Indian
Pallonji Mistry. Forbes terms him a reculsive construction tycoon who is rarely
seen in public
Air Freight Costs: The prices of air freight transports departing from
German airports were by 24.1% higher than in 2009 on an annual average in 2010,
according to the federal statistics office, Destatis.
Ttransport prices in the fourth quarter of
2010 were up 23.2% on the fourth quarter of 2009. Compared with the third
quarter of 2010, the prices rose an average 5.1%. Although prices increased for
the sixth consecutive time - - compared with the previous quarter
- - in 2010 they were about 14% below the average level of 2008.
Economic View: New government must hit the ground running; Goodbody chief
economist, Dermot O’Leary, commented -- "After an
historic Election that brought about wholesale changes to the balance of power
in the Dail (Irish Parliament), cabinet positions were distributed between the
Fine Gael/Labour Government yesterday. From an economic point of view, given the
challenges the country faces over the coming years, the Finance position was
always going to be the most important and sought after.
As had been speculated, the roles of a Finance
Minister will effectively divvied up between two Ministers. Former Fine Gael
Finance spokesperson Michael Noonan will hold the official title of Finance
Minister, which will make him responsible for taxation and banking policy in
particular, while he will also be charged with attending important EU finance
ministers meetings and, one presumes, the key person in any discussions with the
IMF, the EU and the ECB.
The second role within the Department of
Finance will be held by Labour’s Brendan Howlin, who takes up a new post of
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. One cannot underestimate the task
that is facing this particular Minister either, given the need to reduce public
expenditure through further cuts in numbers in the public service over the
This, of course, will involve having to deal
with the powerful union lobby, which will create an interesting dynamic to say
the least given the party’s links with unions. Suffice to say, it is the success
of these two Ministers that will determine the path that the economy takes over
the coming years. From the point of view of leadership, the decision taken at
the first Cabinet meeting last night to cut the salaries of Ministers and the
Taoiseach by 7% is something that should be commended.
The path that the country takes will also be
very much determined by policy actions in Europe. In this regard, the new
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will meet EU Commission President Barroso tonight ahead of
an EU leaders’ meeting tomorrow. The real work starts now."
In New York Wednesday the
Dow fell 1 point to 12,213.
The S&P 500 slid 0.14%
and the Nasdaq slipped 0.51%.
MSCI Asia Pacific Index of shares slumped 1.5% Thursday.
Japan's Nikkei 225 dipped 1.46%; China's Shanghai Composite fell 1.50%;
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 1.43% and the Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex
index declined 0.84% .
BDI closed at 3,005 on Thursday, Dec 31st - - a rise of 289% in 2009. The index
averaged 59% lower in 2009 than a year earlier.
Thursday, July 15, 2010, the index fell for the 35th straight session, by 9
points, or 0.537%, to 1,700 points,
On Friday July16th, the BDI rose 20
points or 1.12% to 1,700 to break the 35-session losing streak.
Wednesday this week, the BDI rose 48 points or 3.37% to 1,472.
The Financial Times reported
earlier in January, that Australia’s flooding and fears of ship oversupply has
pushed down a gauge of the cost of hiring ships to carry coal, iron ore and
other dry bulk by nearly half since October to the lowest level since the
aftermath of the financial crisis. The Baltic Dry index, the widely watched
measure of dry bulk charter rates, fell to 1,453, nearly half the 2,784 peak
reached on October 27, 2010.
margin between the US benchmark WTI (West Texas Intermediate) used on the New
York Mercantile Exchange and Brent is almost $11.
said in early February that a surge in oil inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma,
where WTI is delivered into America’s pipeline system, has depressed the value
of the benchmark against other yardsticks. The International Energy Agency said
on Thursday that with “few relief valves”
to cut the stock overhang in Cushing, the price dislocation
“may persist for months [or years] to come”.
spot price of an oz of gold is trading in New York at $1,426.00, down $2.90 from
Irish Financials: Standard Life talks about good
start to year in Ireland business; Goodbody's Eamonn Hughes comments - - "Standard Life has FY10 results out this morning. It generally has limited
enough commentary on its Irish business anyway given it is slotted into its
International Division. Also, with IL&P having already reported its own FY10
results, the read-through is fairly minimal.
However, Standard Life does say that its
“International businesses in Ireland and Hong Kong have had a strong start to
trading in 2011”. For the record, we are forecasting flat new business sales for
IL&P this year, with +6% in Retail diluted by -6% on the Corporate side. IL&P
recently indicated that it is hoping for flat sales in its corporate business
for the year and Retail up, so a net positive, so the commentary this morning
from SL probably gives comfort - for the moment - that the market is closer to
the IL&P trends, which are above our own targets."