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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan addressing the Emergency Disaster Response Committee for the 2011 Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake, March 21, 2011.
reports today that workers raced to repair the most damaged reactors and
reconnect power at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear complex, and temperatures of
pools holding spent fuel rods cooled, prompting Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan
to proclaim he could see “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Bloomberg sais progress is being made in restoring power to the No. 1 and No. 2
reactors at Fukushima, Kan said before a meeting with his crisis response team
in Tokyo. Engineers are testing electrical equipment at the No. 1 and 2 reactors
before it attempts to revive reactor cooling systems, Tokyo Electric Power Co.
said. A power cable was connected to the No. 3 and 4 reactors.
Swiss Re: The
Swiss reinsurance giant said today it estimates claims costs of $1.2bn, net of
retrocession and before tax in respect of the Japanese earthquake.
The company said the estimates are subject to
high degree of uncertainty due to complexity of loss assessment following the
9.0-magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan on
March 11, 2011. The event caused strong ground motions in the northeastern
prefectures of Japan. The earthquake also triggered a tsunami which caused a
substantial loss of life and extensive damage in coastal areas. Failures in
cooling systems of the Fukushima nuclear power plant led to explosions, severe
damage to nuclear reactors and the release of radioactivity into the
"We extend our sympathies to the Japanese nation as they cope with the human
tragedy and the destruction caused by this event," says Stefan Lippe, CEO of
Swiss Re. "We remain committed to using our expertise
and experience to support clients in Japan as they manage the risks related to
such devastating events. It is the purpose of our industry to aid communities in
their recovery and redevelopment efforts."
Smurfit Business School:
The business school has disclosed that an anonymous private donor has given it
€500,000 to be used to pay half the fees for 12 graduates to undertake post
The successful graduates will have 50% of their chosen programme fees paid for
by the fund.
US Mobile Merger:
AT&T Inc. has agreed to acquire T-Mobile USA from German giant Deutsche Telekom
AG for $39bn in cash and stock, in a deal that would create an industry giant by
combining the No. 2 and No. 4 US wireless carriers.
Noriyuki Shikata, Spokesperson for the Japan Prime Minister, Naoto Kan's Office, updates us on the developments at the stricken Fukushima Daii-chi plant, as well as rescue efforts in the tsunami-hit northeast region:
Economic View: Pivotal two weeks in store; Goodbody chief economist,
Dermot O’Leary, comments -- "European leaders started 2011 with a
greater sense of urgency to solve the problems of the sovereign crisis in the
bloc after a series of underwhelming responses last year.
Their self-imposed deadline of the March 24/25 summit is now almost upon
them. Before that, euro-zone finance ministers meet today to thrash out some of
the details of the proposals agreed at the last leaders’ summit, including
increasing the size of the EFSF and key details of the ESM. Ireland’s Finance
Minister Michael Noonan is also likely to be pressed on the issue of corporation
tax, while at the same time attempt to renegotiate parts of the aid package for
As we have said before, Ireland has a very weak hand to play and will have
to give in to some demands from Europe. Agreement on the inclusion of a “debt
brake” is one of these concessions, which should not be controversial given that
Ireland has to meet strict targets under the IMF/EU programme over the next few
years in any case. Judging from media reports over the weekend, Ireland may also
agree to look at the issue of the common consolidated corporate tax base that
was laid out last week by the European Commission. The Irish government is still
strongly opposed to any change in the corporation tax rate, but agreement to
'constructively engage' on the CCCTB issue may be seen as the best way forward
from the current stalemate.
Ireland is aware that it will need further European assistance to resolve
the problems in the banking sector, with further bad news imminent. The Irish
Independent cites a government source this morning saying that the 'stress tests
are a lot worse that we ever thought possible.'
The full results of the bank stress tests will not be available until next
week (March 31), but if these comments prove to be true, the Irish Government is
bound to keep the notion of burden sharing with unguaranteed, unsecured
bondholders on the agenda at European level. From this point of view, it is best
to keep euro leaders on Ireland’s side as much as possible. We are in for an
interesting couple of weeks to say the least."
Irish Financials: Stress tests next week; Goodbody's Eamonn Hughes
comments - - "Last week, the Central Bank published its macro economic
indicators that will underpin the PCAR assessment of the main banks which is due
to be published next week (March 31) (see the note published March 16th by our
economics team). It appears that the banks finished providing the information
for the stress tests to the Central Bank over the weekend.
The banks will be queried on the data early this week and it appears that
the Central Bank advisory board will meet this week to analyse the data, with
publication on March 31. We have been nervous for the last few months of the
likely extent of new capital required by the banks and as we approach the
deadlines, would continue to advise investors to sit on the sidelines and await
The sovereign debt crisis is the last leg of the global financial crisis, says Martin Hennecke, Associate Director at Tyche:
Oil prices rise on military intervention in Libya; Davy
economist, Conall Mac Coille, comments - - "Brent oil
prices rose overnight to $116 a barrel following military
intervention in Libya over the weekend. The increase in oil prices
has fed through to other commodities, particularly metals. The S&P
GSCI spot index of 24 commodity futures increased by 1.5% in Asian
trading this morning. The events in Libya have reduced the appetite
for risk. But treasury bonds fell following news on progress in
Japan in dealing with problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant as
investors' appetite for the safety of government debt receded.
The Rightmove measure of UK house prices indicated this
morning that house prices rose by 0.9% on the month in March.
However, the increase in house prices was driven by low levels of
transactions as the small number of sellers continued to support
prices. So today's increase in house prices reflects the weak
outlook for the UK economy. Indeed, last week's nationwide consumer
confidence measure fell to a record low, indicating that UK
consumers are now even more gloomy than during the worst of the
financial crisis. This week, the market is likely to focus on the UK
budget with the coalition government there set to go ahead with an
aggressive fiscal consolidation.
In an otherwise slow day for macroeconomic data, the market
may focus on US existing home sales which are forecast to decline
slightly from 5.36m to 5.12m. However, the big picture is that US
home sales are likely to remain at very low levels relative to
pre-recession rates of 6.5-7m. "
MSCI Asia Pacific Index ex-Japan rose 1.1% Monday.
markets were closed for a public holiday; China's Shanghai Composite added 0.08%; Australia's S&P/ASX
200 Index rose 0.35% and the Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex index rose 0.17% in
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.
Friday last week, the BDI fell 2 points or 0.13% to 1,531.
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 over $12.
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”.