Reuters blog archive

from Photographers' Blog:

Who said farming can’t be fun?


Hohenzell, Austria

By Leonhard Foeger

“Sure, you can come and take pictures. We don't have any secrets here and you will have a very special view of the sex life of breeding bulls nowadays,” Josef Miesenberger, head of the artificial insemination station in Hohenzell, told me on the phone when I asked to shoot a story about cattle breeding in Austria.

One might imagine cattle breeding involves green grass, some trees, and a cow and bull coming together in their natural world doing what they have done to procreate since the dawn of time.
But when I arrived at the insemination center near the village of Hohenzell at six in the morning I saw a farmhouse-like building with huge barns and a laboratory inside.

Johannes, one of the bull keepers, showed up and let me in. I had to change into green overalls and boots before I was allowed to enter the barn with about 50 breeding bulls. The smell of bulls hit me intensely. My lenses immediately fogged up due to the high humidity inside. I could see Austria's most expensive and exclusive breeding bulls having breakfast. Josef, another bull keeper, told me to just act like a bull keeper and not take any pictures since the bulls were very sensitive if they don’t know the people in their barn. After a while I started to take some images and the bulls just looked as if they were wondering what was going on.

At 7:30 everything was ready for a procedure where sperm would be collected in a special hall next to the stable. Every bull has to deliver sperm on Tuesdays and Fridays, twice a day with a short break in between. Since the bulls weigh between 600 and 1100 kilograms (1322 and 2425 pounds) they could easily harm people standing next to them. There are iron poles between the wall and "jumping" facilities where you could hide in a safer place in case a bull preferred to run and not provide sperm. A bull has to jump on either an artificial cow or on another bull to ejaculate. It depends on what the bulls prefer. I was told to be careful and always keep an eye on the bulls. After a while younger and smaller bulls reported for duty. They walked around checking the artificial cow, walked back to check the bull pretending to be a cow, walked around another time and then all of a sudden one jumped on his colleague and wanted to have intercourse.

from Global Investing:

Yuan risks uniting bulls and bears?


Is the outlook for China's yuan uniting the biggest global markets bulls and bears? Well, kind of.

As China posts its biggest trade deficit (yes, that's a deficit) of the new millennium and its monetary authorities flag greater "flexibility" of the yuan exchange rate (the PBOC engineered the US$/yuan's second biggest daily drop on record on Monday), the chances of an internationally-controversial weakening of yuan in a U.S. election year have risen.  A weaker yuan would clearly up the ante in the global currency war, coming as it does amid Japan's successful weakening of its yen this year and as Brazil on Monday felt emboldened enough in its battle to counter G7 devaluations by extending a tax curbing foreign inflows.  And, arguably, it could bring the whole conflagration around full circle, where currency weakening in the BRICs and other emerging economies blunts one of the desired effects of money-printing and super-lax monetary policy in the G7 -- merely encouraging even more printing and so on.

from Funds Hub:

Staying long


The mammoth rally we had in Q2 may be starting to falter -- the FTSE 100 is now below 4,200, having hit 4,500 last month -- but Octopus's David Crawford is sticking with a 60 percent net long position.

rtx9m6rCrawford made part of his Absolute Return Ucits III fund's 71.1 percent return (since launch last March) by shorting stocks in 2008 and by going net long four months ago.

from Funds Hub:

Odey’s Barclays boost


There's nothing like backing up your stock market calls with a nice healthy profit, and Crispin Odey has done just that, revealing a 27.74 percent return in April from his European fund.

rtr23livHaving last month said the rally in equities could turn into a new bull market and having recently tucked away a few banks into his portfolio (after last year making money shorting banks), Odey has profited from the astonishing recovery over the past two months in Barclays shares, which alone accounted for nearly half the fund's return last month.

from Funds Hub:

Saving Hendry? Thanks but no thanks, says Hugh


rtr1z9ud1It was always unlikely that a letter of advice was going to change the mind of maverick hedge fund manager Hugh Hendry.


And in his latest letter to investors, Hendry has smartly rebuffed any attempt to 'save' him from his bond investments.

from Funds Hub:

Light at the end of the tunnel?


rtxb5afThere's no shortage of bad news in the financial world at the moment.

But one top hedge fund manager believes that equities could soon be heading for a very sharp rally.

Cazenove's Neil Pegrum -- whose fund made 9.4 percent last year while markets were plummeting -- believes UK equities could soon be enjoying a "March 2003" rally.