Reuters blog archive
from Global Investing:
It's the economy, stupid. Or isn't it?
Brent crude has risen 15 percent since the end of last year, focusing people's minds on the potential this has to choke off the recovery in world growth. But some reckon it is the recovery that's at least partly responsible for the surging oil prices --- economic data from United States and Germany has been strong of late. There are hopes that France and the United Kingdom may escape recession after all. And growth in the developing world has been robust.
Geopolitics of course is playing a role as an increasing number of countries boycott Iranian oil and fret over a possible military strike by Israel on Iran's nuclear installations. But Deutsche Bank analysts point out that world equity markets, an efficient real-time gauge of growth sentiment, have risen along with oil prices.
Their graphic (below) shows a remarkably close relationship between oil prices and the S&P 500. Click to enlarge
We find it hard to believe that a genuine concern about a real risk of war would have accompanied a 4.7 percent gain in the S&P 500 index during February to a post-Lehman high.
from Reuters Investigates:
By Rebekah Kebede
You wouldn't think you'd have to make hotel reservations months ahead of time in Karratha, a small, dusty town on the edge of the Outback a 16-hour drive from Perth, the nearest city. But with Australia’s commodities boom, Karratha is bursting at the seams and nowhere is it more apparent than when trying to find a place to stay.
(Above photo: A kangaroo stands atop iron ore rocks outside the remote outback town of Karattha in Western Australia. Reuters/Daniel Munoz)
from Environment Forum:
This month, Vedanta Resources and subsidiary Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. made headlines for posing a public health risk to the surrounding community in southern India with pollution from a large copper smelter. They share the top spot in this issue of The Green Gauge, a breakdown of companies recently in the news for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.
Selections of companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.
from Afghan Journal:
Afghan authorities have organised a roadshow in London that opens on Friday aimed at drumming up interest in the country's mineral wealth variously estimated at anything from $1 trillion to $3 trillion.
India and China, the regional heavyweights, are the top candidates to fight for a piece of the action in their immediate neighbourhood. If there are such large reserves of copper, iron ore and key industrial metals such as lithium lying untapped in their neighbourhood you would expect them to invest heavily in Afghanistan to feed their supercharged economies.
from Commodity Corner:
With most base metal prices running way ahead of fundamentals, real and apparent demand unclear and leading economies at different stages of recovery or not, its a key time to take the temperature of banks, producers, consumers and funds involved in metals.
Anglo American hasn't yet received a formal bid from Xstrata. But the miner's interim results read very much like a defence document.
The highlights alone give a pretty good idea of what chief executive Cynthia Carroll and new chairman John Parker will focus on if Xstrata does eventually pounce.
Anglo's case hinges on four things.
First, that its plan to cut $2 billion of costs by 2011 is ahead of target. Second, that it is getting on top of its $11 billion net debt, and third, that progress is being made in restructuring its problem child Anglo Platinum <AMSJ.J>. Lastly, Anglo acknowledges that it is an objective to reinstate the dividend.
Added to these elements, lest they appeared to have too defensive a flavour, is the promise of growth, largely through its Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil and its Los Bronces copper development.
Of these, cost savings are a crucial point of contention in the Xstrata debate, with the rival miner's chief executive Mick Davis confident he can squeeze a further $1 billion out of a combination with Anglo, taking the total to $3 billion.
Anglo isn't making any promises beyond those already given but the tone of the language -- which includes talk of being ahead on "asset optimisation", procurement and job reductions -- hints that it may be able to find more savings on its own, without handing anything to Xstrata.
So far the market seems largely happy to let Carroll stick to her plan -- highlighting Anglo's leading position in platinum, diamonds and iron ore alongside its cost cutting success. But investors might ask more searching questions in the event that Xstrata did come back offering a premium.
from Financial Regulatory Forum:
By Rodrigo Martinez
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Finance ministers from the Americas and leaders from multilateral lenders will huddle in Chile on Friday to evaluate their responses thus far to the global economic crisis and figure out the way ahead.
Chilean Finance Minister Andres Velasco told Reuters that turbulence has shown the International Monetary Fund and World Bank need more resources for the slump.
He also said he hopes the elected government of Honduras will be represented at the meeting in Chile after a military coup in the Central American country on Sunday that has been widely condemned by the international community.
"We will discuss counter-cyclical fiscal policies and the impact these have had," Velasco said of the meeting in the Chilean coastal city of Vina del Mar, which is being held as economies in the region suffer their sharpest downturns in years.
"Secondly, we need to think about how we can prepare countries for the post-crisis world. This implies taking steps to improve productivity and, for example, financing for infrastructure and construction."
Chile, the world's No. 1 copper producer, has won praise for building up savings from high metals prices during boom times and using the cash for an economic stimulus package.
Top executives from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank will also be at the meeting.
Some countries in the region have looked for credits from multilateral lenders to help weather the crisis.
"It's important for the IMF, for example, to have the resources in the short-term so that countries don't have liquidity problems -- Chile hasn't had trouble but other countries have," he said.
"The World Bank and IADB should also have more resources so they can loan out money faster for infrastructure and productivity programs."
SUPPORT FOR HONDURAS
Velasco was asked if finance ministers would issue a statement supporting ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
"There is a widely shared commitment to preserving democratic institutions in Honduras and this means that I hope the democratic government of Honduras can be represented at the meeting," he said.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday that the lender has "paused" all loan programs to Honduras because of the political turmoil there.
Friday will be the second meeting of finance ministers from the Americas after one held in Mexico in 2008. (Editing by Leslie Adler)
With the big event for the week - the outcome of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee - not due until Wednesday, global markets are left to focus on number of cross currents that are weighing on the stocks and oil and bolstering government bonds and the dollar.
The World Bank, which warned that the prospects for global economy continued to be "unusually uncertain," downwardly revised its 2009 outlooks for Japan, the Euro Zone, and the United States. The organization expects global output to shrink by 2.9% this year , worse than an initial estimate of 1.7%.
from Changing China:
China has long said that its biggest contribution to a world racked by financial turmoil would be to ensure that its own economy grows strongly, implying that a rising Chinese tide will lift all boats. The latest data show that Beijing has delivered on one part of the bargain; its economy, the toast of the world over the past five years, is once again ahead, far ahead, of the pack.
Many investors and companies are confident that the second part of the bargain will follow – that China's recovery will be just the cure for markets still woozy from the financial battering. Such faith is not yet justified.