Finance, Earnings & Markets - Business news

Money markets us 4 week bill sale holds rate within recent range


* Rates at U.S. 4-week bill sales rangebound since January * Repo rates edge higher * Three-month Euribor rates at all-time low By Chris Reese NEW YORK, July 10 Solid demand for short-term U.S. debt meant the U.S. Treasury Department's sale of $30 billion of four-week bills on Tuesday was completed at a rate within a range that has held for several months. The Treasury sold the bills at a high rate of 0.07 percent, down from a high rate of 0.075 percent in a similar sale of the bills last week but up from a high rate of 0.06 percent two weeks ago. About 83 percent of the bids in Tuesday's sale were awarded at the high rate. Four-week bills in weekly sales have brought a high rate of 0.04 percent to 0.11 percent since Jan. 31. Demand for short-term U.S. debt has remained solid even as the Federal Reserve sells its short-term debt holdings as part of its latest stimulus effort, dubbed "Operation Twist." The central bank is selling its shorter-dated U.S. debt holdings and buying longer-dated debt in an effort to lower longer-term borrowing costs like those on mortgages. As part of Twist, the Fed on Tuesday bought $1.322 billion of Treasury inflation-protected securities maturing January 2022 through February 2042. Some analysts expect the dynamics of Operation Twist will mean U.S. primary dealers will continue to hold large quantities of short-term debt, which could mean support for overnight repo rates in general. "We think the structural trend related to Operation Twist sales remains in place and that dealer positions in front-end paper will remain very high going forward," said Michael Cloherty, head of U.S. rates strategy with RBC Capital Markets in New York, adding "accordingly, we do not look for repo rates to drop." The overnight rate on repos secured by U.S. government debt was last quoted on Tuesday at 0.24 percent, up from 0.23 percent late Monday, according to Reuters data. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank's cut of its mainstream deposit rate to zero last week continued to push European market rates to fresh all-time lows on Tuesday. The ECB's overnight deposit rate acts as a floor for money market rates as banks only lend to rival banks if they are able to earn a better rate of interest than at the ECB. Three-month Euribor rates, traditionally the main gauge of bank-to-bank lending, on Tuesday hit a new all-time low of 0.521 percent, down from 0.531 percent, while overnight rates which do not yet factor in the cut -- it comes into force on Wednesday -- inched down to 0.325 percent from 0.329 percent. Three-month dollar Libor rates were unchanged at 0.4576 percent on Tuesday, while three-month sterling rates fixed at 0.85963 percent versus 0.86463 percent on Monday. Both Libor and Euribor rates are currently at the center of a manipulation scandal after it emerged a number of banks were falsely submitting the rates they pay to the committee that aggregates the data.

Poland makes greatest strides in business reforms world bank


* Eastern Europe made most regulatory reforms* Singapore in No. 1 spot for seventh year* Greece moves up 22 spots; Venezuela slips furtherBy Anna YukhananovWASHINGTON, Oct 22 Poland made the greatest improvements in business friendly reforms in the past year, though Singapore still ranked as the world's easiest place to do business, according to a World Bank report released on Monday. Poland led a rush of business-friendly changes across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with 88 percent of the countries in the vast region improving business regulations over the year, according to the annual "Doing Business" report from the bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance CorpPoland, eastern Europe's largest economy, made it easier to register property, pay taxes, enforce contracts and resolve business insolvency, making it the most improved country out of the 185 tracked in the report. Singapore retained its number one rank for the seventh year in a row, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand, the United States and Denmark. Georgia and Australia also broke into the coveted top 10 rankings, edging out Iceland and Ireland.

The report tracks regulations that affect a company throughout its life cycle, from the ease of starting a new business to how long it takes to fill out taxes or register property. The rankings also consider general legal protections. The desire to catch up with more established European Union members continues to drive improvements in business regulations in Eastern Europe, as it has over the past decade, the report said."Places like Poland are still lagging behind," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, World Bank group director of global indicators and analysis, who was in charge of the report."They want to be future members of the (euro zone), or they want to be able to compete once they get going. One aspect of being able to compete is to improve your institutions (and) your business environment."

Poland is now the 55th best place to do business, up from 62nd place last year. The country has been a rare bright spot in Europe over the past few years, managing to sustain robust growth even while its neighbors slumped -- though growth next year is projected to slow. Economic adversity has also sparked regulatory changes in Greece and Italy, which both made vast improvements in their business-related rules, according to the report. Greece has struggled to tame a pile of debt and comply with fiscal targets from international lenders, even as the economy suffers through its fifth year of recession. An improved business climate can help encourage growth, reducing the debt burden, the World Bank said. In the past year, Greece was the eighth "most improved" country in the world, moving up 22 places in the rankings to be the 78th easiest place for business.

GLOBAL RACE The report's findings over the past 10 years point to a general convergence between the world's best and worst places to do business, as globalization drives investment to wherever it is welcome. But a few countries have fallen behind. In the Middle East and North Africa, the pace of regulatory change has slowed since the Arab Spring uprisings last year, as governments struggle to deal with a range of political, social and economic issues. And Venezuela slipped three places from last year and is now sixth from last. It consistently underperforms other Latin American countries in areas such as the time it takes to start a business, ease of paying taxes, and legal protections for borrowers and lenders. Under Hugo Chavez, the country's long-serving socialist president, Venezuela has implemented a raft of nationalizations and is increasingly reliant on its vast oil reserves."I wouldn't want to be a businessman in Venezuela," Lopez-Claros said.

Press digest australian business news may 8


Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (this site)Investors yesterday experienced the largest one-day fall on Australian bourse this year, with the S&P/ASX 200 Index closing 2.16 percent down at 4301.3 points. The stockmarket's woes were echoed in the exchange rate, which dropped as low as US$1.011 after reaching a high of US$1.0281 in the previous day's trade. The downturn was triggered by fears over the Euro zone, following Francois Hollande's election as the French President and polls in Greece that showed a significant fall in support for its two major parties. Page 15.-- Ross McEwan yesterday announced that he would be leaving Commonwealth Bank of Australia to take a position at Royal Bank of Scotland in England. The former retail boss was a member of the bank's executive committee and was a candidate to replace Ralph Norris when he retired as chief executive last year, although the position was filled by Ian Narev. "His leadership of retail banking services has led to all-time highs in customer satisfaction, a strong performance for shareholders and a high level of people engagement," Mr Narev said. Page 15.-- The managing director of discount retailer Kmart, Guy Russo, yesterday declared that Australians were paying unnecessarily high prices because retailers' business models were antiquidated and defective. "I've only been in this space a few years but maybe the retail model a lot of retailers are working with is outdated  the word 'sale' has been destroyed - they're not sales, they're retailers trying to drive customers in every week to one particular area," Mr Russo, a former chief executive at fast food giant McDonald's, said. Page 17.-- The operator of the Airport Link road in Brisbane, Brisconnections, is expected to give drivers incentives to use the struggling tollroad which is now set to open two months behind schedule. Observers say the postponed launch will cost Leighton Holdings, whose John Holland and Thiess contractors are constructing the tollroad, approximately A$1 million a day in penalties. Page 17.-- THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)

Economists have raised doubts that the Federal Government's budget tonight will offer much respite from the current downward trend impacting the economic environment, with the latest monthly business survey from National Australia Bank showing a drop in trading conditions, profitability and export volumes last month. "Mining continued to outperform all other industries, while manufacturing conditions remained worryingly low," the authors of the survey said. Page 19.-- David Murray, former head of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Federal Government's Future Fund, urged members of the bank's board to acquire financial services giant American Express (Amex) during the global financial crisis. Commonwealth Bank of Australia has a capitalisation of A$82.9 billion today, compared with Amex's A$68 billion. Had Commonwealth Bank pursued with what would have been at the time a A$60 billion merger, observers say the deal would have proved highly profitable. Page 19.-- Global miner BHP Billiton yesterday announced that it had acquired 40 percent of oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum's Banambu Deep venture, an exploration drill in the Carnarvon Basin gas fields in Western Australia. The move leaves Woodside with a 25 percent holding in the WA-389-P permit, with oil and gas explorer Cue Energy owning the remaining 35 percent. Page 20.--

Orica yesterday surprised the market after it announced a 4 percent drop in net profit to A$253.3 million for the six months to the end of March. Analysts had predicted the explosives manufacturer would report around A$245 million in net profit for the period. Orica added that it was still on target to surpass last year's A$642 million profit, although that figure was dependent on factors such as the global economy and plant output. Page 20.-- THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)Australian lenders have abandoned a push to have Saturday afternoons and Sundays included under the definition of normal working hours, indicating that they are not prepared to pursue further industrial relations reform while the sector is experiencing redundancies. Commonwealth Bank of Australia yesterday revealed that it would cut 100 mortgage-related jobs in response to a decrease in requirements for loans. Page B1.-- An independent inquiry commissioned by the Federal Government has rejected calls for a new safety net for investors that lose their money at the hands of misconduct from their financial advisers. Governance expert Richard St John was asked in 2010 to inquire into a statutory compensation scheme for victims of grave crimes. The final report, however, said a compensation program could be "possibly counterproductive" and was "inappropriate". Page B3.

-- The vice-president of Japan's upper house, Masayuki Naoshima, has announced that his country will look to reduce its reliance on nuclear power by acquiring more Australia's coal and gas assets. "Australia is one of the most important countries for Japan in terms of natural resources supply," Mr Naoshima said. "After the earthquake, our demand for [liquefied natural gas] and coal have increased," he added. Page B3.-- Dustin Kehoe, analyst at market intelligence firm IDC, yesterday said that while the makers of the Blackberry smartphone, Research In Motion, were losing market share in Australia, the battle was "not over until its over". Blackberry controlled 9 percent of the Australian smartphone sector at its height in 2009, a share which plummeted to 5.7 percent last year. "When you are moving from email to applications, Blackberry has not been the winner  applications are becoming more important than email," Mr Kehoe added. Page B3.-- THE AGE (this site)John Neal, the incoming head of QBE Insurance, is preparing to moving the A$16 billion insurer from its old headquarters in Sydney when he takes up his role in August. The company has reportedly told leasing agents to search for up to 20,000 square metres of office space in the "core" of Sydney that can be occupied within the next three years. QBE's move decisions by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corporation and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group in recent years to relocate their head offices. Page B3.-- Citigroup Global Markets analysts have calculated that listed miners New Hope Coal and Whitehaven Coal would be the most impacted should the Federal Government announce any cuts to the diesel fuel rebate in tonight's federal budget. Diesel is used by miners for generating power in remote areas and for transport on private roads, with the government set to receive up to A$2 billion if it scrapped the scheme entirely. Page B5.-- Minerals producer and explorer Ivanhoe Australia is continuing to search for a foundation stakeholder, with the company reportedly considering the partial sale of its four Cloncurry assets in Queensland. "The initial and best concept would have been that one party came in and bought 15 to 25 percent of all the projects, all four of those projects," Peter Reeve, chief executive of Ivanhoe, said. Page B5.

Press digest sunday british business nov 3


LONDON Nov 3 British newspapers reported the following business stories on Sunday: The Sunday Telegraph BILLIONAIRE BACKS M&S CHIEF'S PLANS Bill Adderley, the founder of Dunelm who was last week revealed to hold a 3 percent stake in Marks & Spencer, has given his backing to chief executive Marc Bolland despite the continuing struggles of the company's clothing business. U.S. DEBT FUND AMONG GROUP TAKING CONTROL OF CO-OP BANK Distressed debt fund Monarch Alternative Capital is one of the investors who will control a 70 percent stake in the Co-op Bank . Co-operative Group also plans to inject 400 million pounds into the Co-op Bank as part of a 1.5 billion pound recapitalisation plan to be outlined on Monday. RBS IN TALKS TO CANCEL 'B' SHARES The new chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, Ross McEwan, is in advanced discussions with the Treasury about the cancellation of the bank's 'B' shares to help give the bank a more normal capital structure. MORRISONS LINES UP SALE OF STORES TO UNLOCK CASH WM Morrison Supermarkets is working on a plan to raise hundreds of millions of pounds by selling off some of its stores in sale-and-leaseback deals. LONDON AIRPORTS SPLIT "THREAT TO BUSINESS" Heathrow airport will say that new research by independent group JLS Consulting proves that no cities "have successfully split demand" between several airports and that experimenting with the model in London would involve a major bet on Britain's future prosperity. HORLICK TO LAUNCH CROWDFUNDING VENTURE Financier Nicola Horlick is to launch crowdfunding venture Money&Co in the first few months of next year and will market the platform to businesses that are struggling to raise funds through more traditional channels. MORE LEAVING SFO AS WORKLOAD RISES The pace of employee turnover at the Serious Fraud Office has accelerated in the past three years, with 51 permanent staff leaving last year, compared with 47 a year earlier and 38 in 2010. The Sunday Times OSBORNE'S NEW GREEN DEAL TO CUT ENERGY BILLS George Osborne is finalising a plan to cut household energy bills by up to 75 pounds a year by removing charges to support green power projects and home insulation schemes. RBS MULLS QUICK EXIT FROM IRELAND Royal Bank of Scotland could pull out of Ireland unless it can find a viable future for its troubled Ulster Bank subsidiary within six months. Although a review of the business will seek a "viable and sustainable business model" for Ulster Bank, more radical solutions, including a complete withdrawal, have not been ruled out. CBI PLEDGES FIGHT TO STAY IN EUROPE John Cridland, director general of the UK's CBI, is to say that "leaving the EU would seriously threaten our position as the world's number one financial centre" at the CBI's annual conference in London. LLOYDS TO SELL MOUNTAIN WAREHOUSE STAKE The buyout arm of Lloyds Banking Group is preparing to sell its stake in the outdoor retail chain Mountain Warehouse, which it has owned since 2010. AXE HANGS OVER WELSH FUEL REFINERY Murphy Oil is considering closing its Milford Haven refinery, which employs nearly 400 workers, after failing to find a buyer for the site. POUNDLAND LINES UP ROTHSCHILD AS ADVISER Discount retailer Poundland has lined up Rothschild as an adviser as it prepares for a stock market flotation and to double the number of its British stores. The Independent on Sunday DIRECT LINE IN THE SIGHTS OF ASIAN INVESTORS Asian investors including China's Ping An are circling the remaining 28.5 percent stake in Direct Line that is owned by Royal Bank of Scotland. The Mail on Sunday

DISCOUNT STORES TYCOON SAYS BHS IN HIS SIGHTS South African billionaire Christo Wiese, chairman of South African clothing and footwear group Pepkor, has publicly confirmed his interest in making UK retail acquisitions, including a possible bid for Philip Green's BHS store chain.