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Thursday Papers: South African mining unrest spreads

And the Fed is set to ease policy unless there is a sharp change in economic data.

 
Thursday Papers: South African mining unrest spreads

Top stories

  • Financial Times: Labour unrest engulfing the South African platinum industry spread on Wednesday, prompting fears of a broader mining crisis in one of the main commodity-producing countries.
  • Financial Times: The US Federal Reserve is set to ease policy unless there is a sharp change in economic data after the minutes of its August meeting revealed a strong consensus for action.
  • The Guardian: Thousands of South African gold miners are attempting to launch a multi-million pound lawsuit against leading companies for alleged negligence that resulted in them contracting lung diseases.
  • Financial Times: The proposed Glencore-Xstrata merger suffered another blow on Thursday after ISS, the shareholder advisory firm closely followed by US institutional investors, recommended shareholders vote against the combination.
  • Financial Times: Russia finally entered the World Trade Organisation on Wednesday after 19 years of tortuous stop-start negotiations that meant the country was the last big economy outside the global trade body.
  • Financial Times: The Conservative party has been asked to repay £440,000 in donations made by Asil Nadir, who was convicted on 10 counts of theft totalling £29 million from Poly Peck International.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Commerzbank has said it could be fined by the US authorities over its handling of transactions linked to Iran, Sudan, North Korea and other countries that are the subject of US sanctions.
  • Financial Times: BHP Billiton has called a halt to one of its so-called “mega-projects”, going back to the drawing board on its $20 billion Olympic Dam copper-uranium development in South Australia as falling commodities prices weighed on the miner’s full-year results.
  • Financial Times: Qantas has scrapped an $8.5 billion order for Boeing 787 Dreamliners for its troubled international arm after the group reported a loss before tax of A$349 million for the year to June - the first loss since it was privatised almost two decades ago.
  • The Guardian: Vestas is to shed another 1,400 jobs, bringing total redundancies for the year to more than 3,700, after the world's biggest wind turbine maker slumped to a quarterly pre-tax loss of €5 million.
  • Financial Times: Hewlett-Packard reported a quarterly net loss of $8.9 billion, the largest in its history, as revenues fell and it incurred an $8 billion writedown related to its services business.

Business and economics

  • Financial Times: Oil and mining groups with US listings will be forced to disclose details of their payments to foreign governments after US regulators rejected most of the industry’s efforts to water down new transparency rules.
  • Financial Times: The Nasdaq Stock Market and other exchanges cancelled trades in a security on Wednesday after erroneous orders triggered a steep rise in its share price in a matter of seconds.
  • Financial Times: Baidu, China’s largest search engine company by market share, has signed a deal with Skyscanner, the UK-based flight search company, as it seeks to rival Google in providing travel information to internet users.
  • The Daily Telegraph: British UK Government’s austerity programme risks becoming “self-defeating”, the Chancellor has been warned by Kate Barker, a former Bank of England rate-setter who is spoken of as a potential Governor.
  • Financial Times: America’s middle class suffered its worst decade in modern history during the 2000s as net worth and wages declined, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.
  • The Guardian: The Financial Services Authority is to clamp down on investments in assets such as fine wines and unlisted shares to stop three out of four retail customers being mis-sold the products.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Kenmare Resources, which mines ilmenite and zircon in Mozambique, reported a pre-tax profit of $38.8 million in six months ended June 30 compared with a $14.2 million loss a year earlier.
  • Financial Times: Benchmark iron ore prices fell on Wednesday to $105.75 a tonne for material containing 62% iron delivered in China, down about 30% during the past four months due to cut back in purchases made by European steelmakers, according to Platts.
  • Financial Times: Heineken reported that first half earnings before interest and taxes rose 4.3% from a year earlier to €1.16 billion, but only on the strength of acquisitions and currency effects.
  • The Independent: The Spanish-owned bank Santander was accused of "profiteering" Wednesday night after it told borrowers it is increasing its standard variable rate from 4.24% to 4.74% – an increase of almost 12%.
  • Financial Times: Rolls-Royce is facing a direct challenge to its lucrative maintenance and support business from Air France-KLM, in a commercial tussle that is delaying the Franco-Dutch airline’s $6 billion purchase of 25 Airbus passenger jets.
  • The Independent: Delayed Middle East building contracts and a decision to cut back its UK business in response to weaker markets left construction and support services firm Carillion nursing a 12% drop in revenue to £2.16 billion in the first half.
  • Financial Times: ZTE’s net profits in the June quarter were down 85% from a year earlier to Rmb94 million ($14.8 million); net earnings for the first half dropped 68 % to Rmb245 million, in line with a warning the company issued last month.
  • The Daily Telegraph: The operator of the National Lottery has called for an immediate change to UK gambling laws after it lost High Court action designed to shut down media tycoon Richard Desmond’s rival Health Lottery.
  • The Independent: Adnams, the Southwold-based beer and pub firm, posted sales of £25.75 million, a rise of 5.1%, in the six months to June.
  • Financial Times: Irish businesses face among the highest rejection rates for loans in the eurozone, according to a new report, which has prompted critics to claim Dublin’s €64billion rescue of its banks is not benefiting the wider economy.
  • Financial Times: A coalition of trade unions representing about 1m workers at Indian public sector banks began a two-day nationwide strike on Wednesday, in protest against pending legislation that could open the sector to increased investment and competition.
  • The Daily Telegraph: Egypt has asked for $4.8 billion in aid from the International Monetary Fund to help boost the country's economy.
  • Financial Times: Britain will be losing one of its most colourful chief executives with Sir Brian Souter’s relinquishment of the top management role at Stagecoach.

Share tips, comment and bids

  • Financial Times: Anglo American is close to a deal with Codelco that would see the Chilean copper miner buy a 24.5% share of the London-listed group’s Anglo Sur assets for about $1.8 billion, ending their long-running dispute.
  • Financial Times: US oil and gas group ConocoPhillips has continued its retreat from Russia by selling its 30% stake in the NaryanMarNefteGaz joint venture to its partner Lukoil, the Russian oil group; the deal will generate $400 million after-tax profit for Conoco.
  • The Independent: The match to take over Goals Soccer Centre, which had already dragged into extra time, Wednesday ended in a shock defeat for the £73 million bidder, Canadian pension fund the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
  • Financial Times: Chinese acquisitions of US assets and businesses are running at record levels, with deals worth almost $8 billion announced so far this year.
  • Financial Times: Premier Foods, the debt-saddled British food producer, has sold Hartley’s jams and spreads business to Hain Celestial for about £200 million.
  • The Guardian (Comment): An Institute of Directors poll shows most directors believe the recession isn't about to pass. To stop this being self-fulfilling the coalition must act.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): Kate Barker’s call on George Osborne to “rethink” fiscal policy while highlighting the need for change to the Bank of England’s complex apparatus is timely.
  • The Daily Telegraph (Comment): A much bolder vision is needed to lay the foundations for UK growth.
  • Daily Mail (Comment – Alex Brummer): The Serious Fraud Office will bask in accolades now that after 22 years it has finally nailed former Polly Peck chief Asil Nadir on ten beefy counts of theft.
  • Financial Times (Lex): BHP Billiton: when the diversified miner announced it was rethinking a $20bn project in South Australia, it is a sure sign the commodities cycle is fizzling out.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Russia in the WTO: in the short term, membership of the World Trade Organisation will not change much. Over the long term, though, it could be transformative.
  • Financial Times (Lex): China’s US listings: recent probes call into question the variable interest equity structure often adopted by Chinese companies tapping overseas markets for capital.
  • Financial Times (Lex): Yellow Pages: making the most of what remains is driving the combination of the two biggest US publishers into Dex Media, in an all-stock merger.

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