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May 1, 2012

CFTC | Enforcement Actions: Federal Court in Illinois Orders Trading Point of Financial Instruments Ltd. to Pay $140,000 Penalty for Acting as Unregistered Retail Forex Dealer



RELEASE: pr6248-12

May 1, 2012

Federal Court in Illinois Orders Trading Point of Financial Instruments Ltd. to Pay $140,000 Penalty for Acting as Unregistered Retail Forex Dealer

Trading Point also ordered to cease soliciting U.S. customers and to modify website

Action part of CFTC’s second nationwide sweep against forex firms for failure to register under the 2008 Farm Bill, the Dodd-Frank Act, and CFTC regulations

Washington DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) obtained a federal court consent order requiring Trading Point of Financial Instruments Ltd. (Trading Point), of Limassol, Cyprus, to pay a $140,000 civil monetary penalty to settle CFTC charges. The order finds that Trading Point unlawfully solicited U.S. customers to engage in foreign currency (forex) transactions and operated as a Retail Foreign Exchange Dealer (RFED) without being registered with the CFTC.
The consent order, entered April 25, 2012, by Judge John W. Darrah of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, permanently bars Trading Point from engaging in any conduct that violates the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations, as charged. The order also requires Trading Point to close all U.S. customer accounts and to return each U.S. customer all funds in the customer’s account. It also directs Trading Point to publish a prominently displayed notice on its website, stating that Trading Point does not provide services for U.S. customers.
The order finds that between November 2010 and September 2011, Trading Point solicited orders from low net worth U.S. customers to open leveraged forex trading accounts through its website. The order finds that Trading Point acted as an RFED by offering to be, and acting as, a counterparty buying and selling forex contracts with U.S. customers without being registered as an RFED.
The order settles CFTC charges brought against Trading Point as part of the CFTC’s second “sweep” against forex firms for unlawfully soliciting U.S. customers to engage in forex transactions and operating as RFEDs without being registered with the CFTC (see CFTC Press Release 6108-11, September 8, 2011).
In the forex market, RFEDs and some registered commodity futures brokers may buy forex contracts from, or sell forex contracts to, individual investors who possess sufficient net worth to qualify as eligible contract participants (ECPs). Firms that market forex contracts to customers who are not eligible ECPs are required to register with the CFTC and abide by rules and regulations designed for investor protection, including those relating to minimum capital requirements, recordkeeping, and compliance.

CFTC Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Jon J. Kramer, Elizabeth M. Streit, Joy McCormack, Scott R. Williamson, Rosemary Hollinger, and Richard B. Wagner.

CFTC customer protection information for retail forex customers
The CFTC strongly urges the public to check whether a company is registered before investing funds. If a company is not registered, an investor should be wary of providing funds to that company. A company’s registration status can be found on the National Futures Association’s website at http://www.nfa.futures.org/basicnet.

Before investing money in the forex market, the CFTC also strongly urges members of the public to review the CFTC’s forex consumer protection advisories listed below.

CFTC Consumer Advisories on Forex Fraud
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
http://www.cftc.gov/enf/enf-forex.htm

Fraud Advisory from the CFTC: Foreign Currency Trading (Forex) Fraud
http://www.cftc.gov/ConsumerProtection/FraudAwarenessPrevention/CFTCFraudAdvisories/fraudadv_forex

Foreign Exchange Currency Fraud: CFTC/NASAA Investor Alert
http://www.cftc.gov/ConsumerProtection/FraudAwarenessPrevention/ForeignCurrencyTrading/cftcnasaaforexalert
Media Contacts
Dennis Holden
202-418-5088


Last Updated: May 1, 2012

NYT Global Update: New Details Emerge in Report on Murdoch Papers



Global Update

 
TOP NEWS

New Details Emerge in Report on Murdoch Papers

By RAVI SOMAIYA
After more than five years, revelations of sealed documents and other material promise to expand the scope of the case.

Murdoch Unfit to Lead Media Empire, Says British Report

By JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA
In a report after months of investigation into hacking at Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers, a panel said that the media tycoon had shown a "willful blindness" toward wrongdoing.

Cameron Stands to Lose Much as Scandal Wears On

By JOHN F. BURNS
Politicians and media commentators are asking whether Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain can survive any further revelations about his close ties with the Murdochs.
Multimedia

Video: TimesCast

A British parliamentary report finds Rupert Murdoch unfit to lead a media empire ; "Once" leads the Tony nominations and more...
Opinion

Latitude

More Potent Than Censorship

By ERIC ABRAHAMSEN
Most Chinese writers say that censorship is an issue but self-censorship is not. I don't believe them.
WORLD

A Tiny Island Is Where Iran Makes a Stand

By THOMAS ERDBRINK
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is enjoying a surge of support and nationalism in a feud with the United Arab Emirates over Abu Musa, a four-square-mile spit of sand with about 2,000 inhabitants.

Israeli Defense Minister Keeps All Options Open on Iran

By JODI RUDOREN
Ehud Barak offered a dim view of talks on Iran's nuclear program and said all options, including a military strike, remained on the table despite weeks of criticism over the stance.
BUSINESS

Euro Stress Crosses Border Into the Netherlands

By LIZ ALDERMAN
With their economy in recession and facing new belt-tightening measures, the Dutch are showing grim determination.

New BlackBerry Prototype Is Given to Developers

By IAN AUSTEN
The BlackBerry 10 is critical to the revival of Research in Motion, but early models given to app developers were missing features, like the ability to make calls.

Uncertainty Mounts Over London Airport Expansion Plans

By NICOLA CLARK
A series of British governments have struggled with the question of expanding London's airport capacity, but a weak economy makes the question more difficult.
TECHNOLOGY

Data Engineer in Google Case Is Identified

By STEVE LOHR and DAVID STREITFELD
A former state investigator looking into Google's Street View has identified the so-called Engineer Doe.
DealBook

Facebook on Track for I.P.O. Roadshow

By EVELYN M. RUSLI
Despite rumors of delays, Facebook could begin its roadshow as soon as early next week, according to two people briefed on the company's plans.
Skin Deep

Social Media Breathes New Life Into Products No Longer on Shelves

By TATIANA BONCOMPAGNI
Thanks to sites like Facebook or Twitter, beauty companies are keeping closer tabs on which products their customers want brought back.
SPORTS

Don't Pencil in Manchester City as Champion Yet

By ROB HUGHES
City has the advantage after it beat Manchester United, 1-0, but it also faces a tough match this weekend with Newcastle.

U.S. Men's Team Drawn Into Tougher Olympic Pool

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The United States will play Argentina, France and Tunisia in the first round of the Olympic men's basketball tournament in London.

Baker Earns Men's Wild Card for French Open

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Brian Baker was given a wild card into the French Open from the United States Tennis Association.
U.S. NEWS

This Prom Has Everything, Except for Boys

By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN
A dream to take part in an American rite of passage came true for girls whose faith forbids them to date or dance with boys.

Charges Coming in Fla. Hazing Death

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
At least five people will face charges in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University band member aboard a bus after a performance in Orlando last fall, authorities said Tuesday.

Wife of Edwards Aide Says She Tried to Document Money Trail

By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
Cheri Young says her efforts were an attempt to protect her and her husband from legal action.
OPINION
Patrick Chappatte

Osama Bin Laden's Death, One Year Later

Revisiting the death of the terrorist mastermind one year after he was killed by American military and C.I.A. operatives who tracked him to a compound in Pakistan.
Op-Ed Contributor

The Prince and the Ayatollah

By ED HUSAIN
The conflict in Bahrain cannot be understood in isolation from the regional cold war.
Op-Ed Contributor

The Sun, the Moon and Walmart

By HOMERO ARIDJIS
Mexico's greatest challenge is putting an end to long-ingrained corruption.

Financial and Forex Info News | The Australian Capital Circle: Rate cut game begins again



Rate cut game begins again
 
All eyes are on the big four banks today as Australians wait to see if they pass on a rate cut.

First off: Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday moved to take credit for the Reserve Bank's 50-basis-point cut to rates, though bank governor Glenn Stevens made it clear he did not expect the full cut to be passed on to consumers (The Australian). The rate cut is dominating front pages, but few expect the banks to pass on the full rate cut.
The coverage: The Australian: Can a rate cut save PM's house? Fin Review : High dollar forces big RBA rate cut; The Advertiser: Banks unlikely to pass on full interest rate cut, analysts say; Daily Tele: Fifty reasons the RBA rate cut must be passed on by the Big Four Banks; Herald Sun: Banks quiet on interest rates cut; SMH: Banks hold back on bumper rate cut.
Mr Swan today kept up pressure on the banks - as have Ministers Penny Wong, Craig Emerson and David Bradbury - with the Treasurer telling the ABC: "I think Australians expect that the banks would move quickly to pass on the interest rate cut". He also defended Prime Minister Julia Gillard's leadership, declaring she is doing a "fantastic job" and attacking reports that she has lost caucus support as a "whole heap of rubbish".
But Ms Gillard is facing further leadership pressure, with the NSW Right faction abandoning her and Queensland
Read more...
 
Mumble
Peter Brent
Peter Brent
 
Newspoll OMG
There’s good news for the Gillard government in today’s Newspoll. It is that the chances of a “bounce” from next week’s budget are looking pretty… 
 

NYT Afternoon Business News: Euro Stress Crosses Border Into the Netherlands




BUSINESS

Euro Stress Crosses Border Into the Netherlands

By LIZ ALDERMAN 
 
With their economy in recession and facing new belt-tightening measures, the Dutch are showing grim determination.

Toyota Posts Strong April; Other Carmakers' Sales Mixed

By NICK BUNKLEY
 
The Japanese company's sales rose 12 percent, a year after production slowed when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Chrysler's sales jumped 20 percent from a year ago, but the other Detroit automakers reported declines.

New BlackBerry Prototype Is Given to Developers

By IAN AUSTEN
The BlackBerry 10 is critical to the revival of Research in Motion, but early models given to app developers were missing features, like the ability to make calls.
DealBook

Some Relief for Shareholders as Chesapeake Seeks New Chairman

By MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED
Shares in Chesapeake Energy leaped after the company finally acceded to shareholder demands by stripping its chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, of his chairman role and ending his controversial compensation plan.

Uncertainty Mounts Over London Airport Expansion Plans

By NICOLA CLARK
A series of British governments have struggled with the question of expanding London's airport capacity, but a weak economy makes the question more difficult.

DealBooK | DealB%K Afternonn Edition: Facebook on Track for I.P.O. Roadshow



Tuesday, May 1, 2012
TOP STORY
Facebook on Track for I.P.O. Roadshow Despite rumors of delays, Facebook could begin its roadshow as soon as early next week, according to two people briefed on the company's plans.
  • DEALBOOK »
  •  
    DEALBOOK HIGHLIGHTS
    Einhorn Questions Prompt Selloff at Herbalife
    Einhorn Questions Prompt Selloff at Herbalife Herbalife's shares plunged more than 20 percent on Tuesday, despite reporting strong earnings, after the hedge fund manager David Einhorn asked a critical question during a conference call with analysts.
    Government Makes Case for Wiretaps Against Gupta Prosecutors are seeking to have three wiretap recordings featuring the convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam admitted as evidence at the trial of Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs board member.
    Bankers Find It Tough to Tap Gulf Region's Wealth The Middle East has proved a far harsher environment for financiers than the El Dorado it was imagined to be a few years ago.
    At Milken Conference, Status Counts An entire constellation of events that are reserved for only the most powerful attendees of the Milken Institute Global Conference.
    Parsing Bank Lobbyists' Dire Warnings on Derivatives Rules A look behind the new limits on how exposed banks can be to other banks or companies.
    Investor Group Carves Up Collective Brands Wolverine Worldwide, an apparel maker, and two private equity firms have agreed to acquire Collective Brands -- the footwear company behind Keds and Payless ShoeSource -- in a deal valued at $2 billion including debt.
    Big Banks Fined $9 Million Over Risky Products Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells Fargo agreed to pay fines of more than $9 million to settle cases tied to exchange-traded funds.
    Fight Brewing at Pep Boys as Gores Calls L.B.O. Into Question Pep Boys disclosed in a regulatory filing that its would-be buyer, the Gores Group, was potentially seeking to walk away from the $1 billion leveraged buyout of the auto parts and repair company.
    Goldman Looks to Hire Social Media Strategist The Wall Street firm that many on the Internet love to hate is seeking some help in developing a "positive online presence."
    Aubrey K. McClendon, chief executive and chairman of Chesapeake Energy Corporation.
    Some Relief for Shareholders as Chesapeake Seeks New Chairman Shares in Chesapeake Energy leaped after the company finally acceded to shareholder demands by stripping its chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, of his chairman role and ending his controversial compensation plan.
    The P. F. Chang's China Bistro menu includes lemon scallops.
    Centerbridge Buys P.F. Chang's for $1.1 Billion Centerbridge Partners will pay P.F. Chang's shareholders $51.50 a share in cash, 29.8 percent above the closing price on Monday.
    Mitsubishi and Mitsui to Acquire a $2 Billion Stake in Natural Gas Project Mitsui and the Mitsubishi Corporation have agreed to buy a combined 14.7 percent stake in an Australian liquefied natural gas project for $2 billion, the latest transaction in the fast-expanding global energy sector.
    Man Group Reports $1 Billion of Client Outflows The world's largest publicly traded hedge fund said on Tuesday that client outflows from its funds totaled $1 billion during the first quarter of the year, as pressure mounted on the firm to improve its performance.
    Lloyds Ekes Out a 1st-Quarter Profit The partly nationalized Lloyds Banking Group reported a net profit of $16.1 million for the first three months of the year after impairments related to bad loans shrank.
    BUZZ TRACKER
    Europe to Weigh New Capital Requirements for Banks Finance ministers were expected to wrangle on Wednesday over how much capital the European Union's 8,300 banks should be required to hold, a further demonstration of the difficulties of managing the 27-member economic bloc, James Kanter and Stephen Castle report for The New York Times.
    LOOKING AHEAD
    Economic Reports Data released on Wednesday will include the ADP employment report for April and factory orders for March.
    Corporate Earnings Companies reporting on Wednesday will include Beazer Homes, CVS Caremark, Comcast, IAC/InterActiveCorp, MasterCard, Time Warner, UBS, Allstate, Prudential Financial and Visa.
    In the United States The Carlyle Group is expected to price its initial public offering on Wednesday
    Overseas European Union finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss bank capital requirements
  • DealBook Video
    Business Day Live: Netherlands Enters Turmoil of Debt Crisis
    Business Day Live: Netherlands Enters Turmoil of Debt Crisis A respected law firm, on the brink of dissolution; and the Netherlands, frugal and prosperous, now faces a battle over austerity.
     
 

Stocks and Markets in the News | Wall Street at Close: Dow ends at highest level since late 2007

By Kate Gibson

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks rose Tuesday, propelling the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its highest close since late 2007, after a report indicated U.S. manufacturing expanded in April, offsetting concern about the economic recovery. "Things may not be rolling over as badly as one might have thought," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank, of the data from the Institute for Supply Management. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.50% rose 65.69 points, or 0.5%, to 13,279.32. The S&P 500 SPX +0.57% added 7.91 points, or 0.6%, to 1,405.82. The Nasdaq Composite COMP +0.13% gained 4.08 points, or 0.1%, to 3,050.44.
Read the full story:

ADVFN III World Daly Markets Bulletin








ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin  
Daily world financial news




US Market Reports





Stocks Move Sharply Higher On Upbeat Manufacturing Data

After showing a lack of direction in early trading on Tuesday, stocks have shown a strong upward move over the course of the morning. The major averages have climbed more firmly into positive territory, offsetting the losses posted in the previous session.

Much of the strength that has emerged on Wall Street stems from the release of a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing that activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly expanded at a faster rate in the month of April.

Electronic storage stocks have moved sharply higher on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Disk Drive Index up by 2.8 percent. Hutchinson Technology is leading the storage sector higher, surging up by 10.8 percent



Significant strength has also emerged among housing stocks, as reflected by the 2 percent gain being posted by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index. Railroad, health insurance, banking, and energy stocks are also posting notable gain in late morning trading.

The major averages are currently posting strong gains, near their highs for the session. The Dow is up 95.66 points or 0.7 percent at 13,309.29, the Nasdaq is up 30.58 points or 1 percent at 3,076.94 and the S&P 500 is up 13.46 points or 1 percent at 1,411.37.


Canadian Market Report


CADUSD Oil Gold Allbanc

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Energy Stocks Lift TSX Tuesday Morning - Canadian Commentary

Toronto stocks were extending gains for a fifth session Tuesday morning supported by continued buying in energy stocks, following a batch of encouraging earnings reports. Meanwhile, manufacturing data from China, Europe and the U.S. came in mixed.

While UK's manufacturing sector growth slowed, manufacturing activity in China and the US accelerated in April.



The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 63.25 points or 0.51 percent to 12,355.94, after adding just over 300 points or 2.50 percent in the past four straight sessions.

The price of Crude oil advanced to a one-month high following a lower-than-forecast Purchasing Managers Index for China and a steeper-than-expected rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Crude for June rose $1.23 to $106.10 a barrel

Ecopetrol S.A. soared over 8 percent after reporting first-quarter unconsolidated net income of COL$4,343.1 billion or COL$105.63 per share, compared to COL$3,404.6 billion or COL$84.12 per share last year.

Paramount Resources gained over 5 percent, while Niko Resources and Trilogy Energy gathering around 4 percent each.

Integrated energy company Suncor Energy was adding over 1 percent after reporting first quarter net earnings of C$1.457 billion or C$0.93 per share, compared to C$1.028 billion or C$0.65 per share in the year-ago quarter.



Oil and gas industry services provider HSE Integrated Ltd. (HSL.TO) skyrocketed over 50 percent to C$1.770 after it announced that it would be acquired by DXP Enterprises, Inc. for C$84 million or C$1.80 per share.



Meanwhile, Talisman Energy shed nearly 4 percent. The global, diversified, upstream oil and gas company swung to profit in first quarter, reporting net profit of $291 million or $0.25 per share versus loss of $326 million or $0.32 per share a year ago. Earnings from operations per share were $0.16, up from $0.15 in the same quarter a year earlier.

The price of gold was flat Tuesday morning as investors weighed the prospect of a stimulus to the economy. gold for June edged down $2.10 to $1,662.10 an ounce.

Among gold plays, Alamos Gold Inc. (AGI.TO) and Allied Nevada gold were up around 3 percent each.

Uranium producer Cameco gained 4 percent after reporting a much improved first-quarter net earnings of $132 million or $0.33 per share compared to $91 million or $0.23 per share last year. On an adjusted basis, quarterly earnings were $124 million or $0.31 per share, higher than $85 million or $0.21 per share in the first quarter of 2011.



Airlines operator Westjet Airlines (WJA.TO) added over 2 percent after reporting first quarter net earnings of C$68.3 million or C$0.49 per share, up from C$48.2 million or C$0.34 per share in the first quarter of 2011. Analysts were expecting the company to report loss of C$0.39 per share for the quarter.



Information services provider Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI.TO) gathered over 1 percent after posting higher first-quarter net earnings of $314 million or $0.38 per share versus $250 million or $0.30 per share. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations advanced to $365 million or $0.44 per share, from $307 million or $0.37 per share last year. Analysts were expecting the company to report loss of C$0.41 per share for the quarter.

Forest products company West Fraser Timber (WFT.TO) slipped into the red in first-quarter, reporting net loss of C$16.7 million or C$0.39 per share compared to net earnings of C$18.9 million or C$0.44 per share last year. Adjusted loss from continuing operations was C$11 million or C$0.26 per basic share compared to earnings of C$39 million or C$0.91 per share last year. Analysts were expecting the company to report loss of C$0.11 per share for the quarter. The stock was down 2 percent.



Smart phone maker Research In Motion unveiled its vision for the BlackBerry 10 platform at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida and released the initial developer toolkit for native and HTML5 software development. The stock was down almost 3 percent.

In economic news from south of the border, the U.S., activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly expanded at a faster rate in the month of April, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management on Tuesday, with the index of activity in the sector rising to a ten-month high. The ISM said its purchasing managers index climbed to 54.8 in April from 53.4 in March, with a reading above 50 indicating an expansion in manufacturing activity. The increase surprised economists, who had expected the index to edge down to a reading of 53.0.

Simultaneously, the U.S. Commerce Department said overall construction spending came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $808.1 billion in the month of March, a 0.1 percent increase from February levels.



In economic mews from the euro zone, the UK's manufacturing sector growth slowed in April amid sharp decline in new export orders, a survey by Markit Economics revealed. The Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply purchasing managers' index for the factory sector fell to 50.5 in April from a revised 51.9 in March. Economists expected a reading of 51.5, down from March's initial score of 52.1.



Elsewhere, China's manufacturing activity accelerated in April, led by an expansion in production and new export orders, the latest survey by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed earlier today. The official purchasing managers' index, which is compiled by CFLP on behalf of the National Bureau of Statistics, rose to 53.3 in April from 53.1 in March. Economists had forecast an increase to 53.6.


European Market Report


FTSE 100 Euronext Dax perf CAC 40

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European Shares Firm After Bond Auctions

European shares rebounded on Tuesday after yesterday's sell-off, as a series of decent Spanish, Dutch and Italian bond auctions eased concerns over Europe's debt crisis. More significantly, the Netherlands held a successful debt auction despite the collapse of the government over budget cuts a day earlier.

The Dutch government raised EUR 1.995 billion from the sale of 2- and 25-year bonds. The 3.75 percent July 2014 bond was placed at an average yield of 0.523 percent, while the 4 percent January 2037 bond was sold at a yield of 2.782 percent.

A parliamentary debate to discuss the political crisis, the interim budget cuts and a schedule of snap polls is expected to take place later today, and Rutte is due to address the parliament in the afternoon.

The euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is moving up 0.96 percent and the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is up 0.42 percent. Around Europe, Switzerland's SMI, the U.K.'s FTSE 100, the German DAX and France's CAC 40 are rising between 0.1 percent and 1.2 percent.

Infineon Technologies AG is climbing nearly 3 percent in Frankfurt after its U.S. peer Texas Instruments Inc forecast second-quarter earnings that topped analysts' estimates. Deutsche Bank is down half a percent on a report that Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc, in which the German lender is a major debt holder, might announce a deal to buy Actavis for around $6 billion.

ARM Holdings is tumbling 2.5 percent in London after it warned of a slowdown in the growth of royalty sales from its processor division. Royal Dutch Shell is gaining 0.8 percent after the oil giant said it has agreed to buy Cove Energy Plc, which operates in East Africa, for 1.12 billion pounds.

Anglo American Plc is edging down 0.13 percent after the diversified miner announced the final stage of the $1.4-billion Scaw Metals Group divestment.

Novartis shares are down 1.2 percent in Zurich after the company reported a lower profit for the first quarter, hit by weaker sales of its blood pressure pill Diovan.

GDF Suez SA is gaining half a percent in Paris after the French utility reiterated its guidance for 2012 earnings after reporting over 10 percent rise in first-quarter revenue, thanks to strong contributions from key business lines, including International Power.

Tire maker Michelin is climbing 7 percent as the company reaffirmed its 2012 objective of reporting a clear increase in operating income and positive free cash flow, before the impact of the sale of the Paris building.

In economic releases, French consumer confidence unexpectedly increased in April, rising for a second consecutive month to its highest level in 17 months, data released by INSEE showed today. The seasonally adjusted consumer confidence indicator rose to 88 from March's 87.

Commodities are trading mixed, while the Dow futures are rising 34 points ahead of data due on U.S. consumer confidence and homes sales.

Elsewhere, Asian shares fluctuated before ending mostly higher on Tuesday, as investors awaited the results of a two-day policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve to find the probability of any further stimulus announcement.

With political turmoil and disappointing economic data undermining investor risk appetite, traders are hoping that the Fed might give some clues concerning a third-round of bond purchases at the meeting commencing today.


Asia Market Reports



Amid worries about the global economy following recent weak data from the U.S. and Europe, the mood is quite cautious in stock markets in the Asia-Pacific region on Tuesday.

In the Australian market, energy, healthcare, consumer staples and information technology stocks are trading firm. Mining and property trusts stocks are also mostly up in positive territory, while financial and industrial stocks are trading mixed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which advanced to 4,431.3, is currently trading at 4,425.6, up 29 points or 0.7 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 28.4 points or 0.6 percent at 4,495.6.

Among key bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.3 to 0.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading 0.5 percent up. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading modestly lower, while Bank of Queensland is down with a loss of 2.5 percent.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton is up 0.6 percent, Fortescue Metals is up marginally and Newcrest Mining is gaining about 0.3 percent. Rio Tinto is trading in negative territory with a loss of 0.5 percent.

Energy stock Woodside Petroleum is up more than 4 percent following the company sealing an A$2 billion deal to sell part of its stake in the proposed Browse LNG Development to Japan Australia LNG. Woodside said it had accepted an offer for a long-term sales and purchase agreement for about 1.5 million tonnes of LNG a year from the Browse development subject to completion of the equity offer.

Among other stocks in the energy space, Santos, Oil Search and Origin Energy are up 0.5 to 1.2 percent, while Caltex Australia is up with a gain of 1.7 percent.

Seek, Lend Lease Group, Dexus Property Group, Treasury Wine Estates and Seven West Media are up 2 to 2.5 percent. Beach Energy, CSL, Duet Group, Onesteel, CSR, Graincorp and Metcash are also trading notably higher.

Shares of Aquarium Platinum are down nearly 6 percent. Whitehaven Coal is down nearly 2 percent, while Lynas Corporation, Panaust, Sydney Port and Alumina are trading lower by 1.2 to 1.6 percent.

Stockland Group shares are trading lower by about 0.6 percent. The company said it is on track to achieve its recent earnings guidance for the 2012 financial year. Under its current accounting methods, the company expects to achieve earnings per security of 30.5 cents for the full year.

On the economic front, Australia's manufacturing activity contracted sharply in April. The Australian Industry Group reported Tuesday that its Performance of Manufacturing Index declined 5.6 points to 43.9.

"The steep fall in manufacturing activity in April rings true and is of serious concern," said AIG Chief Executive Ennes Willox. "Manufacturers continue to be adversely affected by the strong dollar, comparatively high unit labor costs and rising energy prices."

AIG said the biggest declines were seen in the basic metals, textiles and wood products, and furniture sub-sectors. The employment index fell into contraction at 46.1 while production also contracted, with a reading of 43.9.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian capital city house prices declined 1.1 percent in the March quarter. In the year to March, the house price index fell 4.5 percent, the bureau said.

meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia is widely expected to cut cash rates by 25 basis points on Tuesday.

The Japanese stock market opened on a weak note after an extended weekend, with investors pressing sales amid worries about the global economic outlook following some weak data from the U.S. and Europe. The dollar's sharp decline against the yen too contributed to the weakness in the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to around 9,415, was down 85.2 points or 0.9 percent at 9,435.7 at the end of the morning session.

Steel, non-ferrous metals, automobile and bank stocks were mostly down in negative territory. Oil, pharmaceuticals and railway stocks traded mixed.

Among the big losers in the Nikkei index, Tokyo Electron plunged nearly 9 percent and Nippon Electric Glass lost around 8.5 percent.

Sharp Corp. shares tumbled by over 7 percent after the company forecast a wider-than-estimated loss.

TDK Corp, Kawasaki Kisen, Mitsumi Electric, Daiwa Securities, Mitsui OSK Lines, Mitsubishi Estate, Ricoh, Matsui Securities, Sony Corp and Nomura Holdings lost 3 to 5.5 percent.

JFE Holdings, Nippon Yusen KK, Casio Computer, Nippon Steel, Sumco Corp, Toho Zinc, Japan Steel Work and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings also declined sharply.

Bank stocks traded weak after Standard & Poor's cut the credit ratings of 11 Spanish banks. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Aozora Bank, Bank of Yokohama and Shizuoka Bank lost 1 to 2.2 percent.

Among automobile stocks, Mazda Motor, Suzuki Motor, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor and Hino Motors drifted down by 1 to 3 percent, while Mitsubishi Motors and Isuzu Motors posted modest losses.

Kikkoman Corp, Chiyoda Corp, Chubu Electric Power, Nippon Light Metal and Advantest Corp gained 2.3 to 4.5 percent.

Fujitsu, Tobu Railway, Nisshinbo Holdings Inc, Yahoo Japan, J Front Retailing, Fujifilm Holdings and Pacific Metals advanced by 1 to 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar plunged below the 80 yen-range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.86 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are closed for Labour Day Holiday. Indonesia and New Zealand are trading in positive territory. Markets across the region ended mostly higher.

On Wall Street, stocks ended modestly lower on Monday amid worries about the U.S. economy and concerns about the debt crisis in Europe. While the Dow ended down 15 points at 13,214, the Nasdaq dipped 23 points to 3,046 and the S&P 500 settled lower by about 5.5 points at 1,398.

Major European markets mostly ended notably lower on Monday amid worries about the eurozone economy.

U.S. crude oil futures snapped a four-day gain on Monday to settle a shade lower, as as the dollar gained strength and economic data from the Europe raised concerns about economic growth in the region. Crude for June delivery dropped $0.06 or 0.1 percent to close at $104.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.