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Aug 9, 2012

The Economist | Business This Week: Highlights of News Coverage from August 4th - 10th 2012

The EconomistBusiness this week

» The New York State Department of Financial Services accused Standard Chartered, a big British multinational bank, of concealing $250 billion in transactions made by the Iranian government in defiance of sanctions. The regulator said the bank had "schemed" with the Iranians and called it a "rogue institution". Standard Chartered, which traces its roots back to the mid-19th century and earns 90% of its income in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, flatly rejected the allegation. It said its own analysis found that it had complied with American sanctions on Iran in over 99.9% of transactions. See article»

Knight's fright
» Knight Capital, a market-maker, obtained a $400m emergency bail-out from a consortium of Wall Street firms, after faulty software produced wild swings in some share prices on the New York Stock Exchange. Knight's own share price fell off a cliff after the incident on August 1st, which cost it $440m. The consortium that rescued it, which includes such financial titans as Jefferies and TD Ameritrade, will end up holding around 70% of Knight. See article»
» The founder of Best Buy, one of America's biggest retailers of consumer electronics, offered to buy out the company. Richard Schulze was its chief executive for 36 years until 2002, and recently stepped down as chairman. As with other traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers, Best Buy is grappling with the challenge posed by Amazon and other shopping websites. Mr Schulze has a turnaround plan, which he thinks will be more effective if Best Buy is taken private.
» Japan Airlines said it would re-list on the stockmarket in an initial public offering next month, after three years in bankruptcy protection. During that time it has cut its workforce, slashed pay and pensions and reduced the number of its flights, all of which helped it turn a record profit for the year ending in March. Its target of raising ¥663 billion ($8.5 billion) would make it Asia's biggest IPO this year.
» Rio Tinto reported a 34% drop in underlying profit for the first half of the year, to $5.2 billion. The miner's business depends on selling iron ore to China, which is buying less of the stuff as its economy cools. Xstrata, a rival, posted a 23% fall in attributable profit, to $2.2 billion, also in part because of the downturn in commodity prices.
» Meanwhile, BHP Billiton took a write-down of $2.8 billion against shale-gas assets it acquired in America last year. Since then a glut of natural gas has caused prices to plunge. Marius Kloppers, BHP Billiton's boss, will forgo his bonus because of the charge.
» Pfizer, a big American drugs company, was fined more than $60m under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for bribing foreign officials. Its punishment was light, by American standards, because it co-operated with the investigation. See article»

Television distortion
» Sharp had another dismal quarter. The Japanese electronics company sold about half as many LCD TVs as it did during the same period a year ago, and forecast a whopping annual net loss of ¥250 billion ($3.2 billion), more than its current market value. Hon Hai, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer better known as Foxconn, said it would renegotiate the terms of a deal to buy a 10% stake in Sharp. Sharp's shareholders shivered. See article»
» Hewlett-Packard wrote down its technology-services business by $8 billion, an admission that its $13.9 billion purchase of Electronic Data Systems, an IT-outsourcing company, in 2008 has not worked out well.
» Indonesia's economy, the biggest in South-East Asia, grew by 6.4% in the second quarter. The figure was better than had been expected, given the decline in the country's exports of raw materials, and was boosted by the spending power of Indonesia's burgeoning middle classes and by public and private investment, which is growing at its fastest pace since the late 1990s.
» America's employers added 163,000 jobs to the payrolls in July, but the unemployment rate crept up again, to 8.3%.
» The Bank of England drastically reduced its growth forecast from the one it gave just three months ago. The central bank now thinks that output in the British economy will not return to its pre-crisis levels until 2014, when it projects GDP to rise by a listless 2%.

Where the smart money is
» A world of virtual cash came a step closer, as Starbucks announced that it was teaming up with Square, a pioneer in technology that enables payments through smartphones. Starbucks already has its own mobile-payment app, but Square's GPS-based system will eventually allow customers to pay for a mocha light frappuccino by simply saying their name (once they have registered with the system).

The Economist | Politiccs This Week: Hoghlightsof news coverage from August 4th - 10th 2012

The EconomistPolitics this week

» China's biggest political scandal in decades reached court, as Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai, a former high-flyer in the Communist Party, stood trial for murder. Ms Gu is accused of poisoning Neil Heywood, a British businessman, last November. As more details of alleged thuggery and deception emerge in the case, China's political leaders are keen to present it as a one-off, and not representative of the elite. See article»
» Police in Macau raided casinos and hotels and arrested 150 people in connection with an outbreak of violence among criminal gangs. Macau has overtaken Las Vegas in recent years to become the world's biggest gambling centre.
» Pakistan's Supreme Court rekindled its quarrel with the government, condemning its reluctance to help revive a corruption case against Asif Ali Zardari, the president. The court summoned Raja Pervez Ashraf, the new prime minister, to appear at a hearing in late August to explain. In June it dismissed Mr Ashraf's predecessor from office for not complying with its order to push ahead with the matter, which the ruling party insists is politically motivated and outside the court's remit.
» Palaniappan Chidambaram, India's new finance minister, made some reformist noises about removing "any apprehension or distrust" among foreign investors. India's government has been criticised for being less than enthusiastic about opening its markets to foreign competition. Mr Chidambaram, who served a previous stint as finance minister between 2004 and 2008, also called for more transparency in India's tax regime. See article»

Affirming affirmative action
» In Brazil the Senate passed a bill that sets aside half the places in federal universities for pupils from state-run schools, and allocates those places by race. Dilma Rousseff, the president, is expected to sign it. Earlier this year Brazil's highest court decided that racial quotas could be used in university enrolment policies.
» Police in Colombia arrested John Ericson Vargas Cardona, known as "Sebastian", the leader of a criminal outfit that was once associated with Pablo Escobar, the late infamous boss of the Medellín cartel. Mr Vargas Cardona's gang is conducting a turf war in the city. His arrest was described as a "big blow against criminality" by Juan Manuel Santos, the president.
» The Honduran Congress passed a law banning the public possession of guns in the province of Colón. The region has been wracked by violence, stemming both from drug gangs and from fighting between farmworkers and their employers.

Up in flames
» Fierce fighting between rebels and government forces continued in Syria's commercial capital, Aleppo. Syria's prime minister, Riyad Hijab, defected to Jordan. Iran reiterated its support for President Bashar Assad after a group of 48 Iranian citizens, who said they were pilgrims, were kidnapped by Syrian rebels in Damascus, the capital. See article»
» A group of jihadists, thought to have originated partly in Gaza and partly in Egypt's Sinai desert, killed 16 Egyptian servicemen in an attack near the border with Gaza and Israel. Some of the group then commandeered two army vehicles, one of which penetrated a mile into Israel before it was destroyed by the Israelis. Egypt later launched air strikes against suspected jihadists nearby and claimed to have killed at least 20 of them. See article»
» Yemen's government blamed al-Qaeda for a suicide-bombing that killed at least 40 people at a funeral in the southern province of Abyan. The attack may have been in retaliation for the killing of five al-Qaeda members by an American drone.
» Two soldiers were killed in an attack near a mosque in Okene, in central Nigeria, a day after gunmen shot dead 19 people in a nearby church.

Another tragedy

» A man shot and killed six worshippers at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, before shooting himself in the head. It was the second gun rampage in America in as many weeks. The killer was said to be have been a white supremacist who had served in the army in the 1990s.
» Curiosity, the fourth NASA rover to be sent to Mars, landed successfully. Over the next two years the rover will investigate Martian geology and analyse the atmosphere, as scientists try to find out if Mars has ever possessed the ingredients necessary for life. See article»
» Cass Sunstein stepped down as the White House's regulation guru. Probably best known for his book on how governments can "nudge" people into making the right decisions, Mr Sunstein is returning to Harvard.

It can wait till after August
» The troika consisting of officials from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF left Greece reporting "good progress" and promising to come back in September to finish their work. A bond payment falling due before then will be covered by short-term debt. See article»
» Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, embarrassed his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, by saying that if Mr Berlusconi were still in office the spread between Italian and German sovereign bond yields would be more than twice as high as they are now. Despite a conciliatory telephone call from Mr Monti, Mr Berlusconi's party took revenge by defeating the government on a procedural motion in parliament. See article»
» Romania's political crisis took a new turn when Victor Ponta, the prime minister, replaced five members of his cabinet including the foreign, justice and interior ministers. Romanian Jews were outraged at the appointment of Dan Sova as Mr Ponta's new liaison to parliament. Mr Sova has made comments denying the Holocaust. The prime minister is fighting a long battle to try to oust Traian Basescu from the presidency.

» As Britons basked in the golden glow of the London Olympics (at which Britain notched up its best medals tally in more than a century) a dark cloud formed over the coalition government in an escalating row over constitutional reform. Liberal Democrats threatened to block changes to constituency boundaries in the House of Commons in retaliation for the Conservatives failing to support reform of the House of Lords, in their most serious falling-out since the coalition was formed after the 2010 election. See article»

DealBook | DealB%K Afternoon Edition: Carlyle Strikes Deal for TCW

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Carlyle Strikes Deal for TCW The Carlyle Group said on Thursday that it would buy the TCW Group, a Los Angeles-based investment manager, from Societe Generale of France. Carlyle is partnering on the deal with TCW's management team, which will increase its already substantial stake in the investment firm to 40 percent. The buyout firm is buying TCW as a portfolio company, rather than adding it to its own operations, and the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013. The terms were not disclosed. The transaction will conclude a lengthy sales process for TCW, which has some $130 billion in assets and counts some of the nation's biggest pension and endowment funds among its clients. Several private equity firms had participated in an auction of TCW, people briefed on the matter said previously, with Carlyle taking the lead in recent weeks.
    David Walker
    Barclays Names a New Chairman By selecting David Walker, a former top official at the Bank of England, Barclays is seeking to draw a line under the interest rate manipulation scandal, which has raised questions about the governance and the culture at the British bank.
    JPMorgan's Mystery Number in Derivatives JPMorgan has talked about the losses from botched derivatives bets made by its London office, which has cost the company about $6 billion. But once again, the size of JPMorgan's position in the bad bets wasn't broken out in its latest filings.
    E*Trade Replaces C.E.O. Amid Turnaround Effort As the beleaguered online brokerage firm continues to overhaul its business, it named Frank J. Petrilli, the board chairman, the interim leader, following the abrupt departure of Steven J. Freiberg.
    National Oilwell Varco to Buy Robbins & Myers for $2.5 Billion National Oilwell Varco agreed on Thursday to buy Robbins & Myers, a maker of oil well drilling equipment, for about $2.5 billion in cash, as deal-making in the energy sector continues unabated.
    Goldman Says S.E.C. Has Ended Inquiry Goldman Sachs disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission has ended an investigation into a $1.3 billion subprime mortgage deal, without taking action. The decision to forgo action is an about-face for the federal regulator. In February, the S.E.C. notified Goldman that it planned to pursue a civil enforcement action over the deal, a package of subprime mortgages in Fremont, Calif., that the bank sold to investors in 2006.
    A Call for More Equity in Big Banks: Simon Johnson says that recent cases of mismanagement by financial institutions highlight the need for a new approach to bank capital. "Bigger banks are more dangerous," he writes on the Economix blog. "They should either have to fund themselves with much more equity or break themselves up."
    An I.P.O kicks off: Shares of the English soccer team Manchester United begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "MANU." J.C. Penney reports quarterly results. 

Reuters Counterparties: How nations Manufacture Wealth?

Dani Rodrik has a provocative piece for Project Syndicate arguing that the quest for growth has gotten more elusive over the past few years. During the second half of the 20th Century, he says, if poor countries wanted to grow up to be rich (and didn't have the patrimony of natural resource wealth), they would have to first "move their labor from the countryside (or informal activities) to organized manufacturing". Manufacturing industries are relatively easy to replicate; they create rapid growth in productivity and incomes "regardless of the quality of domestic policies, institutions, or geography".
That world is gone now. Achieving an Asian Tiger-style growth miracle is trickier for a couple of reasons:
Technological advances have rendered manufacturing much more skill- and capital-intensive than it was in the past, even at the low-quality end of the spectrum ... It will be impossible for the next generation of industrializing countries to move 25% or more of their workforce into manufacturing, as East Asian economies did.
Second, globalization in general, and the rise of China in particular, has greatly increased competition on world markets, making it difficult for newcomers to make space for themselves. Although Chinese labor is becoming more expensive, China remains a formidable competitor for any country contemplating entry into manufactures.
Ryan Avent points us to a recent column in the Economist that reaches the opposite conclusion: "[m]odern supply chains are making it easier for economies to industrialise". In a blog post, he finds Rodrik's concerns wanting:
For the moment, Mr Rodrik's concerns appear somewhat unfounded. Chinese manufacturing is very capital intensive, and yet employment in industry there has been remarkably consistent over the past two decades. Admittedly, this is partly due to declining employment in old state enterprises offsetting rising employment in new, export-oriented firms. But across the rich and emerging world, falling labour intensity in manufacturing does not appear to limit the contribution of industry to prosperity.
Rodrik and Avent disagree over the extent to which manufacturing can spark catchup growth, but both seem to take it as a given that it's still the best path to follow for countries that want to get rich. It's at least a much more empirical view than Deirdre McCloskey's thesis that countries get rich once their citizens "stopped sneering at market innovativeness and other bourgeois virtues". – Peter Rudegeair
On to today's links:
SEC drops mortgage charges against Goldman – DealBook
Asset Classes
Lessons in lobster pricing – NYT
"Turning bad jobs into good jobs is arguably as important as creating more jobs" – Demos
Price Points
Calm down, the drought will not have much effect on America's already low food prices – WSJ
MF Doom
Jon Corzine is just waiting for anyone with a Bloomberg terminal to get in touch – Zero Hedge
Quote of the Day
"[Federal] agencies will be asked to test complex or lengthy forms ... by seeing if people can actually understand them." – White House
Record low mortgage rates could be even lower "if banks were satisfied with the profit margins of just a few years ago" – DealBook
Charts: how low mortgage rates and even lower bond yields mean increased profit margins for mortgage originators – DealBook
Arizona and California, epicenters of the housing crisis, now have foreclosure rates below the national average – WSJ
Own to rent: a pilot program allows homeowners to avoid foreclosure by renting their homes – WSJ
New Normal
Fear-driven productivity gains: Scared workers are putting in extra, unreported hours – Businessweek
EU Mess
"We can do it alone": cutting Italy's debt by convincing Italians to pre-pay their taxes – FT

CBS NEWS | Political Hotsheet Top Stories: In Colorado, Obama slams Romney on immigration

The CBS News Political Hotsheet newsletter

At a campaign event in Pueblo, he also challenged Romney for his opposition to wind energy tax credits
Read full story
In Colorado, Obama slams Romney on immigration

Social welfare groups face transparency pressure New York Attorney General requests tax returns and other financial documents from tax-exempt outside groups spending to influence election

Due Diligence: An unfair attack on Mitt Romney A Democratic attack ties Romney is to the death of a woman whose husband's plant was closed by Romney's old company Bain Capital

Obama supporter defends his story in super PAC ad Former steelworker says he didn't mean to suggest Romney is responsible for his wife's death, but he stands by critical ad

Romney slams Obama's 'misleading' ads Despite facing his own share of criticism over welfare attacks, Mitt Romney accused the president of running misleading ads

Business in Vancouver | BIV Today's Business News: BC startups get funding to convert farm waste to energy


GreenScene AgriTek Inc

BC startups get funding to convert farm waste to energy

Two B.C. companies are getting close to $150,000 each from Ottawa and Victoria to help them develop technologies to turn agricultural waste into energy.



Haida adds seafood processor to its portfolio

Haida Enterprise Corporation (HaiCo) has added another business to its growing suite of enterprises: seafood processing.

Real Estate and Development

Vancouver house prices to slip, but not plummet: Central 1

Fears that Vancouver house prices are set to drop dramatically are overstated, according to a new forecast by Central 1 Credit Union.



Vancouver video tutorial company buys TO counterpart, a Vancouver company that makes video tutorials for Apple (Nasdaq:APPL), Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) and Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) products has acquired, a Toronto company involved in a related field.

Human Resources

Five B.C. organizations among Canada's best-run non-profits

Five B.C. organizations have been recognized as the best-managed non-profit social service agencies nationwide and are finalists for the 15th annual Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services.



BCSC panel finds that B.C. company and two directors broke securities laws

A British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) panel has found a B.C.-based company and its two directors breached securities laws by selling securities without being registered.

Money Show Investors Daily Alert: Why Sector Rotation Is Important

Investors Daily Alert

The Daily Guru

No-Nonsense Investing

Jim Jubak on

Today's Top Pros' Top Picks

Today's Gurus' Views & Strategies

Today's Charts in Play Exclusive Interviews
Why Sector Rotation Is Important, Jackie Ann Patterson

Ideas from Around the World

Today's Featured Videos & Exclusive Interviews
InvesTech's Market Outlook, Eric Vermulm, CFA

Stocks and Markets in the News (SAMITN) | Wall Street at Close: Stocks little changed; S&P streak intact

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) U.S. stocks ended little changed Thursday, with the S&P 500 clinging to a slight gain to maintain its longest winning run since March, after U.S. data proved better than expected. 

From euro to Scandinavian safety European-currency bears appear to be heading north again, as the region’s debt crisis drags on. 

“Earnings season for the most part is behind us, and like the rest of America, you’ve got Congress on vacation, the European Central Bank on vacation and the Fed doesn’t meet until September,” said Art Hogan, equity strategist at Lazard Capital Markets, of Wall Street’s lack of momentum
“The underlying bid in this market is consensus agreement that we’re going to get more, not less, global monetary stimulus,” Hogan added of equities rise, which has the S&P 500 Index in position to extend its rise into a fifth session. 

“The markets are looking for some kind of quantitative easing from the central bank in Europe,” echoed Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial Service.
After a four-day climb, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.08%  fell 10.45 points, or less than 0.1%, to 13,165.19. 

Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO +3.15%  paced blue-chip gains, up 3.2% after Goldman Sachs added the maker of computer-networking equipment to its conviction-buy list. 

Rising for a fifth session, the S&P 500 SPX +0.04% rose 0.58 point to 1,402.80, with natural-resource and energy pacing sector gains and consumer staples and consumer discretionary the laggards.
“We’re in a tug of war with technicians; by the time the S&P 500 gets to 1,400, that’s the iron curtain and we can’t break through,” commented Lazard’s Hogan. 

E-Trade Financial Corp. ETFC +6.86%  gained after the online brokerage replaced its chief executive, Steven Freiberg, with an interim chief and said it was looking for a replacement. 

The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP +0.25%  rose 7.39 points, or 0.3%, at 3,018.64.
Advancers edged just ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where composite volume neared 3.1 billion. The Nasdaq’s composite volume approached 1.7 billion. 

The dollar DXY +0.31%  gained against other global currencies, while crude futures CLU2 +0.04%  added 1 cent to end at $93.36 a barrel.
Treasury prices were mostly lower, with the yield on the 10-year note 10_YEAR -0.35%  used to determine rates on mortgages and other consumer loans at 1.699%.
Equities briefly took a hit, with the Dow falling 50 points, in a modest rollover that Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, said coincided with the euro EURUSD +0.01%  dropping below 1.23.

Euro watch

The euro’s move came after The Wall Street Journal quoted former European Central Bank executive board member Otmar Issing as saying “Germany’s guilt over the Second World War doesn’t oblige it to write blank checks to euro-zone countries that fail to reform their economies.” 

“Who knows what influence Issing still has, but the timing of his comments were similar to the further weakness in the euro,” added Boockvar. 

The U.S. Federal Reserve should do a third round of quantitative easing, Warren believes, because an overly strong currency hurts U.S. exports. Plus, money printing by the Fed cheapens the dollar and “stops the euro from falling so much,” he said. 

The Commerce Department on Thursday reported the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 10.7% in June, with the number expected to boost second-quarter gross domestic product. Read full piece on narrowing gap.
“Positively and in the face of European concerns, exports rose to a record high,” said Boockvar at Miller Tabak, who specifically noted increased exports to the European Union, a trend that he viewed as unlikely to be sustainable. 

Warren at Warren Financial Service finds interesting that the U.S. trade deficit could be improving, considering the currency movement between the euro and the dollar. 

“Probably the answer behind it is oil is cheaper. We are net exporters of finished petroleum products; that flipped in November for the first time since World War II. We still do import a lot of oil, but we’re producing a lot more than in the past.”
The Labor Department reported that initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 at 361,00 last week. See full story on unexpected decline in initial claims. 
Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin Thursday, August 9 2012

ADVFN III World Daily Markets Bulletin  
Daily world financial news

Thursday, 09 August 2012

US Market Reports  
Stocks Showing A Lack Of Direction In Early Trading

Stocks are turning in another lackluster performance in early trading on Thursday after ending the previous session nearly flat. The major averages are showing only modest moves, hovering near their recent three-month highs.

The major averages have moved to the upside in the past few minutes and are currently posting modest gains. The Dow is up 11.70 points or 0.1 percent at 13,187.34, the Nasdaq is up 7.04 points or 0.2 percent at 3,018.29 and the S&P 500 is up 1.40 points or 0.1 percent at 1,403.62.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders express continued uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the recent strength.

While optimism about further monetary stimulus helped to drive stocks higher, traders seem reluctant to continue buying without any official announcement.

At the same time, some upbeat economic data has helped to keep traders from cashing in on the recent gains, with a report from the Labor Department showing an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims.

The report showed that initial jobless claims fell to 361,000 in the week ended August 4th from the previous week's revised figure of 367,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to edge up to 367,000 from the 365,000 originally reported for the previous week.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in June from $48.0 billion in May. The trade deficit had been expected to narrow to $47.5 billion.

The narrower than expected trade deficit reflected an increase in the value of exports and a decrease in the value of imports.

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, although notable strength has emerged among brokerage stocks. The NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index has advanced by 1 percent, with E*Trade (ETFC) leading the way higher on news that CEO Steven Freiberg has left the company.

Steel and computer hardware stocks are also seeing moderate strength in early trading, while modest weakness is visible among airline stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 1.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged up by 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed over the course of the trading day. While the German DAX Index is down 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index have both edged up by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have come under pressure, extending a recent downward move. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is jumping 6.5 basis points to a two-month high of 1.705 percent.

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TSX Edges Up At Open Thursday

Toronto stocks edged up at open Thursday amid marginal buying across a variety of sectors, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index adding 20.58 points or 0.17 percent to 11,801.62.

In the oil patch, Crescent Point Energy and Pacific Rubiales Energy were up around 3 percent each. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. gained 2 percent despite posting lower second-quarter net earnings.

Financial sector services provider Davis + Henderson Corp. added over 2 percent even after posting lower second-quarter net income.

Among gold stocks, Royal Gold and Allied Nevada Gold were down around 1 percent each.

Gold miner Kinross Gold slipped nearly 2 percent after reporting lower second-quarter net earnings Gold-focused royalty company Franco-Nevada Corp. eased 0.50 percent after reporting a marginally higher second quarter net profit.

Quick service restaurant chain Tim Hortons Inc. was down 1.50 percent after reporting second-quarter net income that came in-line with consensus estimates.

The price of crude oil was steady near $94 Thursday morning as traders speculated further monetary policy easing by Chinese officials after data showed a fall in Chinese consumer price inflation to a 30-month low in July,

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast at 0.90 mbd and said the summer driving season, the summer heat, and the continued shutdown of most of Japan's nuclear capacity supported demand growth.

Crude for September gained $0.46 to $93.81 a barrel.

The price of gold was flat amid a firm U.S. dollar. Gold for December edged down $2.90 to $1,613.10 an ounce.

In corporate news from Canada, international gold miner Goldcorp Inc. appointed George Burns as its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, replacing Steve Reid.

Gold miner Kinross Gold reported lower second-quarter net earnings of $153.6 million or C$0.13 per share compared to $247.4 million or $0.22 per share a year ago. Adjusted net earnings from continuing operations were $0.14 per share, compared with $0.20 per share in the prior year. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.17 per share this qaurter.

Yamana Gold reported a sharp decline in its second-quarter net earnings at $43 million or $0.06 per share, compared with net earnings of $195 million or $0.26 per share for the second quarter of 2011. Adjusted earnings were $135 million or $0.18 earnings per share in the second quarter of 2012, compared with $186 million or $0.25 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $0.27 per share this quarter.

Gold-focused royalty company Franco-Nevada Corp. reported a marginally higher second quarter net profit of $36.9 million or $0.26 per basic share compared to $33.3 million or $0.27 per basic share last year. Adjusted income rose to $35.1 million or $0.24 per share from $33.2 million or $0.26 per share. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of C$0.28 per share for this quarter.

West Africa focused gold miner Golden Star Resources swung to profit in second quarter, reporting net income of $2.5 million or $0.01 per share compared to net loss of $5.0 million or $0.02 per share last year. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $0.04 per share for the quarter.

Base-metals miner Taseko Mines Ltd. reported that its second-quarter adjusted net earnings was C$4.0 million or C$0.02 per share, up from C$1.7 million or C$0.01 per share in the year ago quarter.

CAE Inc. reported lower first-quarter net income of C$21.3 million or C$0.08 per share, down from C$43.1 million or C$0.17 per share in the same quarter last year. Adjusted net income was C$46.7 million or C$0.18 per share, matching consensus estimates

Aerospace and transportation company Bombardier Inc. reported a decline in its second quarter net income at $182 million or $0.10 per share compared to $210 million or $0.12 per share reported last year.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. posted second-quarter net earnings of C$753 million or C$0.68 per share, down from C$929 million or C$0.84 per share last year. Adjusted net earnings per share were C$0.55, versus C$0.56 in the same quarter last year. Analysts were expecting the company to earn C$0.53 per share.

Oil and gas Peyto Exploration & Development Corp. posted second-quarter Funds from Operations of $64.7 million or $0.47 per share, lower than $77.0 million or $0.58 per share in the previous year quarter.

Oil and gas industry services provider Savanna Energy Service Corp. reported a wider second quarter loss of C$7.6 million or C$0.09 per share compared to C$956,000 or C$0.01 per share in the same period last year. Analysts were expecting the company to earn C$0.01 per share.

Oil and gas company Whitecap Resources inc. said its second quarter funds from operations increased to $40.1 million or $0.33 per share from $19.9 million or $0.29 per share in the year-earlier quarter.

Insurer Manulife Financial Corp slipped into the red in second-quarter, reporting net loss of C$300 million, as against a profit of C$490 million last year.

Full-service investment dealer Canaccord Financial Inc. slipped into the red in first quarter, reporting net loss of C$20.6 million or C$0.24 per share, compared to a net profit of C$13.2 million or C$0.16 per share last year. Adjusted loss were C$16.30 million or C$0.20 per share, compared to an adjusted profit of C$14.13 million or C$0.17 per share in the prior-year quarter. Analysts were expecting the company to report loss of C$0.04 per share for the quarter

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European Markets Turn Negative

The major European markets are mostly in negative territory in afternoon trading Thursday, amid profit taking. Earlier in the session, sentiment was influenced by inflation data from China, which gave rise to hopes of further stimulus from the government.

Inflation in China eased for a fourth straight month to reach a 30-month low in July, paving way for the policymakers to go ahead with stimulus measures to counter a slowdown in economic growth. The rate of inflation fell to 1.8 percent in July from 2.2 percent in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Meanwhile, China's producer prices declined for a fifth consecutive month, falling 2.9 percent year-on-year in July.

The Bank of Japan on Thursday decided to keep its stimulus program and key interest rate unchanged as the economy is expected to undergo a moderate recovery path.

The European Central Bank considered the high borrowing costs faced by some euro area sovereigns was mainly driven by fears of a collapse of the euro and must be tackled through fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, the bank's monthly bulletin showed.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is adding 0.32 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is losing 0.13 percent.

The German DAX is losing 0.66 percent and the French CAC 40 is falling 0.25 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is falling 0.12 percent while Switzerland's SMI is climbing 0.87 percent.

In Frankfurt, Commerzbank, which reported quarterly results, is leading the decliners by falling 4 percent. Deutsche Bank is gaining 1 percent.

Deutsche Telekom is losing 2.2 percent. The telecommunications firm reported a 76.4 percent jump in second-quarter profit on lower expenses and improved profitability in its U.S. unit, but revenues were hurt mainly by line losses in Germany.

BMW is modestly down, while Volkswagen is climbing 1.6 percent. Daimler is unchanged.

Symrise is up 1.9 percent after profit rose in the second quarter. Commerzbank cut Axel Springer to "Hold" from "Add." The stock is down 0.6 percent. Kloeckner was cut to "Underperform" from "Buy." The stock is falling 2.4 percent.

In Paris, GDF Suez is losing 2 percent. EDF is down 1.5 percent. France Telecom is falling 1.3 percent. Insurer Axa is climbing 2.4 percent. Lenders Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are advancing 1.1 percent each. BNP Paribas is moderately up.

In London, AMEC is declining 7.3 percent, even though first-half profit showed a significant increase. Aviva is down 1.3 percent. The insurer reported a loss for the first half, reflecting mainly a write-down of goodwill in its U.S. business and higher restructuring costs.

Randgold Resources, which reported higher first-half profit, is gaining 2.7 percent. Standard Chartered is advancing 3.8 percent on reports that its chief executive is planning to fight back on Iran allegations.

Nestle is up 3.6 percent in Zurich. The food and nutrition giant said its profit in the first half of the year grew nearly 9 percent from last year, with growth across all its regions, helped partly by pricing. The company also confirmed its full year guidance.

Novo Nordisk is climbing 3 percent in Copenhagen. The firm reported quarterly results.

In the commodity space, crude for September delivery is adding $0.14 to $93.49 per barrel and December gold is losing $0.1 to $1615.9 a troy ounce.

Asia Market Reports
Asian Stocks Edge Higher On China Stimulus Hopes

Asian stocks rose for a fourth day on Thursday as lower inflation in China reinforced expectations that Beijing will loosen its monetary policy further in the second-half to bolster growth.

China's annual consumer inflation fell to a 30-month low of 1.8 percent in July, down from the previous month's 2.2 percent and well below last year's highs, giving Beijing more room to loosen policy.

The benign inflation figures, separate data showing slowing industrial production and retail sales in the world's second-largest economy and worrisome economic news from the euro-area helped keep hopes of further policy easing by the Federal Reserve and ECB intact.

Japanese shares rose sharply, with the Nikkei average topping the 9,000 mark for the first time in about a month, as traders shrugged off the Bank of Japan's decision to refrain from further monetary easing. The Nikkei average ended the session up 1.1 percent, while the broader Topix index closed 0.8 percent higher.

The yen was rather unchanged after the Bank of Japan retained its benchmark uncollateralized overnight call rate at 0-0.1 percent and the overall asset purchase program at JPY 70 trillion. The central bank maintained its assessment that the economy has started to pick up moderately and will return to a moderate recovery path as demand increases.

China-related Fanuc rose 1.8 percent, Komatsu added 0.8 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery edged up 0.4 percent, as benign inflation data lifted hopes for fresh easing measures by Beijing.

Heavyweight Fast Retailing, telcom player Softbank and defensive favorite Japan Tobacco all ended up more than 2 percent each. Steelmakers posted solid gain, with Nippon Steel and JFE Holdings climbing 2-4 percent. Nikon slumped 8.1 percent as it cut annual profit outlook.

China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6 percent, extending gains for a fifth straight session, even as investors remained wary of inflation numbers coming down further in the months ahead. Property developers posted solid gains as weakening industrial output and retail sales growth eased concerns over further tightening measures.

Industrial production increased 9.2 percent in July, missing forecasts for 9.7 percent growth, while retail sales rose 13.1 percent year-over-year compared to forecasts for an increase of 13.5 percent, official data showed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose a percent to a three-month high.

Australian shares fell slightly despite gains in miners on hopes for further easing from China, the nation's key export market. The benchmark swung between gains and losses before ending 0.1 percent lower at 4,308. The Australian dollar hit a 4-1/2 month high after data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed 14,000 more people found jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in the month from 5.3 percent the previous month.

Rio Tinto climbed 3.6 percent as the miner said it was sticking to its $16-billion spending plans for the year amid renewed expectations of a pick-up in Chinese economic activity by year-end. BHP Billiton rose 1.6 percent and gold miner Newcrest edged up 0.3 percent. Shares of Telstra fell 2.3 percent after the nation's biggest phone company posted second-half profit that missed analysts' estimates.

Seoul shares soared, with the benchmark Kospi climbing almost 2 percent to a 3-month high after the Bank of Korea kept its key interest rate unchanged, in line with expectations. Data released after the market close showed that overseas investors bought shares worth 1.55 trillion won on a net basis, the highest in 13 months on a daily basis, buoyed by hopes of decisive action by major central banks to stimulate growth and cope with the European debt crisis.

New Zealand shares ended little changed with a positive bias following mixed leads from overseas markets and amid caution ahead of the earnings season. The benchmark NZX-50 index edged up 2 points or 0.05 percent to 3,584. Construction firm Fletcher Building rose 0.8 percent and carpet maker Cavalier gained 1.9 percent after data from the Real Estate Institute showed New Zealand home sales climbed 20 percent in July.

Casino and hotel operator SkyCity Entertainment rose 1.4 percent, outdoor clothing and equipment firm Kathmandu Holdings advanced 1.8 percent and Heartland, the would-be bank, added 1.9 percent. Utility Contact Energy slumped 4 percent after Meridian Energy said Rio Tinto's Pacific Aluminum unit wants to change the terms of a new power contract for the smelter at Bluff. Mainfreight ended unchanged after the logistics firm reported a 15 percent fall in first-quarter profit.

India's benchmark Sensex was last trading down 0.4 percent after global brokerages cut India's growth forecast for the year and government data showed India's industrial output shrank by 1.8 percent in June, marking the third decline in four months, due to a sharp contraction in manufacturing production.

Elsewhere, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was up a percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite rose 0.4 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average rallied 1.6 percent. Financial markets in Singapore were closed for a public holiday.

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Crude Steady Near $94; OPEC Maintains Forecast

The price of crude oil was steady near $94 Thursday morning as traders speculated further monetary policy easing by Chinese officials after data showed a fall in Chinese consumer price inflation to a 30-month low in July

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast at 0.90 mbd and said the summer driving season, the summer heat, and the continued shutdown of most of Japan's nuclear capacity supported demand growth.

Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures for September delivery, edged up $0.14 to $93.49 a barrel. Yesterday, oil leveled off from its 3-month high as traders preferred profit taking even after an Energy Information Administration report showed U.S. crude stockpiles to have declined more than expected last week.

Wednesday during trading hours, the EIA said that U.S. crude oil inventories dipped by 3.70 million barrels and gasoline stocks eased 1.80 million barrels in the weekended August 03.

This morning, the U.S. dollar moved back to a weekly high versus the euro, while trading higher against sterling. The buck continued to pare losses versus the Swiss franc, while moving lower against the yen.

In economic news from the euro zone, U.K.'s visible trade gap widened to GBP 10.1 billion in June from GBP 8.4 billion in May, the Office for National Statistics said. The expected level of deficit was GBP 8.7 billion.

Traders will look to the data on trade balance from the U.S. Commerce Department at 8.30 a.m ET. Economists estimate that the trade gap narrowed to $47.5 billion in the month from a deficit of $48.7 billion in the previous month.

Simultaneously, the Labor Department will release its jobless claims report for the week ended August 04. Economists expect claims to edge up to 367,000 in the recent reporting week from 365,000 in the previous week.