Top Headlines - part 75

Ofgem Profits Questioned, Reform Sought

Ofgem Profits Questioned, Reform Sought

FINANCE

  • Ofgem's $197 profit figure raises energy suppliers' eyebrows
  • Regulator clarifies tariff structure to promote competition
  • Ofgem proposes minimum 20% of supplier power be auctioned by 2013

Energy suppliers are criticizing British energy regulator Ofgem for inconsistent profit figures, following Ofgem claims that its profit margin for energy firms increased from £15 ($23) in June to £125 ($197) in October.

The profit margin showed losses from 2004 to 2009, and as wholesale prices continue to rise, Ofgem expects margins to decline to roughly £65 ($102) by November. It also predicts a drop in profit to roughly £90 ($142) per customer for 2012.

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ASML Forecast: Semiconductor Chip Sector Slowdown Expected Despite Solid Q3

ASML Forecast: Semiconductor Chip Sector Slowdown Expected Despite Solid Q3

FINANCE

  • ASML Q3 revenue of €1.46 billion higher than forecasts
  • New orders in Q3 fall to €514 million; expected to rise in Q4
  • Record sales of over €5 billion expected for 2011

Computer chip equipment maker ASML published better than expected third quarter results Wednesday, but maintained predictions of a decline in the semiconductor industry. The Dutch company posted revenue of €1.46 billion ($2 billion), surpassing analysts’ forecasts of around €1.39 billion. Its net profits for the quarter were at €335 million, also higher than predicted.

New orders fell to around €514 million, representing a significant decrease for the world’s number one maker of photolithography equipment, which lays down electronic circuits on silicon wafers to create computer chips.

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Wall Street to Cut Bonuses, Jobs Upon Third-Quarter Data

Wall Street to Cut Bonuses, Jobs Upon Third-Quarter Data

FINANCE

  • Cash bonuses to drop as profit unlikely to reach $20 billion
  • New York City to endure 10,000 job loss in financial sector
  • Report suggests 4 to 6% lower ROE due to new regulations

Following weeks of protest, Wall Street cash bonuses and jobs are expected to be cut as revenue drops from a sluggish economy. 

Last year, cash bonuses were down 8% from 2009, with the average Wall Street cash award slidding 9% in 2010 to $128,500. New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli explained to Bloomberg Television that bonuses will be lower yet again because banks will have less money for award payments. His report suggests a slowdown in compensation growth during the second half of 2011 and a shift to larger salaries to compensate for smaller cash bonuses.

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Honda's Natural-Gas Powered Civic Comes to the US

Honda's Natural-Gas Powered Civic Comes to the US

BUSINESS

  • 2012 Civic Natural Gas to hit showrooms Oct. 18, sole natural gas-powered vehicle in the US
  • Highest-ever EPA rating for internal combustion engine
  • Honda plans to branch out to almost 200 locations in 36 states

Honda has begun production on its new natural gas Civic in the United States, aiming to meet the rising demand for alternative fuel vehicles.

The Civic Natural Gas will be assembled at Honda’s Indiana plant, with engines supplied by the Anna, Ohio facility. The Japanese manufacturer has several environmental vehicle projects including two electric vehicles, the FCX Clarity and the Fit EV, as well as a new hybrid model scheduled to launch next year.

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Austerity Plan Protests Shutting Down Greece

Austerity Plan Protests Shutting Down Greece

ECONOMY

  • Rolling strikes continue in protest of Prime Minister’s €6.6 billion austerity plan
  • Government said it would not reach 2011 deficit target, falling short by €2 billion
  • IMF: bailout deal needs to be revised by EU according to new needs

Greece is shutting down with petroleum industry workers, who have declared a 10-day strike, the latest to join the list of protesters against Prime Minister George Papandreou’s €6.6 billion ($8.7 billion) austerity plan. In coming days, prison guards and hospital workers are expected to join the pack, with Greek tax inspectors set to strike next week.

The ongoing wave of protests follows the heated public-sector walk-out staged last week when ADEDY, Greece’s biggest public sector union, called to strike after European Union ministers hinted that they might renegotiate the terms of Greece’s most recent bailout. “They are not trying to save Greece. They are just killing workers,” ADEDY Vice President Ilias Vrettakos said in a rally speech. Some 20,000 supporters took part.

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BHP Billiton Gets Go-Ahead for Olympic Dam Expansion

BHP Billiton Gets Go-Ahead for Olympic Dam Expansion

BUSINESS

  • Expansion plan to up copper output to 750,000 tons per year
  • Stringent environmental conditions set by Australian government
  • Project to create massive mining revenue and create thousands of jobs

The Australian government gave the go-ahead for BHP Billiton’s plans to expand its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, opening the way forward for what could become the biggest mining operation in the world.

The expansion of the copper, uranium and gold mine in the southern Australian deserts will up copper output to 750,000 tons per year – almost four times current levels. The increased volume will help meet the needs of the developing Asian markets, most notably China, where the demand for copper is expected to jump 6% by the end of 2011.

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Starbucks Pushing Hard for India Entrance

Starbucks Pushing Hard for India Entrance

BUSINESS

  • $500,000 spent this year on lobbying with US officials
  • Reports of tie-up with Tata Coffee
  • Starbucks shares up 3.7%; Tata Coffee rises 9.8%

Starbucks is stepping up lobbying efforts with United States government officials as it eyes a breakthrough into the rapidly expanding Indian market.

The American coffee giant has tried to find a foothold in India for many years, but efforts until now have proven fruitless. Earlier this year, the Seattle-based company began lobbying with US policymakers to help boost its chances. The group has been lobbying with the government on a range of topics since 2004, though this year saw the first mention of market openings in India in its quarterly disclosure reports.

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Oracle Focusing On Organic Growth Rather Than Acquisitions

Oracle Focusing On Organic Growth Rather Than Acquisitions

BUSINESS

  • Oracle set to concentrate on existing products after making over 70 acquisitions since 2005
  • CEO Larry Ellison launches new Oracle Public Cloud and 100+ Fusion business applications at At OpenWorld 2011
  • Oracle stock up by 9% over past year

After spending more than $40 billion over the past few years to acquire more than 70 companies, Oracle has now decided to focus on internal growth. While not completely ruling out any new large deals, Oracle co-President Safra Catz told analysts at a meeting in San Francisco that these would have to clear an “enormous hurdle” and that the Redwood City-based firm would instead be concentrating on increasing hardware sales and introducing a new cloud-computing service.

Starting with its purchase of the human-resources software company PeopleSoft in 2005, Oracle has acquired a string of companies as a strategy for boosting sales, which topped $35 billion for the fiscal year ending in May and are predicted to reach more than $38.5 billion this year, a rise of 8%.

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Belgium to Nationalize Local Dexia Arm

Belgium to Nationalize Local Dexia Arm

FINANCE

  • €4 billion part-nationalization part of wider bailout plan
  • Belgium, France, Luxembourg agree 10-year, €90-billion guarantee
  • Shares drop 4.7% after suspension of trading

The Belgian government has agreed to buy the local lending unit of Dexia for €4 billion ($5.4 billion) as part of a wider rescue package for the struggling Franco-Belgian bank. The bailout plan comes after an earlier rescue package for the bank during the financial crisis and includes plans for a €90 billion ($121 billion) guarantee for the next 10 years.

Belgium will put up 60.5% of the funds and France 36.5%, with Luxembourg providing the remaining 3%. Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said these steps were necessary to protect the local retail arm and to reassure Dexia’s shareholders that that their money was fully secured.

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Could Kyoto Go Ahead Without Canada, Japan, Russia?

Could Kyoto Go Ahead Without Canada, Japan, Russia?

WORLD

  • 200 countries must agree at Durban talks in November for treaty to be extended
  • Airlines could require permit allowing carbon dioxide emissions during takeoff, landing at EU airports from January 1, 2012
  • EU emissions up almost 2.5% in 2010, after 7% drop in 2009

The United Nations is considering extending the Kyoto Protocol without Canada, Japan and Russia. UN talks are scheduled to take place in South Africa in November to determine how to replace or extend the treaty, which set greenhouse gas emissions limits to be respected by 2012.

Canada, Russia, and China have refused new Kyoto targets unless they apply to all major economic players; around 200 nations will still need to agree during the talks in Durban for the extension to go ahead. The EU will agree to the extension on the condition all major economies comply with a separate treaty that would be legally enforceable.

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