Daily Archives: Jun 21, 2012

One swallow does not a summer make; nor is a single month of poor economic data much of an indicator of a country’s medium term growth prospects.

Even so, Thursday’s disappointing industrial production and retail sales figures for April from Colombia must give pause to investors. Especially once you throw in the Q1 GDP number – also out on Thursday – which showed that growth in the economy is decelerating. Read more

Showdown time. Argentine union leader Hugo Moyano has called off a strike by drivers of fuel trucks that caused widespread shortages at petrol stations, but said all truck drivers would, instead, hold a nationwide strike and rally in front of the presidential palace on July 27. Read more

An American company trying to sell coffee to Latin America sounds like somebody selling ice to Eskimos or taking coal to Newcastle. Not least because the region produces most of the beans consumed worldwide.

Yet that is exactly what Starbucks is looking to do. This week, the Seattle-based coffee chain announced plans to ramp up its expansion in LatAm. The group said it wants to open ”several hundred” stores in Brazil in the next five years, to add to the 38 it currently owns, and open more than 300 new stores in Argentina and Mexico by 2015.

But will the region’s caffeine seekers bite? Read more

When Vladimir Putin returned to speak at the St Petersburg international investment forum on Thursday, he faced a tough task convincing investors the government will make progress on pledges to improve the investment climate. The problem was many of those gathered there had heard similar promises before. Read more

Brent crude for August delivery – the global benchmark oil price – fell below $90 a barrel on Thursday for the first time since December 2010.

The price has fallen from an intra-day high of $128.40 in on March 1. The price fell more than 3 per cent on Thursday alone.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, they say, or in this case the gas. Poland is hoping that, after complaining loudly,  it will soon get a price cut on its Russian gas supplies.

Poland pays some of the highest prices in Europe, despite being one of Gazprom’s largest customers, according to a study by Interfax and Vedomosti (The FT’s sister Russian paper). Poland pays $420 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas,  compared to $410 for Italy, $379 for Germany and $333 for Slovakia. A cut would be good for consumers, including big chemicals groups such as CiechRead more

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) late on Thursday announced a whopping $1bn fine on 11 major cement companies, by far the largest such penalty it has ever imposed (and nearly twice the amount previously reported).

The increasingly-aggressive watchdog ordered the companies, which include majors such as Ultratech, ACC, and Binani, to hand over half the profits made in the past two years, with an additional penalty on the industry body, the Cement Manufacturers Association. Cement stocks are bound to feel the effects when trading opens in Mumbai on Friday. Read more

By Mohammed Apabhai of Citigroup

Asian central bankers must have woken up this morning breathing a sigh of relief that the US Federal Reserve decided not to engage in another round of quantitative easing.

Although the experience of QE1, when the global economy was looking into the abyss, was positive for Asian markets, QE2 was altogether different. Read more

We might need a smaller pipe

Reliance Industries simply cannot get a break when it comes to Krishna Godavari D-6, the natural gas field it co-owns with BP.

On Thursday, shares in India’s largest company by market capitalisation were down as much as 3.47 per cent. Why? Reliance’s junior partner in the field, Canada’s Niko Resources – which owns a 10 per cent stake – issued a release cutting their estimates of the field’s reserves by 80 per cent, to 1.93tn cubic feet. Read more

* China factory data add to economy fears

* US ‘troubled’ as Egypt delays poll results

* China lowers barrier to foreign investors

* Greece Faces Downgrade To Emerging-Market Status By MSCI Read more

Ali Sabanci loves the gleaming Honda motorbike he has parked inside his office: it’s a 40th birthday gift that adds a touch of excitement to the business-like surroundings.

But he gets even greater pleasure from running Pegasus Airlines, Turkey’s largest operator after Turkish Airlines, the state-owned national carrier. Read more

Rapid backtracking on a ski development law appears to be the latest incidence of the Bulgarian government’s tendency to make policy on the hoof. The impression that legislation is poorly conceived and executed is frustrating ordinary Bulgarians and investors alike. Read more

Thursday’s further reading picks by the BB team: Egypt’s ‘deep state’ claws back; China heads for a ‘chindown’ – and its consumers are losing confidence; Mexico has drugs, violence – and a blooming economy. Plus, what did Aung San Suu Kyi have to say to the Dalai Lama in London? Read more

It’s monsoon season in India, but at the moment it’s not the rains coming down but the ratings.

Fitch, after downgrading India’s outlook on Monday, lowered its outlook for many of the country’s largest banks on Thursday. Read more

Oil prices slipped another notch on Thursday, putting pressure on producers, not least Russia, where the US$-denominated RTS index was down by 1.4 per cent around noon, Moscow time.

It was hardly an auspicious backdrop for the St Petersburg Economic Forum, Russia’s premier business conference, which is hosted personally by president Vladimir Putin.

But what to do? Russia is even more dependent on oil than it was 12 years ago when Putin first took power. So it’s not surprising that with Brent crude down 0.7 per cent at $92 a barrel, investors are jittery. Read more