Daily Archives: Oct 5, 2012

For those interested in signs and symbols, events will soon provide meaning to the tropical downpour unleashed from the heavens just as Hugo Chávez stepped up to the podium to give his closing campaign speech on Thursday.

Was he being blessed with “holy water”, as some of his followers claimed, or was it a bad omen, an expression of the wrath of God, as his enemies preferred to interpret the rainstorm. The result of the elections on Sunday will tell. 

Another twist in the South African labour relations on Friday: Anglo American Platinum has fired 12,000 workers taking part in a three-week illegal strike.

That’s around a fifth of the company’s workforce. While there are precedents for big dismissals like this, the move comes at an extremely volatile moment – on Friday another striking miner was reportedly killed by a police rubber bullet during protests at Amplats Rustenburg mine. 

By Nicholas Watson of bne

In a shock announcement, Czech power company CEZ on Friday excluded France’s Areva from its multi-billion-euro tender to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant for failing to fulfill all the requirements, leaving Toshiba’s US unit Westinghouse and a consortium led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport as the two remaining bidders. 

Many headlines surrounding the shock victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s opposition alliance in Georgia’s elections have focused on the billionaire’s plans to rebuild relations with Moscow. With Ivanishvili also stressing he wants to stick with Georgia’s integration with the west, political analysts are wondering which way he will go.

But for investors, this is something of a sideshow. More pressing is whether domestic stability can be maintained, and with it the relatively positive climate for foreign investment created in the past eight years. 

A glimmer of hope for unemployed pilots in the crisis-hit west – Russia’s aviation job market could be about to open up. Russia’s transport ministry has called for the abolition of a ban on hiring foreign pilots to man the nation’s passenger airlines.

Maxim Sokolov, transport minister, says Russia’s commercial airlines are plagued by shortages of about 1,000 pilots and something needs to be done. 

Gyorgy Matolcsy

News that Hungary would drop plans to levy its financial transaction tax on transactions with the central bank – removing a major obstacle in negotiations with the EU and IMF over a new credit facility – boosted the forint on Friday morning.

The Hungarian currency gained nearly 1 per cent to trade around Ft282 to the euro at around 10.00 local time, after opening the day at Ft284.8. 

Another solid week of flows to emerging market funds, with bond flows looking respectable for the fourth straight week despite a gradual slowdown, and more volatile equity flows still looking buoyant.

The QE rally seems to be intact, for now. 

Almost $60bn was wiped from the stock market value of India’s biggest companies on Friday when a “flash crash” on the country’s stock exchange triggered a near 16 per cent slide in the main index. Here’s the main story on FT.com.

See the chart after the break. 

* Error wipes $60bn off India shares

* Samsung boosted by smartphone sales

* Russia moots Arctic oil licences for west

* Toyota to cut output in China by half 

The South African rand weakened on Friday amid continued violent unrest in the mining industry. A striking miner was reportedly killed by a police rubber bullet during protests in the Rustenburg platinum mining region and Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil company, said it could not guarantee fuel deliveries in Johannesburg for safety reasons.

The currency lost 2 per cent of its value against the US dollar to trade at R8.68, close to its weakest point for the year, before recovering slightly to trade 1.4 per cent weaker. 

Costco Wholesale, the US retail giant, has sparked ire in South Korea after opening its outlets in Seoul on two Sundays last month, defying local regulations imposing mandatory closure on big supermarkets for two days a month.

Civic groups already held a big rally in front of one of the retailer’s outlets in Seoul last week, protesting Costco’s flouting of the city’s ordinance to close every other Sunday. They plan to hold frequent demonstrations until the company abides by the controversial regulations restricting their operating hours. 

Friday’s picks from the BB team: Syria’s border burst; the corridor of energy power; and China’s naked truths. Plus: Fernández’s reckless populism; Islam and the Arab Awakening; and Sonia Gandhi’s medical expenses. 

To nobody’s great surprise, the Russian central bank on Friday left interest rates unchanged to allow more time for September’s 25-basis-point hike to have an effect in controlling inflation.

The bank’s hawks will still be worried about inflation in the light of Thursday’s news of a 6.6 per cent rise in consumer prices last month. But the doves will be concerned about the impact on growth of the gloom in the global economy. 

There is a chill in the air as Sotheby’s opens its Hong Kong autumn sales on Friday, and it’s not because the worst of the summer heat is over.

This week is China’s “Golden Week”, traditionally the public holiday when the world’s most populous country goes on holiday and spends a lot of money abroad. But retailers in Hong Kong – the most popular destination for mainland tourists – have noticed a sharp fall off in sales growth this year. 

Shares in leading Japanese car makers slipped on Friday as evidence mounted of the scale of the customers’ revolt in China prompted by the territorial row between the two countries.

Whether the clients are genuinely angry about the disputed islands, or simply worried about what the neighbours might think, matters less for the hard-pressed sales executives than the hard numbers. Reuters reported on Friday that Chinese sales at Toyota Motor, the top Japanese carmaker, plunged 40 per cent last month.