Selasa, 17 Disember 2013

The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Britain approves reforms to scandal-hit banking sector


LONDON: Britain's banking reform bill cleared its final legislative hurdle late on Monday, paving the way for a raft of new regulations including the "ring fencing" of banks' retail and investment divisions.

A vote in the House of Lords, Britain's upper chamber, rubber-stamped the government's plans for reforming the embattled sector, ending a challenge from the opposition Labour party, which wanted a licensing system on banking standards to be included.

"I am delighted that the Banking Reform Bill has been passed," said Sajid Javid, Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

"This is a major milestone and marks the end of a three year process, led by the government, to make the UK banking system stronger and safer so that it can support the economy, help businesses and serve consumers."

According to Javid, the bill will ensure that taxpayers are no longer on the hook for future bank failures and will also "help to deliver much need competition" in the sector.

The bill implements many of the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking, set up in 2010 to consider structural reform of the sector following the 2007 crisis.

It will also apply recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which was set up to review standards following last year's Libor revelations.

The scandal erupted when Barclays was fined £290mil (US$472mil) by British and US regulators for attempted manipulation of key interbank interest rates between 2005 and 2009.

The legislation also includes measures allowing bankers to be charged with reckless misconduct if their business fails and will force them to build an "electrified" ring fence between their high-street and investment banking operations.

The bill is now ready to receive Royal Assent and become law – AFP. 

Asian shares climb ahead of Fed decision


HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Wednesday, with attention focused on Washington as investors await the end of a Federal Reserve policy meeting to find out its plans for its huge stimulus programme.

Japanese equities were the standout performers after official data showed a surge in exports thanks to a weaker yen.

Tokyo climbed 1.54% by the break, Sydney added 0.1% and Seoul strengthened 0.26% while Shanghai gained 0.1% and Hong Kong was 0.43% higher.

Regional traders were given a soft lead from Wall Street, where the three main indexes ended in the red following a tepid set of economic figures. With the Fed due to wrap up its two-day policy meeting later in the day, opinion is split on whether or not it will announce a cut in its US$85-bil-a-month, bond-buying scheme.

While some analysts point to a string of figures that indicate a healthy pick-up in the US economy, boosting the argument for a slight reduction, others say the central bank will likely wait until early next year to see if the recovery can be sustained.

"Wednesday's Federal Reserve monetary policy announcement is one of the most anticipated events of the year," said Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management.

John Kicklighter, chief currency strategist at DailyFX, said speculation about the Fed decision "has run rampant".

The latest numbers showed the economy is still fragile. Consumer prices were unchanged in November compared with October and up a tame 1.2% from the previous year. Inflation remains well below the Fed's 2% annual target.

Income growth for Americans – a key indicator of the health of the economy – remained modest at 1.1% year-on-year

The Dow edged a touch lower, the S&P 500 fell 0.31% and the Nasdaq eased 0.14%.

On currency markets, the dollar rose to 102.82 yen in early trade from 102.63 yen in New York late Tuesday. The euro bought US$1.3762 and 141.50 yen against US$1.3765 and 141.28 yen.

Japanese shares outperformed the region after Tokyo released figures showing exports last month rose 18.4% year-on-year, boosted by shipments of automobiles and a weaker yen. Expectations had been for a 17.3% rise, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

However, while the likes of Toyota and Sony benefited, the softer currency also sent the price of imports higher, especially for energy. Imports soared 21.1%, leaving Tokyo with a trade deficit for the 17th straight month.

Oil prices edged up. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, was up seven cents at US$97.29 in early Asian trading while Brent North Sea crude for February gained seven cents to US$108.51.

Gold fetched US$1,234.40 at 0220 GMT compared with US$1,239.20 late Tuesday –AFP

Foreign investment in China up 5.48% in first 11 months


BEIJING: Foreign investment into China rose 5.48% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2013, the government said Wednesday.

Foreign direct investment (FDI), which excludes financial sectors, totalled US$105.5bil for January-November, the ministry of commerce announced.

For November alone FDI increased 2.35% to US$8.48bil, the ministry said.

Investment from the European Union jumped 17.36% to US$6.8bil during the January-November period, while that from the US increased 8.6% to US$3.2bil.

Most investment into China comes from a group of 10 Asian countries and regions including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. FDI from them rose 7.45% to US$91.4bil in the year to November.

China's overseas investment increased 28.3% year-on-year to US$80.2bil during the same period, the ministry said.

While investment going to Hong Kong and Japan decreased 0.6% and 13.3% respectively, investment into Russia surged 685%, while it was also up 232.2% to the US – AFP


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