Andrew W.K. sets drumming record at MTV O Music Awards

Musician Andrew W.K., the self-described "party king," set a new world record after playing drums nonstop for 24 hours during MTV's O Music Awards this week.


The O Music Awards, which give out accolades in a variety of fan-voted categories to musicians who make a significant impact online through social media, was streamed solely online as a 24-hour virtual concert.

The 34-year-old American, who was born Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, drummed for 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday, earning the world record for Longest Drum Session in a Retail Store, MTV said in a statement.

A message left seeking confirmation from Guinness World Records, which verifies official records, was not immediately returned.

Artists such as the Jonas Brothers, Hanson, Atlas Genius and Kate Nash performed from the MTV studios in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville during the 24-hour live music festival that MTV billed as the largest online-only event of its kind.

The network said that more than 100 million votes had been cast by fans online.


Winners included Joe Jonas for Best Artist Instagram, rocker Jack White for Analog Genius and German pop group Tokio Hotel for Fan Army FTW (For The Win).

Yoko Ono, 80, wife of late Beatle John Lennon, won the Digital Genius Award for her online art and music work, as well as her digital presence on social media.

Newcomer band Darling Parade was also selected from 50 new artists to play at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.

Now in its third year, the O Music Awards has attempted to set a new record each year.

At the first O Music awards in Las Vegas in 2011, rapper Chiddy of rap duo Chiddy Bang set a Guinness World Record for the "longest freestyle rap" and "longest marathon rap" after performing for more than nine consecutive hours.

In 2012, rockers Flaming Lips set a record for most concerts played in 24 hours, as they performed in eight cities, traveling by bus, breaking rapper Jay Z's previous record for seven cities in 24 hours via private jet.

MTV and its sister channels VH1 and CMT, which also participated in the O Music Awards, are part of Viacom Inc.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Eric Walsh)

Billboard chart won't count Jay Z sales from Samsung album deal

Billboard's weekly music chart will not include the 1 million copies of rapper Jay Z's upcoming album that were sold to electronics maker Samsung as part of a promotion, the U.S. trade magazine said on Friday.


Jay Z, 43, announced last weekend that his album "Magna Carta Holy Grail" could be downloaded for free on July 4 - three days before its public release - to the first 1 million users of Samsung smartphones who had downloaded a special app.


Bulk album sales that are give away for free are not counted in total sales and not eligible to be included on the music charts even if an artist and a record label are paid for them, according to Billboard's rules.

The magazine's editorial director, Bill Werde, said Billboard rejected Jay Z's request that the Samsung promotional sales be counted toward the Billboard 200 chart because "in the context of this promotion, nothing is actually for sale."

"The ever-visionary Jay Z pulled the nifty coup of getting paid as if he had a platinum album before one fan bought a single copy," Werde said.

The magazine in 2011 also instituted a minimum price of $3.49 for an album to be considered for its chart in the first four weeks after release, which came in response to retailers and record labels who were selling albums for less than $1 to inflate sales.

Werde said Jay Z should earn his 13th No. 1 album anyway, as "Magna Carta Holy Grail" is forecast to sell between 400,000 and 450,000 units in its first week.

But Werde said Billboard will discuss tweaking its album-counting policy because of the prevalence of branding deals in the industry and the changing nature of how music is consumed.

"Just because the Billboard 200 has been based purely on sales of an album for the entirety of the life of the chart doesn't mean it must always remain so," Werde said.

The magazine's Hot 100 songs chart has been changed in recent years to include digital downloads and online streaming figures as consumers turn away from traditional terrestrial radio and buying physical copies of songs.

"Magna Carta Holy Grail" will be released by Universal Music Group's Roc-A-Fella Records.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Paul Simao)

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West name baby daughter North West

Reality television star Kim Kardashian and rapper Kanye West have named their baby daughter North West, according to a copy of the birth certificate released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday.


Kardashian, the 32-year-old star of the TV show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," gave birth in Los Angeles on Saturday morning, weeks before her expected due date in July. West was with her for the delivery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

People magazine said the couple had been considering directional names. Representatives for Kardashian and West could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kardashian, who also has a clothing line and endorsement deals, started dating the Grammy-winning rap star in April 2012.

She married her second husband, NBA basketball player Kris Humphries of the Brooklyn Nets, in an elaborate ceremony filmed for the reality TV show in August 2011. But the union lasted only 72 days.


(Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Patricia Reaney in New York; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Xavier Briand)

Food Network to drop Paula Deen amid racial slur controversy

The Food Network said on Friday it would drop celebrity chef Paula Deen after the Southern food doyenne was sued for racial discrimination and admitted in a legal deposition to using a racial slur in the past.

The impending loss of Deen's broadcast deal represents a potentially huge setback for a television personality who has built an empire on high calorie food, with cookbooks and class="mandelbrot_refrag">restaurants in her native Georgia and other states.


The Food Network said in a statement it "will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month."

A spokeswoman declined further comment but the network, which is owned by Scripps Network Interactive Inc, said on Thursday it "does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion."

The network's decision to drop Deen was announced hours after she failed to make a scheduled appearance on the NBC television morning show "Today" to discuss the controversy. She later apologized on class="mandelbrot_refrag">video that was posted online.

"I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done. I want to learn and grow from this," Deen said in one class="mandelbrot_refrag">video posted on YouTube and other websites.

The controversy surrounding Deen erupted earlier this week when a deposition was released in transcript form in which Deen, who is white, was asked if she had used the "N-word," and responded, "Yes, of course." The "N-word" is a euphemism for "nigger," an epithet for black people.

Asked about the epithet in the deposition, Deen said she had used the slur when describing, probably to her husband, how a black man robbed a bank where she was working in the 1980s. She said she had used the word since, "but it's been a very long time."

A former employee of Paula Deen Enterprises, Lisa Jackson, is suing Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, in federal court alleging racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace. The deposition was related to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that, while discussing with Jackson plans for Hiers' 2007 wedding, Deen said she wanted a "true southern plantation-style wedding."

"Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around," Deen said, according to the lawsuit.


In one video message posted on Friday to YouTube, Deen apologized to "Today" host Matt Lauer for failing to show up for her interview, as she tried to reach out directly to the public.

"I want people to understand that my family and I are not the kind of people that the press is wanting to say we are," Deen said in that message.

In another video statement posted on YouTube and other websites, Deen said she had made "plenty of mistakes along the way."


"But I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness," she said.

Deen did not directly mention the lawsuit or her deposition in either of the two widely shared video statements.


A spokeswoman for Deen did not return calls or an e-mail seeking comment.


Howard Bragman, vice chairman of the reputation management service, told Reuters the chef "needs to be honest, emotional and convincing."


"She's never going to come back whole, she's never going to come back to where she once was," Bragman said in a phone interview. "Do I think she can salvage some measure of a career? Yes I do, there's a lot of people who still like her - the butter manufacturers of America. But she's never going to come back whole."


Long before becoming a celebrity chef, in 1989 Deen started out of her home a catering service called The Bag Lady. It later became the critically acclaimed restaurant The Lady and Sons in Savannah, Georgia.


Her show "Paula's Home Cooking" debuted on The Food Network in 2002 and her program "Paula's Best Dishes" premiered in 2008. She had a longstanding love for butter as an ingredient, but after revealing last year that she had Type 2 diabetes, she became a paid spokeswoman for drug maker class="mandelbrot_refrag">Novo Nordisk and introduced light recipes.


(Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem and David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Jim Loney, David Storey, Toni Reinhold)


Palestinian 'Arab Idol' victory unleashes rare outburst of joy

Palestinian cities erupted in joy after Gazan singer Mohammed Assaf won the "Arab Idol" song contest final held in Beirut on Saturday night, providing a welcome break from the grinding conflict with Israel.


The fresh-faced 22-year-old from humble roots in a refugee camp endeared millions of voting television viewers with his Palestinian patriotic anthems and folk songs.


After watching Assaf's victory from giant screens in the Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied West Bank, tens of thousands of Palestinians set off fireworks, danced in the streets and blasted his music from cars idling in frantic traffic jams.

"This shows that Palestinians don't just fight and struggle, but we rejoice and make great art," beamed Awad Najib, a government employee, after a mass viewing outside the Ramallah presidential palace in the West Bank.

Some Muslim clerics in Friday sermons had dismissed the pageant, saying its title encouraged idolatry and that people's energies would be better spent confronting Israel's occupation.

Political activists, too, complained that the glitzy spectacle had little to do with the Palestinian plight.

But most Palestinians would have none of this, and Saturday's revelry was like the end-of-Ramadan holiday combined with the World Cup Final.

The scale of the celebrations easily outstripped most political or protest rallies of recent years, and far exceeded those held after Palestinians gained non-member statehood in a vote at the United Nations General assembly last November.

Many political leaders, who have increasingly alienated Palestinians with their bickering, have sought to try to hitch a ride from Assaf's galloping popularity.

Some greying officials had changed their Facebook profile pictures to his smiling face and spiked hair, urged people to text him their votes and praised his nationalist credentials.

"This win is a source of pride and a victory for our people on the road to achieving its dream of establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement.

Abbas was jolted this week by his prime minister's surprise offer to resign and faces pressure by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to jump-start stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

But for locals, Assaf was all, and politics took a back seat.

"In the middle of the political failures, Assaf achieved something that made Palestinians everywhere feel hope was still possible," said Imad Ahmed, a teacher from Gaza watching the show with his family at a beachfront restaurant.

After the victory, Assaf was named by the U.N. as its first youth ambassador to Palestinian refugee camps in the territories and in neighboring countries. He is expected to visit the West Bank to perform.

(Reporting by Noah Browning and Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Eric Walsh)

'Monsters University' scares zombies to lead box office

"Monsters University," the prequel to Pixar's 2001 animated blockbuster "Monsters, Inc.," scared up $82 million in weekend ticket sales to easily outdistance the week's other new movie, the big-budget apocalyptic thriller "World War Z," which came in with an impressive haul of $66 million.

"World War Z,", the story of a zombie pandemic starring Brad Pitt, was Pitt's biggest opening weekend ever, easily outpacing the $50.3 million for "Mr. And Mrs. Smith."


Last week's top movie, the Superman reboot "Man of Steel", was third with ticket sales of $41.2 million.

"Monsters University," featuring the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman as monsters who flunk out of the college's scare program, continued the tradition of hugely successful films produced by Pixar, a unit of the Walt Disney Co.

It was Pixar's 14th consecutive film to head the box office for the weekend it premiered in theaters, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of's box office division, easily outpacing industry projections of a $70 million weekend.

"It definitely exceeded our expectations," said Dave Hollis, executive vice president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios. "The first film was so beloved and set such a high bar so we're ecstatic."

Hollis said "Monsters University" was boosted by word of mouth.

"It's turned into a bit of a date night option," he said. "And there haven't been a lot of family options in the marketplace."

Distributed by Paramount Pictures, "World War Z" was delayed from its initially planned December release after the studio decided to reshoot the final third, pushing its budget from $170 million to more than $200 million, according to published reports.

Paramount said the film, which Pitt produced, cost $190 million to produce. Pitt stars as a former U.N. crisis specialist called upon to help defeat zombies who threaten to take over the planet.

The film had been forecast to rack up ticket sales of about $50 million, according to's box office division, while the studio said it was looking to the high 40s, given the competition from "Monsters" and "Man of Steel."

"I don't think there's a person on the planet who thought this would open at $66 million," said Don Harris, Paramount's president of distribution. "These are pretty heady numbers."

"We're in really good shape" heading into the lucrative peak summer season weeks including the July 4 holiday, Harris said.

"And we certainly broadened the audience," he added, noting the film's 51 percent female-49 percent male audience breakdown, unusual for a big budget summer action film.

"Man of Steel," which stars British actor Henry Cavill as the muscled superhero, has generated domestic ticket sales of $210 million, already more than 2006's "Superman Returns," which starred Brandon Routh and took in just over $200 million.

Directed by Zack Snyder, the current version was distributed by Warner Bros.


"This Is the End," the apocalyptic comedy written by star Seth Rogen and his childhood friend Evan Goldberg, collected $13 million to take fourth place in the United States and Canada.


"Now You See Me," starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg as magicians who evade the police after high-profile robberies, was fifth with ticket sales of $7.9 million, pushing its total domestic take to just under $95 million.


"Despicable Me 2," which opens July 3 in North America, had a strong debut in Australia where Universal opted to open the film early to coincide with winter school holidays. The film took in $4.3 million, added to $2.1 million from paid previews last week.


"Monsters University" was distributed by the Walt Disney Co. Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner, distributed "Man of Steel." Viacom's Paramount Pictures unit distributed "World War Z." Sony's film studio distributed "This is the End." "Now You See Me" was distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment.


(Reporting By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Bill Trott)


Legendary blues singer Bobby Bland dies at 83: media reports

Bobby "Blue" Bland, a pioneer of the modern soul-blues sound, died on Sunday, according to Memphis media reports. He was 83.


Local television stations cited the Memphis Music Foundation, which could not be reached for comment.


Bland was a member of the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His hits included "Turn on Your Love Light," "Further on Up the Road" and "I Pity the Fool."

Bland, known as "The Lion of The Blues," was born in 1930 in Rosemark, Tennessee. He moved to Memphis in 1947 where he began mixing sounds from gospel, blues and R&B music, joining the Beale Streeters, a group that included Johnny Ace, B.B. King and Junior Parker, according to Bland's biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website.

"His hallmark was his supple, confidential soul-blues delivery," the website said.

Bland received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

(Reporting By Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Stacey Joyce)

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - June 24

The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.


* A global cat-and-mouse game involving the admitted leaker of National Security Agency secrets exploded into a diplomatic scramble, as U.S. authorities sought to catch Edward Snowden before he reached what supporters say is his next goal: political asylum in Ecuador. ()

* Federal officials are cracking down on fraud in student-aid programs, responding to evidence that a growing number of recipients are pocketing federal loans and grants without any intent of going to school. ()


* Banks have floated to federal regulators a proposal on how to pay for a restructuring of the nation's largest financial institutions in the event of a future crisis. ()

* Chinese companies are under growing financial pressure as the country's economic growth slows. So industries ranging from airlines to steel to consumer appliances increasingly are leaning on the Chinese government. Government aid to Chinese publicly traded companies rose 23 percent last year. ()

* Most Australians think the government is allowing too much Chinese investment, a poll suggests, even as ownership of local assets by the nation's biggest trading partner remains relatively small. ()

* Four years in, the U.S. recovery is slowly gaining steam. Many economists predict 2014 will be the best year for growth since 2005, and joblessness is expected to dip below 7 percent next year for the first time since 2008. ()

* U.S. airline passengers, eager to be able to start using electronic devices throughout their flights, have months to wait until new rules are hammered out. ()

* Chevrolet's next brand chief, Alan Batey, aims to make the cars once sold as the "Heartbeat of America" able to quicken pulses when cruising Beijing, Sao Paulo or Moscow. Chevys account for 70 percent of General Motor's about 9.3 million in global vehicle sales and were a big chunk of its $152.26 billion in 2012 sales. ()



* Facebook is quietly working on a service, internally called Reader, that displays content from users and publishers in a format tailored for mobile devices. Such mobile-focused endeavors are critical as Facebook tries to jump-start its sagging stock price. ()



* Starbucks Corp said it paid UK corporation tax for the first time since 2008, a move that followed sustained pressure from the British government, which continues to heap pressure on companies that seek to minimize tax payments on their earning. ()


REFILE-Geeks oust miners among Australia's new rich as boom fades

In a country synonymous with larger-than-life mining tycoons and Outback heroes, the geeks are quietly inheriting the earth.

As coal magnate Nathan Tinkler, the poster boy for Australia's fading 10-year minerals boom, publicly battles against bankruptcy, software entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are riding high.

The former college buddies behind fast-growing software firm Atlassian unceremoniously bumped Tinkler off the top of Australia's "young rich list", leading a charge in the country's blooming technology industries.


The tech start-up and biotech sectors are at the forefront of a push to transform Australia from an exporter of iron ore to an exporter of ideas.

"It's a pretty primitive economy," said internet entrepreneur Matt Barrie. "We basically dig stuff up out of the ground, put it on a boat and ship it."

As part of ambitious plans to change that, the government has announced millions of dollars in new venture capital funding and large-scale reviews of the technology sector. A A$38 billion ($36.2 billion) National Broadband Network (NBN) will bring high-speed internet to almost all the 23 million population.

"As the rollout of the NBN continues, the capacity for start-up companies, particularly in the tech and digital sectors, to create game-changing businesses and applications is unprecedented," said Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.


Online and high-tech start-ups account for just 0.1 percent of GDP and 9,500 jobs, but the sector is growing rapidly. A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) suggests it could account for 4 percent of GDP and 540,000 jobs by 2033.

That puts Australia well behind Silicon Valley in California, the epicentre of start-ups, but growing activity in Sydney and Melbourne are putting those cities on the edge of the world top 10 that currently includes London, Tel Aviv and Singapore alongside U.S. cities San Francisco, Seattle, Boulder and Austin.

All eyes are currently on Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar, amid expectations they will list Atlassian on Nasdaq within the next year, a plan first flagged in 2010 when U.S. venture capital firm Accel Partners saw its potential and invested $60 million.

Founded by the pair straight out of university 10 years ago using a A$10,000 credit card debt, Atlassian is now a world leader in collaboration and bug tracking software, pulling in revenue of A$103 million in 2011 without a single salesperson.

Its products are used by 25,000 companies in 135 countries, including McDonalds Inc, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc , eBay Inc, Boeing Co and the U.S. space agency NASA.


Cannon-Brookes said the company had an annual compound growth rate of 30-35 percent, but declined to give a timeframe for listing.

"It's a logical next step for us to take," Cannon-Brookes said.


He said the company planned to add another 100 employees in the next quarter to its current staff of 700, based mainly in Sydney, San Francisco and Amsterdam.





The success of Atlassian propelled Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes to the top of the Business Review Weekly Young Rich List, ousting Tinkler, the former youngest billionaire in the country, whose rags-to-riches-and-back tale took another twist this month with the sale of his stake in Whitehaven Coal Ltd.


Farquhar, and Cannon-Brookes are worth A$480 million combined, on 2012 figures, ahead of Tinkler's A$400 million fortune.


The gap has widened further since then, with Atlassian growing and Tinkler dropping off the magazine's more recently calculated main Rich List of the country's wealthiest 200 people.


On current form, he will also disappear from the 2013 Young Rich List, which ranks the 100 wealthiest people under the age of 41, when it is published later this year.


While the main Rich List is still dominated by entrenched mining tycoons such as Gina Rinehart and Fortescue Metal Group's Andrew Forrest, the young list is notable for containing 24 people who made their fortunes in technology.


Close behind the Atlassian duo at No.4 was PC Tools founder Simon Clausen. No.8 was Ruslan Kogan, a serial entrepreneur specialising in online retail sites. At No.10 were Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani, who built software-as-a-service platform Bigcommerce. Matt Barrie was at No.50 thanks to his rapidly growing recruitment site





And it's not just the tech geeks rising through the rich ranks. Their contemporaries in the biotech sector are also poised for financial windfalls.


As the Australian population ages and Asian countries grow increasingly affluent, there is potential for significant growth in the sector, which currently has 95 listed companies valued at A$49 billion, according to research group Bioshares.


Silviu Itescu, a doctor, scientist and chief executive of stem cell research firm Mesoblast Ltd, features on the main Rich List with a A$400 million fortune, as his company reportedly considers a second listing on Nasdaq.


Among the minnows tipped to be the next super-earners are neurodegenerative disorder specialist Cogstate Ltd, disinfection and sterilisation expert Nanosonics Ltd, IVF diagnostic test developer Universal Biosensors Inc, sleep disorder appliance maker SomnoMed Ltd.


"These are all companies that we are expecting to reach profitability in the next 12 to 18 months," said Mark Pachacz, research principle at Bioshares.





But industry experts warn the grand plans to use tech start-ups and biotech to help transform the economy could be stymied by a lack of funding for new ventures in both sectors, a brain drain overseas and a dearth of local science graduates.


Venture capital firms have been burned by some spectacular failures in recent years, such as regulatory hurdles that hit key products from drug maker Pharmaxis Ltd, while low government grants have been criticised by industry.


The government moved to address that last week by announcing a review of employee share scheme regulations, which companies such as Atlassian have argued have forced talented staff in new businesses overseas.


A group of industry leaders, including the Atlassian duo, recently formed Blackbird Ventures to invest A$20 million in Australian start-ups that have the potential to be global success stories.


Blackbird Managing Director Niki Scevak said it would address a funding gap between a raft of accelerator funds ploughing seed money of up to A$1 million into the market and "series A" funding of more than A$10 million for more established companies from U.S. funds like Accel.


Blackbird has so far invested in online design platform Canva and Ninja Blocks, a software developer bringing the remote controlled home to the masses by connecting home devices to web and mobile apps.


"It's a national imperative that we've got to build up the technology industry in this country," said's Barrie. "I can't think of another industry that could help us go into the next 20, 30 years."


UK Stocks-Factors to watch on June 24

Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening flat to 4 points higher, or up 0.07 percent, on Monday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on


* The UK blue chip index fell 43.34 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,116.17 points on Friday, the lowest seen since January. The index recorded a fifth straight weekly loss, hit by the prospect of a curbing of U.S. monetary stimulus.


* ENRC - The billionaire founders of ENRC are close to finalising a buyout bid for the London-listed Kazakh miner, valuing the troubled group at just over 3 billion pounds ($4.7 billion), below the value of a tentative proposal made in May.

* Trading in shares of Kazakhmys was suspended on Monday afternoon pending a statement on inside information, according to a filing on the Hong Kong exchange. The company is also listed in London.

* Rio Tinto Ltd has scrapped the proposed sale of its $1.3 billion diamonds business, a setback for its plan to sell a swag of mines and company stakes to tighten operations during a global industry downturn.

* VODAFONE GROUP The British mobile firm said on Monday said it had decided to make a takeover offer to buy Germany's biggest cable company Kabel Deutschland.

The company declared its intention to bid for Kabel Deutschland in a regulatory statement but did not provide any further details. The statement said further details were available on the Vodafone Web site.

* London copper futures dropped for a fifth session out of six on Monday and stayed near 20-month lows, hurt by a firmer dollar and worries over top consumer China where a liquidity squeeze could curb demand already hit by slower economic growth.

* Brent crude futures traded below $101 a barrel on Monday, hurt by a stronger dollar and concerns over slower growth in demand for oil in the United States and China.



> Financial Times


> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Atul Prakash)


European stock index futures signal lower open

European stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Monday, adding to last week's sharp losses, as investors fretted about the prospect of reduced U.S. monetary stimulus and worries over China's banking sector.


At 0602 GMT, futures for Euro STOXX 50, for UK's FTSE 100, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were down 0.2-0.9 percent.

Freeport Indonesia ramping up output at world's No.2 copper mine

Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc was ramping up production at its Indonesian unit on Monday, a company spokeswoman said, six weeks after a deadly tunnel collapse at the world's No.2 copper mine halted operations.


Trade union workers at the Grasberg mine in remote West Papua were also returning to production work, while postponed pay talks with the Arizona-based firm have been resumed, a union official added. Freeport Indonesia employs about 24,000 workers, of which three-quarters belong to the union.

Freeport stopped production at Grasberg on May 15, a day after a training area in a tunnel caved in, killing 28 people. Planned pay talks were also put on hold last month.

On Saturday, the company said it had slowly resumed open-pit mining after receiving approval from the Indonesian government, although underground production remained closed.

"We herewith confirm that we have started to ramp up production since Saturday," Freeport Indonesia spokeswoman Daisy Primayanti said in an email on Monday. "(We) also confirm that our workers have returned to work at the production side."

Primayanti was unable to give exact details on shipments or how much of open-pit production capacity was being operated, and that this was currently being assessed internally.

The open-pit mine normally produces around 140,000 tonnes of copper ore per day, while output from underground operations is 80,000 tonnes. Freeport was forced to declare force majeure on shipments due to the prolonged closure of the mine.

Previously, union officials had demanded that all probes into the accident be completed before production was allowed to resume, and that they wanted to evaluate the final investigation report and see if Freeport implemented all recommendations.

"Production activity at Grasberg open-pit mines have resumed and workers are back working at the mining sites," Papua-based union official Virgo Solossa told Reuters by telephone. "The union encourages the workers to go back to work."

The Freeport Indonesia management had not consulted the union when asking workers to return to their duties, Solossa said, adding that the government would be held accountable should there be any further accidents at the mining site.

The union successfully demanded the suspension of five senior Freeport employees that it suspected bore responsibility for the accident.

Relations between Freeport and the union have been strained in recent years, after a three-month strike in late 2011 and a series of minor spats.


After the May 14 tunnel collapse, the company and the union put on hold pay negotiations that began on May 13 and were forecast to last for up to 60 days.

"Union and management representatives have restarted negotiations again," said Solossa, without giving further details.

Novartis tests copy of Amgen's Enbrel in late-stage trial

Sandoz, the generics unit of Novartis, has launched a late-stage trial with its biosimilar version of Amgen's Enbrel, consolidating its leading position in developing cheaper copies of complex biotech drugs.


With the start of the major study of its version of Enbrel, or etanercept, Sandoz now has seven Phase III clinical trials across five biosimilar molecules - more than any other company in the industry.


Sandoz said on Monday the new trial aimed to confirm the biosimilarity of its product versus Enbrel in patients with moderate to severe chronic plaque-type psoriasis. Results will be used to support U.S. and European regulatory filings.

Unlike traditional chemical drugs, biotech medicines consist of proteins derived from living organisms that cannot be replicated exactly. Generic copies, therefore, are more difficult to develop and market.

IMS Health, a provider of data for the healthcare industry, expects global spending on biosimilars to increase to between $4 billion and $6 billion by 2016, from just $693 million in 2011.

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares slide on China worries, Fed outlook; dollar firms

Chinese shares dragged Asian bourses to a fresh 9-1/2-month low on Monday as investors worried about Beijing's economic and financial stability and markets scrambled to price in the Federal Reserve's plan to slow its stimulus drive later in 2013.

European stocks were seen consolidating after last week's losses, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open little changed.

But a 0.6 percent drop in U.S. stock futures pointed to a weak Wall Street open.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.8 percent to its lowest since early September, after posting its worst week since May 2012 with a drop of 4.5 percent last week. Most of the region's stock indexes are now well into oversold territory.

China bank shares led the downward spiral after official news reports at the weekend suggested Beijing would continue to address the risks of shadow banking, which was behind the central bank's withholding of funds to the money market last week.

The People's Bank of China bank exacerbated nervousness by saying that liquidity in the country's financial system is "reasonable." It has also pledged to "fine tune" existing "prudent" monetary policy.

Hong Kong shares fell 2.4 percent and Shanghai shares plummeted 5.4 percent. The Shanghai financials sub-index was down 7.1 percent, headed for its worst single day loss since November 2008.

"I think the market is expecting 'fine-tuning' to mean a tightening of liquidity moving forward, especially after the way official media talked about shadow financing over the weekend," said Cao Xuefeng, Chengdu-based head of research at Huaxi Securities.

China's volatile money market rates kept investors jittery about the intentions of the Chinese authorities, as the recent spike in market rates compounded fears of a sharper-than-expected slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

China's weighted average overnight bond repurchase rate , a measure of the cost of funds, eased to 6.64 percent from Friday's close at 8.89 percent. The rate had been around 4 percent for much of 2013 until this month.

"The Chinese authorities are purposefully doing this to let investors be aware of the pain that must accompany the structural reforms the government is trying to pursue, so investors shouldn't be complacent about the government avoiding a hard landing," said Xiao Minjie, an independent economist in Tokyo.


Australian shares tumbled 1.5 percent, dragged by concerns about slowing growth in China, its main export market.

A weaker yen helped buoy Japan's Nikkei stock average in early trade, but the Nikkei surrendered gains and ended down 1.3 percent as investors remained skittish after last week's global market rout and the fresh tumble in Chinese stocks.

"The Chinese market changed the mood completely," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of global equities and commodity derivatives at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. "Global markets have just started pricing in the end of China's high-growth period and investors are backing away from emerging markets."

Going into the Fed's June meeting, investors continued to take money out of emerging-market fund groups in the week ending June 19, EPFR Global said on Friday.

Asian credit markets were also unsettled, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index widening by 20 basis points.






The dollar outshone all other asset classes and strengthened broadly, in turn weighing on dollar-based commodities prices, on the prospect of rising yields and an improving U.S. economy which has allowed the Fed to suggest a major policy reversal.


Financial markets sold off last week after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that with the U.S. economy showing signs of recovery, the central bank may start scaling back its huge monthly bond-buying plan which was aimed at keeping bond yields down and supporting the economy.


The Fed's strong accommodative stance has also encouraged investment in riskier assets such as shares.


The dollar rose 0.6 percent against the yen at 98.48, steadily moving away from its 10-week low of 93.75 yen hit earlier in the month.


Traders said the prospect of diverging yield directions will support the dollar against the yen.


U.S. Treasuries extended last week's dismal performance, with the 10-year yield rising to 2.5928 percent to a near two-year high, after the benchmark yield posted its biggest weekly rise since November 2001 last week.


"A better economic outlook will eventually need to be priced into the short end of the yield curve. This suggests that there is a catch-up trade for the USD versus low-yielding currencies (such as the yen)," Barclays Capital said in a research note.


Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar index rose 0.4 percent to a two-week high after ending last week up 2.2 percent for its biggest weekly gain since early November, 2011.


Spot gold slumped 1.2 percent to $1,281.39 an ounce, approaching its lowest since September 2010 of $1,268.89 touched on Friday.


U.S. crude futures fell 0.4 percent to $93.32 a barrel and Brent shed 0.6 percent to $100.35.



REFILE-RESEARCH ALERT-Apple: Jefferies cuts target price

June 24