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Showing posts from July 9, 2014

US STOCKS-Futures flat, indexes on track to close week lower

U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday, though recent weakness was enough to put the Dow and S&P 500 on track for their first weekly decline after three consecutive weeks of gains. * While both the Dow and S&P hit a series of record highs this week, Wall Street has lately been pressured by concerns of slowing global growth and ongoing violence in Iraq, which has taken oil prices to their highest since September. * The S&P has fallen for three straight days, its longest streak of declines since early April. However, it has dropped just 1.1 percent over that period, and many view the market's recent trend upward as intact. * Technology shares will be in focus a day after Intel Corp raised its full-year revenue outlook, citing stronger-than-expected demand for personal computers used by businesses. Shares of the Dow component rose 4.7 percent to $29.27 in premarket trading. * Another positive catalyst may come at 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT), with the pre

Silicon Valley's latest perk: World Cup viewing parties at work

Theme lunches, giant TVs and viewing parties. Silicon Valley may be far from the World Cup in Brazil but tech employees are getting in on the globe's most prestigious soccer event. Twitter, LinkedIn and Nvidia are among several tech companies airing matches in their offices during the next month and encouraging employees to follow the action. The World Cup has made inroads in the United States, although employees at many companies must be circumspect about getting their fix. But some tech companies, famous for giving their engineers everything from gourmet food to on-site hairdressers, World Cup fever's penetration is reminiscent of Latin America or Europe, where the tournament captivates the public. Redwood City's Evernote, which makes note-taking software, dished up traditional Brazilian Feijoada meat stew and bolo de fuba cornmeal cake for lunch while Thursday's opening match between Brazil and Croatia played on projector TVs. As the tournament progresses, with

UPDATE 1-UK construction data revised higher, policy moves may hold sector back

British construction output grew faster than previously thought in the first quarter, new figures showed on Friday, but could slow in the next three months, particularly after the government took steps to cool the housing market. Finance minister George Osborne said on Thursday that he would give the Bank of England stronger powers to curb mortgage lending, while BoE Governor Mark Carney said interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets expect. The comments sent sterling and short-dated British government bond yields soaring and caused shares to plunge, with housebuilders particularly hard hit. Some 1.7 billion pounds ($2.85 billion) has been wiped off the value of the six housebuilders and two property groups. Economists say Osborne's announcement means the Bank may adopt a more direct approach when trying to curb mortgage lending. It is expected to announce more controls after its Financial Policy Committee meeting next week. The moves should help take some heat o

Porsche takes on Audi at Le Mans, intensifying VW sibling rivalry

Porsche will return to the Le Mans sports car race for the first time in 16 years on Saturday, intensifying its rivalry with Volkswagen stablemate Audi and putting the parent company's fondness for internal competition to the test. Volkswagen (VW), Europe's biggest carmaker with vehicles ranging from trucks and cheap Skodas to high-end sports cars, is widely viewed by industry analysts as the model for how to manage a variety of brands within a single group. But with Audi striving to maintain its challenge to world No. 1 luxury carmaker BMW, some are questioning whether now is the right time to instigate a new battle with its sports car sibling. Putting two teams into the 24-hour Le Mans race on June 14-15, one of the greatest tests of endurance for cars and drivers, could cost VW as much as 50 million euros ($68 million), a company source told Reuters, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. What's more, it risks exacerbating tensions that are

UK markets scramble to price in 2014 rate rise after Carney warning

Investors braced on Friday for a UK interest rate hike later this year, pushing sterling to five-year highs and hurting property stocks, after the head of the Bank of England said rates may rise sooner than markets predict. Governor Mark Carney's surprisingly stark warning late on Thursday prompted investors to bring forward expectations for a first BoE rate hike by nearly four months, to December from the first quarter of 2015. Sterling's trade-weighted index posted its biggest one-day rise in four months, hitting 5 1/2-year highs. Short-dated UK government bond yields were on track for their biggest daily gain in more than three years. A rate hike by the end of 2014 is likely to come at least six months before the U.S. Federal Reserve tightens policy. It would contrast sharply with the European Central Bank, which cut rates last week and is likely to ease policy in the coming months. "The BoE seems to be slightly ahead of the Fed as far as rate hikes are concerned,&

UPDATE 1-GM issues another ignition switch recall, for Chevy Camaros

General Motors Co recalled 511,528 Chevrolet Camaros on Friday for an ignition switch problem similar to the defect linked to at least 13 deaths in Chevrolet Cobalts and other models. GM said it was aware of minor accidents but no fatalities from the Camaro, a sporty two-door car. It said the Camaro switch defect differed from the problem in the Cobalts, but a consumer advocate said GM still should have recalled the Camaros sooner. GM said a driver's knee could bump the Camaro key fob and move the ignition switch out of the "run" position, causing the engine to shut off. The earlier recall of Cobalts and other small cars involved an ignition switch in which a bump of the key fob could turn off the engine, disabling power steering and airbags. That defect, first observed by GM engineers in 2002, was not reported to consumers for years. Chief Executive Mary Barra in recent months overhauled the way GM handles safety recalls. The Camaro recall bloats the number of GM v

Ukrainian forces surround rebel-held port city

Ukrainian forces surrounded the rebel-held port city of Mariupol in fighting with pro-Russian separatists after launching a dawn attack on Friday, the country's interior minister said on his Facebook page. _0"> The rebel forces, who oppose the pro-European leadership in the capital Kiev, confirmed fighting was under way and said five of their number had been killed. Mariupol is Ukraine's largest Azov Sea port, and is important for steel exports. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

UPDATE 1-China crude steel output hits record in May -stats bureau

China's crude steel output hit a record of 70.43 million tonnes in May, up 2.6 percent from a year ago, government data showed on Friday, as steel mills in the world's biggest producer looked to meet strong demand. Steel demand in China traditionally improves in the second quarter as construction activity picks up along with warmer weather, but the slowing economy and weak property sector is expected to curb demand growth and push mills to cut output in coming months. May's output rose 2.3 percent from April and trumped the previous record of 70.25 million tonnes hit in March. Output for the first five months of the year rose 2.7 percent to 342.52 million tonnes from the same period last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed. The average daily crude steel output fell to 2.272 million tonnes in May from a record 2.295 million tonnes seen in April. It has stood above 2.20 million tonnes so far this year. A rapid fall in iron ore prices .IO62-CNI=SI, wh

Petra finds "exceptional" 122.52 carat blue diamond in Cullinan mine

Petra Diamonds Ltd said it had recovered an "exceptional" 122.52 carat blue diamond at its Cullinan mine in South Africa, just months after it sold a 29.6 carat blue diamond from the same mine for more than $25 million. _0"> "The rarity of a blue diamond of this magnitude sets it apart as a truly significant find," the company said in a statement. Shares in the diamond miner rose almost 7 percent to a year high in early trading, making them the top percentage gainers on the FTSE-250 Midcap Index. Petra, which acquired the famed diamond mine in 2008, said it would evaluate the optimal route to market for the stone after a further analysis to assess its potential value. "So far, the highest price on record paid for a rough diamond was $35.3 million, paid in February 2010 for a 507 carat white stone, also recovered from Cullinan. We think that this stone may break that record," finnCap analyst Martin Potts said. The Cullinan mine boasts the lar

Ukrainian forces raise flag over port city - minister

Ukrainian forces regained control of the port of Mariupol on Friday, raising the national flag over the southeastern city's main administrative building, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. _0"> "At 10:34 a.m. (0734 GMT) the Ukrainian flag was raised over City Hall in Mariupol," he wrote on Facebook after Ukrainian forces attacked the city as part of a broader military operation to reclaim territory seized by pro-Russian separatists. There was no immediate comment by the rebels on his remarks. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

UPDATE 1-Indonesian govt officials meet copper execs, hopes for quick deal

Indonesian government officials met with major foreign copper miners on Friday, with the chief economics minister hoping a quick deal can be reached to overcome a controversial tax that has halted concentrate exports for five months. Richard Adkerson, the CEO of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc and Newmont Mining Corp CEO Gary Goldberg are in the capital Jakarta, signalling a fresh effort to reach a settlement over the export tax that the miners say they should not have to pay. The tax is part of a government drive to force miners to build smelters and processing plants in Southeast Asia's largest economy, but a lack of progress in resolving the dispute has led Newmont to declare force majeure and Freeport to slash output. "We hope this happens quickly, everyone wants it to happen quickly," said chief economics minister and billionaire businessman Chairul Tanjung, who is spearheading a new government push aimed at brokering a deal. Asked about a possible timefr

UPDATE 1-EnQuest buys into Malaysian oil field to grow outside of core UK market

North-Sea focused oil producer EnQuest has agreed to take over ExxonMobil's share in the Malaysian Seligi oil field, expanding its production portfolio outside of its core UK market. Upon completion of the deal, which is subject to regulator approval, EnQuest will become operator of the field and own 50 percent alongside Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas. "We continue to look at the UK as our major hub, but because of these movements of companies back to North America we're seeing opportunities specifically in places like Malaysia," said EnQuest chief executive Amjad Bseisu. His company specialises in maximising oil output from old fields by applying new technology that allows it to retrieve oil that is typically hard to reach. As large oil majors look to divest late-life assets that have seen a decline in output, EnQuest sees an opportunity in snapping up old fields where it can apply its expertise. The Seligi oil field, EnQuest's third Malaysian

EU agrees plan to cap use of food-based biofuels

EU energy ministers agreed a deal on Friday to limit production of biofuels made from food crops, responding to criticism these stoke inflation and do more environmental harm than good. The ministers' endorsement of a new compromise overcomes a stalemate hit late last year when European Union governments failed to agree on a proposed 5 percent cap on the use of biofuels based on crops such as maize or rapeseed. Friday's deal would set a 7 percent limit on the use of food-based biofuels in transport fuel. The new deal must now be considered by the newly-elected European Parliament. "We think this proposal is much better than nothing," European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told the Luxembourg meeting of ministers. "We need to support research and development in advanced biofuels so we can move forward from generation one into generation two and generation three," he added, referring to more sophisticated biofuels which do not compete with growi

UPDATE 1-Rare blue diamond could fetch more than $35 mln

A rare 122.52-carat blue diamond found in South Africa could fetch more than $35 million for a London-listed mining company. Only three or four blue diamonds over 100 carats have ever been recovered, according to Cathy Mallins, corporate communications manager at Petra Diamonds Ltd. So far, the highest price on record for a rough diamond is $35.3 million, paid in February 2010 for a 507-carat white stone recovered from the same mine, finnCap analyst Martin Potts said in a research note. "We think that this stone may break that record," he said. Both diamonds were recovered from the Cullinan mine, the source of many large diamonds, including the largest rough gem diamond ever recovered - the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond found in 1905. That diamond was cut into two stones that are part of Britain's Crown Jewels held in the Tower of London. Petra's shares rose as much as 7 percent on Friday, making them the top percentage gainer on the FTSE-250 Midcap Index . Pet

UPDATE 4-Union says wage deal to end South African platinum strike is imminent

The leader of South Africa's AMCU union said on Friday a wage deal with the top three platinum producers was imminent, signalling a possible end to a crippling five-month strike that has disrupted global output of the metal. Workers from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) begged leader Joseph Mathunjwa on Thursday to end the country's longest mining strike and sign the latest offer - an increase of about 20 percent, or 1,000 rand ($93) a month. Mathunjwa told Johannesburg radio he would take the offer to more AMCU members at mines on Friday, before meeting with management at Lonmin , Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum later or over the weekend to relay the response of his miners to their offer. "At least there is light at the end of the tunnel, which is not the light of a goods train," he told Talk Radio 702. The main outstanding sticking point was whether the wage deal should stretch over three or five years, he said. "W

OECD sees U.S. growth accelerating through 2015

The U.S. economic recovery should accelerate in coming months as an energy boom, steadily falling unemployment and a rebound in investment push growth to its fastest pace in a decade, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Friday. In its latest overview of the U.S. economy, the Paris-based group said U.S. gross domestic product would expand 2.5 percent this year, a touch below a forecast it released last month. But it maintained its 3.5 percent growth projection for next year, which would be the strongest advance since 2004. The OECD is more optimistic on U.S. growth than most private forecasters and some other international organizations, including the World Bank, which looks for growth in 2015 of only 3.0 percent. The OECD said it saw several positive trends converging to make the recovery faster, more entrenched and more driven by private demand. Low energy prices and continued low borrowing costs, coupled with record corporate stores of cash, shoul

BRIEF-Toronto Stock Index falls 2.94 points or 0.02 percent to 14,906.23 at open

* Toronto stock index falls 2.94 points or 0.02 percent to 14,906.23 _0"> at open

US STOCKS SNAPSHOT-Wall St edges higher at open; Iraq curbs gains

U.S. stock edged higher at the open on Friday as some positive corporate news supported markets, though ongoing violence in Iraq limited the gains. _0"> The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.72 points, or 0.11 percent, to 16,752.91, the S&P 500 gained 2.71 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,932.82 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14.52 points, or 0.34 percent, to 4,312.15. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak ; Editing by Bernadette Baum )

Stock funds worldwide attract $11.4 bln over week - BOFA

Stock funds worldwide attracted $11.4 billion in the week ended June 11, marking the biggest inflows into the funds since February, data from a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report showed on Friday. _0"> Emerging market equity funds attracted $2.3 billion in new cash, marking their biggest inflows in nine weeks, according to the report, which also cited data from fund-tracker EPFR Global. U.S.-focused stock funds attracted $5.1 billion, up from inflows of $1.2 billion over the prior week. Bond funds attracted $1.6 billion in inflows, marking their smallest inflows in three months. Floating-rate debt funds posted $1.3 billion in outflows, marking their biggest withdrawals since August 2011. (Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama )

TREASURIES-Prices fall, weighed by Bank of England, Fed rate outlook

U.S. Treasury debt prices slid on Friday, pressured by sharp losses in UK bonds after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said interest rates could rise sooner than expected, as well as expectations of an imminent rate hike from the Federal Reserve. Yields across the board rose after two straight days of declines, with market participants selling the front to the intermediate end of the curve more than long-term government securities. The underperformance of shorter-term maturities rather than longer-dated issues stemmed from their higher sensitivity to traders' expectations that Fed policy-makers might raise rates sooner than they had thought. "There are some unwinds of curve trades 10s and 30s, 5s and 30s. People are taking profits after the relative sharp flattening move," said Ian Lyngen, senior government bond trader at CRT Capital in Stamford, Connecticut. A flattening curve reflects an expectation that the Fed will hike rates soon. But losses in Treasuries p

TIMELINE-The FX market "fixing" probe

Britain's finance minister George Osborne this week rejected European Union plans to outlaw currency market manipulation and instead set out his own proposals to make rigging exchange rates a criminal offence. A panel led by the Bank of England and including the Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority will recommend new criminal sanctions which meet the needs of London, where much of the largely unregulated FX market takes place. Osborne's announcement comes as regulators around the world investigate allegations of collusion and price-manipulation in the $5-trillion-a-day market, by far the world's largest. Since the allegations first surfaced last year, some 40 traders have been placed on leave, suspended or fired by some of the world's biggest banks. No individual or bank has been accused of wrongdoing and no evidence of wrongdoing has been found. All the banks involved are cooperating with the regulators. Below is a timeline on the scandal engulfing the FX m

UPDATE 4-Union says wage deal to end South African platinum strike is imminent

The leader of South Africa's AMCU union said on Friday a wage deal with the top three platinum producers was imminent, signalling a possible end to a crippling five-month strike that has disrupted global output of the metal. Workers from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) begged leader Joseph Mathunjwa on Thursday to end the country's longest mining strike and sign the latest offer - an increase of about 20 percent, or 1,000 rand ($93) a month. Mathunjwa told Johannesburg radio he would take the offer to more AMCU members at mines on Friday, before meeting with management at Lonmin , Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum later or over the weekend to relay the response of his miners to their offer. "At least there is light at the end of the tunnel, which is not the light of a goods train," he told Talk Radio 702. The main outstanding sticking point was whether the wage deal should stretch over three or five years, he said. "W

REFILE-GM recalls 511,528 Chevy Camaros because key bump can cause power loss

General Motors Co said on Friday it will recall 511,528 Chevrolet Camaro cars, mainly in North America, because a driver's knee can bump the key fob and turn it out of the "run" position, causing a loss of power. GM said it is aware of three crashes causing four "minor" injuries believed related to this issue. "The Camaro ignition system meets all GM engineering specifications and is unrelated to the ignition system used in Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars included in the ignition switch recall," GM said in a statement. GM earlier this year recalled 2.6 million small cars because of an ignition switch failure, linked to at least 13 deaths. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall ; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

China says it wants London's Heathrow airport to expand

China wants London's Heathrow airport to expand its capacity so that Chinese airlines can introduce more flights between China and Britain, China's ambassador to Britain said on Friday, saying he had written to the government about the issue. _0"> Speaking ahead of a visit to London next week by China's Premier Li Keqiang, the ambassador said the lack of capacity was a problem for three Chinese carriers who wanted to increase the number of slots they had. "We'd like to see an increase in capacity in Heathrow airport," Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to Britain, told a news conference in London. He said the British government had told him the airport, the world's third busiest by passenger numbers, had reached capacity. "We expect Heathrow will have a third runway," he said. British lawmakers and business leaders have identified the lack of new airport capacity as a possible drag on economic growth and agree that the country urg

UPDATE 1-Fiat Chrysler CEO confirms targets despite difficult Brazil

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will meet its 2014 targets even though the Brazilian car market is set to remain difficult and Europe is showing no sign of improvement, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Friday. "At the group level, we'll achieve them. This is not a problem," Marchionne told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Venice. Asked about a possible stabilisation of the situation in Brazil, he said: "Fiat will maintain its market share in the ups and downs. We expected it to be a difficult year. We see a difficult year until the elections." "The World Cup is distracting everyone but elections are the real problem," he added. A sluggish economy, expiring tax breaks and weak exports have put the brakes on Brazil's car industry, stoking fears of lay-offs in an election year. Marchionne said he saw no sign of changes in the European car market, which this year would remain "more or less in line" with 2013. "Its not

Thai junta says curfew lifted nationwide

Thailand's military government lifted a curfew nationwide on Friday, citing the absence of any violence and the need to support the country's tourism sector. _0"> "As the situation has improved and there have been no incidents that can lead to violence ... and in order to improve tourism, the curfew will be lifted in all remaining provinces," the ruling military council said in a televised announcement. The curfew had been in place from midnight to 4 a.m. in 47 provinces including the capital Bangkok. It had lifted the curfew in 30 provinces, which include the country's main tourist hotspots, over the past week. (Reporting by Amty Sawitta Lefevre; Writing by Maertin Petty; Editing by Ron Popeski)

UK markets scramble to price in 2014 rate rise after Carney warning

Investors braced on Friday for a UK interest rate hike later this year, pushing sterling to five-year highs and hurting property stocks, after the head of the Bank of England said rates may rise sooner than markets predict. Governor Mark Carney's surprisingly stark warning late on Thursday prompted investors to bring forward expectations for a first BoE rate hike by nearly four months, to December from the first quarter of 2015. Sterling's trade-weighted index posted its biggest one-day rise in four months, hitting 5 1/2-year highs. Short-dated UK government bond yields were on track for their biggest daily gain in more than three years. A rate hike by the end of 2014 is likely to come at least six months before the U.S. Federal Reserve tightens policy. It would contrast sharply with the European Central Bank, which cut rates last week and is likely to ease policy in the coming months. "The BoE seems to be slightly ahead of the Fed as far as rate hikes are concerned,&

UPDATE 2-Recapitalizing Fannie, Freddie not viable -Treasury official

A senior U.S. Treasury official on Friday rejected calls to recapitalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying it would take at least 20 years to make sure they were adequately funded and that in the meantime taxpayers would be on the hook. In remarks to a housing conference, Treasury Undersecretary Mary Miller repeated the Obama administration's call that the two so-called government-sponsored enterprises be wound down. "Critics of reform would suggest that we can simply recapitalize the GSEs and avoid difficult decisions around creating a new system," she said. "Even if truly rehabilitating the GSEs were possible, recapitalizing them adequately would take at least 20 years." "During these 20 years, the taxpayer would remain at risk of having to bail out the GSEs during another downturn," Miller added Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them into securities they sell to investors with a guarantee, were seized

Insurgents' Iraq advance poses security, economic risk for Turkey

The advance of Sunni militants in Iraq leaves Turkey facing a widening Islamist insurgency in two of its southern neighbours, endangering domestic security, threatening important trade routes and forcing it again to rethink Middle Eastern policies. Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 110 km (68 miles) from the Turkish border, earlier this week and have since thrust southwards towards Baghdad, seat of the Shi'ite Muslim-led central government. Their lightning ascendancy in Turkey's second biggest export market and biggest oil supplier compounds the challenges confronting Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, already contending with a slowing economy and the spillover from Syria's civil war where ISIL has also seized patches of border territory. Although analysts believe any ISIL encroachment would be quickly spotted by Turkish forces arrayed along the frontier, financial markets have been unnerved. Turkey'

UPDATE 2-Priceline to buy OpenTable for $2.6 bln

Travel website owner Priceline Group Inc will buy restaurant reservation website operator OpenTable Inc for $2.6 billion, aiming to broaden its services outside the increasingly competitive online travel industry. Priceline's offer of $103 per share for the owner of OpenTable.com represents a premium of 46 percent to OpenTable's Thursday close. OpenTable's shares inched past the offer price to trade as high as $104.19 on the Nasdaq, suggesting that some investors expect a higher bid. Priceline's shares were down 1.6 percent at $1,205.50. Priceline, whose competitors include Expedia Inc and Orbitz Worldwide Inc, has a record of buying smaller companies and transforming them into large, successful businesses. With little room to expand, online travel companies are looking outside the industry to boost revenue and drive more customers to their websites by offering more of a one-stop shop for travelers by offering services at their destination. TripAdvisor Inc, for

PRECIOUS-Palladium at one-month low on hopes of S.Africa wage deal

Palladium tumbled to a one-month low on Friday, extending its biggest drop in nearly a year in the previous session, as investors awaited confirmation that South Africa's longest mining strike would end soon. Gold prices edged up after Thursday's 1 percent gain. The safe-haven metal, however, failed to rally further on market expectations that security conditions in Iraq will improve soon, traders said. The leader of South Africa's striking AMCU union said on Friday he hoped to meet the three major platinum firms over the weekend to give them formal feedback from workers about a wage offer that could mean the end of a five-month strike. On Wednesday, palladium had rallied to a 13-year high on speculation of a deadlock in wage talks. Palladium, however, tumbled as much as 5 percent on Thursday on news that platinum group metal (PGM) producers and the AMCU agreed in principle on a wage deal, taking a step closer to resuming operations after the longest strike in the 130-

Soccer-World Cup opener gets more Facebook comments than Oscars

Brazil's 3-1 win over Croatia in the World Cup opener on Thursday generated 58 million posts on Facebook, almost five times more than this year's Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, the social media company said on Friday. _0"> The most commented play on Facebook was Neymar's first goal, which levelled the match after Brazil fell behind early with an embarrassing own goal. The second most talked-about play was the controversial penalty that led to Neymar's second goal, putting Brazil ahead for the first time. With 16 million posts, Brazil was the most active country on Facebook during the game, followed by the United States and England. "That number represents more than 20 times the capacity of all the stadiums of the World Cup," Facebook said in a statement. The World Cup is a big business opportunity for companies like Facebook as fans around the world turn to social media to comment on live events. The most active demographic group during t

Iraq crisis push European shares to one-week low

Major European stock indexes ended lower on Friday, with British equities slipping on the possibility of an early rate hike and travel stocks hurt by concern the Iraq conflict will raise oil prices. The STOXX Europe 600 Travel and Leisure index fell 1.7 percent, the top decliner in Europe, on concern higher energy prices will hurt profit margins of airlines and other transport companies. In Britain, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 1.0 percent, led by property firms, after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said interest rates might rise sooner than markets expected and it would consider controls on mortgage lending. A Reuters poll of economists on Friday suggested the first rate rise will come in the first three months of next year. In a May 28 poll, economists' expectations had been for rates to go up in the second quarter. In reaction, Land Securities and British Land , the country's top two listed property companies, fell more than 4 percent. Kingfisher, Europe'

UPDATE 1-Wal-Mart to launch e-commerce marketplace in India in July

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will launch its business-to-business e-commerce platform in the Indian cities of Lucknow and Hyderabad in the first week of July, its India boss said on Friday. The world's largest retailer has 20 wholesale outlets in India, including in Lucknow and Hyderabad, which will support its e-commerce services, its India Chief Executive Officer Krish Iyer said. It would look at rolling out the service to the remaining 18 outlets as well, Iyer said, but not for another six months at least. "We will not start rolling out to the other 18 stores for the next six months because we will learn from any teething problems and feedback from members," Iyer told Reuters. In April, Wal-Mart said it planned to open 50 more wholesale outlets in India over four to five years and start online operations to sell to small shopkeepers, several months after it decided against opening its own retail stores. The e-commerce service will be available only to its trader members,

UPDATE 4-Carney signals earlier British rate rise, sterling soars

Britain could become the first major economy to tighten monetary policy since the 2008 financial crisis, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has signalled, sending sterling shooting towards a five-year high against the dollar on Friday. British government bond yields soared, construction stocks tumbled and interest rate futures priced in a first hike by December after Carney said rates could rise sooner than markets had thought - his most hawkish comment to date. "There's already great speculation about the exact timing of the first rate hike and this decision is becoming more balanced," Carney said in a speech late on Thursday alongside British finance minister George Osborne. "It could happen sooner than markets currently expect." Few economists had expected rates to increase until the second quarter of next year given the central bank's previous guidance that there was plenty of scope for Britain's economy to expand further without causing infla