North Sea oil has been at the centre of fierce debate over Scotland's future ahead of an independence vote next month, with both sides wrangling over the outlook for the region's treasure trove of black gold. Around 42 billion barrels of oil and gas have been extracted from the North Sea since the early 1970s, providing a welcome boost to the British government's coffers -- and Scotland's economy. Now, with Scotland heading to the polls on September 18 in a referendum that could spell the end of the 300-year-old union with England, its lucrative energy resources are in sharp focus. British Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government is calling on Scots to reject independence, while the devolved Scottish administration of First Minister Alex Salmond is backing a historic separation.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:43:38 -0400
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:26:36 -0400
(Reuters) - More than 100 business leaders in the United Kingdom with operations in Scotland are planning to speak out against independence in a united statement, British newspaper the Telegraph reported on Thursday. The newspaper said Keith Cochrane, chief executive officer of Glasgow-based engineer Weir Group was behind the move, urging business leaders and entrepreneurs to sign a joint letter imploring voters to reject independence for the sake of economic prosperity. The Telegraph said the full list would be disclosed next week.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:50:35 -0400
By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A drought has robbed the U.S. The findings by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, were published in the online edition of the journal Science. The researchers relied on data from global positioning system (GPS) stations throughout the West, measuring how much GPS sensors showed the land had risen beneath them. The research underscores the severity of the drought in the West, which in California is expected to cost the state economy $2.2 billion in lost crops, jobs and other damages.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:28:12 -0400
By Marianna Parraga and Brian Ellsworth HOUSTON/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's shipments of crude oil and fuel to its allies have fallen to a five-year low as a weak economy hits its ability to uphold accords that former President Hugo Chavez struck to lower energy costs for friends and expand his diplomatic clout. Total shipments under cooperation deals with Latin American and Caribbean countries dropped 11 percent in 2013 to 243,000 barrels per day (bpd), the lowest level since 2007, according to recent data from Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA. Several factors are behind the decline: lower oil output and weak economic growth at home, a domestic refinery network that has not fully recovered from a severe accident in 2012, and financing agreements with China that divert much of the OPEC nation's oil production to Asia. In the eights months through August, countries from Jamaica to Argentina that have supply pacts with Venezuela have bought 140 cargoes of crude, components and fuel for transport and power generation on the open market, according to tender information compiled by Reuters.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:02:13 -0400
By Orathai Sriring BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's junta wants to sell a positive story about its coup saving a troubled economy from recession, and while it seems to have business on board there is little evidence yet of a sustainable, broad-based recovery. A plethora of Thai companies shared the military government's optimism in recent earnings reports, looking to improved conditions after the May 22 coup ended six months of protests that paralysed the government and bureaucracy. Public spending, consumption and agriculture have picked up, but manufacturing, private investment, exports and tourism remain weak, official data show. Gundy Cahyadi, economist with DBS Bank in Singapore, said higher exports, factory output and capacity utilization were needed to signal the economy was on a sustainable recovery.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:31:26 -0400
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:29:50 -0400
Russian authorities launched nationwide inspections of McDonald's restaurants Thursday after shutting three wildly-popular Moscow locations on apparent government orders aimed at striking back against biting Western sanctions. Russia has a long and varied history of using sudden food safety concerns as a political weapon against unfriendly states. Washington and its EU allies have imposed restrictions on broad sections of Russia's economy in response to the Kremlin's perceived attempts to carve up Ukraine as punishment for its decision to anchor its future with the West. Russia responded by blacklisting nearly all US and European food imports and threatening even more drastic measures that could effectively cut off the country from Western goods for the first time since the Soviet era.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:00:58 -0400
Oil prices pushed higher Thursday after a batch of solid economic data in the United States, the world's top consumer of crude, lifted demand hopes. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October advanced 51 cents to close at $93.96 a barrel. The main European futures contract, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October, settled at $102.63 a barrel, up 35 cents in London trade. A series of better-than-expected US economic indicators fueled "a lot of optimism" about the economy and hope for "a little bit of stronger demand going forward," said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:00:11 -0400
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:01:53 -0400
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The Argentine government on Thursday ruled out a second sharp devaluation of the peso this year, rebuffing calls for a weaker currency from employers who say runaway inflation is hurting trade competitiveness. President Cristina Fernandez's government implemented a shock 20 percent devaluation of the peso in January. The widening gulf between the official rate and the black market rate since Latin America's third-biggest economy defaulted on its debt have fueled expectations of another hefty intervention. At 2:35 p.m (1335 GMT) the peso traded at 8. ...
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:32:11 -0400
By Jonathan Cable and Xiaoyi Shao LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) - Business growth in China and across Europe slowed this month, surveys showed on Thursday, providing more evidence that the world economy is stuttering and may need more monetary stimulus to keep it going. Euro zone private business activity expanded slower than expected in August, despite widespread price cutting. This is before the full effects of sanctions imposed on and by Russia over Ukraine are felt. Meanwhile, China's manufacturing activity hit a three-month low in August and a Reuters poll showed Japan's economic recovery is likely to be modest despite a small acceleration in the factory sector.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:26:56 -0400
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:23:18 -0400
The European Union should stick to targeted sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis despite Moscow responding with sanctions that are hurting Europe's economy, the Czech foreign minister said on Thursday. EU unity on the matter showed signs of fraying after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last Friday that the 28-nation bloc had "shot itself in the foot" and that the sanctions policy should be reconsidered. His comments came a day after Slovak counterpart Robert Fico criticized the sanctions as "meaningless", saying they would threaten economic growth in the EU. "I can hardly imagine what alternatives we had," Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said after meeting Czech business officials.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:05:37 -0400
The latest data pushed down eurozone government borrowing costs, with traders more confident that the European Central Bank will take extra measures to inject cash into the single-currency zone. "The eurozone economy continued to make steady progress in August, as the region looks to bounce back following the recent weaker-than-expected GDP (gross domestic product) readings," said Rob Dobson, senior economist at the private Markit research group that published the data. Markit's set of leading indicators -- the purchasing managers' index (PMI) -- turned in a figure of 52.8, above the 50 points that signal expansion but lower than a revised figure of 53.8 in July. This followed last week's official data that showed the eurozone ground to a halt in the second quarter, with none of the bloc's three biggest economies -- Germany, France and Italy -- registering growth.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:09:05 -0400
Ukrainian Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta said on Thursday he had tendered his resignation, voicing frustration at the poor pace of economic reform by a government which he said acted "like a predator towards business". After months of fighting in its eastern regions following the toppling of a government blighted by corruption and economic mismanagement, Ukraine's economy has contracted sharply, even with a multi-billion dollar financial lifeline from the International Monetary Fund. When he was appointed, soon after the ousting of a Moscow-backed president in February, Sheremeta vowed to slash red tape and eliminate corrupt practices that had helped almost to bankrupt Ukraine But he has not managed to push substantive legislation through parliament and on Thursday he said without reforms it would take three to four years for Ukraine to achieve flat growth if the economy falls by the expected 6-7 percent this year. Sheremeta's offer to resign follows comments from Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk on Wednesday that voiced dissatisfaction with the speed and depths of reforms.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:27:56 -0400
(Reuters) - The time has come for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, a top U.S. "I don't want us to be behind the curve in beginning to normalize interest rates," Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George told CNBC. "When you see the economy getting as close as we are to full employment, to stable inflation, it would suggest to me that the time has come to do that." George, who will not rotate into a voting seat on the Fed's policy-setting committee until 2016, is considered to be one of the Fed officials least tolerant of inflation. Speaking ahead of the central bank's monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, George warned in several televised appearances that the Fed risked moving too slowly.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:09:27 -0400
By Marja Novak LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia's next ruling party picked former finance minister Dusan Mramor on Thursday to head the finance ministry in a new center-left government that is due to be formed within weeks and aims to steer the euro zone member out of its economic crisis. Mramor is a 60-year-old economics professor who presided over tax hikes in 2002-2004 as finance minister in a previous center-left government. He faces the tough task of cutting Slovenia's budget deficit to 3 percent of national output in 2015 from about 4.2 percent this year, under a plan agreed with the European Union after the tiny ex-Yugoslav republic narrowly avoided seeking an international bailout for its debt-laden banks late last year. Prime Minister-designate Miro Cerar, whose newly-formed SMC party claimed a convincing win in a snap election in July, said late on Wednesday he would invite into his new government the Desus pensioners' party and the center-left Social Democrats.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 06:50:58 -0400
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:59:07 -0400
By Joe Brock JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's said on Thursday it had no plans to downgrade South African banks, easing concerns a cut by Moody's on the country's four biggest lenders this week could have a knock-on ratings impact. Moody's on Tuesday downgraded deposit ratings for Standard Bank, FirstRand, Nedbank and Absa Bank -- Barclays Africa Group's local operation. The move, which was criticised by South Africa's central bank and some analysts, was the latest blow to Africa's most developed economy and sent banking shares lower. Some economists said the decision by Moody's could lead to further downgrades but S&P, which cut South Africa's sovereign credit rating in June, said it had no plans to follow suit.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:17:07 -0400
By Jonathan Cable LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Euro zone private business growth slowed more than expected this month, despite widespread price cutting, as manufacturing and service industry activity both dwindled, a survey showed on Thursday. Euro zone economic growth ground to a halt in the second, quarter, dragged down by a shrinking economy in Germany and a stagnant France, even before any impact from sanctions imposed on and by Russia over Ukraine. Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) will provide gloomy reading for the European Central Bank (ECB), suggesting its two biggest economies are struggling like smaller members. Markit said the data point to third-quarter economic growth of 0.3 percent, matching predictions from a Reuters poll last week.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 04:06:40 -0400
By Jonathan Cable LONDON, (Reuters) - Euro zone private business growth slowed more than expected this month, despite widespread price cutting, as manufacturing and service industry activity both dwindled, a survey showed on Thursday. Euro zone economic growth ground to a halt in the second quarter, dragged down by a shrinking economy in Germany and a stagnant France, even before any impact from sanctions imposed on and by Russia over Ukraine. Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) will provide gloomy reading for the European Central Bank (ECB), suggesting its two biggest economies are struggling like smaller members. Markit said the data point to third-quarter economic growth of 0.3 percent, matching predictions from a Reuters poll last week.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 03:56:03 -0400
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 03:34:06 -0400
South Africa's rand was largely unchanged against the U.S. Rate hikes and tighter fiscal policy in the world's largest economy look set to diminish large capital in-flows into emerging market economies like South Africa. Currency trader Warrick Butler of Standard Bank urged clients to cash-in on rand weakness and dollar strength.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 01:51:18 -0400
China's manufacturing growth slowed in August, indicating a recovery in the world's second-largest economy has yet to fully take hold, HSBC said Thursday. The HSBC preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI), which tracks activity in China's factories and workshops, slipped to 50.3 this month, the British banking giant said in a statement. "Today's data suggest that the economic recovery is still continuing but its momentum has slowed again," HSBC economist Qu Hongbin said in the statement. China's economic growth accelerated to a higher-than-expected 7.5 percent in the second quarter, up from 7.4 percent in the previous three months, which was the worst since a similar 7.4 percent expansion in July-September 2012.
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 01:50:23 -0400
By Xiaoyi Shao and Tetsushi Kajimoto BEIJING/TOKYO (Reuters) - China's manufacturing activity hit a three-month low in August, raising the case for fresh policy steps to keep growth on track, while a Reuters poll showed Japan's economic recovery is likely to be modest despite a small acceleration in the factory sector. MODEST RECOVERY IN JAPAN A similar survey on Japan showed factory activity accelerated in August as export and domestic demand increased, in another sign the economy is steadying after shrinking in the second quarter due to a sales tax increase.