Biotechnology companies with Ebola drugs were among the most active premarket movers.]]> |||
New York - Biotechnology companies with Ebola drugs were among the most active premarket movers on Wednesday, following the first diagnosis of a patient in the US with the disease.
The shares rallied on concerns the disease could be spreading, while a number of airline stocks were weaker on concerns the disease could curb travel.
US shares of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals jumped 30 percent before the bell to $27.45 (R310), and was among the most heavily traded Nasdaq names.
The stock has seen heavy interest and has more than doubled thus far in 2014.
In September, its Ebola drug was tested in West Africa in a bid to fast-track trials.
Sarepta Therapeutics rose 8.3 percent to $22.85 while BioCryst Pharmaceuticals added 15 percent to $11.25.
Lakeland Industries, which makes protective clothing for healthcare and first responders, rose 11 percent to $7.70.
Among airlines, Delta Air Lines fell 2.8 percent to $35.12 while JetBlue Airways lost 2.6 percent to $10.34.
Futures snapshot at 013:30 SA time:
* S&P 500 e-minis were falling 2.5 points, or 0.13 percent, with 137,981 contracts changing hands.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.19 percent, in volume of 26,752 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were down 14 points, or 0.08 percent, with 18,862 contracts changing hands. - Reuters]]>
South Africa's new vehicle sales rose 11.5 percent year-on-year in September to 60,854 units.]]> |||
Johannesburg - South Africa's new vehicle sales rose 11.5 percent year-on-year in September to 60,854 units, data from the trade and industry department showed on Wednesday.
Export sales increased to 30,778 vehicles in September compared with 8,598 units during the same month last year, the report said. - Reuters]]>
US stock index futures were little changed as investors looked ahead to a number of economic reports that could set the tone for the fourth quarter on Wall Street.]]> |||
New York - US stock index futures were little changed on Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a number of economic reports that could set the tone for the fourth quarter on Wall Street.
* Markets are coming off a positive third quarter with a seventh straight quarterly gain for both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, but also a decline for major indexes in September.
* The S&P has largely traded in a range for the past six weeks, finding resistance at its record close and support at its 50-day moving average.
While the benchmark index closed slightly below that average on Tuesday, it hasn't closed beneath it for two consecutive sessions since August.
* Investors are looking ahead to the ADP National Employment report, which is seen showing 210,000 private-sector jobs added in September, up from 204,000 in August.
That report is due at 8:15 a.m. EDT (14:15 SA time) and will be closely watched for clues into the strength of the upcoming September jobs report, which will be released Friday and is coming off a weak read in August.
* After the market opens, reads on construction spending and manufacturing will be released.
Construction spending is seen up 0.5 percent in August, while the Institute for Supply Management's read on September manufacturing is expected to dip to 58.5 from 59.
* Overseas issues will stay in focus, including the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong.
While the economic fallout of the protests is unclear, signs of flagging growth in China have been a concern for investors and an extended period of strife could add to those fears.
Futures snapshot at 6:44 a.m. EDT (12:44 SA time):
* S&P 500 e-minis were falling 2.25 points, or 0.11 percent, with 128,355 contracts changing hands.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.25 points, or 0.18 percent, in volume of 24,176 contracts.
* Dow e-minis were down 11 points, or 0.06 percent, with 17,685 contracts changing hands. - Reuters]]>
Amazon is close to an agreement with Disney to end a dispute in which the online retail giant stopped making Disney DVDs available for pre-order, the Wall Street Journal reported.]]> |||
New York - Amazon is close to an agreement with Disney to end a dispute in which the online retail giant stopped making Disney DVDs available for pre-order, the Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday.
Last week Amazon resumed accepting pre-orders for upcoming Disney DVDs such as “Maleficent” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the newspaper said, quoting a source with knowledge of the talks.
Amazon has used the tactic of restricting pre-orders or the availability of an item during several recent trade negotiations with publishers.
In June it temporarily stopped accepting pre-orders for films from Warner Bros.
And Amazon has also limited pre-orders and slowed deliveries in its months-long battle with the American unit of French publishing house Hachette over e-book pricing terms. - Sapa-AFP]]>
Angola, Africa's second largest oil producer, has increased fuel prices by an average of 25 percent.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Angola, Africa's second largest oil producer, has increased fuel prices by an average of 25 percent to reduce subsidies and boost government spending, the finance ministry has said.
The ministry said in a statement on its website this week that the price of petrol would rise to 75 kwanza (R8.57), while diesel would go up by the same margin to 50 kwanza.
“When these fixed prices are adjusted, the government creates fiscal space by reducing subsidies, allowing the opportunity for other spending on social and economic sectors,” it said.
Fuel increases are the latest indication that Angola's budget is feeling the strain from disappointing oil output this year, said Jacques Nel, an economist at NKC Independent Economists.
“While an increase in fuel prices will have inflationary effects, the overall impact of a more favourable fiscal position with spending directed towards projects with medium term gains should benefit the economy,” Nel told Reuters.
Angola needs to repair infrastructure and expand other sectors of the economy to cut its reliance on oil, which accounts for 40 percent of gross domestic product and over 95 percent of export revenue, economists say.
In March, the International Monetary Fund urged President Jose Eduardo dos Santos' government to cut spending on fuel subsidies, which add up to 4.8 percent of GDP.
The IMF said the southern African country could achieve social benefits by replacing fuel subsidies with targeted cash transfers to compensate the most vulnerable households for any increase in fuel prices.
Angola's economic growth is likely to slow to 3.9 percent in 2014 from an estimated 6.8 percent last year, with strong agricultural production offsetting a drop in oil output, the IMF said earlier this month. - Reuters]]>
Glencore-owned Mopani Copper Mines has suspended some of its planned $800 million (R9 billion) Zambian copper mining projects after the government withheld $200 million in tax refunds, the company said.]]> |||
Lusaka - Glencore-owned Mopani Copper Mines has suspended some of its planned $800 million (R9 billion) Zambian copper mining projects after the government withheld $200 million in tax refunds, the company said on Wednesday.
Africa's second-largest copper producer is withholding a total of $600 million in VAT refunds owed to mining firms and will only repay the cash when companies produce import certificates from destination countries, the minister of mines said in June.
Zambian Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said in August it planned to waive the requirement because it is impractical.
The Zambia Revenue Authority says it is still consulting with exporters before implementation.
“I would like to express my concern and distress that the continued withholding of our refunds to the tune of $200 million may force us to slow down progress on these projects,” Mopani's chief executive, Danny Callow, said in a statement.
“I must mention that some of the projects have since been suspended due to financial constraints and these suspended projects will have a major future impact on our goal to increase copper production by more than 50 percent,” he added.
Callow said cuts to its 20,000 workforce were possible if it failed to meet growth targets.
Mopani produced 120,000 tonnes of copper in 2012 and has planned to raise output to 170,000 tonnes within five years.
The company wants to build two new shafts which it said would add 20-30 years to the life of its Mindola and Mufulira mines. - Reuters]]>
British grocer J Sainsbury said it was “100 percent confident” it accounts for commercial income from suppliers in the right way.]]> |||
London - British grocer J Sainsbury said on Wednesday it was “100 percent confident” it accounts for commercial income from suppliers in the right way, following an accounting debacle at rival Tesco.
Shares in Britain's supermarket sector have fallen sharply since Tesco announced on September 22 that it had overstated first-half profit by 250 million pounds (R4.6 billion).
The mis-statement related to income the grocer receives from food suppliers for selling more of their goods.
“As the former commercial director I am 100 percent confident we have a culture of doing the right thing and that includes making sure that we account for all things in our business correctly,” chief executive Mike Coupe told reporters after Sainsbury's published a second quarter trading update which cut its full-year sales forecast.
Sainsbury's plans to provide a detailed strategic update at its interim results on November 12.
Chief financial officer John Rogers told reporters the strategic review would include future dividend policy.
“If we are doing a full scale strategic review and ... no stone is going to remain unturned, you'd expect the dividend to be part of that full scale review,” he said.
“We will update the market in November on our overall strategy, including of course what our dividend policy is and will be.” - Reuters]]>
Oil prices rebounded in Asia following sharp falls the day before, with a decline in US consumer confidence and tepid data from China dampening buying sentiment.]]> |||
Singapore - Oil prices rebounded in Asia Wednesday following sharp falls the day before, with a decline in US consumer confidence and tepid data from China dampening buying sentiment.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for November delivery rose 36 cents to $91.52 (R1,032) a barrel in afternoon trade and Brent crude advanced 38 cents to $95.05.
WTI plummeted $3.41 a barrel and Brent tumbled $2.53 Tuesday owing to a supply glut and a pick-up in the dollar, which is sitting at a six-year high against the yen and a two-year high against the euro.
After rising for four months, the Conference Board index - a key barometer of US consumer confidence - fell to 86.0 in September from 93.4 in August on mounting concerns about the jobs market.
Consumer spending is a key growth driver in the world's biggest economy and any dip in the index indicates weak demand.
But analysts said the US outlook remains positive.
“The steeper-than-expected decline in consumer confidence would have partially contributed to the sell-off (in oil) although the extent could have been limited given that it has fallen off a really high base and ultimately sentiment remains strong in the US,” said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.
In China official data showed manufacturing activity stalled in September as leaders struggle to address a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
The official purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 51.5 in September, unchanged from the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.
On Tuesday HSBC said its September PMI came in at 50.2, the same as August but lower than a preliminary reading of 50.5.
The bank's July figure was 51.7. - Sapa-AFP]]>
Britain's J Sainsbury cut its full-year sales forecast and said it would assess its dividend policy as part of a strategic review.]]> |||
London - Britain's J Sainsbury cut its full-year sales forecast and said it would assess its dividend policy as part of a strategic review after second-quarter sales fell sharply, adding to the turmoil in the grocery market.
Shares in the company, which trails troubled market leader Tesco and is battling with Wal-Mart Stores' Asda to be the UK's No. 2 grocer, rose initially on relief that sales had not fallen further.
But the shares started to slide after the group said it would review its dividend payout as part of a wider strategic update to be revealed in November.
The 3 percent fall adds to the 31 percent drop recorded so far this year.
The British grocery market has been turned upside down in recent years since discounters Aldi and Lidl started aggressively winning market share from the traditional big four grocers.
That sense of disarray was compounded last month by the revelation that Tesco had found a 250 million pound-sized hole in its accounts, dragging the whole sector down.
Sainsbury, which has fared better than most during the downturn, said it too had been hit by what it described as the most challenging market conditions in 30 years, and said it now expected second-half underlying sales to fall around 2.1 percent.
It had previously forecast growth of about 0.2 percent.
“In the second quarter, our performance has been impacted by the accelerated pace of change in the grocery market, including significant pricing activity and food price deflation in many areas,” said Mike Coupe, who succeeded Justin King as chief executive in July.
“These conditions are likely to persist for the foreseeable future,” he added.
In better news for investors the company said it had 100 percent confidence in its accounts, following the debacle at Tesco which said on Wednesday it was now being investigated by the country's financial regulator.
The sector has fallen sharply since Tesco said on September 22 that it had overstated first-half profit by 250 million pounds.
The mis-statement related to income the grocer receives from food suppliers for selling more of their goods.
Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said although the recent trading was slightly better than feared, he expected to cut his full-year forecasts, downgrading profit expectations by 17 percent.
“Sainsbury's has reported what amounts to a very poor trading update for the company when set against the sector and where the group has come from over recent years,” he said.
Sainsbury's said sales at stores open a year fell 2.8 percent, excluding fuel, in the 16 weeks to September 27, its fiscal second quarter.
That compared with analysts' forecasts of down 3-4 percent and a fall of 1.1 percent in the first quarter.
Up until the fourth quarter of Sainsbury's 2013-14 year, the grocer had reported nine unbroken years of sales growth.
King was credited with reviving Sainsbury's fortunes during a decade at the helm.
But he left at a time of major structural change in the UK grocery industry.
Though consumers are benefiting from little, if any, food price inflation, reflecting price cuts across the sector, they are continuing to spend cautiously and industry sales are growing at the slowest rate for more than two decades.
Consumers are increasingly shopping around to save money and are wasting much less, shying away from big weekly shops in out-of-town stores to buy little and often in local convenience stores and buying more online.
At the same time, the two big German discounters and upmarket grocers Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are taking market share from the middle ground.
That has prompted Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and No. 4 Morrisons to all cut prices, squeezing industry profit margins.
Tesco has warned on profits three times in two months, while Morrisons warned in March.
In June, Sainsbury's said it would also tackle the rise of the discounters by teaming up with Denmark's Dansk Supermarked to bring the Netto brand back to the UK.
It said on Wednesday it was on track to open five Netto stores by the end of its 2014-15 year.
Coupe reckons Sainsbury's can set itself apart from rivals with a strategy that focuses on own-brand products, on the quality, provenance and ethical credentials of its food, and on expanding its convenience and online businesses.
Last month Morrisons reported a 7.6 percent slump in second quarter like-for-like sales.
In August Asda posted a 0.5 percent rise for its second quarter.
Industry data published last week confirmed Asda as the best current performer of the “big four” UK grocers, with its year-on-year market share up 1 percentage point to 17.4 percent, while Sainsbury's slipped 0.4 points to 16.2 percent. - Reuters]]>
South Africa's top public health worker union said it wanted a 15 percent across-the-board wage increase.]]> |||
Johannesburg - South Africa's top public health worker union said on Wednesday it wanted a 15 percent across-the-board wage increase and would begin a series of protest marches over poor government services this week.
National Education Health & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), which has around 280,000 members, said in a statement there was a public health “crisis” in Africa's most developed economy because of government outsourcing.
The union also wants a 3,000 rand housing allowance for its workers as part of demands it says are aimed at reducing widespread inequality among health workers.
“Our abolition of these salary levels is informed by the urgent need to close the huge wage gap between the highest paid and the lowest paid,” Nehawu said in a statement.
“In light of a series of stories reflecting wastes and fruitless expenditures we expect that there will be enough money for the increase,” it added.
The union said it would present its demands to the government on Saturday.
Nehawu is a key member of South Africa's largest labour federation, Cosatu, and is seen as having a strong influence on how other unions vote.
The union made no mention of any planned strikes, a common occurrence in South Africa where unions played a major role in ending apartheid and still have political clout as part of an alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
The longest mining strike in South Africa's history ended in June but has hobbled the economy and any industrial action in other sectors will be a concern for investors.
Earlier this month, central bank Governor Gill Marcus reiterated her concern that recent wage demands and some settlements have not matched inflation and productivity.
Marcus said the bank's concerns related to settlements at all levels, including executive pay. - Reuters]]>