Barclays Africa sees “mid single digit” loan growth continuing, its deputy chief executive said.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Barclays Africa sees “mid single digit” loan growth continuing, its deputy chief executive said on Wednesday, reflecting its more cautious stance to writing new business.
Deputy chief executive David Hodnett made the comment at Barclays Africa's first-half earnings presentation.
The bank, an arm of London-based Barclays, reported loan growth of around 5 percent in the six months to the end of June. - Reuters]]>
Russian shares posted their biggest jump in a month as investors were relieved that new sanctions announced by Brussels and Washington were as expected and not tougher.]]> |||
London - Russian shares posted their biggest jump in a month on Wednesday as investors were relieved that new sanctions announced by Brussels and Washington on Tuesday were as expected and not tougher.
Argentina's debt insurance costs fell from recent elevated levels and the country's dollar discount bond rose as investors took some cheer over talks between the country's officials and holdout debt investors that could avert default.
New EU sanctions on Russia, the full text of which will be made publicly available on Thursday, are expected to restrict Russian state-owned banks' access to medium and long-term financing.
The United States added three state-owned banks to its sanctions list - VTB, Russian Agricultural Bank and Bank of Moscow.
“Sanctions had been signalled so much in advance that they were mostly expected,” said Richard Segal, an analyst at Jefferies, adding that sanctions were not as harsh as some had feared.
“There had still been concern that non-financial companies might be targeted.”
The rouble-denominated MICEX index rose 2.3 percent by 12:55 SA time, while the rouble itself was up 0.5 percent.
Russia's five-year credit default swaps retraced some recent gains, falling four basis points from Tuesday's close to 227, according to Markit.
Central European currencies, which have been hit by worries about a regional impact from the sanctions, were little changed.
The broader MSCI emerging stocks index rose 0.2 percent to its highest since early 2012, testing three-year highs, as investors awaited US GDP data and non-farm jobs figures that come out later in the week, while a two-day Federal Reserve meeting ends on Wednesday.
Analysts expect US interest rates to remain unchanged, driving demand for higher-yielding emerging-market assets.
Argentina's five-year credit default swaps dropped 30 basis points from Tuesday's close to 1,869 bps, according to Markit.
The CDS had hit six-week highs on Tuesday.
Argentina's dollar discount bond due 2033, on which coupon payments are due on Wednesday, rose to around 87 cents on the dollar.
If a deal with holdout debt investors is not reached on Wednesday, Argentina faces default on its sovereign debt.
But talks between Argentina and holdout bond investors have kept hopes of a deal alive.
Economy Minister Axel Kicillof left a meeting at the court-appointed mediator's office in Manhattan late on Tuesday saying both sides would meet again on Wednesday, though the mediator said in a statement that details of such a meeting had not yet been determined.
The South African rand fell to its lowest level in a week against the dollar ahead of key trade data later this week.
Turkish markets were shut for a holiday. - Reuters]]>
Medicine expenditure among private health care members has increased for the first time since 2011.]]> |||
Cape Town - Medicine expenditure among private health care members has increased for the first time since 2011, according to the latest Mediscor Medicine Review results released on Wednesday.
Mediscor PBM managing director Christo Rademan said medicine expenditure increased by 1.9 percent last year.
The pharmaceutical benefit management company examined and analysed medicine use among around 1.7 million private health care members in 2013.
The greatest proportion of these members' budget was spent on acute medicines.
The next most-claimed medicine group was for treatment of prescribed minimum benefit conditions.
Blood pressure medication was the most popular, followed by oncology medicine and diabetes treatment.
Mediscor benefit management manager Madelein Bester said there had been a two percent increase in cost per medicine item.
This was largely attributable to a 5.8 percent approved increase in the maximum price that a medicine could be charged at, known as the single exit price (SEP).
The SEP increase was approved by the health department last year.
“On a positive note the use of generics again increased from 53.4 percent in 2012 to 54.5 percent in 2013,” Bester said.
She said the increased use of generics showed that their cost-effectiveness was being embraced by both medical funds and their members.
What could add to medicine expenditure was the use of new chemical entities (NCE), which were speciality medicines that targeted rare diseases.
These NCEs were costly, at an average price of R747 per unit, because there was no generic version.
“Fortunately, this high cost differential is offset by the fact that only 0.3 percent of all medicines claimed were NCEs and they were not listed among the top 50 products that were claimed,” Bester said. - Sapa]]>
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, maker of Aspirin painkiller, said its net profit surged 13 percent.]]> |||
Frankfurt - German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, maker of Aspirin painkiller, said on Wednesday its net profit surged 13 percent in the second quarter but disappointed expectations due to the strength of the euro.
Net profit for the period from April to June jumped to 953 million euros (R13.6 billion), boosted by demand for new drug lines and fertilisers.
Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected a slightly better figure of around 992 million euros.
Turnover climbed just 0.9 percent to 10.5 billion euros during the same period.
“The company again had to weather significantly negative currency effects, which however were offset by strong business development,” it said in a statement.
The impact of a strong euro on sales led the company to adjust its full-year outlook downward.
Bayer said that adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, or Ebitda, were now expected to fall by around 550 million euros compared with the previous forecast of 450 million.
It expects group sales, adjusted for currency and portfolio effects, to rise six percent instead of the previously forecast five percent. - Sapa-AFP]]>
British American Tobacco reported lower revenue and profit for the six months ended June 30, hurt by the strong British pound and a slight decline in volume.]]> |||
London - British American Tobacco reported lower revenue and profit for the six months ended June 30, hurt by the strong British pound and a slight decline in volume.
Excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates, the world's No. 2 tobacco company by sales cited improved market share for its Rothmans, Pall Mall and Dunhill brands and strong performance in places including Indonesia and Mexico.
Sales volume for the global tobacco market is expected to shrink by about 2 to 3 percent this year, hurt by economic weakness and a growing health consciousness that is leading many people to quit smoking or switch to e-cigarettes.
BAT expects to outperform the industry, said its head of corporate and regulatory affairs, Kingsley Wheaton.
In the first six months of the year, BAT's sales volume, which measures the number of cigarettes sold, fell 0.4 percent, an improvement on the 2.7 percent decline the company reported for 2013.
“We remain confident of high single-digit earnings growth at constant rates of exchange, which we have said we will recognise with an increase in the dividend,” said Chairman Richard Burrows in a statement.
Adjusted earnings fell 9 percent to 2.7 billion pounds ($4.6 billion) in the first half of 2014. At constant exchange rates, earnings rose 4 percent, helped by price increases.
Earnings per share were 101.8 pence, a shade below analysts' average estimate of 102 pence.
Revenue also fell 10 percent to 6.8 billion pounds. Excluding the impact of currency, revenue rose 3 percent.
At current spot rates, Wheaton said foreign exchange would have a 12 percent hit on earnings and revenue for the full year. In particular, BAT has been hurt by a weakening of the Brazilian real, South African rand, Australian dollar, Canadian dollar, Russian rouble and Japanese yen against the sterling.
Sterling's trade-weighted index against a basket of currencies hit a six-year high earlier this month.
BAT's shares were down 0.4 percent at 10:51 SA time in London. - Reuters]]>
Britain's scandal-hit Barclays bank posted a 68-percent jump in first-half net profits.]]> |||
London - Britain's scandal-hit Barclays bank posted a 68-percent jump in first-half net profits on Wednesday, as it pushed ahead with a major restructuring that will shrink its investment bank division.
Earnings after taxation surged to £1.13 billion (R20.2 billion) in the six months to June, from £671 million a year earlier, Barclays said in a results statement.
The group also bounced back into profit in the second quarter with a net figure of £161 million, after a loss of £168 million last time around.
Barclays, which has been plagued by a series of scandals in recent years, added that it was buoyed by its personal and corporate banking and its credit card unit, amid a major group-wide restructuring.
Adjusted pre-tax profits however sank seven percent to £3.349 billion in the first half, hit by a 46-percent slump at its investment banking operations.
Barclays had launched plans in May to shrink its investment bank in a radical restructuring which will axe 19,000 jobs across the group over the next two years.
“We committed to simplify, focus and rebalance the group to deliver higher and more sustainable returns across the cycle, while structurally reducing our cost base and strengthening our capital position,” said chief executive Antony Jenkins in the statement.
“We are making encouraging progress in executing this plan. Profits before tax in Personal and Corporate Banking and Barclaycard were up 23 percent and 24 percent respectively.”
He added: “Performance in the investment bank was impacted by the repositioning underway as well as difficult trading conditions in the quarter, but it is where we expected it to be at this point.”
Barclays, which was at the heart of the Libor interest-rate rigging scandal in 2012, also facing investigations along with other major lenders over possible manipulation of foreign exchange trades.
The bank's ongoing attempts to repair its reputation were hit in June after New York prosecutors sued Barclays for fraud, saying it ran a “dark pool” securities trading operation to the benefit of “predatory” high-frequency traders.
Barclays added on Wednesday that it continued to provide information to the relevant regulatory authorities over the matter. - Sapa-AFP]]>
Amazon.com, locked in a war with publisher Hachette Book Group over ebook prices, said its push for lower prices was good for authors, publishers and booksellers.]]> |||
Amazon.com, locked in a war with publisher Hachette Book Group over ebook prices, said its push for lower prices was good for authors, publishers and booksellers.
Upset over its ebook prices, Amazon has delayed deliveries and cut discounts on some books published by Hachette, the fourth-largest US book publisher, owned by France's Lagardere .
In a blog post on the Amazon site authored by the “Amazon Books team”, the ecommerce giant said e-books were very price sensitive.
Based on a review of many titles, Amazon argued that ebook priced at $9.99 (R106) sold 1.74 times as many copies as one sold at $14.99, generating 16 percent more revenue.
It said keeping prices low saved money for consumers while authors would get higher royalties and 74 percent more readers, with publishers also getting more money.
“The total pie is bigger and there is more to share amongst the parties,” it said.
Amazon claims that pricing an e-book at $14.99 or $19.99 is too expensive and unjustifiable in most cases.
“With an ebook, there's no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market - ebooks cannot be resold as used books,” Amazon said in the blog.
Hachette was not immediately available for comment but Amazon's actions have alienated top-selling authors James Patterson and Malcolm Gladwell, who mocked the situation in a spoof video on Slate.com.
Lagardere has said Amazon accounts for some 60 percent of Hachette's digital sales.
The companies have been sparring in public, with Amazon this month proposing that authors get all the revenue from ebooks sold on the site, an offer Hachette rejected. - Reuters]]>
Singapore Airlines said its financial first quarter net profit plunged 71.4 percent from the previous year, weighed down by lower passenger and cargo revenue.]]> |||
Singapore - Singapore Airlines said Wednesday its financial first quarter net profit plunged 71.4 percent from the previous year, weighed down by lower passenger and cargo revenue.
Net profit in the three months to June came in at Sg$34.8 million (R295 million), down from Sg$121.8 million in the same period last year, the national flag-carrier said in a statement.
Group revenue fell 4.1 percent to Sg$3.68 billion.
“Passenger revenue declined year-on-year on the back of weaker yields amid intense competition, and unforeseen events that depressed travel demand in some key Asian markets,” it said, without specifying details on what events had caused a drop-off in passengers.
SIA said cargo revenue also fell “as the airfreight market continued to be affected by excess capacity”.
It added that losses from associated companies, in particular budget carrier Tiger Airways, contributed to the decline in net profit.
“The outlook for the air transportation industry has become more challenging with continuing uncertain global economic climate, geo-political concerns in the region and elevated fuel prices,” it said. - Sapa-AFP]]>
Hong Kong's benchmark index climbed to fresh 3-1/2-year highs.]]> |||
Hong Kong - Hong Kong's benchmark index climbed to fresh 3-1/2-year highs on Wednesday, with major property developers leading the rise as investors bet on a solid performance for first-half earnings.
The Hang Seng Index rose for the seventh straight day to end 0.4 percent up at 24,732.21 points.
It was last at these levels in November 2010.
The China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong slipped 0.03 percent.
Hong Kong's property sub-index climbed to a 14-month high with Cheung Kong Holdings and Sun Hung Kai Properties leading the rise.
Cheung Kong, whose first-half results are due on Thursday, rose more than 3 percent to a record high before trimming gains to end 2.2 percent up.
Sun Hung Kai rose 3.2 percent to its highest close since March 2013.
Morgan Stanley this week revised up its forecasts for Hong Kong's home prices this year to a 5 percent gain from a 10 percent drop. - Reuters]]>
Ukraine's economy contracted by 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter in a sign of the impact of fighting in the east of the country.]]> |||
Kiev - Ukraine's economy contracted by 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter in a sign of the impact of fighting in the east of the country.
The national statistics office also said on Wednesday GDP had shrunk by 2.3 percent in the past three months.
The rebellion by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine began in April.
Kiev had initially expected a 3-percent fall year-on-year in the whole of 2014 but the conflict has put additional strains on the state budget and deepened Ukraine's recession.
There had been a 1.1 percent fall in Gross Domestic Product in the first three months of the year.
Ukraine's economy first went into recession in the second half of 2012 and there was no growth in the whole of 2013.
The International Monetary Fund, which agreed a $17 billion (R181 billion) bailout for Kiev, sees Ukraine's GDP falling by 6.5 percent this year.
“Higher frequency indicators have suggested a much sharper hit to economic activity from events in the Donbas (in east Ukraine) over the past few months, and likely a larger hit to real GDP,” Timothy Ash, head emerging markets analyst at Standard Bank in London, said in a research note. - Reuters]]>