13 - 19, 2000
Official results not before 17th
George W. Bush's lead over Al Gore in crucial Florida shrank
to fewer than 400 votes by unofficial count on Thursday with allegations of
irregularities swirling and ballots from overseas residents still to be counted,
reported AP at 0500 am (Friday).
However, Reuters quoting the Florida Secretary of State
Katherine Harris said after the recounting of 53 counties that Republican George
W. Bush was leading Democrat Al Gore by 1,784 votes in unofficial and incomplete
results in a recount of the presidential race in Florida.
"The Division of Elections reported receiving recount
results from 53 counties in Florida," she said. "We are still awaiting
the results from the supervisors of elections in 14 counties which by law have
until Tuesday, November 14, to submit those returns."
She added: "The unofficial, certified results of the
recount are as follows - Governor George W. Bush, 2,909,661. Vice President Al
Gore, 2,907,877, a difference of 1,784 votes."
Florida election officials had said earlier they were hoping
by late Thursday to complete the recount of the state's election tally that will
determine the winner of the Nov 7 presidential election.
AP said recount results from 64 of the state's 67 counties
gave Republican Bush a lead of 362 votes out of nearly 6 million cast, according
to an unofficial tally by The Associated Press.
She also pointed out that it would take even longer — at
least until Nov. 17 — to tabulate ballots cast by Floridians overseas and
postmarked by Election Day.
She said the official results of the US presidential election
in Florida will not be known before November 17.
The Gore campaign has criticized the ballots in use in Palm
Beach County as confusing, and has asked for a hand count of votes cast there
and in three other counties.
Japan PC shipments hit record
Japanese were avid buyers of personal computers in the latest
half-year, boosting domestic PC shipments to record levels despite sluggish
consumer spending in the economy overall, an industry body said on Thursday.
PC shipments rose 28 per cent in the April-September period
from a year earlier to 5.63 million units, buoyed by solid demand in both the
consumer and corporate sectors, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology
Industries Association said.
The group, comprising 17 major PC makers operating in Japan,
also raised its shipment forecast for the full year to next March to 12 million
units — a 21 per cent jump from the year before — compared with its prior
forecast of 11.5 million. The more bullish view reflected the first half's
better-than-expected results, it said.
With more Japanese exchanging e-mail and surfing the
Internet, retail purchases — especially by first-time users — have surged,
while a modest recovery in the economy and capital spending on information
technology have spurred corporate buying.
Quarterly data showed shipments rose 23 per cent year-on-year
in July-September to 2.9 million units, a modest slowdown from the prior
quarter's torrid pace of 35 per cent growth.
In value terms, domestic shipments of PCs and peripheral
equipment totalled 660 billion yen ($6.16 billion) in the July-September
quarter, up 11 per cent from a year earlier, the group said.
"The (July-September) figure is a touch lower than we
had expected but it continued to mark double-digit increases and we can call
this growth quite favourable," said Hitoshi Kuriyama, a senior analyst at
With only 40 per cent of Japanese households owning PCs,
against 70 to 80 per cent in the United States, shipments in Japan will likely
continue rising at least another three to five years, particularly with the
government focused on promoting the spread of information technology, he said.
Wall St.: White House woes
U.S. stocks plunged but then nearly recovered Thursday as
Wall Street tried to keep pace with a fast-changing White House contest two days
after the nation went to the polls.
Word from Democrat Al Gore's campaign that the ballot count
in Florida could drag on, and perhaps end up in court, sent the Dow Jones
industrial average tumbling nearly 300 points at one point.
But the Dow and Nasdaq ended with only slight losses. Late
news from Republican George W. Bush's staff countered the Gore claims and may
have soothed a market that for days bet on a Republican win.
The Nasdaq lost 31.35 points, or 1 per cent, to 3,200.35,
well above the 144-point loss suffered earlier in the afternoon. And after being
lower by 289 points, the Dow ended down 72.81 to 10,834.25. The S&P 500
declined 9.14 to 1,400.14.
More stocks fell than rose. Declining issues on the New York
Stock Exchange topped advancing ones 1,730 to 1,085, on volume of 1.1 billion
shares. Nasdaq losers winners 2,598 to 1,266. More than 1.9 billion shares
U.S. hurts Asian markets
Waning tech, chip maker and telecom issues, in conjunction
with general market nervousness concerning the unresolved United States
presidential election, put pressure on markets in Asia by midday Friday.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 average fell 132.28 points
or 0.88 per cent to 14,927.77 by midday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell
0.95 per cent, or 149.33 points, to 15,504.80.
The Taiwan Weighted index was down 32.19 points, or 0.53 per
cent, at 6,057.36 in early trade. Turnover was moderate at T$29.8 billion.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was down T$3.00 at T$112.00, while rival
United Microelectronics Corp. fell T$2.00 to T$65.
In South Korea, the KOSPI was down 0.80 per cent, or 4.47
points, to 556.19. Hyundai Securities rose 440 won to 6,980. Dongyang
Mechatronics Corp. fell 80 won to 4,830. Sam Lip Precision, an axle supplier to
Daewoo Motor, slid 250 won to 23,200.
Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 opened 35.4 points
lower at 3,298.1.
Europe ends lower
Europe's major bourses ended lower Thursday as technology and
telecom stocks lagged in step with losses in their U.S. counterparts on the
Nasdaq composite index.
London's FTSE 100 failed to hold on to its modest earlier
gain, dropping 0.5 per cent to 6,442.2, with fiber-optic component firm Bookham
Technology (BHM) plunging and COLT Telecom (CTM) falling sharply.
In Paris, the blue-chip CAC 40 index fell 1 per cent to
6,271.15, led by chipmaker STMicroelectronics' (PSTM) and consumer electronics
firm Thomson Multimedia (PTMM).
Frankfurt's electronically traded Xetra Dax dipped 49.14
points, or 0.7 per cent to 6,959.50 as losses in tech and telecom outweighed
gains in the financial industry.
The pan-European FTSE Eurotop 300, a broader index of the
region's largest stocks, declined 0.8 per cent, with its information technology
sub-index and its computer segment each down 3 per cent.
ECB buys euros yet again
Reaching into its policy quiver yet again, the European
Central Bank purchased euros in the currency market for the fourth time in a
week Thursday, continuing its effort to reinforce a common currency that has
stubbornly sat near its record lows against the dollar.
The euro strengthened against the dollar following the move,
climbing to 86.13 U.S. cents from 85.52 cents in late New York trading on
Wednesday. The euro hit an all-time low against the dollar on Oct. 26 at 82.25
cents, and is currently down about 27 per cent from its value at launch in
As with similar moves on Monday and two separate bouts of
buying last Friday, the ECB intervention took the action unilaterally - in
contrast to its unified purchase of euros with other leading central banks in
IMF urges Russia to speed up reforms
The IMF on Thursday commended Russian authorities for their
"impressive" economic performance but warned that structural reform
had to be stepped up for recovery to be maintained.
International Monetary Fund executive directors, according to
a summary of their recent assessment of the Russian economy, also praised
authorities for budgetary restraint and improved tax collection procedures.
The directors noted that Russia's "impressive recent
macroeconomic performance" had come with "a strong output recovery and
the achievement of a considerable measure of financial stability."
But the IMF report made it clear that generally favourable
prospects for the country were under threat from the lacklustre implementation
to date of institutional reform.
IBRD warns Bangladesh against risks
The World Bank has warned Bangladesh against the rising trend
of accepting suppliers' credit for state-run projects, saying it could increase
the country's debt burden to unsustainable levels, bank officials said on
"If current trends (of taking suppliers' credit)
persist, the economy's debt burden could rise to unsustainable levels with the
debt service ratio tripling in a decade," an official quoted a World Bank
report — "Challenges for Fiscal and External Debt Management" — as
He said the report found, in general, suppliers' credit
extended to public sector agencies was not good value mainly due to a lack of
transparency and reliance on single-source contracts instead of competitive
The bank's warning came as the credit received by Bangladesh
for public sector projects rose to $398 million in the fiscal year to June 2000
from $146.3 million three years ago.
World oil demand
World demand for oil, which amounted to 75.5 million barrels
per day in the third quarter, will increase by more than two million barrels per
day in the fourth quarter and in the first quarter of next year, the
International Energy Agency forecast on Thursday.
Demand would then fall in the second quarter of 2001, it said
in a monthly report.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Sunoco—Aristech: Sunoco Inc., an independent oil
refiner and marketer, said Thursday it acquired Aristech Chemical Corp. for $695
million in a deal that includes five chemical plants and a research and
Utilities: The consolidation of the U.S. energy industry
continued to accelerate Thursday as Western Resources Inc. agreed to sell its
utility operations to Public Service Co. of New Mexico for about $1.5 billion in
stock, plus the assumption of about $2.9 billion in debt.
EMI—Warner: Time Warner Inc. and EMI Group PLC
officials Tuesday denied a published report that they are on the verge of
officially abandoning plans for a $20 billion joint venture.
Vodafone—France Telecom: Vodafone Group PLC and France
Telecom SA, two of Europe's largest mobile-phone operators, raised the stakes in
Switzerland's market Wednesday through separate investments in Swiss cell-phone
companies, worth a total of nearly $4 billion.
U.S. Treasurys rally
U.S. Treasurys rallied Thursday after a report showed core
wholesale inflation remains tame and amid forecasts a gridlocked Congress will
stymie the fiscal plans of a yet-to-be-determined U.S. president-elect.
10-year Treasury notes rose 11/32 to 99-18/32, yielding 5.81
per cent. Thirty-year bonds jumped 8/32 to 105-16/32, yielding 5.86 per cent.
Five-year notes climbed 7/32 to 99-30/32, yielding 5.76 per cent. Two-year
Treasury notes rose 1/32 to 99-21/32, yielding 5.93 per cent.
Mortgage rates edge up
U.S. Mortgage rates moved higher a week after a higher-than
expected employment wage growth sparked fears of inflation, according to a
survey released by Freddie Mac.
The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 7.79
per cent for the week ending Nov. 10. The average this week for a 15-year
fixed-rate mortgage was 7.44 per cent. One-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs)
this week averaged 7.23 per cent.
Jobless claims soar
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits rose to a nearly 22-month high of 344,000 for the week ended Nov. 4
from a revised 309,000 the previous week, the government reported Thursday.
Economists polled by Briefing.com had forecast U.S. jobless claims of 310,000
for the period. U.S. jobless claims are at their highest since 354,000 in the
Jan. 9, 1999, week.
U.K. interest rates on hold
The Bank of England left U.K. interest rates unchanged at 6
per cent on Thursday for the ninth consecutive month, as most economists had
forecast, judging that this week's government announcement on future spending
and taxation plans was not inflationary.
The bank's policy makers seemed to back Chancellor of the
Exchequer Gordon Brown's assertion Wednesday that his pre-budget report took a
"balanced approach to keep interest rates low".
Business leaders welcomed the Bank of England's decision to
hold interest rates at current levels.
U.S. import prices slide
Prices of U.S. imports fell for the first time in six months
in October as the cost of petroleum imports declined, the government reported
U.S. import prices fell 0.5 per cent last month following a
1.2 per cent increase in September, the Labor Department said. Import prices
last declined in April when they fell 1.4 per cent.
UK plans fuel tax freeze?
Britain's finance minister Gordon Brown will announce a
freeze on fuel tax as part of a package of measures to address truck drivers'
and farmers' concerns about the high cost of gasoline, British newspapers
reported Monday. A loose coalition of truck drivers and farmers has threatened a
fresh round of protests aimed at disrupting Britain's road traffic if the
government fails to cut fuel taxes by 26 pence (37 U.S. cents) a liter by Nov.
Daewoo fallout global
The bankruptcy of South Korea's Daewoo Motor under $10
billion in debt has rippled across its global business, with Poland threatening
to take over the carmaker's plants and a major supplier in Australia announcing
it would have to cut 15 per cent of its workforce.
Daewoo, which has total annual output capacity of 2.15
million units, has 12 plants in 11 countries employing around 53,000. It has
five domestic plants including one Ssangyong Motor plant and 26,950 employees.
Nissan to build new plant
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. said Thursday it will build a $930
million assembly plant — the first auto factory in Mississippi — outside
Jackson, the state capital, employing up to 4,000 people to build full-size
pickups, sport/utility vehicles and its next-generation minivans.