18 - 24, 2000
Bush promises to unite Americans
America's protracted and often convoluted election
tussle ended within the space of an hour on Wednesday night when
Vice-President Al Gore acknowledged Governor George Bush as the
Mr Bush praised his defeated rival and asked the
nation to move past the bitterness and partisanship of the past five
Mr Gore rang Mr Bush to congratulate him shortly
before addressing the nation at 10pm. The vice-president's remarks
were gracefully worded and he appeared to be going out of his way to
confer legitimacy on Mr Bush.
The vice-president gave up the fight after the US
Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled against manual recounts in the state of
Florida. In his concession speech, he said while he strongly disagreed
with the Supreme Court's verdict, he accepted it and was ending his
In his turn, Mr Bush, speaking at 11pm from the
chamber of the Texas state legislature, promised a spirit of
cooperation and said Americans shared hopes, goals and values that
were far more important than any political disagreement. He felt
confident, he said, that he would be able to unite Americans.
Mr Bush will be sworn in as the 43rd president of
the United States next month and will step into the White House eight
years after it was vacated by his father, who was president from 1988
to 1992. Governor Bush will be only the second son of a president to
become chief executive and also the fourth person to be elected as
president despite losing the popular vote.
America has breathed a collective sigh of relief at
the end of the election fracas, but the divisions thrown up by court
challenges and disputed ballots will take time to be bridged. Mr Gore
in his concession speech pointedly said his one regret was that he
would not get a chance to stay on to speak for those whose voices were
not heard, referring to his belief that the Democratic Party forms the
natural constituency of the underprivileged. Black activists have
already pledged to continue the struggle for the counting of Florida
ballots and charge that elections official in the state unfairly
discriminated against African Americans.
EU govts agree on expansion treaty
A ground-breaking reform treaty agreed by the
European Union governments after a grueling five-day marathon summit
sets the 15-nation bloc on a straight path to eastward expansion and
could give a much-needed boost to the single European currency.
The treaty demolishes the last obstacles to healing
Europe's lingering Cold War divisions by clearing the way for creating
a unified Europe stretching from the Arctic to Turkey in the southern
"This meeting will go down in the history of
Europe as a grand summit," said French President and host Jacques
Chirac. Added Swedish Premier Goeran Persson: "This is a big day
for Europe. We are ready for enlargement."
Thrashed out after five days of tough negotiations,
the Nice agreement promises that the 15-nation bloc will be ready to
welcome the former communist nations of Central and Eastern Europe by
This is the first time that the EU has indicated an
entry date for the 13 nations knocking impatiently on its doors.
Expansion of the EU will not just create a large and united family of
democratic European nations, said the bloc's leaders.
It is also expected to boost the EU's global clout
and give a much-needed fillip to the euro, the bloc's single currency
which has languished since its launch last year."We are making
Europe more efficient and democratic, said Belgian Prime Minister Guy
Verhofstadt. "We want more Europe, not less Europe."
The drive to forge a new and expanded Europe took
almost 400 hours of stormy negotiations between the 15 EU governments,
culminating in the longest summit in the Union's history.
But with stakes this high, brinkmanship was to be
expected. "This was a difficult exercise. We touched at the most
delicate issues...things that hurt," said Chirac.
Clinton disagrees with court judgment
US President Bill Clinton said on Thursday he
disagreed with the US supreme court's ruling that cleared the way for
George Bush's victory.
"In this election, the American people were
closely divided," said Clinton. "The outcome was decided by
a supreme court that was closely divided."
At the same time, Clinton pledged to help the
president-elect get off to a good start, saying Americans wanted their
politicians to set aside rancour and personal attacks.
Asia loses some ground
Sell-offs in internationally liquid tech issues,
following in step with their U.S. counterparts, served to drive down
markets in Asia Friday.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 was down 1.09 per cent to
14,764,88 at midday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was down 2.21 per
cent at 15,155.18 by midmorning.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 average lost 162.31 points
or 1.09 per cent to 14,764,88, adding to a 1.59 per cent loss the
The Hang Seng Index was down 2.21 per cent at
15,155.18 at 10:05 a.m.
The Australian share market opened sharply lower on
Friday, joining U.S. and U.K. equity markets in a gloomy post U.S.
The S&P/ASX 200 index slumped 41 points or 1.3
per cent to 3,236.0, its lowest since late October.
ECB leaves rates on hold
The ECB left the euro-zone's key interest rate
unchanged at 4.75 per cent Thursday amid signs the 11-nation economy
is slowing, but dampened speculation about rate cuts.
Wim Duisenberg, the president of the European
Central Bank, said economic growth in the euro zone was still expected
to be "robust" despite recent indications of a slowdown,
warning that upward pressure on prices remains.
The European Central Bank disappointed economists
who had predicted monetary authorities would tinker with their
economic goals so as to create room for rate cuts next year.
The central bank targets two economic variables,
aiming to keep inflation under 2 per cent, and growth in the M3
measure of money supply below 4.5 per cent a year. It's currently
missing both targets, with euro-zone inflation at 2.7 per cent in
Dollar surges against yen
Buoyed by prospects of a George W. Bush presidency,
the dollar brushed off weaker-than-expected retail sales data to push
higher against both the euro and yen on Wednesday.
The yen, meanwhile, was roundly beaten after a Bank
of Japan quarterly tankan survey showed business sentiment stalling.
The dollar was trading at 112.32 yen, up nearly a
full yen from Tuesday's close of 111.41 yen. Overnight the dollar
reached 112.73 yen, according to Reuters data, its highest level since
Meanwhile, the dollar gained strength against the
euro, with the euro buying 87.54 cents, compared with 87.88 cents at
Russia to raise oil export tariff
Russia will increase its export tariff on crude oil
to 48 euros a tonne from 41 euros at a price of $30-32.50 a barrel, a
spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Saturday.
Mergers & Acquisitions
AOL—Time Warner: The Federal Trade Commission
Thursday approved America Online's proposed $111 billion acquisition
of Time Warner after the companies agreed to a series of unprecedented
concessions aimed at protecting competition in the high-speed Internet
Abbott—Knoll: Abbott Laboratories won its bid
for Knoll Pharmaceutical Co., a unit of German chemical giant BASF AG,
and will pay $6.9 billion, published reports said Thursday.
Semiconductor maker Altera
Corp. agreed Thursday to sell its 23 per cent stake in WaferTech LLC
to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for $350 million cash.
Cisco—ExiO: Extending its reach in the market
for wireless Internet technology, Cisco Systems Thursday agreed to buy
privately held Exi0 Communications for roughly $155 million in stock.
Shire—BioChem: British specialty drug maker
Shire Pharmaceuticals Group PLC agreed Monday to buy Canadian
counterpart BioChem Pharma Inc. for $4 billion in stock, broadening
the U.K. company's product range into HIV and cancer therapies but
sending its stock into a nosedive.
SKB—Glaxo: The $70 billion merger of U.K.
drugmakers Glaxo Wellcome PLC and SmithKline Beecham PLC on Tuesday
edged closer to getting U.S. regulatory clearance, which could come in
time for the deal to be completed by year-end.
Oracle: Database and corporate applications
software giant Oracle Corp. reported that its second-quarter earnings
rose 62 per cent to $623 million, or 11 cents per share, from $384
million, or 6 cents, in the same period last year.
Adobe: The maker of Pagemaker, Photoshop, and
Acrobat software said earnings before one-time items in the fourth
quarter ended Dec. 1 rose to $127.2 million, or 34 cents a share,
compared with $90.0 million in the year-ago period. Adobe did not give
a per-share operating earnings figure for the year-ago period.
Best Buy: Electronics retailer Best Buy Co.
reported a 2 per cent decline in earnings. For the quarter ended Nov.
25, Best Buy reported earnings of $57.3 million, or 27 cents a diluted
share, down from earnings of $78.4 million, or 37 cents, in the
U.S. Treasurys rise
U.S. Treasury prices rallied sharply Thursday,
pushing yields to their lowest point in nearly two years after
producer prices barely rose in November, bolstering views the Federal
Reserve's path is clear to cut interest rates in early 2001.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose 8/32 to
103-30/32. Their yield, which moves inversely to price, fell to 5.22
per cent. Thirty-year bonds rose 12/32 to 111-25/32, yielding 5.44 per
cent. Two-year notes gained 2/32 higher to 100-13/32, yielding 5.40
per cent, and five-year notes gained 5/32 to 102-14/32 to yield 5.18
Mortgage rates move lower
U.S. Mortgage rates dipped for the third
consecutive week, reaching their lowest level in 17 months.
The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM)
averaged 7.42 per cent for the week ending Dec. 15. The average this
week for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 7.11 per cent. One-year
adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) this week averaged 7.05 per cent.
Jobless claims down
The number of Americans filing new claims for
unemployment benefits for the week ended Dec. 9 was 320,000, down from
a revised 352,000 for the week before, the U.S. Labor Department
Feds eye Calif. energy aid
U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said on
Wednesday the federal government would step in to require power
generators and marketers to ship electricity to California to prevent
"Our objective is keep the lights on in
California," Richardson said at a news briefing after meeting
with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Richardson also met with
California Gov. Gray Davis, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
chief James Hoecker to discuss the power crisis in California.
Richardson said he used his authority in the
Federal Power Act and he would require out-of-state generators and
marketers currently balking at selling power into California to do so
IBM to spend $1bn
IBM on Tuesday said it is building the world's
largest Linux-based supercomputer for petroleum manufacturer Royal
Dutch/Shell and pledged to invest nearly $1 billion in Linux efforts
UK inflation rises to 2.2%
Gasoline and oil price rises pushed U.K. consumer
price inflation slightly higher in November, the government said
Tuesday, but the increase will do little to dent expectations of lower
interest rates next year. The retail price index, excluding mortgage
interest payments, rose 2.2 per cent in the twelve months ending
November, quickening from the previous month's 2.0 per cent annual
rate of increase, the Office of National Statistics said.
Wall St. takes a beating
Once again, worries and warnings about corporate
revenue growth sent U.S. stocks reeling Thursday, led by financial and
The Nasdaq deflated 94.26, or more than 3 per cent,
to 2,728.51. The Dow plunged 119.45 points to 10,674.99, while the
S&P 500 slipped 19.06 to 1,340.93.
The Dow Transport Index fell more than 3 per cent
to 2,738.15 after FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. both
issued profit warnings.
Market breadth was negative. On the New York Stock
Exchange, decliners beat advancers 1,715 to 1,164, as more than 1
billion shares changed hands. Losers outpaced winners on the Nasdaq
2,642 to 1,212, as more than 1.68 billion shares were traded.
In other markets, Treasury securities edged higher.
Xerox to sell China unit
Xerox Corp., the world's biggest copier company,
said Thursday it agreed to sell its China operations to Fuji Xerox Co.
Ltd. for $550 million in cash, as part of its turnaround plan.
Europe falls, FTSE drops
European markets tumbled Thursday with technology
stocks mirroring losses among their U.S. peers while banks slumped as
analysts cut their recommendations.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dropped 2.2 per
cent, or 139.2 points, to 6,263.8, with computer services company CMG
(CMG) and index heavyweight Vodafone Group (VOD) clocking up big
Frankfurt's late-trading Xetra Dax fell 126.18
points, or more than 1.9 per cent, to 6,494.03, as chip maker Infineon
Technologies (FIFX) and Deutsche Bank (FDBK) tumbled.
The blue chip CAC 40 in Paris slid almost 1 per
cent, or 56.64 points, to 5,905.65, led by broadcaster TF1 (PFTI) and
bank BNP Paribas (PBNP).
Amsterdam's AEX index dropped almost 2 per cent,
with Royal KPN down 5.2 per cent. Zurich's SMI was down 1.4 per cent
and Milan's MIB30 slipped 1.8 per cent.
The broader FTSE Eurotop 300 index, a basket of
Europe's largest companies, was down 1.8 per cent.
Inventories slow growth
U.S. wholesale inventories rose at a
slower-than-expected pace in October, while wholesale merchants' sales
were unchanged, the Department of Commerce reported on Monday.
The agency said supply of unsold goods rose 0.3 per
cent, to $327.4 billion, a rate of growth smaller than the 0.4 per
cent swell expected by Wall Street. The wholesale data includes
inventory statistics from the second stage of the manufacturing
Merchants' sales were flat at $251.1 billion, the