22 - 28, 2001
El Salvador worst hit
At least 260 people were confirmed dead and hundreds more
missing in El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday, the day after an earthquake of
7.6 magnitude rocked Central America and southern Mexico, officials said.
The quake's epicentre was 105kms southeast of San Salvador,
off the Pacific coast. The 7.6 magnitude quake occurred at 11:34am (10.34pm PST)
on Saturday and was felt across El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras
and as far north as Mexico City.
The Red Cross said 200 people had been injured and 1,200 were
missing in El Salvador alone.
Electrical power remained cut off across the country and the
international airport was closed, hampering efforts to bring in relief supplies.
Rescue workers were losing hope of finding survivors.
Mayor Oscar Ortiz of New San Salvador, 12 kilometres west of
the capital, said that 127 bodies had been recovered in the Las Colinas suburb
alone, where a landslide triggered by the quake buried more than 300 houses.
But an official of Guatemala's fire department, which was
aiding the rescue effort in Las Colinas, said "it is nearly impossible that
there are more survivors, given the incredible amount of earth that has fallen
on the houses, practically crushing them".
A Red Cross spokesman said at least 1,200 people were missing
there and the death toll was likely to rise.
Many of the homes in Las Colinas were completely buried in
earth from the section of wooded hillside that had collapsed onto them.
In a preliminary estimate, the national emergency committee
said that in 19 other communities across El Salvador, 132 deaths had been
recorded, 350 people had been injured and 1,336 had been forced to flee their
homes. Other humanitarian groups put the number of wounded at 500.
Singapore economy to grow by 5-7%
Economists said on Thursday they were confident Singapore
would achieve its 5-7 per cent economic growth target this year despite a fall
in exports, provided the US economy has a soft-landing.
The first half of the year will be tough but if the United
States economy picks up in the second half, Singapore will rise with it, they
The economy grew a robust 10.1 per cent last year, but the
sudden year-on-year 4.9 per cent drop in non-oil domestic exports (NODX) in
December indicated slackening demand from the United States was having an impact
earlier than expected.
It was the first contraction in 21 months in the NODX, a key
barometer of the health of Singapore's trade-driven economy.
Paul Schymyck, a regional economist with research house
IDEAglobal.com, said GDP growth in the first quarter of 2001 was likely to be
sharply lower year-on-year and flat if compared to the preceding three months.
What we are seeing is that the economic growth trajectory has dramatically
changed course as a result of the US slowdown, he told AFP.
The government's 5-7 per cent GDP growth target for the year
is achievable if the slowing US economy was able to get back on its feet in the
second half, Schymyck said.
If what we saw in the December quarter continues for the rest
of the year, there's no way to get five (per cent).
This is an export-driven economy. Domestic demand can't
really offset the slowdown in exports, he said, adding that even a projected
recovery in the construction sector was too small to make an impact.
The Trade Development Board said the December contraction was
in line with the slowdown in global electronics demand as well as falling DRAM
(dynamic random access memory chip) prices.
Daniel Gay, a senior economist with Strategic Intelligence,
said Singapore would be "hit hard" by the falling electronics exports
but a 5.5 per cent GDP growth was still attainable.
Tokyo rally continues
Asian markets racked up strong gains Friday, with technology
stocks the main beneficiaries of a stellar performance from the U.S. Nasdaq.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 115.2 points, or 0.8 per cent,
to 13,989.12, led by chip maker NEC Corp and consumer electronics powerhouse
Sony Corp. Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng index jumped 415.58 points, or 2.7
per cent, to 15,944.33.
In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7 per cent to 3,311.6
points. Singapore's Straits Times index advanced 0.7 per cent to 1,900.93.
In other markets, the KOSPI index in Seoul rose 2.6 per cent,
the Taiwan Weighted index added 1.3 per cent, the KLSE composite in Malaysia
gained 1.7 per cent, Manila's PHS Composite advanced 1 per cent, Bangkok's SET
index added 0.5 per cent and Mumbai's BSE Sensex rose 1.4 per cent. Jakarta's
JSX index was the only market to buck the trend of rising markets, slipping 1.1
Europe slips, London gains
European markets closed mostly lower Thursday as weak drug
and financial stocks lost ground while tech shares left London in the black.
London's FTSE 100 bucked the trend and ended up 12.5 points,
or 0.2 per cent, at 6,209.9, with software firm Logica (LOG) and Internet search
software company Autonomy (AU-) leading gainers.
In Paris, the CAC 40 blue-chip index dropped 23.93 points, or
0.4 per cent, to 5,860.16, led by a 3.9 per cent drop by train maker Alstom
(PALS) and a 3.6 per cent slide by car parts maker Valeo (PFR).
Frankfurt's electronically traded Xetra Dax was down 24.70
points, or 0.4 per cent, at 6,628.68 in late trade, with airline Lufthansa (FLHA)
down 4.1 per cent and software maker SAP (FSAP3) down 2.6 per cent.
In Amsterdam, the AEX index slipped 1.3 per cent as insurer
ING fell 2.1 per cent, while the SMI in Zurich dipped 0.5 per cent and Milan's
MIB30 slipped 0.2 per cent.
The pan-European FTSE Eurotop 300, a broader index of the
region's largest stocks, fell 0.5 per cent, with its health care index down 3
Nasdaq surges 3%
The Nasdaq composite index rallied to its highest levels in
more than a month Thursday as investors optimistic about strong earnings snapped
up Sun Microsystems and Microsoft ahead of their quarterly profit reports.
The Nasdaq rose 85.71 points, or 3.2 per cent, to 2,768.49,
its second straight advance. Thursday marks the Nasdaq's highest close since
Dec. 13, when the index finished at 2,822.77.
But Friday brings a bigger test. If the Nasdaq closes higher
that day, it would be only the second three-session gain for the index since
The Dow gained 93.94, or nearly 1 per cent, to 10,678.28,
lifted by IBM. And the S&P 500 advanced 18.50, or 1.4 per cent, to 1,347.97.
More stocks rose than fell. Advancing issues on the New York
Stock Exchange topped declining ones 1,627 to 1,290, on volume of 1.3 billion
shares. Nasdaq winners beat losers 2,187 to 1,748, as 2.5 billion shares changed
Foreigners may not be able to hide money in US
Just before the end of the term, the Clinton administration
plans to announce new measures that banks may take to deter foreign leaders and
their associates from hiding money in the United States, a leading destination
for illicit wealth, the New York Times said in a report published on Tuesday.
American authorities hope that the steps will help deter
corruption in developing nations because political leaders will find it harder
to channel illicit wealth into ordinary investments. Regulators will suggest
that banks and brokerage houses adopt voluntary but detailed procedures that, if
fully enacted, would sound an alarm whenever a foreign leader or that leader's
family and business partners use financial companies as conduits for large sums,
the paper says.
Pakistan and several other developing nations had made an
appeal at the United Nations summit meeting last September asking the United
States and other industrialized nations to enact laws to help them get back the
ill-gotten wealth siphoned-off by the corrupt politicians now in the western
Citigroup: Citigroup, the nation's biggest financial
services company, posted earnings of $3.33 billion, or 65 cents a share, up from
$3 billion, or 56 cents a year earlier.
Bank of America: Bank of America, meantime, reported
fourth-quarter earnings of $1.39 billion, or 85 cents a share, down from $1.10
in the year-ago period.
Bank of New York: Bank of New York Co., posted net income
of $372 million, or 50 cents a share, compared with year-ago fourth-quarter net
income of $327 million, or 44 cents.
IBM: IBM reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.48 per
share, compared with $1.12 during the same period a year earlier.
Apple: Apple Computer recorded its first quarterly loss
in three years of $247 million, or 73 cents per share, versus net income of $123
million, or 78 cents, in the same period last year.
US Airways: US Airways lost $101 million in the fourth
quarter. The airline reported a loss Wednesday of $1.50 per share for the last
three months of 2000.
Microsoft: Microsoft said its net income for the quarter
ended Dec. 31 was $2.62 billion, or 47 cents per share, versus $2.44 billion, or
47 cents, in the year-ago period.
Sun: Sun Microsystems posted earnings of 16 cents per
share, up from 10 cents per share during the same period a year earlier. The
company's second-quarter revenue totaled $5.1 billion, up 44 per cent from the
eBay: Popular online auction site eBay Inc. reported
fourth-quarter net income of $23.9 million, or 9 cents a share.
Genentech: Biotechnology company Genentech Inc reported
higher fourth-quarter profits. The company said pro forma income rose to $83.4
million, or 16 cents a diluted share, compared with $48 million, or 9 cents, in
the year-ago quarter.
Nortel: Nortel Networks Corp earned $825 million, or 26
cents a diluted share.
Ford: Ford Motor Co. posted fourth-quarter operating
earnings of $1.2 billion, or 64 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier
quarter, Ford reported earnings of $1.8 billion, or 83 cents a share.
Prices down on OPEC cut
U.S. oil prices fell sharply Wednesday after OPEC announced a
Feb. 1 cut of more than five per cent of the cartel's self-imposed output quota.
"Buy the rumor. Sell the fact," said Ed Silliere of
Energy Merchant in New York, reciting a futures trading adage. "Traders had
built in a cut of 1.5 million barrels and when it wasn't any higher than that,
February crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX)
Wednesday settled down 69 cents to $29.60 a barrel, up from the day's low of
In London, European benchmark crude Brent was down 73 cents
to $24.79 a barrel.
ECB holds rates at 4.75%
The European Central Bank left interest rates on hold at 4.75
per cent Thursday, as expected, though a rate cut could come as soon as the
Economists said there was little immediate incentive for the
ECB to lower its benchmark rate, with inflation in the eurozone above the bank's
target level and economic growth around 3 per cent.
"The story is the ECB will sit on its hands, talk tough
and see what happens in the U.S.," Allan Saunderson of Eurozone Advisors
told CNNfn before the announcement. "It could be April before we see easing
in ECB policy."
Michael Dicks, an economist at Lehman Brothers, also said any
move would depend heavily on economic conditions in the United States.
Mergers & Acquisitions
JDS: JDS Uniphase Corp., a provider of fiber-optic
components, is negotiating to sell the plant for about $3 billion, the Wall
Street Journal's Web site said.
Ford—Hertz: Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it had struck a
$710 million deal with Hertz Corp. to acquire all outstanding shares of the car
rental agency it does not own in a cash tender offer priced at $35.50 a share.
Forstmann—Citadel: New York investment firm Forstmann
Little & Co. will acquire radio broadcasting company Citadel Communications
for nearly $961 million cash.
Schneider—Legrand: France's Schneider Electric said
Monday it would buy rival components maker Legrand in a 6.72 billion euro ($6.4
O'Neill lifts Treasurys
U.S. Treasury bond prices surged Wednesday after Treasury
Secretary nominee Paul O'Neill backed current policies promoting fiscal
discipline and a strong dollar, policies that fired last year's sharp rally in
30-year bonds were up 1-14/32 to 110-26/32, yielding 5.50 per
cent, while benchmark 10-year notes were up 18/32 to 104-14/32, yielding 5.15
Two-year Treasury notes rose 4/32 to 100-18/32. Their yield,
which moves inversely to price, fell to 4.82 per cent. Five-year notes rose
11/32 to 103-26/32, yielding 4.85 per cent.
Yen goes over cliff
The Japanese yen has fallen to its lowest level in more than
a year and a half, and Japanese officials don't appear the least bit worried.
Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa has indicated that a weaker
yen would be welcome, because it would benefit exports. With the Japanese
economy refusing to recover and the Nikkei stock average at 27-month lows and
nearing decade-long lows, it is little wonder that the yen is dropping, analysts
A slowing U.S. economy could weaken Japanese exports, causing
a renewed downturn in Japan at a time when the government is burdened with debt
and unwilling to launch new spending programs, they warned.
FedEx buys super-jumbos
FedEx Corp.'s FedEx Express unit said Tuesday it will buy 10
of the new super-jumbo, long-range A380 aircraft planned by Europe's Airbus
Industrie in a deal valued at $2.3 billion at list prices, becoming the first
U.S. carrier to order the aircraft.
Murdoch seeking DirecTV?
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has put a freeze on new
acquisitions as his News Corp. plans to make a bid for U.S. satellite
broadcaster DirecTV, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. The deal would be
the largest in the company's history, worth some 27 billion pounds or about $40
billion, the paper said.