The Senate, which was expected to approve the bill,
voted 64-34 to restore the trade powers which had expired in 1994 and
not renewed since then.
"[The bill] boosts the economy, it protects the
American worker and it restores American trade prestige," said
Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Separately, the Senate also passed on Thursday a
$355.4bn bill to fund a massive US military expansion.
The Senate decision on the trade bill follows an
earlier vote to pass the bill by the House of Representatives last
The House voted 215-212 to support a compromise
agreement on the Trade Promotion Authority Bill, which gives so-called
'fast track' powers to the president in future trade talks.
This latest vote by the Senate also means that Mr
Bush has clinched the presidential trade negotiating powers that eluded
his predecessor. Congressional Republicans voted not to renew the 'fast
track' authority in 1994.
Without those powers, any trade deal negotiated by
the United States would be subject to revision by Congress, undermining
the President's authority.
Mr Bush is expected to waste little time signing the
bill into law.
Mr Bush personally lobbied Congress to pass the bill
before leaving for the August break.
He argued that it would help promote economic growth
and revive the business community's flagging confidence.
BACKS AWAY FROM REFORM
Japan's parliament session has finished on a low
note, with the prime minister admitting that the country's stubbornly
moribund economy is forcing him to relax key reforms.
Junichiro Koizumi told a press conference to mark the
end of the 192-day Diet session that early tax cuts were on the agenda.
"If we can secure sufficient income in future
years we will be able to go ahead with tax cuts now," he said.
But at the same time he admitted that keeping a 30
trillion yen ($252bn; £161bn) cap on government borrowing — till now
seen as essential — was going to be impossible.
And he further stirred speculation that the
government's commitment to ending full guarantees on bank deposits is
being watered down.
The end of the guarantee is seen as vital to bring
Japan's financial sector — groaning under immense bad loans handed out
during the boom years of the 1980s — in line with international
But the plan has met with widespread concern, not
least from ruling party lawmakers worried about grassroots support and
their own backers in the banking industry.
Earlier this week Mr Koizumi ordered his financial
services minister, Hakuo Yanagisawa, to look for ways of making sure
smaller banks do not face a surge of savers moving their money to
supposedly safer large city banks.
"We have to take necessary measures to avoid
creating unnecessary fear," he told reporters.
Surprisingly, though, while the indications of
weakening on the guarantees worried observers, some found the plan to
remove the cap on borrowing to be a positive one.
With domestic spending firmly in the doldrums,
government spending could make the difference between sustaining a
fragile recovery and returning to the decade-long downturn — as long
as it is not simply spent on unproductive public works programmes.
EURO RATE FREEZE CONTINUES
Interest rates in Europe are staying at 3.25% for the
tenth month in a row, amid mounting concerns about Europe's recovery
that outweighed any lingering worries about inflation.
The decision, which came as little surprise to
observers, followed a teleconference of the European Central Bank's
After July's decision, bank chief economist Ottmar
Issing said the bank was following a "wait-and-see" policy.
In the intervening weeks, the wild stock market
gyrations, dampened consumer sentiment and fears that weakness in France
and Germany could hammer European growth have apparently done little to
change the board's mind, economists said.
EU HIT BY ACCOUNTING ALLEGATIONS
The 98bn euro (£62bn; $95bn) budget of the European
Union is an accountant's nightmare, riddled with mistakes and full of
loopholes, according to one of its own former auditors.
In an interview with the BBC, Marta Andreasen — who
was ditched from her post as chief accountant at the European Commission
in May — says the Commission's numbers fail even to meet minimum
Officials can change numbers without leaving any kind
of electronic trail, offering a standing temptation to fiddle the
figures, Ms Andreasen said.
The charges come at an embarrassing time, just as the
world is trying to tighten the rules after a spate of accounting
irregularities committed by large private corporations.
WORLD BANK UPS ITS LENDING
The global economic slowdown, a series of financial
crises and the rebuilding of Afghanistan have increased the amount of
money being lent by the World Bank.
The Bank's loans to developing countries rose to
$19.5bn in the financial year that ended in June, 13% higher than a year
Turkey was the top borrower in the aftermath of its
financial crisis, more than doubling the Bank's hand-outs to the
European and Central Asian region.
In sharp contrast, the tough stance adopted with
Argentina following its meltdown meant that overall financing to Latin
America eased by 18%.
Unlike the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its
sister organisation, the World Bank does not provide macro-economic
support, instead targeting lending at projects on the ground.
SENATE BACKS BUSH'S DEFENCE BUDGET
The United States Senate has approved a $35bn
increase in defence spending, paving the way for the biggest expansion
of the US military in two decades.
President George W Bush had asked lawmakers for the
extra funding to pay for his ongoing war on terror.
Subject to final approval, the overall defence budget
for the next financial year will be more than $350bn.
America already spends more on defence than any
nation in history.
Its military budget exceeds the combined spending of
its nine closest competitors and now there is more on the way.
GOLD PRICE FALLS BELOW $300
Gold prices fell below 300 dollars on Thursday for
the first time in over three months, pressured by a firmer dollar and
the recent recovery in world stock markets.
An ounce of gold fell to a low of 298.95 dollars per
ounce before recovering slightly to 302.5 dollars. That still left it
down 2.60 dollars from Wednesday evening.
ITALIAN SENATE PASSES DISPUTED BILL
Italy's Senate has backed a law that opposition
members say will help Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi avoid corruption
After a tempestuous debate in the Italian upper
chamber, the bill was passed by 162 to nine votes amid cries of
"shame" from opponents.
Dozens of opposition members of parliament walked out
before the vote, while others wore blindfolds in protest.
The bill will allow defendants to request that court
cases be annulled or moved to another court if they have a
"legitimate suspicion" that the judges are biased against
ASIAN SHARES CATCH WALL STREET COLD
Asian shares were falling on Friday as investors
battered by bad news about the US economy awaited fresh numbers which
are likely to reinforce their concern.
Thursday had brought word of a deteriorating
performance by US manufacturing industry. Together with poor results
from oil giant ExxonMobil, the news pushed Wall Street shares to a close
2.6% down on the day.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down 0.6%, having
earlier slid perilously close to a fresh 18-year low before investors
arrested the fall.
Elsewhere in Asia, though, the falls were more
marked, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng down 1.76% and Korea's Kospi
NIGERIA TO STAY IN OPEC
Nigeria has scotched rumours it is planning to pull
out of the oil exporters' organisation, Opec.
The country's senior oil policy advisor, Rilwanu
Lukman, who is also the current chairman of Opec, said Nigeria wished to
remain an active member of the cartel.
The headline which set alarm bells ringing
"Nigeria Set to Leave Opec" — appeared 10 ten day ago in the
British newspaper, Independent on Sunday.
RUSSIA ABANDONS KEY OIL FLOAT
The Russian government has abandoned the sale of a
stake in oil giant Lukoil — its biggest privatisation of the year.
The flotation of 6% of the country's largest oil firm
was expected to raise $600m.
UK INTEREST RATES
The Bank of England has left rates at 4%, their
lowest level for 38 years.
The decision followed a string of data showing a
slowdown in retail sales growth, which has been credited with saving
Britain from a severe economic slowdown.
Economists have also become increasingly worried over
the effects of the fall in stock prices, with the benchmark FTSE 100
share index falling by 16.5% over June and July.
CHIP SALES BOOST KOREAN EXPORTS
The world is buying more and more electronic goods
from South Korea, giving the country's economy a welcome boost amid the
international doom and gloom.
Strong sales of chips and mobile phone handsets meant
that exports in July this year were 19.9% higher than in the same month
of 2001 at $13.7bn, way above the 0.1% annual rise seen in June and
better even than the most optimistic predictions.
IRISH ECONOMY BACK ON THE UP
Latest figures have pointed to signs of recovery in
Ireland's economy after it suffered a heavy drop over the last 12
A report from the Central Statistics Office on
Wedneday showed that Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP) had grown
2.9% in the first quarter of 2002 compared with the same three months in
Ireland is still the fastest growing economy in
Europe but its speed of growth has slowed considerably in the last year.
SURPRISE WEAKNESS IN US ECONOMY
The US economic recovery is losing momentum fast,
according to new figures.
They showed that the economy was growing at an annual
rate of 1.1% during April, May and June — much slower than the 5%
growth rate enjoyed during the previous three months.
The figures are much lower than had been expected,
and cast new doubts about whether the recovery will last.
And a survey of the economy by the US Federal
Reserve, also released on Wednesday, found growth growing
"modestly" and a subdued jobs market.
The GDP figures make it harder to reach the target
set last weekend by US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who said he
expected the economy to grow at 3% to 3.5% during 2002.
Media giant AOL Time Warner has conceded that its
accounts are being investigated by the US Justice Department.
The world's largest media firm is already under
investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
AIB SHRUGS OFF ALLFIRST FRAUD
Allied Irish Banks has unveiled a jump in first-half
profits, shrugging off a $700m trading fraud at its US subsidiary
Allfirst earlier this year.
The company said on Wednesday that profits for the
first six months of the year came in at 703m euros, 5% up on the same
period last year.
CRISIS-HIT TURKEY AGREES EARLY POLL
Turkey's parliament has voted in favour of early
elections, ending weeks of political uncertainty.
The poll will now take place on 3 November, nearly 18
months ahead of schedule.
Members of parliament voted overwhelmingly for the
early poll, one day after a constitutional commission cleared the way
for the move.
NIGERIA TO SEEK INCREASED OIL OUTPUT
Nigeria has said it is to lobby the Organisation of
Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) oil cartel to allow it to increase
its oil production quota.
The country's Junior Finance Minister Jubril Martins-Kuye
said that President Olusegun Obasanjo would be seeking to meet key Opec
HONG KONG MARKET 'MANIPULATED'
Claims that a group of Hong Kong brokers manipulated
the market to spark a sell-off of so-called penny stocks are being
investigated by the stock market regulator.
The Securities and Futures Commission has been making
enquiries after Friday's sharp fall in the low-priced shares, according
to several anonymous brokers quoted by the South China Morning Post.
Penny shares plunged after the Hong Kong Stock
Exchange announced plans to delist penny stock which trades below 50
Hong Kong cents for 30 days in a row.
MALI FEARS COTTON SHORTFALL
The West African country of Mali is likely to produce
almost 20% less cotton than it had previously expected after poor rains
disrupted the sowing season.
This year's crop is forecast to be less than 500,000
tonnes, down from state cotton company CMDT's previous prediction of