With most of the low-lying city now submerged, its
remaining residents have no electricity and are running out of fresh
water and food.
Plans have been announced to evacuate tens of
thousands of people from New Orleans - including some 20,000
sheltering in its crowded Superdome stadium.
Asked how many had died in the city, Mayor Ray
Nagin said "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."
BBC correspondent Alastair Leithead says widespread
looting and the failure to stop water pouring in from burst
embankments have added to the panic in the city, and most people are
now desperate to leave.
Hundreds of soldiers and police have been diverted
from rescue work to law enforcement duties, amid reports that
heavily-armed gangs are ransacking the city.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said she was
angered to see the crisis bringing out the worst in people.
President Bush's aircraft circled low over the
stricken region on Wednesday as it flew him to Washington, ending his
month-long break in Texas a few days earlier than scheduled.
As he passed over towns whose rooftops alone
remained visible above flood waters, Mr Bush said: "It's
"It's got to be doubly devastating on the
Later addressing the nation from the White House,
the president said the relief effort would initially focus on
restoring power, communication and transport links.
OPEC HEAD MOVES TO CALM OIL FEARS
Opec's president has said he will ask for the
cartel to raise its output as oil prices surged to new records as
hurricane Katrina hit US production.
In the US, crude contracts for October rose almost
$5 to $70.80 in electronic trade before ending $1.07 up at $67.20.
Opec head Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah vowed to
call for a 500,000 barrels a day rise in output at its next meeting.
The move was a bid to calm supply fears which have
risen as the hurricane shut down production in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kuwaiti oil minister Sheikh Ahmad also made clear
the increase he wants will be above the amount Opec supplies to the
market - as the cartel usually produces more than its stated limit.
"We are trying to do everything to stabilize
the prices. It looks like the prices are not related to the production
anymore. They are related to other factors, like geopolitics, the
weather, the refining," he told reporters.
Concerns that supply will fail to meet demand along
with political uncertainty in key supplier nations have increased
fears that prices could breach the $100 a barrel mark.
At least eight refineries - equating to 2.37
million barrels a day of refining capacity - in the path of Katrina in
the Gulf shut down or cut their operations by Monday, according to
company and government reports.
One report from Mineral Management Services said
crude oil production had been cut by about 91%, or 1.37 million
In an effort to calm supply fears the US government
said it was willing to consider loaning crude oil from its emergency
stockpiles to American refiners.
"It's not only the suspension of production
that's causing concern, it's the fact that we could see potential
damage to the platforms, which would cause longer disruptions to
production," said Victor Shum, an analyst at Purvin & Gertz.
"It looks like the perfect storm to drive
SOCGEN ACQUIRES EGYPT'S MIBANK
French bank Societe Generale has bought 69.7% of
shares in Misr International Bank(MIBank), giving it overall control
of one of Egypt's big four banks.
SocGen outbid French rival BNP Paribas in a deal
valuing MIBank at $420m (£234m; 345 euros), as SocGen continues its
expansion in emerging markets.
"This acquisition will strengthen the growth
of our Egyptian business," said a SocGen spokeswoman.
"The enlarged business will be one of the
market leaders in the sector."
Last week SocGen, France's second-biggest bank by
market value, bought Russian home loans provider Delta Credit for
MIBank said shareholders holding 69.7% of shares
had agreed to sell their stakes to SocGen's Egyptian unit, National
Societe Generale Bank (NSGB) at 43.20 Egyptian pounds ($7.48) a share.
And NSGB has also agreed to buy at least 75%, and
up to 100%, of MIBank at the same price.
SURPRISE DROP IN JAPAN PRODUCTION
Japanese industrial output fell by more than
expected in July, official figures have shown, but manufacturers
remain confident it will rebound.
Official figures showed that production declined by
1.1% in July compared with June. Analysts had been expecting a fall of
The bigger drop was put down to the effect of
higher global oil prices.
Yet in a separate government survey, firms forecast
production growth of 2.3% in both August and September.
"Many manufacturers here have turned cautious
or they took a wait-and-see stance during the month as spikes in crude
oil prices have raised their costs for basic materials," said
Akio Yoshino, senior economist at Societe Generale Asset Management.
Mr Yoshino added that while Japan can afford to
absorb oil prices at current levels, he feared that a number of
manufacturers would be affected if crude costs kept rising.
Other analysts chose to focus on manufacturers'
upbeat forecast for August and September.
"The industrial production data is pointing
towards an output recovery, other quantitative indicators are
suggesting there should be a recovery, and the companies are saying
that there is a recovery," said Richard Jerram, chief economist
at Macquarie Securities in Japan.
KATRINA THREATENS PETROL PRICES
Oil prices have fallen back from record levels
after the US said it will release crude from its emergency stock
following Hurricane Katrina.
However, the price of gasoline jumped higher on
concerns that refineries will take time to get back to full output.
Analysts have been warning that high petrol prices
may deter consumers from spending and slow economic growth.
New York light crude cost $68.60 a barrel in Asian
trading, down from the record $70.85.
Gasoline futures jumped 3% to $2.3050 a gallon (3.8
Hurricane Katrina powered its way across the Gulf
of Mexico earlier last week, damaging much of the oil infrastructure
that was in its path before coming ashore and killing hundreds of
people and devastating built up areas.
PALESTINIAN ASSETS IN US FROZEN
A federal court in the US has frozen all the assets
held by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the country.
The ruling by the court in Rhode Island comes after
the authority failed to compensate relatives of a Jewish couple shot
dead by Hamas militants in 1996.
Both the PA and Hamas were ordered to compensate
the family, under a US law allowing suits against groups responsible
for killing US citizens.
US-CHINA TEXTILE TRADE TALKS FAIL
US and Chinese trade officials will meet again
after failing to reach agreement in talks aimed at controlling China's
surging clothing exports.
US special textile negotiator David Spooner said in
Beijing that "despite our best efforts we were not able to reach
a broader agreement."
He said that despite the failure the US
"remained optimistic that we can make progress of remaining
The two sides are considering quotas until 2007 on
Chinese textile imports.
The talks were taking place as China was embroiled
in a wrangle with the European Union, which has led to tonnes of
clothing being caught up at customs.
US trade representatives said that the problems
with the EU had overshadowed and complicated their negotiations.
The US is considering tougher trade restrictions on
imports from China than those already imposed by the EU.
APPLE ITUNES PHONE
Apple is poised to unveil a mobile phone that plays
music just like its best-selling iPod.
Made by Motorola the handset will have Apple iTunes
onboard and will be available via the US Cingular phone service.
The news was broken by analyst Roger Entner who
said he had been briefed about the device and the partners producing
GERMAN JOBLESS TOTAL FALLS AGAIN
German unemployment has fallen for a fifth month,
giving the government some good news ahead of a general election.
The number of Germans out of work fell by 12,000 to
4.796 million in August, the Federal Labour Office said. The
unemployment rate was steady at 11.6%.
France's jobless rate declined to 9.9% in July as
the number of people looking for work dropped by 25,600 to 2.42
CHINA'S BIGGEST BANK SELLS STAKE
China's biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial
Bank of China (ICBC), is selling a 10% stake to Goldman Sachs, Allianz
and American Express.
The deal, said to be worth more than $3bn
(£1.7bn), is just the latest example of Western financial houses
investing in Chinese banks.
Bank of America and Royal Bank of Scotland are two
other firms who have recently bought into Chinese lenders.
China's banks are attractive due to the strong
growth of the Chinese economy.
Overseas banks are also being wooed by the growing
number of Chinese financial houses seeking to float on Western stock
exchanges, which can offer a quick return on investments.
In return, the Chinese banks benefit from
additional capital and improved management.
Analysts estimate Goldman Sach's stake in ICBC to
be worth about $1.6bn, with Allianz on $1bn, and American Express
between $200m and $300m.
Two weeks ago the Royal Bank of Scotland announced
it was investing $1.6bn to lead a consortium buying a 10% stake in
Bank of China for $3.1bn.
Profits at computer services firm LogicaCMG have
beaten forecasts, thanks to a surge in the amount of work firms are
Pre-tax profits surged by 46% to £37.7m ($67.2m)
in the first half of 2005.
KATRINA DAMAGE 'COULD TOP $25BN'
Hurricane Katrina could cost insurers as much as
$25bn (£14bn), experts say, although the financial impact may be less
severe than first thought.
Katrina has left a trail of destruction in its
wake, with hundreds feared dead and a million homes left without
It has caused millions of dollars worth of damage
in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Predictions of the final cost to insurers range
from $9bn to $25bn, making it potentially more costly than the 2001
World Trader Center attacks.
Insurers say it could take weeks before they get a
firm idea exactly how much Katrina could cost them given that large
areas ravaged by the hurricane are still under water.
Much will depend on the underwater damage to ports
and seaways, according to Peter Zeihan of Stratfor, an economic and
political consultancy based in Austin, Texas.
A strong sales performance in the US helped
jeweller Signet overcome mounting losses in the UK.
The world's largest speciality jewellery retailer
said profits rose to £52.1m ($93.6m) in the six months to the end of
July, from £50m a year ago.
US ECONOMIC GROWTH REVISED LOWER
The US economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3% in
the April to June quarter, less than initial estimates but nonetheless
a solid performance.
Despite large rises in energy prices the new
reading showed only modestly less robust growth than the initial
estimate of 3.4%.
The new figure reflected less brisk spending from
consumer and businesses, the US Commerce Department said.
In the first quarter of the year, US growth was
stronger at 3.8%.
The main reason behind the slowing of growth in the
second quarter was that businesses were working off excess supplies of
goods, analysts said.
However, growth is likely to bounce back in the
third-quarter as stocks are replenished.
US POVERTY RATE ON RISE
The number of people classed as poor in the US has
increased - despite strong economic growth, say official figures.
An extra 1.1 million Americans dropped below the
poverty line last year, according to the US Census Bureau.
There were 37 million people living in poverty in
2004, up 12.7% from the previous year.
EU MOVES TO END TEXTILE ROW
The European Union's trade chief has begun moves to
free up Chinese garments held at EU ports in a row over quotas.
As he began talks with member states, Trade
Commissioner Peter Mandelson vowed to do everything in his power to
end the deadlock.