04/16/2014 (5:08 am)

Investors dip a toe back in emerging markets

Filed under: legal, term |

Nearly $2.5 billion flowed into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that invest in emerging market stocks during the week that ended April 2, according to data from EPFR Global.

It was the first time money poured into those funds since October.

The inflow suggests that investors have regained some appetite for emerging market stocks, which were trading at a sharp discount following a big sell-off in January.

The ), which tracks the widely-followed benchmark for emerging market stocks, is now in positive territory for the year.

Investors fled emerging markets in January amid fears about the so-called “Fragile Five” — Turkey, Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa. Central banks in those countries were forced to prop up shaky currencies after political and economic concerns sparked big outflows of capital.

According to Allan Conway, head of emerging market equities at U.K.-based asset manager Schroders, investors overreacted and stocks in many countries are actually trading at very attractive levels.

While he expects most emerging markets to remain volatile in the short run, Conway said some specific countries could see “an avalanche of cheap investment opportunities by the end of the year.”

Specifically, he pointed to what he dubbed the “Fab Four” of Taiwan, Korea, China and Russia (assuming the confrontation with Ukraine does not escalate).

While investments in any country carry a certain degree of political risk, it is especially acute in many emerging economies since governments in these nations often own a stake in the largest companies in the country.

Investors hope that upcoming elections in India, Indonesia and Brazil will set the stage for reforms that will make those economies more efficient, said Michelle Gibley, director of international research at Charles Schwab cash advance loan.

She said there’s also been talk of new stimulus efforts in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Still, the optimism may be “misplaced” since there’s no guarantee the newly elected politicians will follow through on proposed reforms, she added.

“I’m still cautious on emerging markets,” said Gibley. “They still have a long way to go to fix their structural problems.”

Emerging markets are generally considered more of a gamble than developed ones because the political risks are higher and many developing economies are exposed to volatility in commodities prices.

On the other hand, economic growth has historically been stronger in emerging markets, many of which have benefited from an expanding middle class.

That growth story began to unravel last year when the Federal Reserve first signaled that it would begin slowing its monthly bond purchases.

The U.S. central bank has pumped billions of dollars into the global economy over the past few years and much of the liquidity has made its way into emerging markets. The fear is that developing economies might be left high and dry as the Fed gradually turns off the taps this year.

Paul Christopher, chief international strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, said it will take years for emerging market economies to work through excessive levels of domestic debt.

“The Fed’s policies have exposed some of the weakness in emerging markets,” he said. “Those problems have been there for years, but as the tide goes out, you begin to see the hazards below the surface.”

While he has a positive long-term view on developing economies, Christopher said the average investor should not have more than 5% to 7% of a portfolio in emerging markets.

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04/14/2014 (2:08 pm)

GM finds new ignition flaw, will replace second part

Filed under: money, stocks |

The automaker said Thursday it “is aware of several hundred complaints of keys coming out of ignitions” in recalled Chevrolet Cobalts and HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and G5s, as well as Saturn Ions and Skys.

As a result, the company will replace the ignition lock cylinder in these vehicles. GM said there was one instance of a vehicle rolling away and crashing. That accident resulted in injuries, but no deaths.

The ignition lock cylinder fix will be made in addition to a repair to the faulty ignition switches.

These cars were originally recalled in February because the ignition switches were getting knocked out of the “Run” position, causing the vehicles to stop unexpectedly and disabling the airbag, power steering and anti-lock brakes.

, Fortune 500) identified an issue with the switch indent plunger, a tiny part that provides pressure, or torque, to prevent the ignition from turning off accidentally. The ignition lock cylinder is the part where the key is inserted. It can be worn down over time as the key is repeatedly turned.

Spokesman Kevin Kelly said all the ignition repairs are meant to be done at once. Dealerships will receive a kit with both parts and the repair will take about an hour, he said. Customers will also be given new car keys.

The parts have started shipping and dealers will be able to perform the service beginning Friday, he said.

The additional part replacement means the recall will cost the company more. GM said it will take a $1.3 billion charge in the first quarter for the recall, nearly four times the original $300 million charge.

GM has taken heat for a delay in recalling the vehicles. The company has attributed thirteen deaths to the fault. The company has revealed it knew of issues with the ignition switch as early as 2004, but only announced a recall in February. Earlier Thursday, it announced that two engineers were suspended over the matter.

–CNNMoney’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report

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04/11/2014 (7:04 am)

Police make arrests in Yonge St. shooting death

Filed under: news, online |

Police have arrested three people in the shooting death of a Toronto man earlier this year.

Toronto police, with assistance from forces across the GTA, raided addresses this morning in connection to the shooting death of Peter Nguyen, 26.

On Thursday morning, Thanh Tung Phan, 27, of Toronto, was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of criminal harassment. He was scheduled to appear in a North York court later today.

Two others have also been charged with criminal harassment, the Star has learned. Their identities have not been released.

Nguyen was gunned down near Yonge St. and Lawrence Ave. after 9 p.m. on Feb. 4. Few details in the case have been released to date, but at the time police said they were seeking two suspects.

Staff Insp. Greg McLane, who heads the Toronto police homicide squad, confirmed the raids are connected to the slaying this year and that several people have been taken into custody.

It’s not clear yet how many were arrested and who if any will face charges.

“We’re just moving forward on a homicide investigation,” McLane said.

Police officers from York and Durham regions were assisting as some of the raids happened at addresses outside Toronto, McLane said.

The stretch of Yonge St. where the shooting occurred, near Deloraine Ave., is home to several restaurants and wall-to-wall storefronts.

Related:

Police name 26-year-old victim in Yonge-Lawrence fatal shooting

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04/07/2014 (10:52 pm)

Medical Assn won’t stop Medicare doc data release

Filed under: finance, term |

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s largest doctors’ group says it won’t try to block Medicare’s release of billing records for 880,000 physicians, although it remains opposed to such a move by the government.

An official of the American Medical Association told The Associated Press on Monday that the group won’t go to court ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled release of the massive data trove. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the organization’s policies limit on-the-record comments to certain designated representatives overnight pay day loans.

Employers, insurers, media organizations and consumer groups interested in physician quality have been pressing the government for decades to release the data. The AMA says it will do more harm than good.

The AMA’s decision does not rule out last-minute legal action by other groups.

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04/03/2014 (6:48 am)

Rubicon Project climbs after IPO prices at $101.5M

Filed under: loans, news |

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of The Rubicon Project jumped Wednesday morning after the ad exchange’s initial public offering priced at $101.5 million.

The offering of 6.8 million shares priced at $15 a share, at the low end of its expectations. Rubicon is selling 5.4 million shares and will get $81.3 million in gross proceeds, while the rest of the shares are being sold by Rubicon shareholders.

Shares of The Rubicon Project Inc. gained $3.30, or 22 percent, to $18 cash advance payday loan.30 in morning trading.

Rubicon operates a digital ad exchange that automates the buying and selling of online advertising. It is based in Los Angeles.

The shares are trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “RUBI.”

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04/01/2014 (12:16 pm)

Syrup makers go high tech with wireless monitoring

Filed under: loans, online |

MILTON, Vt. (AP) — For years, vacuum tubing technology has allowed maple syrup producers to draw more sap from trees, but such systems are prone to leaks caused by falling branches or hungry critters chewing on lines.

Finding and repairing those leaks can take hours of trudging through often snow-packed woods. This season, however, some Vermont syrup producers are trying new wireless monitoring systems that allow them to keep track of their sap lines from the sugar house. They’re using computers and smartphones to pinpoint the location of leaks, allowing them to make quick fixes and get better yields during the four-to six-week sugaring season payday loans.

The inventor of one tracking system says it can net a 5 percent increase in production, the kind of jump that could only otherwise be expected by increasing manpower.

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03/31/2014 (12:56 am)

State Fund Profit on Japan Display Shows Overhaul Path - Bloomberg

Filed under: business, marketing |

Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, the government-backed fund that just made a tidy profit on the Japan Display Inc. (6740) initial public offering, plans to use lessons from the deal in restructuring other troubled industries.

INCJ put 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) into the Tokyo-based company in 2012 as it combined three struggling businesses and turned a profit of more than 60 percent. In the fund

03/29/2014 (10:04 am)

Tory MP Eve Adams accused of using mail privileges to campaign

Filed under: business, online |

OTTAWA—A Conservative MP who wants to run in a different riding in 2015 appears to be using her taxpayer-funded privileges and supplies to mail voters in the new constituency, a move that is rankling local party members.

Some residents in Burlington and Oakville say they recently received materials from Eve Adams, even though their current MP is Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

Adams says she has broken no House of Commons rules, and is entitled as an MP to mail materials outside her riding.

But Adams is fighting local chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna for the Conservative nomination in Oakville-North Burlington, a newly created riding that technically won’t exist until the next election.

That has raised questions about whether she is using her resources to help secure a nomination.

“My reaction was, ‘Who is she?’ I know who my MP is. I’m in Burlington. I looked it up, and Ms. Adams is in Mississauga,” said local resident Simon Taylor, who is not connected to either of the camps.

Julian DiBattista, a riding association president from Hamilton, wrote a letter of complaint Friday to Conservative party brass after his partner in neighbouring Burlington received a letter from Adams.

In the letter, DiBattista invoked the high-profile controversy surrounding three formerly Conservative senators whose disallowed expense claims led to their suspension last year from the upper chamber.

“As a taxpayer, I was incensed when I heard that Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin were using resources provided at my expense for their personal gain,” DiBattista wrote.

“In this situation I am just as disturbed by the misuse of government resources to campaign for elected office.”

The Canadian Press has seen copies of two different flyers featuring the title, “Eve Adams, Member of Parliament,” under the House of Commons crest. Only the Commons envelope indicates that Adams represents the non-adjacent riding of Mississauga-Brampton North instant payday loan.

The flyer was mailed without a postage stamp, which indicates it was sent using taxpayer funds under an MP’s mailing privileges — a practice known in political circles as “franking.”

MPs are entitled to send mail postage-free, but Commons rules prohibit any of their parliamentary resources from being used for electoral campaigning.

“I have spent the last three years working hard in Ottawa to represent you and your family’s views, meeting with and listening to our community and working hard to build a stronger Canada,” writes Adam, who moved to the area less than two years ago.

Another flyer starts by saying that “my family and I live in Oakville, and we know first-hand that every dollar matters.”

In both cases, there is a mail-back portion for the recipient to send back comments and respond to a brief questionnaire.

“Most importantly, you will always be able to count on my support, when you need something from Ottawa,” Adams writes.

Adams says that she has the right as an MP to use her House of Commons resources to send materials outside of her riding.

“People do mail across the country, and that absolutely is something that members of Parliament are encouraged to do and to communicate with Canadians on a wide variety of issues,” Adams said.

But the Commons internal economy committee has addressed the issue of MPs mailing into opposition ridings, ruling in 2010 that certain pamphlets can be mailed only within one’s own riding.

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03/27/2014 (2:16 pm)

Will Central African Republic become a battleground for religious radicals?

Filed under: finance, loans |

BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC—The threat of the Central African Republic becoming the latest battleground for religious radicals is increasing as the country remains divided and the security situation precarious.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Toronto Star, the country’s top United Nations representative warned that the conflict will spill beyond its borders if the country’s Muslim and Christian populations do not reconcile and civilians remain fearful of returning home.

Al Qaeda-linked groups in nearby Mali and Nigeria are citing the plight of CAR’s Muslim population with increasing frequency and are encouraging attacks against France, which sent troops here in December after fighting left 1,000 dead in just two days.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) accuses the French of launching a “crusade against Islam,” and a leader with the Nigerian-based Boko Haram has reportedly vowed to avenge the deaths of the country’s Muslims.

The Central African Republic is even cited by fighters purportedly in Syria — including one bizarre, but slickly produced 18-minute video by German ex-rapper “Deso Dogg,” who calls for jihad.

Such hostile statements are being followed “very, very carefully,” said Lt. Gen. (retired) Babacar Gaye, the UN’s highest-ranking official in Bangui and special adviser to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“I hope that we will be in a position to expedite whatever should be done in terms of reconciliation in terms of the communities. I think this is the best way to delay . . . any actions of these terrorist groups,” he said. “Not only will they not have reasons to come, there will be no grievances that may serve the justification.”

But CAR remains dangerously split — with Muslim residents occupying only two neighbourhoods in the capital Bangui, and the rest seeking refuge in the north or neighbouring countries.

The country was once mercilessly ruled by a mainly Muslim militia known as the Seleka, which included fighters from Chad and Sudan. Vigilante squads known as anti-balaka, which drew members from the majority Christian population, clashed with the Seleka, prompting the French and African Union forces to intervene. Seleka-backed President Michel Djotodia was pushed from power in January and Catherine Samba-Panza, Bangui’s former mayor, was appointed interim president.

The roots of this conflict, which has killed thousands and threatens to permanently divide this small landlocked country, are complicated and not about religion. The Seleka did not call for a state governed by Islamic law, nor did they espouse the ideology favoured by groups such as AQIM. Just a year ago there was religious harmony in CAR — mosques and churches are only blocks apart in the capital, communities mixed and intermarriage between faiths is common.

But in retribution for months of Seleka killings, sexual violence and looting, the anti-balaka blindly targeted all Muslims. Women and children are among the dead.

At a recent demonstration in PK12, a makeshift camp of Muslim women and children, criticism was directed at the French for not ensuring the security of Muslim residents. Ibrahim Alawad, the 52-year-old self-appointed leader of the camp and a former member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army who organized the small march, will list a litany of alleged crimes of the French troops stationed nearby to visiting reporters easy payday loans.

The question is whether the cycle of killings will continue as the Seleka regroups in the north and seeks outside help. Of particular concern to intelligence and security services is the largely remote northern Vakaga province, which shares a border with Sudan’s Darfur region. The whereabouts of Seleka leader Noureddine Adam and reports that he has travelled to Nigeria fuel speculation of future Boko Haram involvement.

For now, the extremist calls for jihad are just rhetoric. And Islamic militant groups operating in Africa would face significant logistical hurdles, including CAR’s unfamiliar terrain. “Their familiarity with often harsh and inhospitable desert conditions have given them the edge over regional and/or international forces tasked with uprooting them from such areas,” wrote security analyst Ryan Cummings recently in Think African Press. “However, these desert plains of North and West Africa differ considerably with the jungle and savannah bushes which comprise much of the CAR.”

But Gaye said the extremist threats are not being taken lightly and without additional peacekeepers and increased international funding, the interim government under Samba-Panza is destined to fail. “Today the reality is very simple,” he said. “Without international community support, it won’t be possible for this new government — upon which we put a lot of expectations — it will not be possible for them to deliver.”

Ban’s call for a UN peacekeeping mission of 12,000 troops and police to join the 2,000-strong French force and 6,000 African Union peacekeepers here is being debated by the Security Council. Gaye welcomed news that Canadian senator and retired Gen. Romeo Dallaire is urging Canada to join the mission if approved.

Also a veteran peacekeeper, Gaye said he served alongside Canadian forces during his first mission in Sinai, in 1974. “We had excellent relations, probably because of the French-speaking proximity but also because they are very professional and experienced in peacekeeping,” he said. “We are expecting the return of Canada to peacekeeping.”

Beyond the gates of the UN compound where we sat during the recent interview, there was a deceptive calm in Bangui. Life is slowly returning to the downtown streets, where just a couple months ago fires burned and discarded bodies lay unclaimed.

Stores owned by Christian merchants have reopened and students have returned to school, although the numbers are small as most parents are still too frightened to leave their children alone. Later that evening, before the nightly curfew, the setting sun casts a warm glow over roadside patios where men and women unwind over large bottles of the local Mocaf beer.

But that calm is easily shattered by evening gunfire and attacks in the two remaining Muslim neighbourhoods of PK5 and PK12, and the French and AU tanks that patrol the streets are a reminder of what is needed to ensure security in a city that lacks a functioning police force, army or court system.

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03/26/2014 (12:32 am)

Co-pilot warned captain before Nunavut crash that killed 12

Filed under: Homebuilders, legal |

OTTAWA—The co-pilot of a First Air jet repeatedly warned the captain they were off course and should abandon their approach to a northern airport in the minutes before the aircraft smashed into a hillside.

A newly released report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada into the crash of First Air flight 6560 paints a picture of a flight-crew struggling to prepare for landing, unsure of their position and the “many attempts” by the co-pilot to abandon their approach and try again.

“Although the two pilots were aware they were off course, they each had a different understanding of the situation and did not take corrective action in time,” the board said.

“The first officer mentioned to the captain that they were off course and that preparations for landing were incomplete,” the board said.

“Several times he suggested a ‘go-around’ . . . the captain though was not convinced this was required,” the board said.

The captain only abandoned the approach after the ground proximity warning system sounded an alarm in the cockpit but by then it was too late.

The Aug. 20, 2011 accident killed 12 of the 15 people on board the Boeing 737, including the two pilots.

As a result of the investigation, the board is urging Transport Canada to overhaul its outdated regulations around cockpit resource management (CRM), a program that encourages pilots to work more effectively together and that potential problems aren’t overlooked.

While both pilots had undergone First Air’s CRM training, it was based on an old Transport Canada standard that does not include the latest concepts and ideas.

In this case, the first officer wasn’t able to change the captain’s course of action and the captain wasn’t receptive to the first officer’s concerns.

As well, the board is warning there are too many so called unstable approaches, when an aircraft is either not configured for landing or not on the right speed or altitude to ensure a safe arrival. While airlines have rules meant to discourage such approaches, “too many unstable approaches are continued to a landing. To improve airline safety in Canada, this needs to change,” the board says.

In an earlier update, the safety board had ruled this as a “controlled flight into terrain,” which happens when pilots inadvertently fly into terrain or water, usually in conditions of bad weather or darkness.

First Air Flight 6560 slammed into a hill several kilometres from the runway as it made its approach to the airport at Resolute Bay after a flight from Yellowknife, N.W.T.

At the time, the Canadian Forces were holding a major exercise based out of Resolute. The drill quickly turned to real life as military personnel responded to the crash scene.

There was fog and mist in the area as the Boeing 737 made its approach and just two seconds before impact, the pilots initiated a go-around, meaning they abandoned their landing attempt.

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