August 12th, 2011
12:02 PM GMT
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Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) Many South Africans have been smug watching the images of lawlessness, anarchy and violence on London’s streets.

As hooded youths burnt and trashed the streets of London, there has been a sense of self-satisfied bemusement from the country that hosted last year’s World Cup football.  So much so, the spokesperson of the opposition party, the DA, mentioned on Twitter that she was “perturbed” by the tone of tweets posted by South Africans and asked if “the chips on our shoulders are really that deep?”

In the years leading up to the 2010 tournament, the British tabloid press in particular irritated many South Africans with constant assessments of how “unsafe” South Africa is. Proud locals felt that many English football fans were dissuaded from attending the World Cup because of the fear campaign generated by the British media.
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August 12th, 2011
09:48 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – Most Asia-Pacific markets ended Friday moderately higher, rounding out a week of wild volatility. Better-than-expected data out of the U.S. – including lower jobless claims numbers and good earnings from tech bellwether Cisco – helped boost investor confidence.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.20%, failing to stay above the psychological 9,000-point mark after briefly touching it in morning trade. At 430 pm Hong Kong time, the yen was trading at 76.71 to the dollar, once again nearing its post-war high. That strength impacted exporters. Auto manufacturers Nissan and Honda were down, 2.26% and 1.25% respectively. Electronics maker Sony closed down 2.04%.

In Greater China, the Hang Seng closed up 0.13%, paring earlier gains. That was not enough to break a longer downward trend. Today marks a third week of overall losses for the index. Li & Fung soared today after beating first-half net income forecasts by about $30 million. The company supplies clothes and other consumer goods to Wal-Mart after inking a major deal in January 2010.  The Shanghai Composite closed 0.45% higher, following the region’s climb on those good U.S. numbers, as well as on continued speculation the People’s Bank of China will avoid raising interest rates in its fight against inflation, which currently stands at 6.5%.
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August 12th, 2011
12:12 AM GMT
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(CNN) - For two days markets have been awash with rumors that French sovereign debt was about to be downgraded and that the French bank Societe Generale was in financial trouble. Was it true? At times it didn't matter.

The French market and SocGen's share price were pummeled by investors who decided there must be some truth in all of this. It was only when the ratings agencies reaffirmed France’s AAA rating and SocGen denied all rumors – without even saying what they were – that things got better.

Every day cold hard facts are the fuel that drives the markets: News about a company or country, favorable or not. But markets are living organisms, made up of Alpha type men and women desperate to take advantage of situations real or perceived. So in the absence of facts, they will listen to rumors and try and judge whether those rumors are likely to be true; then buy or sell on the back of them.

For instance, last Friday the big rumor was that the U.S. was about to lose its AAA rating. No one from the ratings agencies would confirm or deny it, so the rumor just got stronger. And the rumor was true: After the market closed S&P did downgrade American debt.
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