September 21st, 2011
12:05 PM GMT
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Editor's note:  Elisabeth Afseth has worked in bond markets for 17 years, starting out at Williams de Broe. She currently works as a fixed income analyst for Evolution Securities. She has an economics degree from the London School of Economics and a masters in economics from Oxford University.   

London (CNN) – Just when everyone was waiting for ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service to downgrade Italy, Standard & Poor’s gets in first with what is a much more damaging downgrade. S&P’s rating of Italy was already lowest of the three major agencies, and its downgrade from A+ to A, with a negative outlook, puts it three notches below Moody’s Aa2 rating (on watch for downgrade) and two notches below Fitch Ratings' AA-.

The financial markets largely shrugged off the downgrade. While bond yields on Italian sovereign debt - an indicator of risk - rose slightly, European equity markets were positive through the day.

Some have argued a downgrade was expected so therefore priced in. But it wasn’t this downgrade that was expected or priced in. It came from the agency with the lowest rating, which did not even have the sovereign on credit watch, but merely a negative outlook. Negative outlook generally means there is a one in three chance that the issuer may be downgraded within two years - it is much less of a warning of an imminent downgrade than a watch for downgrade.
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September 21st, 2011
01:08 AM GMT
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(CNN) - Cigarettes used to be the bounty of choice for shoplifters keen to turn a quick profit.

Now gangs of “modern day rustlers” are targeting supermarkets for prime cuts of meat to sell on the black market, according to police in Tasmania, Australia.

“Years ago, there used to be rustlers. They used to go out and steal cattle, cut them up on the side of the road, in paddocks, take the meat and sell it. Our lot are a lot lazier,” says Detective Inspector David Plumpton.

“These days, these modern day rustlers, they just go straight into a supermarket. It’s already packed, and they’ve just got to put it straight into the frying pan.”
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Filed under: AsiaSign of the times


September 21st, 2011
12:45 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Asia may not be the elixir to the world’s economic ills but it sure seems to be the pill that’s pushing one luxury goods maker to some great highs.

On Tuesday, Italian fashion house Prada announced a stratospheric 74.2% rise in net income for the period from January to July 2011, compared to the same period in 2010.

In hard cash numbers, that’s more than $244 million banked from the first half of this year versus $141 million from the first half of last year.

Who are the people powering these profits?
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