Monday, December 31, 2012

Asia This Day:Chinese Manufacturing Looks Good;India Warns of Risk

The HSBC China Purchasing Managers Index rose to 51.5 in December,up from 50.5 in November.It climbed at the fatsest pace since May 2011,and more than expected.A reading over 50 indicates growth in the sector.The Australian dollar extended this year's gain on the China PMI data.
India cut its coal imports by 13% in November.The SENSEX stock-index futures fell when the Royal Bank of India warned of rising risks to the economy in light of the grim outlook for global growth.
Japan's Nikkei stock index has risen 23% in 2012.It is the index's first annual rise in three years.
In early New Year's Eve trading,the Nikkei was up 0.70%.Hong Kong's Heng Seng index was virtually flat,down by 0.04%,while Australia's ASX 200 index fell 0.48%.
HSBC Holdings PLC(HBC)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Health Uncle:What Is Acid Reflux Disease

Normally,a valve at the top of your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter,or LES,closes when food passes through it,preventing stomach acid from escaping.In acid reflux disease,or gastroesophageal reflux disease(GERD),the valve doesn't close completely or opens too often.
This faulty valve is most commonly caused by hiatil hernia,which is a displacement of part of the stomach above the diaphragm,or by a number of habits,such as eating big meals;lying down ,bending at the waist,or lying on your back after eating;eating bedtime snacks;eating citrus,tomato,chocolate,mint,garlic,onions,spicy and fatty food;drinking alcohol,soda,coffee or tea;smoking;pregnancy;taking aspirin,ibuprofen or blood pressure medication.Age is also a predsiposing factor in developing GERD.
The main symptoms of GERD are heartburn and/or regurgitation of acid into your throat or mouth,leaving a sour or bitter taste for several hours.If these happen twice or more weekly or are severe,you likely have GERD.Another common symptom of  GERD is dysphagia,a feeling of fullness in the throat when you swallow food.
If left untreated,GERD may eventually damage your esophagus.
Your physician may order tests such as endoscopy,a thin lighted tube with a camera on the end that is passed down your throat as far as your stomach so your upper digestive tract may be examined.
If over the counter antacids such as Rolaids or Mylanta don't work,in addition to dietary changes,other medications may be suggested or prescribed,such as Prilosec or Zantac.
In the worst cases,a surgery called fundoplication is available.This involves creating an artificial valve using the top of your stomach.It is a last resort.
Do not mix medications such as different antacids or antacids with other types of GERD medicines on your own.Consult your physician if you have severe GERD that doesn't respond to basic treatment with an antacid or if there is a question about what you have.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Shop Talk:Christmas Eve

In observance of Christmas Eve,the normal business post for Monday nights will not be published.
Northern Maryland received about 2 inches of snow Monday afternoon and evening,ensuring a relatively rare White Christmas-considered highly desirable by many Americans.More wintry weather is expected for Christmas night through Wednesday night.
Liberty Mountain Resort in Southcentral Pennsylvania had been making snow Sunday night,and Monday's natural snow will greatly enhance the opening of their ski trails.
Christmas Eve highway traffic was light to moderate.
Retailers reported brisk bargain hunting on the final day of the shopping season.
Happy Christmas,dear readers,if you are celebrating.Russia will celebrate Christmas on January 7.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Asia This Day:Billabong Gets New Bid;Putin in India

Major central banks have been injecting liquidity into the market.We think we're gonna see major buying of the Australian dollar,driving it up to 1.11,said Todd Elmer of Citigroup.
Billabong International has received a takeover bid of  A527 million dollars/US554 million from Sycamore Partners and Paul Naude.The Australian apparel group had cut its earnings forecast by up to 49% on weaker than expected holiday sales and restructuring costs.
Australian Minister of Trade Craig Emerson said the country's budget surplus should return by 2014.Although it would be unlikely,a surplus could possibly happen as early as 2013 if household spending continues to improve.There are good signs in car sales,the housing market and the retail industry.
The Labour government had originally promised to achieve a budget surplus in 2013,but has just revised the pledge to 2014,based on a shortfall in tax revenue because of global economic weakness,lower commodity prices and a higher Australian dollar.
The ASX 200 index closed at 4635.20,up 0.25% in shortened Christmas Eve trading.Australian stocks are at their highest valuation in 17 months,but trading volume was extremely light-off 70% in the pre-holiday session.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a one day trip to India.India is Russia's leading arms customer and Mr.Putin will sign 7 billion dollars in arms deals on his visit,including outright purchases and joint development plans.The Nifty Fifty stock index rose 0.48% in early Monday trading.
iShares Australia Index Fund(EWA),iShares Nifty 50 Index Fund(INDY)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is It Too Late To Get A Flu Shot

The seasonal influenza season began in October and peaks in January and February.If you haven't gotten yours yet,it's still worthwhile to do so.I got mine on Tuesday,and by Thursday most of the minimal soreness at the injection site had disappeared.
The shot is on average about 60% effective at preventing the potentially deadly disease in a given person.Between 1976-2006,the number of flu-related deaths ranged from 3,000-49,000 a year in the US,according to the CDC.
Even when it doesn't prevent the flu,the vaccine tends to lessen the severity of the symptoms.It is recommended for everyone age 6 months and up.The shot protects against 3 strains of flu,selected annually.
Besides the coventional injection,there are tiny needle and inhalable FluMist versions.The FluMist version is for those up to age 49.There is also a super version for those 65 and up,to make up for their weaker immune systems
Many pharmacies are administering the shot,along with doctor's offices.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Should You Be Holding Intel Shares

Many analysts have downgraded Intel,but First Eagle Funds is long the stock.Our crystal ball is foggy at best at First Eagle,admits Matthew McLennan,CFA,portfolio manager of Global,Overseas and US Value Funds at First Eagle.With regards to Intel,this is a business that's priced for a fade,not growth.We have some buffer in the capital structure strength and the receding of AMD.
This is a business that's always been cyclical.One thing's for sure:Intel has unparalleled manufacturing facilities.We're very conservative investors.Whilst there are pressures in the PC market,some of these companies have a position in services as well.The yields on these securities are returning twice what Treasuries are.
Intel,Microsoft and Cisco have an entire services infrastructure built around them.
Matthew McClennan was born in Papua New Guinea and grew up in Queensland,Australia.He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with first class honours from the University of Queensland.He had formerly been employed with Goldman Sachs.
Intel(INTC),Microsoft(MSFT),Cisco Systems(CSCO),Advanced Micro Devices(AMD)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Asia This Day:Japan's New Prime Minister;Has China Turned The Corner

Shinzo Abe(pronounced ah-bay) has been elected the new Prime Minister of Japan.His LDP Party has a 61% majority in Parliament;with a partner,the LDP will have a 68% majority.Mr.Abe had served as Prime Minister three years ago.
The question now is how they use that majority,said Mohammed Apabhai of Citi Global Markets Asia.The priority at the moment is actually controlling deflation and getting growth back on track.Reflation trades include insurers,banks and real estate.
Abe will restore nuclear power to provide affordable energy to the Japanese economy.Only two of Japan's nuclear reactors are currently on line,down to public outrage after last year's tsunami and nuclear accident.Japan's debt to GDP ratio is 237%,the highest in the world.
It's undeniable that China has really turned the corner.There's a lot of scepticism about that from clients internationally.The upside in the rest of Asia is actually a lot higher.
The Chinese Politburo will keep policy stable with adjustments as needed,accepting slower growth.It will fully deepen reforms and firmly promote opening up,the Xinhua news agency reported.
China has submitted documentation on its territorial dispute with Japan in the South China Sea to the United Nations.
Indian investors are awaiting the Royal Bank of India interest rate decision.The Nifty Fifty futures index was down 0.08%.
Australia is in talks with Sri Lanka to curb people smuggling.
The Nikkei index was up a strong 1.54% on Abe's election,while the MSCI Asia Pacific index was up by only 0.04% in early Monday trading.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Commentary:No Time To Be Cutting Defence

If America goes over the fiscal cliff,a massive 1.2 trillion dollar across the board spending cut will go into force on January 1,along with tax increases.The  Department of Defense will take a disproportionate hit of about 500 million dollars,on top of 478 million dollars in cuts it is already sustaining.That's almost a trillion dollars wrung out of the defence budget.
Considering all the threats in the world today,these huge reductions could not be more ill-timed.North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile this week points this up.Eventually,this could become a nuclear warhead delivery system capable of reaching the Pacific Northwest.The technology may also be shared with Iran,which is developing its own nuclear programme.
An uncertain number of US troops will remain in Afghanistan following the official withdrawal of 2014.
In Africa and in Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula,al-Qaida militants are quite active,holding territory and staging attacks.
Both Iran and al-Qaida are active in Syria,currently wracked by civil war.
China is roiling the waters of the South China Sea with its territorial ambitions and remains a threat to Taiwan.The US has just begun repositioning its forces to be more present in the Pacific,but this new policy would be hindered by the looming budget cuts.
Thus one of the biggest threats to global security is the current inability of Congress and the President to reach a budgetary agreement.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Canada Approves Foreign Energy Takeovers

The Canadian government has approved the controversial 15.1 billion dollar takeover of oil and gas firm Nexen by China's state-owned offshore oil company CNOOC.Restrictions were placed on any future foreign deals,however.
To be blunt,said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper,Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments,only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead.Foreign state control of oil sands assets has reached the point at which further foreign state control would not be of net benefit to Canada.
From now on,state-owned enterprises may only own minority stakes in Canadian enterprises,except in exceptional circumstances.
What we are doing here is preventing a situation which I see developing and have been worried about for a while now,where in the name of an open,globally competitive economy,we could see the transformation of our economy into a state-run economy-just a state-run economy not run by our own government.
Besides the CNOOC deal,Canada also approved the takeover of gas company Progress Energy Resources by Malaysia's state-owned firm Petronas for 5.3 billion dollars.
The CNOOC deal is the Chinese firm's largest offshore acquisition ever.CNOOC is also asking the US government to review its bid for Nexen's Gulf of Mexico assets.
Canada needs about 657 billion dollars of investment in the natural resources sector in the next decade.There were no Canadian bidders for Nexen.
CNOOC made significant commitments on transparency,employment and capital investments in exchange for government approval of the deal.
Nexen,Inc.(NXY),CNOOC Ltd(CEO),Petronas Gas Bhd(KUL:PETGAS)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Asia This Day:Chinese Investors Make Biggest Ever US Purchase;Tensions Mount With Vietnam

In an historic move,an investing consortium has made the biggest ever US purchase by Chinese investors.The Chinese group has acquired an 80.1% stake in AIG's International Lease Finance Corporation subsidiary,which is a plane-leasing operation,for 4.23 billion dollars.
IFLC is China's largest aircraft lessor,with a 30% market share.The sale is part of AIG CEO Robert Benmosche's plan to reduce the company's debt and refocus on its insurance business.The firm will be concentrating on its global property-casualty insurance and domestic life insurance lines.
Japan's GDP numbers show the country remains mired in a recession.The Nikkei stock index fell 0.5% in response.
China's November export figures rose 2.9%,which was less than expected,while Australia's iron ore exports rose on Chinese demand.
Indian stock futures were up on policy reform expectations.
Vietnamese marched in the streets to protest Chinese claims on territory in the South China Sea.Vietnam had charged that  two Chinese ships harassed and damaged one of its oil and gas survey vessels in the South China Sea,cutting its cables.The incident occurred  off Vietnam's central coast in the last week of November.The Vietnamese foreign ministry said China must respect Vietnam's sovereignty and immediately stop all these wrong actions,and make sure they are not repeated.
Asian shares were mostly higher in early Monday trading,with the MSCI Asia Pacific index up 0.33%.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Vitamin D May Help Prevent Pancreatic Cancer

A new study shows a relationship between vitamin D intake and pancreatic cancer risk.The study appeared in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.It suggests that those with an adequate amount of vitamin D in their diets or supplements have a lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
The sixteen-year study surveyed more than 122,000 adults.Those who ingested 150-299 units of vitamin D a day had a 22% lower risk of getting pancreatic cancer than those who got less.People age 70 or younger should get 600 units a day;those over 70 should get 800 units,according to the Institute of Medicine.
A leading supplement for those 50+,Centrum Silver(R),has 500 units of vitamin D in it.
Among natural sources of vitamin D are oily fish such as salmon and tuna;eggs;fortified milk,orange juice and cereal;and at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight a day.The elderly may need to supplement these natural means of getting vitamin D in consultation with their physician.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff:What We Need Now

If nothing is done by the President and Congress,big tax increases and spending cuts will take effect January 1-the fiscal cliff.It would be a crash course in fiscal reform that could cause another US recession and disrupt the global economy.
We need to do a down payment and make a bridge to the Grand Bargain,according to David Walker,former Comptroller General of the United States during the Clinton and Bush administrations.We do need to broaden the tax rate and lower the top marginal rate to 25%.
The Grand Bargain would include comprehensive tax reform and entitlements reform.
Here's what we need:to avoid the fiscal cliff with a down payment for credibility.Think about limiting deductions for the wealthy to charitable contributions alone if you really need to.The administration and Republicans are not gonna agree on a Grand Bargain.That cannot be done in a lame duck,hurried fashion.
I'm concerned that the wings are starting to mobilise,the far left and far right.Ultimately,we've got to get debt to GDP down to reasonable levels and keep it there.
David M. Walker,61, is a CPA and was US Comptroller General from 1998-2008.From 2008-10,he was head of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.In 2010,he founded the Comeback America Initiative to promote fiscal responsibility.
A frequent chat show guest,Mr.Walker is author of the bestselling book "Comeback America:Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Asia This Day:Sharp Unloads Plants;Vietnam Worried About China

Japanese electronics titan Sharp is proceeding with restructuring plans.The company had said it was facing a material possibility of liquidation,with a record four year loss.Three of its TV factories were finally sold to Apple outsourcer FoxConn,the Sankei newspaper quoted sources as saying.
The assembly plants in China,Malaysia and Mexico went for approximately 667 million dollars.Sharp had sought approval for the sale from its banks on September 26.The company is also shedding 10,000 jobs as part of its survival strategy.
Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said that economic force should not be applied to settle China's teritorial disputes with its Southeast Asian neighbours.There has been talk within ASEAN that,in accordance with international law,the normal process of commerce and economic relations would be better than using trade sanctions.
Vietnam plans to meet with other Southeast Asian nations to discuss how to resolve territorial disputes with China,which has threatened to intercept their ships in the South China Sea.
Asian markets were up in Monday morning trading,hitting a seven-month high on good manufacturing and service sector reports out of China,which suggest that the five-year plan growth rate of 7% will be exceeded.New factory orders continued to pick up.
India's manufacturing hit a five-month high,according to its Purchasing Managers Index.Oil prices were also up to a nearly two-year high on the Chinese data.China consumes 11% of the world's oil supply.
The MSCI Asia Pacific index rose 0.44%.