28 April 2006 13:27 [Source: ICIS news]
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL?xml:namespace>
Intel promises sweeping overhaul amid PC slowdown, rival's gains
Intel, facing surprisingly stiff competition from its main rival and slowing computer sales, said it plans a sweeping restructuring of its operations after a 90-day internal review. The move suggested Intel management is taking seriously a humbling reversal of fortunes in recent months. Despite Intel's longstanding dominance in computer chips, its main rival, Advanced Micro Devices, has made steady gains lately with technology improvements and aggressive marketing, while the market for personal computers has quickly cooled after one of Intel's best years ever.
Smaller families in Mexico may stir US job market
Most Mexicans are having far fewer children than a generation ago. The sweeping demographic shift has fostered hope that someday Mexico will produce a healthy middle class, which could have a big impact on the US economy.
ADM chooses an energy-savvy outsider as its new CEO
Archer Daniels Midland, placing a big bet on the business of turning farm crops into fuel and chemicals, shattered company tradition by appointing a woman and energy-savvy outsider as its new chief executive officer (CEO). After a seven-month search, directors of the grain-processing giant here named 53-year-old Patricia Woertz, a former executive vice president at Chevron, as CEO, president and a director.
Illegal immigrants skip work amid unfounded rumours of roundup
Thousands of illegal immigrants across the US stayed away from work and school, skipped medical appointments and scrapped purchases this week as rumours spread that authorities are rounding up undocumented residents. The rising panic is fallout from last week's move by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to crack down on employers who purposely hire undocumented immigrants.
US economy still expanding at rapid pace
The national economy continues to speed ahead, with families and businesses spending money at an impressive pace. Forecasters expect the Commerce Department to report this (Friday) morning that the economy grew at a rate of around 5% in the first quarter, the biggest increase since 2003.
Melee in Cairo reveals stress in government
Thousands of riot police officers sealed off access to Egypt's High Court on Thursday, beating and arresting protesters who had turned out to support two judges facing a disciplinary panel because they had accused the government of election fraud. The huge show of force, appearing larger even than what was deployed in the Sinai after four bombings there this week, seemed to signal that President Hosni Mubarak's government had reached a breaking point over shows of dissent.
China raises rates to slow its economy
China's central bank raised lending rates on Thursday for the first time in a year and a half, in a move by Chinese leaders to rein in the world's fastest-growing economy. The action aims to slow a spectacular surge in investment and it may potentially brake China's voracious appetite on world markets for oil and other commodities. The effectiveness of somewhat higher interest rates in slowing growth, however, remains to be seen. The People's Bank of China, the central bank, said that it was raising the benchmark lending rates on one-year loans by 27-hundredths of a percentage point, to 5.85%.
Gazprom makes energy deal with BASF
Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, signed a major deal on Thursday with an energy trading unit of the German chemical holding company BASF, advancing the Russian company's expansion into the European retail market. The deal is the latest in a series of business moves in Europe by Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer.
Profits, prices spur oil outrage
ExxonMobil reported $8.4bn (Euro6.77bn) in first quarter profit yesterday (Thursday), as members of Congress outraged over high gasoline prices hastened to propose measures that would boost taxes on oil firms, open new areas to drilling and provide rebates to taxpayers but would not necessarily alter prices at the pumps. The earnings outstripped the oil giant's profit in the first quarter of last year. Given current oil market conditions, analysts said, that puts ExxonMobil on track to break the $36bn record profit it made last year.
Conflict stirs up confusion on border of Chad, Sudan
Chadian government troops are posted at key points along the border to halt what they say is a revolt by rebels based in Sudan. Chad blames the Sudanese, saying they back the insurrection, an allegation that Sudan denies. Civilians are caught in a conflict so confusing that they - and even the combatants - have trouble telling who is fighting whom.
A campaign to tighten executive pay
After years of complaining about sky-high executive pay packages, this year shareholder activists are finally getting some traction in their efforts to do something about the issue. The issue will come up today (Friday) at the annual meeting of Merrill Lynch, where chief executive Stanley O'Neal took home $37.5m (Euro30m) last year, including $2m in long-term incentive pay. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is sponsoring a resolution calling for an annual up-or-down vote on the company's pay plan for top executives. Though the vote would be nonbinding, it would give shareholders a way to make their views clear, advocates argue.
Bernanke: Fed rate hikes may pause
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress yesterday (Thursday) that he and his central bank colleagues may pause in the process of raising interest rates to restrain inflation but that would not necessarily mean they were finished. Stocks rallied and the dollar's value fell after financial-market investors and analysts bet that the Fed is likely to lift its benchmark short-term interest rate once more next month and then rest, after raising it steadily higher for nearly two years.
Harper wins softwood truce
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has delivered what two Liberal predecessors could not: a truce in the five-year softwood lumber dispute with the US that will buy peace for nearly a decade. Canada and the US agreed yesterday (Thursday) to a seven-year deal - with the option of renewing for two more - that ends one of this nation's costliest trade wars and returns $4bn (Euro3.22bn) in US-collected duties to Canadian firms.
Canadians taking flak over Afghan gun battle
Canadian soldiers are struggling to persuade their Afghan allies that they behaved properly during a pitched battle on 14 April that ripped through this district about 25km southwest of Kandahar city. Afghan police say nine of their colleagues were killed in the fight, and they criticize the Canadians for staying on the fringes while the poorly equipped Afghans endured several hours of running battle among the grapevines, wheat fields and mud compounds of Sangisar.
Dodge sounds alarm about inflation
Inflationary pressure in Canada is probably at the point where it will start to boil over unless the Bank of Canada takes action, central banker David Dodge said yesterday (Thursday) in what was among his most hawkish comments of late. The comments came at the end of a day of frantic currency trading, during which markets bid up the Canadian dollar above US 89 cents, a level that has not been reached in more than 14 years.
CEO turnover trips up Canadian Tire
Succession planning gone awry led to the early departure of Canadian Tire's chief executive officer (CEO) yesterday (Thursday). Wayne Sales stepped down as CEO, effective immediately, making way for Tom Gauld to come out of retirement and take his place after less than two months in retirement.
Kirchner rallies governors to Gualeguaychu
President Néstor Kirchner and governors from across the country will meet in Gualeguaychú on Friday, 5 May, to express support for the Entre Ríos province town's environmental case against two paper pulp mills under construction in the Uruguayan town of Fray Bentos. The announcement was made yesterday (Thursday) by the Entre Ríos provincial government on the same day Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez accused Argentina of "discriminating and isolating" his country.
Trade surplus narrows in March
Argentina's trade surplus narrowed in March to $814m (Euro656m), from $852m in the same month a year ago as import growth outstripped exports, the Economy Ministry said yesterday (Thursday). The March surplus exceeded the median forecast of $700m in survey of seven analysts this week.
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