Archive for August, 2008

GM to invest $200 million in India engine plant (Reuters)

Thursday, August 28th, 2008 | Finance News

MUMBAI (Reuters) -
General Motors Corp (GM.N) said on
Thursday it would invest more than $200 million in a powertrain
plant in India, as the troubled U.S. carmaker aims to double
its share of a fast-growing but increasingly competitive
market.

The facility, which will be located in Talegaon in western
Maharashtra state at the site of GM's second vehicle plant in
India, will have an annual capacity of 160,000 units that can
be expanded to 300,000 units, GM said in a statement.

The plant will make petrol and diesel engines and is
expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2010, it said.

"We cannot remain a global industry leader without a strong
presence in India," its India head Karl Slym said at a news
conference to announce the signing of a memorandum of
understanding
with the state government.

"This will enable us to capture more opportunities in one
of the fastest growing vehicle markets in the world," he said.

GM, which makes the Chevrolet-badged Tavera, Optra, Aveo
and Spark in a plant in western Gujarat state, will have a
capacity to make 140,000 vehicles in the new Talegaon car
plant, taking its India capacity to more than 225,000 units.

"This is just one of a number of investments GM has made
over the course of the last few years in emerging markets
around the world and is an important component of GM's global
strategy," Slym said, adding India investments have exceeded $1
billion.

The U.S. carmaker expects to double its market share in
India to 10 percent by 2010.

GM will launch a new small car in India in the second half
of 2009, Slym said, but it has no plan to take on Tata Motors'
(TAMO.BO) mini Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car and
scheduled for launch in October.

Bajaj Auto (BAJA.BO) is building a similarly priced
100,000-rupee ($2,283) car with Renault (RENA.PA) and Nissan
Motor Co (7201.T), while Toyota Motor (7203.T) will start
production of a low-cost car in India in 2010.

Annual passenger vehicle sales in India are forecast to
expand to more than 2 million units by 2010, with small cars
accounting for more than two-thirds of sales.

Maruti Suzuki India (MRTI.BO), Hyundai Motor (005380.KS)
and Tata Motors lead the market for small cars now.

GM's rival Ford Motor Co (F.N) said in May it had started
operations at its engine assembly plant in Chennai in southern
India, with an eventual capacity of 250,000 units.

($1=43.7 rupees)

(Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)

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Oil rises above $119 on storm fears (Reuters)

Thursday, August 28th, 2008 | Finance News

TOKYO (Reuters) -
Oil rose for a fourth straight day to
above $119 a barrel on Thursday, on fears Tropical Storm Gustav
may hit the Gulf of Mexico after it morphs into a major
hurricane, crippling the heart of U.S. offshore production.

Crude for October delivery rose 93 cents to $119.08 a
barrel by 0656 GMT, after earlier hitting an intraday high of
$119.25 and chalking a gain of $3.56 over the past three
sessions. London Brent crude was up $1.03 cents at $117.25 a
barrel.

Gustav is expected to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast around Monday
as the first major hurricane to threaten U.S. energy
installations there since Katrina and Rita in 2005, and about
85 percent of U.S. offshore oil and gas production could be in
its path.

AccuWeather said Gustav could strengthen into a Category 4
or 5 storm over the Gulf -- home to a quarter of U.S. crude oil
production
and 15 percent of the nation's natural gas output.

Shell Oil Co, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico's largest producer,
said its oil production would be affected as early as Thursday
as it evacuated all workers from offshore operations. Gustav
could shut down 85 percent of U.S. production platforms in the
Gulf, private forecaster Planalytics said.

"It looks as though the hurricane is on track to inflicting
damage," said Ken Hasegawa, an analyst at broker Newedge in
Tokyo, adding the storm is the only major reason behind the
extended gains in oil prices. "It would be very difficult to be
in a short position today and tomorrow."

Hasegawa added oil prices could surpass last week's high of
$122.04 by the end of day.

"This is the time of the year that (hurricane) premiums can
be put into the market, $10 to $15 a barrel," said Peter
McGuire, managing director of Commodity Warrants Australia.
"(There is the) Labour Day holiday on Monday, and the market
will be shut. There's a lot of nervousness in the market."

McGuire said oil could hit around $130 over the next week
and a half on hurricane worries. Oil was last at that level
five weeks ago.

Analysts say U.S. companies could be forced to draw on oil
inventories
to compensate for disruptions.

U.S. government data showed an unexpected, 100,000 barrel
drop in U.S. crude inventories last week, against forecasts of
a 1 million barrel rise.

The dollar slipped from a six-month high against the euro
on Thursday after comments by European Central Bank officials
the previous day scaled back speculation about an ECB rate cut.

Traders were also eyeing an OPEC meeting scheduled for
September 9 in Vienna as well as escalating tensions between
Russia and the West after U.S. President George W. Bush
condemned Russia for recognizing breakaway regions in Georgia.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday said oil
prices
were fair, and the nation's energy minister said OPEC
should keep output steady or make cuts at its next meeting in
September.

(Editing by Ben Tan)

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CFTC inspector starts probe into oil report: paper (Reuters)

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 | Finance News

(Reuters) -
The Inspector General for the U.S.
commodity-futures regulator has officially begun an
investigation into an inter-agency report on commodity markets,
the Wall Street Journal said citing a person close to the
matter.

Earlier in the month four U.S. senators had sent a letter
to Inspector General Roy Lavik questioning the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission
's role in an inter-agency task force
interim report that said "supply and demand factors" were
responsible for the surge in fuel prices.

The interim task-force report, which came out just days
ahead of a Senate vote on the bill, said skyrocketing energy
prices were the result of supply-and-demand fundamentals and
not speculation.

The senators, including senior members of the Energy and
Natural Resources Committee, allege that the CFTC knowingly
included "seriously flawed" data and the timing was
"suspicious."

The Inspector General was taking the issue "very seriously"
and was conducting interviews in a number of CFTC offices, the
paper said citing a person close to the matter.

No one at CFTC was immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Greg
Mahlich)

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