Archive for December, 2009

European stocks rise as Dubai concerns ease (AFP)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 | Finance News

Europe's main stock markets recovered further on Thursday, boosted by rallying banking shares as concerns about Dubai's debt crisis eased, analysts said.

In late morning European deals, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.53 percent at 5,355.36 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 gained 0.85 percent to 5,831.23 points and in Paris the CAC 40 increased by 0.88 percent to 3,829.29 points nearing the half-way stage.

The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 index of top eurozone shares won 0.80 percent to 2,900.89 points.

"The FTSE 100 has benefited from renewed interest in the banking sector," said IG Index chief market strategist David Jones.

In London, Barclays bank jumped 4.74 percent to 311.6 pence while Deutsche Bank rose 2.0 percent to 49.92 euros in Frankfurt.

The share price of French lender Societe Generale gained 2.60 percent to 48.93 euros in Paris trading.

Gulf stock markets closed slightly up on Thursday, with the initial shock waves from the Dubai debt crisis that caused heavy losses appearing to have subsided, traders said.

Qatar's Doha Securities Market closed 1.21 percent higher to rise above the psychological 7,000-point barrier, spurred by the banking sector.

The DSM added 5.3 percent on Wednesday, a day after shedding 8.3 percent on fears local companies could be exposed to the Dubai debt crisis.

The two United Arab Emirates markets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are closed for the second day on a national holiday, while the Saudi market, the largest Arab bourse, and Oman remain shut for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holidays.

Meanwhile market reaction to Dubai's credit woes has been "overstated," the head of an Abu Dhabi-controlled bank said Thursday, amid fears the Gulf city state may default on billions of dollars worth of debt.

"We are very confident and optimistic about (the regional economy)," Michael Tomalin, chief executive of National Bank of Abu Dhabi, said.

"I think the market reaction to Dubai has been very overstated."

News that conglomerate Dubai World had asked for a moratorium on tens of billions of dollars in debt sent world markets into a tailspin last week, but analysts have said oil-rich Abu Dhabi would step in to help its neighbour.

In other stock market trading on Thursday, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 index closed up 3.84 percent to 9,977.67 points, as a weaker yen sparked buying in exporter shares.

The auto sector meanwhile gained on news that Mitsubishi Motors was in talks with PSA Peugeot-Citroen about a tie-up. In European deals, the French carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen fell 0.59 percent to 24.45 euros.

Another loser on Thursday was Siemens -- the German industrial giant shedding 2.15 percent to 66.14 euros after the group suffered a net loss of one billion euros (1.5 billion dollars) in its final quarter and said worse was to come.

The group is a good gauge for activity in the global manufacturing sector, with more than 400,000 workers in 190 countries making everything from light bulbs to medical equipment, power generators and high-speed trains.

Looking ahead, Siemens forecast a five percent drop in sales for the 2009/10 fiscal year, and an operating profit of between six and 6.5 billion euros, which could represent a drop of up to 20 percent.

Wall Street closed mixed on Wednesday as investors mulled a weaker-than-anticipated survey on job losses and a cautiously optimistic tone from the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average drifted down 0.18 percent to close at 10,452.68 points in a choppy session a day after the blue-chip index rallied to a 14-month closing high.

The Nasdaq composite gained 0.42 percent to 2,185.03 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was virtually flat at 1,109.24


Filing: Fired CEO claims NC security co. broke law (AP)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 | Finance News

RALEIGH, N.C. – The fired former chief executive of Law Enforcement Associates, a maker of security gear for police and military customers worldwide, has claimed the Raleigh-based company violated U.S. export and insider trading laws, the company disclosed in an SEC filing.

Law Enforcement Associates reported on the allegations in a filing Tuesday to the Securities and Exchange Commission and dismissed the claims as baseless. The company had fired Paul Feldman as CEO, president and treasurer in August, citing insubordination, poor performance and other issues. Feldman remains on the company's board of directors.

LEA said in its filing that it didn't believe Feldman's allegations and doesn't believe they "will have any material effect upon the financial statements or other information contained in its reports to the SEC."

"Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, management has engaged separate independent legal counsel to conduct an investigation of all allegations and to defend the Company in these matters," LEA said in its SEC filing.

The maker of under-car inspection systems, explosive detection kits and other gear for police and military forces, is chaired by a powerful state senator, Democrat Tony Rand of Fayetteville.

LEA said Feldman's claims were contained in a Nov. 17 letter to the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety & Health Administration. The company filed a copy of the letter with its SEC filing.

Separately, Rand said the company felt obligated to report the letter's accusations even though he called those the expressions of a disgruntled former executive.

Rand has been chairman of LEA's board since 2003. He plans to resign his state Senate seat later this month to become chairman of the state parole commission.

LEA was founded by John Carrington, a former Republican state senator from Wake County.

Feldman said he initially went to the government in December 2007 believing that LEA may have violated export laws by working with a second company in which Carrington had an ownership interest, Safe Source Inc., to develop export markets in Latin America.

Safe Source Inc. has described itself in state business records as a distributor of law enforcement equipment, mainly in Latin America.

Carrington pleaded guilty in 2005 to violating U.S. export laws when Sirchie Finger Print Laboratories, a company he once headed and that spun off LEA in 2001, illegally shipped more than $1.2 million in equipment to China through middlemen. Carrington agreed to a denial of export privileges for five years.

Feldman said he warned the LEA directors against the company doing business subsequently with Safe Source because of Carrington's export ban. Feldman said he, another LEA director, and a company attorney discussed their concerns in January 2008 with the federal commerce agent who had investigated Carrington's case.

The same month, U.S. Commerce Department export enforcement agents raided Sirchie offices, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported last year. Agents were looking for evidence that Carrington was involved in exporting after agreeing to the ban, according to a federal search warrant.

The fired CEO's letter said he also told federal prosecutors in Raleigh that Rand had engaged in insider trading and efforts to manipulate LEA's stock price, according to the filing.

Feldman was fired for insubordination, failure to properly communicate with the board, and poor performance, LEA has said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh and Carrington's attorney, Wade Smith, declined comment. Calls seeking comment were not returned by the FBI spokeswoman in Charlotte. A spokesman for Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Commerce Department, also did not return a call seeking comment.


MSU: Michigan population loss cost $4.4 billion (AP)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 | Finance News

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has lost $1.9 billion in economic activity and $2.5 billion in home equity value in three years because of population declines in 63 of its 83 counties, according to a Michigan State University study.

"When people leave town, so does their economic activity," lead author Soji Adelaja said in a statement. "This is especially true in a service economy, which depends upon people providing and needing services."

Service jobs in Michigan generated $208.2 billion in income in 2007, while manufacturing generated $54.1 billion, according to the report this week from the university's Land Policy Institute.

Michigan and Rhode Island were the only states to lose population in 2006-08, the report said. Michigan lost about 80,000 people in that time, and Rhode Island lost about 2,000, it said.

Michigan had about 10 million residents in 2008, about 90,000 less than it had in 2005, according to a Census Bureau estimate.

The Michigan State report analyzed the economic effect of the population change in the 63 Michigan counties that lost residents from 2005 to 2008.

The study estimated the counties lost about 16,000 jobs, $585 million in wages and $346 million in rent and other income from property as a result of the population decline.

Michigan is expected to lose 1 million jobs this decade, with about a third of those lost this year alone, according to a November report from the Pew Center on the States. About 268,000 of the lost jobs will be in the auto industry, the report said.

With more young people leaving the state for better opportunities elsewhere, Michigan's population will continue to age and its relative wealth decline, the Pew report said.