Archive for September, 2010

Chinese demand helps lift Pernod Ricard profits (AP)

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 | Finance News

PARIS – Pernod Ricard SA said Thursday that demand for Martell cognac in China and Chivas Regal scotch in Latin America helped lift full-year net profit by 1 percent.

The Paris-based company, known for its anise-flavored aperitifs as well as Beefeater gin and recently acquired Absolut vodka, reported net profit of euro951 million in the year to end-June, up from euro945 million a year earlier.

However, revenue fell 2 percent to euro7.08 billion in the period, hurt by an unfavorable exchange rate.

Growing demand in Asia, a rebound in Russia and a modest recovery in the U.S. compensated for continuing difficulties in Europe, where consumers in struggling Spain, Greece and Ireland are shying away from premium-priced liquor.

Pernod said its top performers over the year were Martell and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Martell reported "outstanding" growth in Asia, particularly China, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Jameson reported strong results from the "lost barrel" TV campaign in the United States, and accelerated growth in South Africa after a TV ad campaign during the football World Cup. There was a slight decline in its home market of Ireland, Pernod Ricard said.

The weakest of its top 14 brands were Mumm champagne and Ballantine's, both of which recorded a fall in sales and volumes. Mumm suffered from the economic slump with declines in most markets except Japan. Ballantine's noted a decline in its superior quality liquors.

The company's chief executive Pierre Pringuet described the results as "solid."

Looking ahead, he said the company's priorities "remain the development of our premium strategic brands, a continuing strong marketing investment level, and the reduction in group debt."

The group will give a detailed financial outlook Nov. 10.

Pernod's share price was down 2.2 percent at euro61.35 in Paris midday trading.

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Oil hovers below $74 as Asian stocks gain (AP)

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 | Finance News

SINGAPORE – Oil prices hovered below $74 a barrel Thursday in Asia, consolidating a big gain the day before as an Asian and U.S. stock market rally buoyed investor confidence.

Benchmark crude for October delivery was down 4 cents to $73.87 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.99 to close at $73.91 on Wednesday.

Most major Asian stock markets rose Thursday, extending gains from the U.S. where the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 2.5 percent. Investors took heart from encouraging manufacturing numbers from the U.S. and China, signs the global economy may not slow in the second half as much as previous anticipated.

Oil traders brushed off another big rise in crude inventories last week reported by the Energy Department on Wednesday. Some analysts say the increase in inventories reflects overproduction by U.S. refineries rather than weak demand.

"U.S. oil demand is growing at a healthy pace and incoming data is consistent with a picture of steady recovery," Barclays Capital said in a report. "The seasonal increase in U.S. refinery activity has proved to be much larger than usual."

In other Nymex trading in October contracts, heating oil fell 0.61 cents to $2.035 a gallon and gasoline dropped 0.72 cent to $1.882 a gallon. Natural gas for October delivery fell 1.1 cents to $3.751 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude was down 54 cents at $75.81 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

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Oil slips as investors eye U.S. jobs reports (Reuters)

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 | Finance News

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil dipped on Thursday as investors turned their attention to upcoming U.S. employment reports, following gains of almost 3 percent a day earlier after positive manufacturing data lifted spirits across markets.

U.S. crude for October delivery slipped 27 cents to $73.64 a barrel by 0346 GMT (11:46 p.m. EDT on Wednesday), after a jump of $1.99 on Wednesday. ICE Brent dipped 34 cents to $76.01.

Manufacturing in top oil consumers the United States and China accelerated in August, reports showed on Wednesday, raising hopes record petroleum stockpiles would fall and reviving confidence across markets.

The focus over the next two days was set to turn to lagging U.S. employment indicators, including weekly jobless claims on Thursday. The nation's nonfarm payrolls probably fell for a third straight month in August, a Reuters survey showed, ahead of a monthly report due on Friday.

"The market was just seeking optimism and this came from strong manufacturing data," said Serene Lim, a Singapore-based oil analyst at ANZ.

"Some traders started the new month with new positions. It was a buying opportunity, especially for those who were bullish in the long term. However, the market will be in a wait-and-see mode especially before the payrolls report this Friday."

U.S. private employers unexpectedly cut 10,000 jobs in August, a report by payrolls processor ADP showed on Wednesday.

But markets shrugged off the negative news from the labor market, after Institute for Supply Management data on Wednesday showed U.S. factory activity rose in August for a 13th straight month.

Investors had been expecting the ISM reading to show a decline in manufacturing from July, which would have fit with recent data showing a slowdown in U.S. growth.

Wednesday's rally in oil prices was earlier triggered by data showing China's manufacturing industry accelerated in August, expanding for an 18th consecutive month.

Japan's Nikkei average rose 1.6 percent on Thursday, moving further away from a 16-month low touched the previous day, after the U.S. and Chinese manufacturing data eased investor worries about the global economy. (.T)

Global stocks posted their biggest percentage gain this summer on Wednesday, in tandem with a broad-based commodities rally.

STOCKPILES REACH NEW RECORD

But oil market fundamentals were not as constructive. U.S. crude stockpiles rose three times as much as expected in the week to August 27, adding 3.4 million barrels, as refineries cut usage rates, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Distillate supplies fell 739,000 barrels, going against forecasts for an increase and snapping 13 straight weeks of gains, while gasoline inventories declined 212,000 barrels, roughly in line with analyst forecasts, the EIA data showed.

EIA statistics showed total U.S. petroleum stockpiles rose last week to a new high of 1.143 billion barrels, up from 1.139 billion the previous week, for the highest inventory levels since at least 1990, when the EIA began tallying weekly stocks data.

"The fundamentals will still weigh down the market," Lim said. "Cushing inventories are still relatively high."

The large build in U.S. total crude stockpiles could deepen the contango in crude markets, when front month futures trade at a discount to later months.

The spread between first- and second-month crude oil contracts ended at $1.50, narrowing from $1.60 on Tuesday, which was the widest level since early June. U.S. crude was also trading close to the biggest discount to Brent crude since May.

Tropical Depression Nine in the eastern Atlantic Ocean strengthened into Tropical Storm Gaston late on Wednesday as it continued on a westerly path that could head for the Caribbean.

Gaston was expected to gain force slowly over the next 48 hours and could become a hurricane by Sunday or Monday. Some early computer models showed it tracking into the Caribbean, but it was too early to say if it would enter the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Earl in the western Atlantic was upgraded to a Category Four hurricane again, and was expected to sideswipe the U.S. East Coast from the northern Carolinas, making landfall on Canada's Atlantic coast on Saturday.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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