Archive for May, 2011

Ally Financial first-quarter profit falls

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ally Financial Inc, the former General Motors Acceptance Corp, posted lower quarterly profit as it made less money from auto lending.

Ally said it earned $146 million in the quarter compared with $162 million a year earlier when it was still known as GMAC.

The company, majority-owned by the U.S. government, on March 31 filed a prospectus for an initial public offering, to allow the U.S. Treasury to begin selling its 73.8 percent stake in the company.

Taxpayers injected more than $17 billion into Ally in bailouts in 2008 and 2009 after it lost money on mortgages. The company is known for its heavily-advertised brand name

Ally had more than $172 billion of assets at the end of December, making it the 16th-largest U.S. bank holding company, according to research service SNL Financial.

(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)


Brent oil dips below $124 as dollar rises

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 | Finance News

LONDON (Reuters) – Brent crude oil dipped below $124 a barrel on Tuesday as the dollar rose from a three-year low and traders weighed the impact on the market of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's death.

The dollar index (.DXY), which tracks the dollar against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.39 percent but still not far from a near three-year low.

"Prices are still down, and that's probably because the dollar strengthening is weighing on prices," said Serene Lim, a commodities analyst with ANZ Bank in Singapore.

Brent crude for June was down $1.45 to $123.67 a barrel by 1155 GMT, extended a fall on Monday after U.S. forces killed bin Laden in Pakistan. U.S. crude lost $1.09 to $112.43. Brent had earlier dipped to $123.51.

Analysts said the potential for retaliatory attacks and turmoil in the Middle East following the death could bolster the market.

"The risk premium could even rise again if acts of revenge follow," said analysts at Commerzbank in a report. "As long as the unrest continues in Arab countries, the price of oil should not fall significantly in any case."

Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets, also said the dip would prove short-lived. "To my mind (the death of bin Laden) changes nothing about geo-political risk in the Middle East. If anything, it makes a terror attack more likely, not less as his supporters will want to carry out a revenge attack."

The United States issued security warnings to Americans worldwide, while CIA Director Leon Panetta said al Qaeda would "almost certainly" try to avenge bin Laden's death.

Olivier Jakob, an oil analyst at Petromatrix, added that the death of bin Laden didn't change anything with regard to prompt supply and demand. Supply fears have kept the oil price elevated, trading between $120-$126 over the last two weeks.

According to a Reuters survey, OPEC output fell in April as fighting in Libya and field maintenance in Angola cut supplies, despite extra oil from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

Hewson also cited India's decision to raise interest rates by a larger-than-expected 50 basis points in an attempt to battle inflation as a factor in oil's retreat.

"There are concerns that higher interest rates could be a growth killer and that could be what is weighing down oil prices. India is one of the biggest emerging economies where a lot of global growth will come from," he said.

Oil investors will also keep an eye on the latest U.S. oil inventory figures later this week.

U.S. crude oil inventories probably increased last week as imports outpaced refinery demand, a Reuters poll showed ahead of weekly industry and government reports.

On average, crude stocks were forecast to rise 1.9 million barrels in the week to April 29.

(Reporting by Alex Lawler; additional reporting by Claire Milhench in London and Francis Kan in Singapore, editing by Jane Baird)


European stocks slip after bin Laden killing

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 | Finance News

LONDON (AFP) – Europe's main stock markets slid on Tuesday, as London traders returned from a four-day holiday weekend and euphoria faded over the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, analysts said.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index fell 0.17 percent to 6,059.80 points in late morning deals, erasing earlier gains. The market was closed on Friday for Britain's royal wedding, and on Monday for a regular bank holiday.

In Paris on Tuesday, the CAC 40 index retreated 0.75 percent to 4,077.02 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 dipped 0.92 percent to 7,458.22.

French and German shares had risen on Monday in reaction, as traders sought riskier assets and mulled the possible effects on reducing instability in the world, notably in the Middle East.

"Investors are in risk-averse mode after yesterday's euphoric market reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden by US special forces," said analyst Kathleen Brooks at trading site

"Today stocks are lower and currencies at the riskier end of the FX spectrum have come under pressure as investors remain on the side lines."

In a dramatic announcement, the White House revealed on Sunday that US forces had killed the al-Qaeda chief behind the September 11, 2001 attacks, at his secret compound in Pakistan.

"Bin Laden's death has no clear implications for markets in my view and I am not sure that his death necessarily means a reduction in risk premia despite initial knee-jerk reactions," said VTB Capital economist Neil MacKinnon.

On Thursday, investor attention will return to interest rate decisions in the eurozone and Britain.

The European Central Bank is expected to keep its key interest rate at 1.25 percent, but may signal a further increase amid climbing prices in the 17-nation eurozone.

And the Bank of England was forecast to keep its key lending rate at a record low 0.50 percent amid flat economic growth.

Market watchers remain concerned that the eurozone debt crisis might threaten Spain, in the wake of bailouts for Greece and Ireland, and negotiations on a rescue for Portugal.

"Stock markets are looking a bit hung over this morning," GFT analyst David Morrison said on Tuesday.

"Any relief attached to the death of bin Laden has disappeared, and instead we are looking for a fresh catalyst to drive the markets higher.

"Equities are struggling, as traders are forced to confront the debt problems faced by the eurozone," he added.

In earlier trading on Tuesday, Asian stocks also enjoyed a mixed performance amid gloom over European debt after Wall Street failed to provide any inspiration despite an initial bounce on news that bin Laden was dead.

Sydney fell 0.84 percent and Seoul dropped 1.27 percent, while Hong Kong scraped into positive territory. Tokyo was closed for the first day of a three-day holiday.

Across the Atlantic on Monday, Wall Street slipped as investors focused on weakness in the economy, despite news of bin Laden's slaying.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated by a marginal 0.02 percent to finish at 12,807.36 points.