KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Even before the first drops flow, Uganda's oil sector is beset by bribery allegations against officials, tax-related cases abroad that cost the government millions in legal fees, and the alleged interference of a president whose firm control of the sector worries transparency campaigners.
Uganda, which has confirmed oil deposits of about 3.5 billion barrels, wants to extract at least 1.2 billion barrels over the next three decades. That figure could rise when more oil blocks are put up for exploration later this year, potentially making Uganda one of Africa's top oil producers.
But some experts and analysts worry that the country got off to a false start and remains too politically unstable to avoid some of the mistakes made by other oil-rich but otherwise poor countries.
VIENNA (Reuters) - Alpine, the Austrian unit of Spanish construction group FCC , will hold talks with its owners on how to meet its financing needs and has many options open, Chief Executive Arnold Schiefer said.
He was responding to a newspaper report that FCC was worried about Alpine's finances and that Austria's second-biggest construction group had to come up with another 150 million euros ($192 million) this year despite reaching a deal with creditors in March.
Alpine lost 450 million euros in 2012 as it began to exit unprofitable projects abroad. Its creditors took a 150 million euro haircut in the debt restructuring this year.
In a statement issued late on Friday, Schiefer said the original plan was to raise liquidity for the main building season by selling assets, as agreed with creditors.
These sales were now under way, but could wrap up after summer should it find other ways to raise the cash it needs.
"Together with our owners FCC we will now determine in which way to meet the expected liquidity requirement - by asset sales, bridge financing via banks, cost cuts or other financing opportunities," Schiefer said.
He declined to comment on the newspaper report, which he said had not made life easier for the group. He said he would personally discuss the situation with FCC within two weeks.
He said FCC had always fully backed Alpine and had already made 200 million euros available for implementing its revamp.
"Alpine can if needed draw on more funds committed within the framework of the agreement," he added. ($1 = 0.7798 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by David Holmes)
NEW YORK (Reuters) - With the broad S&P 500 Index <.spx> gliding once again into uncharted territory and posting four straight weeks of gains, the talk of Wall Street's rally inevitably hitting a ceiling is starting to get old.</.spx>
Concerns about a technical correction have been a hot topic for weeks, especially as the rally accelerated in May - the S&P 500 is up 4.4 percent so far this month and up nearly 17 percent for the year. But as the three major U.S. stock indexes inch higher and higher to set record after record, many analysts are shrugging off the pullback worries.
"There isn't a technical level that we have in mind at this point when making decisions. The momentum is really strong, and riding along that momentum is what we should have in mind at this point," said Cam Albright, director of asset allocation at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors in Wilmington, Delaware.
The S&P 500, which rose above the 1,600 level only about two weeks ago, is now less than 40 points away from 1,700.
As the market continues its upward move, some market participants are beginning to believe that the rally is not a bubble but rather the start of a new bull market. Others argue, meanwhile, that the strong momentum is not based on fundamentals like economic data or corporate earnings but is relying heavily on easy monetary policy from global central banks.
Regardless, the consensus in the short term is that the market will avoid two of Wall Street's most popular maxims - "sell in May and go away" and "summer doldrums" - and maintain the upward momentum.
With earnings season coming to a close, next week's focus will be on the U.S. Federal Reserve. Chairman Ben Bernanke will head up to Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning to testify on the economy before the Joint Economic Committee. The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's most recent policymaking meeting on April 30-May 1 will be released on Wednesday afternoon.
Preparations for the Memorial Day holiday on May 27 will probably cut trading short, and most market action is likely to be completed by mid-week. Lighter trading volume may also trigger slightly higher market volatility.
FEAR NO MORE
Along with the S&P 500, the Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> has been setting a string of record highs. The Dow has gained 17.2 percent for the year. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> is up 15.9 percent for 2013 so far. On Friday, the Nasdaq closed at its highest level since October 2000.</.ixic></.dji>
Even at these levels, a popular options gauge shows investors are placing optimistic wagers on the stock market, positioning for the current run-up to extend for the next three months.
Earlier this week, the Credit Suisse Fear Barometer, known as the CSFB Index, fell 11.4 points over the past two weeks - the largest decline on record - and is now at a one-year low of 21.73.
The indicator essentially tracks investors' willingness to pay for downside protection with zero-premium collar trades that expire in three months, using S&P 500 index <.spx> options.</.spx>
"It's unusual to see at these levels that there are very few indications (based on options activity) that investors are expecting a pullback," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX <.vix>, Wall Street's fear gauge, is down more than 1 percent for the week.</.vix>
The options market is a popular place for investors to hedge against a sudden fall in the stock market. Among the most popular strategies are put options on the S&P 500 index, and call options on the VIX, which generally moves inversely to the S&P 500.
"Even if we see 1 (percent) to 2 percent decline, that will be just another opportunity for people to get into the market," Frederick said.
Next week's economic indicators include existing home sales for April on Wednesday, followed by weekly jobless claims and new home sales for April on Thursday, and durable goods orders for April on Friday.
In earnings, a number of retailers' results are expected next week, including Home Depot , Best Buy Co and Lowe's Companies .
(Wall St Week Ahead runs every Friday. Questions or comments on this column can be emailed to: angela.moon(at)thomsonreuters.com)
(Additional reporting by Doris Frankel; Editing by Jan Paschal)