WEEKLY COMMENTARY 29 NOVEMBER 2010 Overview
European markets extended their losses last week amid uncertainty about the fate of peripheral Eurozone countries. Bank shares fell sharply on fears that even the highest-ranked bondholders may be faced with losses.
Bank troubles in Ireland culminated in a formal request for international aid, in which the European Union and IMF agreed to a €85 billion bail-out package. As expected, Standard and Poor’s cut its sovereign rating, while Dublin’s four-year austerity plan failed to appease investors.
Spain’s mortgage approvals declined in September for the fifth month; Italy’s retail data were weighed down by sluggish food sales; and French consumer spending fell in October because of lower demand for cars.
The Eurozone’s private sector expanded sharply in November and German business confidence rose to a 20-year high. Elsewhere, British GDP growth edged higher in the third quarter, boosted by higher exports.
In politics, Portugal’s parliament approved the austerity budget aimed at reducing public debt to 4.6% from 7.3% by the end of 2011, despite widespread protests. Germany will suspend military conscription from next July, ending a cornerstone of its post-war constitution. Sector News Basic resources: Rio Tinto expanded its Pilbara iron ore production by two billion tonnes. AMEC acquired Australian consultancy BurmanGriffiths for A$4.5 million. Consumer goods: BMW will shorten Christmas breaks to meet demand for new models. L'Oreal was among 15 retailers ordered by French lawmakers to pay €46.2m for price fixing, although the company denied the charges. Adidas will shift its advertising focus online, away from print and TV. Financials: Intesa Sanpaolo launched a bid for Polbank, the Polish unit of Eurobank Ergasias. Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria raised more than €5 billion in a share sale to help fund its purchase of a stake in Turkish lender Turkiye Garanti Bankasi. Provident Financial reported improving home credit loan sales since the start of September. Industrials: Rolls Royce won a contract from Air China to provide engines for 20 new aircraft. Schneider acquired cooling-systems maker Uniflair. Weir Group formed a joint venture to provide high-pressure pumps to China’s developing shale industry. Saint Gobain plans to build a new glass factory in Brazil to be nearer the market. Media: Daily Mail and General reported a 23% rise in annual profits, driven by cost controls, and margin improvement in its consumer businesses. Pearson will acquire a 75% stake in South Africa’s CTI Education Group for £31 million in cash. Pharmaceuticals: GlaxoSmithKline will sell its US penicillin factory and rights to its Augmentin and Amoxil brands to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. Real estate: Helical Bar’s interim operating profits fell and net debt increased. Although the outlook was subdued, the company expects buying opportunities in the coming year. Retail: Casino sold its 80.1% stake in Cativen to the Venezuelan government, keeping the remaining stake and continuing to provide operational support. Tesco said that like-for-like sales growth accelerated in Asia in the first nine weeks to end October, except for Japan. Metro sold its stores in Morocco to Label Vie. Travel and Leisure: Millennium & Copthorne raised its stake in Beijing Fortune Hotel, which owns and operates the Grand Millennium Hotel Beijing, to 70% from 30%. WEEKLY COMMENTARY 29 NOVEMBER 2010 Utilities: United Utilities posted lower half-year profits that were weighed down by price cuts and inflation. It declared an interim dividend of 10 pence and aims to pay 30 pence for the full year.
We hold all the companies highlighted above.
Indices Performance Table
WOW (US$) YTD ( US$) 26/11/2010
Source: Aberdeen Asset Managers Limited, Bloomberg, Reuters, IRESS
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Danny Pieters, president of the Belgian Senate. It is for me a privilege and a true pleasure to open this event, the importance of which transcends the mere university exchange. Indeed it is by no way a coincidence that the higher education fair and forum, hosted by Group T, is held at the 40th anniversary of the Chinese-Belgian diplomatic relations. Building upon personal contacts as well as