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July 24, 2014

Caterpillar 2Q profit rises, revenue declines

Filed under: Finance, management — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 10:44 pm

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Caterpillar’s second-quarter net income rose 4.1 percent even as revenue slipped.

The construction equipment company’s adjusted profit topped Wall Street’s view, but revenue fell short. It also boosted its full-year earnings forecast.

Caterpillar — which also makes power systems that include large electrical generators and locomotive engines — earned $999 million, or $1.57 per share, in the quarter. A year earlier it earned $960 million, or $1.45 per share.

Removing restructuring costs, earnings were $1.69 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $1.51 per share.

Revenue for the Peoria, Illinois, company dropped 3.2 percent to $14.15 billion from $14.62 billion. Wall Street expected $14.45 billion in revenue.

Caterpillar Inc.’s stock fell $1.97, or 1.8 percent, to $106.41 in premarket trading Thursday about an hour ahead of the market open.

The company dealt with softer sales in its resource industries segment, as there was lower demand for mining equipment.

Sales fell in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. This was somewhat offset by higher sales in North America. Sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa were basically flat.

Looking ahead, Caterpillar now anticipates a 2014 adjusted profit of $6.20 per share, up from a previous outlook of $6.10 per share. Analysts foresee $6.18 per share.

The company also narrowed its revenue guidance for the year. Caterpillar now expects revenue in a range of $54 billion to $56 billion. Previously it predicted revenue between $53.2 billion and $58.8 billion.

Wall Street is calling for $56.16 billion in revenue.

Caterpillar plans to buy back about $2.5 billion shares in the third quarter. The stock repurchase is part of a $10 billion buyback program approved by its board in the first quarter. Caterpillar repurchased about $1.7 billion shares in the first quarter.

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July 23, 2014

U.S. Said Poised to Label MetLife as Systemically Important - Bloomberg

Filed under: Business, Loans — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 2:08 am

U.S. regulators are poised to label MetLife Inc. (MET) a potential threat to the financial system, subjecting the insurer to oversight by the Federal Reserve, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

A decision by the Financial Stability Oversight Council may come as early as July 31, when the panel is tentatively planning to meet, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn

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July 21, 2014

Illinois BCBS members offered Divvy membership discounts

Filed under: Prices, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 4:48 pm

Three months into Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois’s sponsorship of Chicago’s bike share program, Divvy, the health insurance provider will begin offering Divvy membership discounts.

The annual price of a Divvy membership, which allows people to check out bicycles at about 300 locations around the city for unlimited rides up to 30 minutes long, is $75. The BCBS discount, starting Aug. 1, will be $65, the company announced Monday.

In a press release, BCBS officials said the discount is meant to incentivize healthy, active behavior among members pay day advance.

The deal will run until Oct. 31, according to the release, and can be claimed by members at Blue365deals.com/BCBSIL. After logging in, the instructions say, members “Click ‘Browse Deals’ and select ‘Fitness,’ then follow the steps to sign up.”

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July 20, 2014

Analysis: Putin

Filed under: Finance, marketing — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 3:44 am

WASHINGTON—“The world’s biggest crime site,” as one of the OSCE monitors described the sickening aftermath in eastern Ukraine on Friday, doesn’t have Vladimir Putin’s name on it.

Not in so many words. Not yet.

That may take a while, given the treatment of the first international visitors to wade through the billion-piece remains Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

A tightly controlled peek of a tiny patch of the ruination that spans more than 10 square kilometres is all they got — all under the twitchy, pugnacious watch of the ramshackle Russian rebels.

Whither the black boxes that now have been spirited away, the heavily armed separatists could not say. The first-look team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was unable even to establish who among the heavily armed men was in charge before they were summarily frog-marched offsite, just 45 minutes into what they were assured would be unfettered access.

MORE AT THESTAR.COM:

The investigation

The flight

That’s the way Putin’s proxies roll, as those of us who’ve tramped through the unravelling end of Ukraine have argued before. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster of chaotic, nihilistic, nativist ineptitude. It’s weaponized. It’s propagandized. It’s scary.

It been easy for most people to compartmentalize these months of ragged ambiguity since the protesters on Kyiv’s Maidan square turned the country upside down, sparking Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the shadowy interventions that followed.

Russia versus Ukraine; a European thing; not good, but not quite total war, right? And not at all in our North American faces, either.

And now the world has been yanked from the sky, shattered flat upon Putin’s monster. Or by Putin’s monster, as the preponderance of circumstantial evidence suggests.

Among the connecting dots, damning Ukrainian cellphone intercepts — still to be verified, yet already causing shock waves — quoting Russian military intelligence and their on-the-ground mercenaries discussing the before and after of deploying the Buk-M surface-to-air missile system. (Before: “We have Buk, we will be shooting them down to hell.”) Later, footage of the suspect Buk-M unit was filmed and posted to YouTube, being spirited away by rebels, with two of its four missiles spent.

Watch here:

And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4HJmev5xg0

Other dots included the scrubbed post from a site that routinely shares messages from Col. Igor Strelkov, self-appointed defence minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, hailing the “bird drop” of what rebels initially thought was a Ukrainian AN-26 military transport plane. Attempts to erase the dot from the web failed miserably, thanks to a crowd-sourced world that now captures everything for posterity.

With or without flight recorder data, the shifting stories from the Russian rebel camp appear to be vectoring toward collapse. Among the varying explanations Friday, Strelkov appears to have floated a twisted, conspiratorial trial balloon Friday suggesting the MH17 victims may have boarded the plane dead.

“A significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh,” Strelkov, also known as Igor Girkin, was quoted as saying by the pro-rebel Russkaya Vesna news site paydayloans.

Strelkov is implying a vast Western setup, straining all credulity. Left unspoken is the inference, “Yes, we did it. We took the bait.”

The word terrorism began flying the moment MH17 stopped. But if the most plausible pieces of preliminary evidence ultimately add up, nobody on the ground meant to bring the world down upon it. Blundering incompetence — colossal, breathtakingly reckless, historic incompetence — involving men equipped with a weapon far greater than themselves, is the more believable scenario.

But all these dots, if that is how they add up, become stains. A stain that will adhere forever to Vladimir Putin.

Those conclusions weren’t anywhere near President Barack Obama’s tongue Friday, as he stepped forward to demand an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded access to the crash site.

As Russian chess master Garry Kasparov, long a thorn in Putin’s side, tweeted, “Now we come to the part where cautious politicians make bland statements hinting politely at a terrible truth everyone already knows.”

But the far larger question is what does Putin do with this stain? Does he own it – and let it live forever on his Wikipedia entry as his own personal Lockerbie? The early signs suggest not, given that Russian state TV on Friday began editing Wikipedia to blame Ukraine for the crash.

A number of Putinologists are suggesting even Putin himself may not have the answer, given the unpredictable nature of what has been unleashed in Ukraine.

“Putin-the-man is greatly at odds with Putin-the-myth, who is a fierce and forceful titan shaping the world in the name of Russia’s greater destiny,” wrote Mark Galeotti of ReadRussia.com.

“In fact, the real Putin is clearly a cautious, in some ways even paradoxically timid figure in his aggressions,” acting only when the odds are on his side. Thus, said Galeotti, the paradox of Ukraine is “that what Putin creates, he then fears.”

Anne Applebaum, writing in the Washington Post, framed a moment of truth in which we are about to “learn something interesting about the Russian president.

“So far there is no sign of shock or shame in Russia. But in truth, this tragedy offers Vladimir Putin an opportunity to get out of the messy disaster he created in eastern Ukraine,” wrote Applebaum.

“He has the perfect excuse to denounce the separatist movement and to cut its supplies. If he refuses, then we know that he remains profoundly dedicated to the chaos and nihilism he created to Donetsk. We can assume he intends to perpetuate it elsewhere. And if we are not prepared to fight it, we should be braced for it to spread.”

David Remnick of the New Yorker offered a starkly contrasting scenario, based in part on insights from former Putin insider Gleb Pavlovsky, suggesting overheated Russian public opinion now may be beyond the president’s control.

“The audience is warmed up and ready to go; it is wound up and waiting for more and more conflict,” Remnick quoted Pavlovsky as saying.

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July 18, 2014

US drugmaker AbbVie has reached a cash-stock agreement to buy British counterpart Shire

Filed under: Prices, money — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 7:24 am

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) — US drugmaker AbbVie has reached a cash-stock agreement to buy British counterpart Shire.

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July 15, 2014

Hamas rejects truce; Israel warns of stepped up strikes

Filed under: Europe, management — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 6:56 am

GAZA, PALESTINE—Gaza militants on Tuesday met Egypt’s call for a quick truce with repeated rocket fire on Israel and senior Hamas officials rejected the proposal, saying they weren’t consulted. Israel accepted Cairo’s plan, but warned it would strike Gaza even harder than it has so far — if Hamas didn’t abide by the proposal as well.

The Islamic militant group didn’t close the door to truce talks, however. It appeared instead to be holding out for better conditions, with senior officials saying the Egyptian plan offers no tangible achievements, particularly on easing a border blockade of the coastal strip, which has been enforced by Israel and Egypt for the past seven years.

More on thestar.com

Canada seeks Egypt’s help to end rocket attacks

Egypt proposes temporary ceasefire

The situation remained volatile, suggesting Egypt’s efforts to end a week of fighting could quickly run aground. Since the outbreak of cross-border fire on July 8, more than 190 Palestinians have been killed and millions of Israelis have been exposed to rocket fire.

It is the third major round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in just over five years — but also one in which the impact on Israel has been much mitigated by the success of its “Iron Dome” air defence system in shooting down Hamas’ rockets and preventing Israeli fatalities to date.

The previous bout, in 2012, eventually ended with the help of Egypt, at the time seen as a trusted broker by Hamas.

But Hamas deeply distrusts Egypt’s current rulers, who ousted a Hamas-friendly government in Egypt a year ago, and have tightened the border blockade on Gaza.

Under the Egyptian plan, proposed late Monday, a 12-hour period of de-escalation was to begin at mid-morning Tuesday. Once both sides agree to halt hostilities, they would negotiate the terms of a longer-term truce.

Israel accepted the proposal at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “if Hamas rejects the Egyptian proposal and the rocket fire from Gaza does not cease, and that appears to be the case, we are prepared to continue and intensify our operation.”

Gaza militants fired at least 35 rockets at Israel after mid-morning Tuesday, hours past the Egypt-proposed time for de-escalation.

The Israeli military said several rockets reached deep into Israel, including near the northern port city of Haifa. Sirens also went off in the towns of Hadera and Zichron Yaakov, more than 100 kilometres north of Gaza.

The military wing of Hamas, which has been responsible for most of the hundreds of rockets launched at Israel in the past week, said the Egyptian plan “wasn’t worth the ink it was written with.”

Later Tuesday, a Hamas police spokesman reported an Israeli air strike on an apartment in north-eastern Gaza, but the Israeli military denied it had attacked targets in Gaza at the time.

Hamas officials, meanwhile, complained that they hadn’t been consulted by Egypt about the cease-fire plan.

They said they need detailed assurances that Gaza’s borders will be opened, particularly the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, the territory’s main gate to the world.

Egypt has sharply curtailed travel in and out of Gaza over the past year, following last year’s ouster of the Hamas-allied Muslim Brotherhood from power by the Egyptian military.

Hamas also wants to be recognized by Egypt as a partner in any truce efforts. “We did not receive any official draft of this Egyptian proposal,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official in Gaza. He said the Egyptian plan, as is, is “not acceptable.”

Osama Hamdan, a key aide to top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, told The Associated Press that Hamas has a series of demands, including the release of Hamas activists arrested by Israel in the West Bank in recent weeks and a complete opening of the Rafah crossing.

Another Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, sounded more conciliatory, saying internal consultations on the cease-fire proposal are continuing.

Hamas officials are weary of promises by Egypt and Israel to ease the border blockade. Such promises were also part of a truce that ended more than a week of fighting in 2012, but were not fully implemented as the strip remained under blockade.

An easing of the blockade of the coastal strip is key to the survival of Hamas.

Before the outbreak of the latest round of fighting, the militant group found itself in a serious financial crisis because a particularly tight closure by Egypt had prevented cash and goods from coming into the strip through hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

In Israel, the decision to accept the cease-fire was praised by the centrist Israeli opposition, but elicited strong criticism from lawmakers and members of Netanyahu’s hawkish Likud party, who said the assault did not succeed in halting Hamas’ rocket-firing capabilities.

“In the circumstances that have been created we could have achieved a lot more. The threat of rockets has not been removed and the Hamas leadership has not been eliminated,” Israel Katz, a Cabinet minister wrote on his Facebook page.

____

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July 13, 2014

Peru Bonds Rise to Seven-Month High After Surprise Rate Cut - Bloomberg

Filed under: marketing, news — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 12:16 pm

Peru

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July 11, 2014

Fuzzy impeachment push against Obama has value as a fundraiser

Filed under: Europe, Loans — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 7:27 pm

WASHINGTON—The fever-swamp fantasy coursing through conservative America — that Barack Obama one day soon will be frog-marched out of office for “high crimes and misdemeanours” — is proving astonishingly resilient.

Barely one day after House Majority Leader John Boehner moved to drown the deafening impeachment chatter, announcing instead a Republican plan to sue the president for executive overreach, the clamour returned Friday like an unwhacked mole.

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, showing once again that even if Washington doesn’t take her seriously, millions of others do, tore a strip off Boehner in a fresh missive for Fox News, decrying the “tepid lawsuit threat” and renewing her demand to oust the “lawless, imperial president.”

“He’s making himself a ruler, not a president. We had a revolution back in 1776 because we don’t like kings,” wrote Palin.

“Those concerned about America want change. That comes with healing the injuries done to society by an unchecked president; that starts with impeachment.”

Palin, who earlier in the week likened America to Obama’s “battered wife,” is far from alone on the warpath. When the Drudge Report put the question to its largely conservative audience — “Should Republicans impeach Obama?” — 73 percent said yes.

For a U.S. capital already inoculated by years of hyperpartisan gridlock, the sustained calls for impeachment fly in the face of reality. It is a delusionally lost cause.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a non-starter.

All it takes is a majority-plus-one in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to make the headline happen — “Obama impeached.” The chances of this particular House, with its Tea Party-inspired contempt for Obama’s signature health care law, doing just that are higher than zero. And there will be a new House sworn in next January after midterm elections in November that might be even more inclined to answer Palin’s plea.

But “Obama impeached” doesn’t mean what some might think. Under the U.S. Constitution, it equates to “charged” — and would then trigger a trial in the Senate, a scenario last played out against Bill Clinton. And just like the former president, Obama is certain to win, given the very high threshold a two-thirds majority required for conviction.

“If the news headlines say, ‘Obama has been impeached’ many Americans would conclude (wrongly) the president has to leave office,” said Lyle Denniston, adviser on constitutional literacy for the Philadelphia-based National Constitution Center.

“The fact is we don’t have a great deal of constitutional literacy in this country. But sophisticated Americans, people actually involved in public affairs, see it as rhetoric to stir up the base and give voice to the ongoing hostility against the president. As opposed to something real.”

Not a non-starter then. But a non-finisher. Obama, should the impeach-now camp prevail, could indeed wind up in the docket. Where he will win — and proceed to finish out his eight years, handing over the White House to his successor in early 2017.

Denniston, a true dean of Washington reportage, has covered the U.S. Supreme Court since 1958, currently as a major contributor to SCOTUSBlog, widely regarded as the ultimate interpreter of high court rulings. Every June the site ramps up for an audience of as many as 5 million, awaiting the key rulings of the season.

“In some respects, nothing has changed. In my time the word “impeach” has always swirled around as a rhetorical device to arouse populist ire,” said Denniston.

“But what’s different now is the customized coverage that comes with customized facts. That is new, to see a separation of coverage, where not just politics but the facts themselves are in dispute.”

The facts behind the impeach movement are no exception. Various advocates of impeaching Obama raise various sins, from the recent trade of five Taliban prisoners for a captive American soldier without consulting Congress to unilateral decrees on environmental regulation.

South Dakota Republicans were among the first to put the impeachment movement into words, with the passage last month of a resolution demanding the launch of proceedings against Obama. The document enumerates several alleged violations of the oath of office, including the charge that Obama “willfully and wantonly lied to the American people” about Obamacare.

But all the challenges centre on executive power — and the notion that Obama has employed regal overreach, issuing executive orders unconstitutionally, over the heads of Congress.

On paper, at least, the numbers don’t add up. Ronald Reagan is the undisputed king among modern presidents when it comes to executive orders, having issued 381 during his two terms. And Bill Clinton was a close second with 364. George W. Bush issued 291 such orders and Obama now stands at 182 — a pace that suggests he will end his second term with fewer than the rest.

Yet the impeachment bandwagon proceeds apace. Among its many riders is Alan Keyes, who was on the losing end of Obama’s 2004 Illinois U.S. Senate race.

On Thursday, Keyes faced down conservative critics who say impeachment is delusional by invoking the promise of Divine Intervention.

“Visit the Pledge to Impeach website . . . as a prayer to the Creator God,” Keyes pleaded in a column for WorldNetDaily.

“Do this so that once again our nation may deserve to enjoy the blessings of that God-endowed liberty which has been, and by our faithfulness may yet continue to be, our common hope.”

One of the noisiest agitators for impeachment is also the least likely: veteran Hollywood actor James Woods has been carving out ferocious space on Twitter, shouting for impeachment.

On Friday, however, Woods seemed to have second thoughts, suggesting to his followers that perhaps Obama should finish out his term to maximize damage. “Leave him in office like a rotting elephant head. Let Dems explain that legacy in 2016,” he wrote.

As the signal-to-noise ratio rose, Obama himself weighed in Thursday, returning the partisanship in kind with a mocking reference to congressional inaction.

“You hear some of them … ‘Sue him! Impeach him!’ ” Obama told supporters at a fundraiser in Austin, Texas.

“Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job?”

But if the impeachment frenzy comes without teeth, it has value as a fundraising tool. Members of both parties have seized upon the meme to shake donor dollars loose as they build war chests for the upcoming midterms.

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July 10, 2014

PBOC Preparing Policy Tools to Manage Rates - Bloomberg

Filed under: marketing, technology — Tags: , , , — DoctorBusiness @ 2:40 am

China

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