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Global financial summit from G7 to G20; new strong voice of BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, India and China

Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy

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Western nations began to cede some control as countries including Brazil, India and China – which with Russia form the so-called BRIC nations – managed to guarantee a greater presence on the international stage.

All three will now join the board of the Financial Stability Forum – the global economic policy powerhouse that to date has been the bastion of the G8.

an overall view of world leaders attending the first Plenary Session at the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy at the National Building Museum in Washington, November 15, 2008

Each is likely to play a stronger role in the reform of major institutions such as the International Monetary Fund than might previously have been witnessed under the old economic order.

The final summit communiqué also gave particular reference to emerging and developing economies, urging them to undertake commitments consistent with their capacities and roles in the global economy – a clear admission of their increased importance.  read more »

Techies' new frontiers: Portland OR, Bethlehem PA, Blacksburg VA, Bellevue WA, Boise ID, Folsom CA

Portland, Oregon

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Portland, Oregon
Some people call it Silicon Forest. That's because the Portland metropolitan area has done an impressive job of attracting entrepreneurial tech talent, thanks in part to the presence of Tektronix, IBM and Intel. In fact, many of the city's computer-technology companies were started by former employees of these tech giants, focusing on areas such as open-source and educational software. But Portland isn't just about computer technology. Over the years, the city has earned a reputation for progressive energy policies, attracting a large sustainable-technology community, as well as the U.S. headquarters of Vestas, the world's largest wind-turbine manufacturer. Support for the Portland tech scene comes from organizations such as Oregon InC, a state-funded venture dedicated to nurturing Oregon's innovation economy.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
With the decline of its steel industry over the past two decades, Bethlehem has worked hard to encourage its burgeoning local tech community. Numerous startups have sprouted in recent years, thanks in part to the city's two hospitals and two local colleges. New technologies currently in development range from computer chips to instruments used in truck-tire manufacturing. Ben Franklin Technology Partners, a state-funded program based in Lehigh University, works with early-stage tech firms across 19 counties, awarding grants and helping companies find everything from funding to skilled workers and technology. The city also provides support, working with local groups to offer low-interest loans and enterprise-zone incentives.  read more »

Main St wonders "people responsible for this are making half a million a year, why do we have to bail them out?"

Christopher Tocchio, with sons Max and Domenic and wife Nicole behind him, is frustrated by government bailouts

(quote)

Melissa Hamlet worries that the stock market's wild swings will mean fewer potential buyers for her home. Restaurant owner Christopher Tocchio fumes that the government isn't holding failing businesses accountable for their reckless decisions. And Mary Vaughan, a recent widow, wonders why government rescues corporate America while she struggles to pay her bills. "I'm paying enough taxes now, and the taxpayers have to bail these big guys out?" she said.

Anger, fear, and shock about the Wall Street meltdown are percolating through conversations along Massachusetts' main streets. A whirlwind week of unprecedented government intervention to prop up the nation's financial system seemed to confirm people's worst fears: The economy is in peril and recovery is far off. Seemingly overnight, nearly everyone felt poorer - homes lost value, 401(k) investments were battered, and jobs, for some, were in jeopardy.

the New York financial district is seen from Brooklyn  read more »

Lehman bankrupt, Merrill sold; worst day on Wall Street since 9/11 shakes major markets worldwide, shares tumble

Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early Monday morning, which contributed to a dark day on Wall Street and in many major markets

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In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street’s history, Lehman Brothers, the 158-year-old, fourth-largest U.S. investment bank that predates the Civil War and weathered the Great Depression, filed the largest bankruptcy in American history; while Merrill Lynch, the third largest investment firm, has agreed to sell itself to Bank of America, the nation's largest bank.

tote board tracking the level of the TSX in Toronto's financial district on Monday

Investors suffered their worst losses since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Amid worries that the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch might not be enough to stop the downward spiral, stocks fell sharply in the last half hour of trading. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones industrial average had dropped 504.48 points, or 4.4 percent, as a record volume of more than 8 billion shares traded hands on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the biggest decline since Sept. 17, 2001 - the day the index reopened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks - when it fell 7 percent, or 684.81 points.  read more »

New contender in the browser wars: Google to launch open source web browser Chrome on Tues., takes on Microsoft

Google Inc. plans to release a new open source browser - Chrome

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Google is launching an open source web browser to compete with Internet Explorer and Firefox. The browser is designed to be lightweight and fast, and to cope with the next generation of web applications that rely on graphics and multimedia.

Called Chrome, it will launch as a beta for Windows machines in 100 countries, with Mac and Linux versions to come. "We realised... we needed to completely rethink the browser," said Google's Sundar Pichai in a blog post. The new browser will help Google take advantage of developments it is pushing online in rich web applications that are challenging traditional desktop programs. Chrome will be an open-source product, meaning anyone can modify the software code and add features.

Google has a suite of web apps, such as Documents, Picasa and Maps which offer functionality that is beginning to replace offline software. "What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build," Mr Pichai, VP Product Management, wrote.

Google's new web browser is called Chrome  read more »

US Stocks bounce back on latest economic readings - factory orders, new homes sales top forecasts, oil prices continue to fall

a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange

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Wall Street ended a volatile week with a moderate rebound Friday after better-than- expected economic data at least temporarily eased the worries of investors concerned about housing and the financial sector. Financials fell again on continued worries about the health of balance sheets, while technology stocks advanced. A day after a sharp drop in existing-home sales aided in pushing stocks sharply lower, economic news helped buoy the market on Friday.

The Commerce Department reported that factory orders for big-ticket manufactured goods, such as cars, appliances and machinery, rose by 0.8 percent in June, the strongest gain in four months and well ahead of Wall Street's expectations. But outside demand for defense equipment, orders would have been up only 0.1 percent. Another Commerce Department report showed that new-home sales dropped by a smaller-than-expected 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 units; the market expected sales to total 505,000. Although it marked the seventh decline in the past eight months, it stirred some hope that the housing market could be finding a bottom. Orders for durable goods rose 0.8% last month, far better than the 0.4% decline expected.

Wall Street abruptly ended an earnings-driven rally and closed sharply lower Thursday

And there was good news about consumers, whose spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment for the first part of July came in at 61.2, while economists forecast a reading of 56.4. The reading was a slight rebound from a 28-year-low last month. "This is a market that's looking for any good signs," said John Massey, a fund manager at AIG SunAmerica Asset Management. "People are trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel."

Some experts said, however, that trading is likely to be uneven in the coming days as Wall Street awaits Friday's July employment report. Linda Duessel, equity market strategist at Federated Investors, said economic figures such as the durable-goods numbers are important because they reveal continued demand from abroad, which could help U.S. companies continue to rake in profits even if the U.S. economy isn't running at full steam. "That's good news for market participants as we try to find a footing in the market because we really don't want to see our weakness leak outside the U.S.," she said.

NYSE

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.41 points Friday, to 11,370.69, rebounding slightly from Thursday's decline of more than 280 points. Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 5.22, to 1257.76, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index jumped 30.42, to 2310.53. For the week, the Dow fell 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 lost 0.2 percent. Friday's tech rally left the Nasdaq up 1.2 percent for the week. Oil fell $2.23 to settle at $123.26 a barrel. Crude prices have fallen more than $20 in recent weeks, alleviating some of Wall Street's concerns about the impact of inflation on consumers' ability to spend.

The stock market's volatility during the week—rallying Tuesday and Wednesday only to erase those gains Thursday—illustrates tentativeness behind some of the bets investors are making, said Hugh Johnson, chairman and chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors. He said the market tends to react to the latest headlines. "It's just news sensitive, and the real question is, 'What's the next news going to be? Good or bad?' That means that the market doesn't have a trend or a direction. It depends entirely on whether the news is going to be good or bad on any given day and that doesn't give you, as an investor, a lot of confidence."

Stocks mostly rose Thursday as investors parsed stronger-than-expected quarterly reports from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and United Technologies Corp.

For the second consecutive session, financial-services stocks were hard hit, with Dow components Bank of America losing 3.5 percent and Citigroup falling more than 1 percent. For the year, each is down more than 28 percent.

Europe gains: European stocks posted their first back-to-back weekly gains since May as better-than-estimated earnings and lower oil prices fueled a rally in carmakers, and banks climbed on speculation credit-market losses will abate. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index increased 0.4 percent this week, extending its rebound from a three-year low on July 15 to 5.7 percent.

Asia falls: In Asia, stocks fell the most in six weeks, snapping a four-day rally. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index lost 2.8 percent. The index rallied 5.9 percent in the first four days of this week as concerns eased that bank losses will expand and oil tumbled.

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Photos courtesy of AFP, AP Photo/Ed Ou & Bebeto Matthews, and Independent.ie

Original Source: Chicago Tribune and NY Daily News

Supplies up, demand declines, oil trades near 7-week low - drops below $125 for first time in over 6 weeks

a techinician works on one of the Strategic Petroleun Reserve's wellheads in the Gulf Coast

(quote)

July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded near a seven-week low after reports showed demand in the U.S. and Japan, two of the three largest oil consuming countries, fell as high prices crimp fuel consumption. U.S. fuel demand averaged 19.9 million barrels a day last week, the lowest since January 2007, the Energy Department said yesterday. Japan imported 0.7 percent less oil in June than a year ago, the first decline in nine months, the Ministry of Finance said today.

"Our overall view is that oil prices are at a point that will bring about demand-side adjustments that will ultimately cause prices to be at a lower level," said David Moore, a commodity strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd. in Sydney. "There seems to be an intangible factor here where sentiment has swung quite sharply in the past couple weeks."

Bubble burst? near-term oil futures, per barrel, weekly closes and latest

Crude oil for September delivery was at $124.23 a barrel, down 21 cents, at 11:36 a.m. Singapore time on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Yesterday, oil dropped $3.98, or 3.1 percent, to settle at $124.44 a barrel, the lowest close since June 4. Futures have lost 5 percent this week. Oil prices also fell as the Energy Department report showed that gasoline supplies rose 2.85 million barrels last week. Stockpiles of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, climbed 2.42 million barrels. Brent crude oil for September settlement was at $125.10 a barrel, down 19 cents, on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange at 11:34 a.m. Singapore time. It dropped $4.26, or 3.3 percent, to close at $125.29 a barrel yesterday, the lowest settlement since June 4.

Demand has declined for three straight weeks, the Energy Department report showed. U.S. fuel consumption averaged 20.3 million barrels a day in the past four weeks, down 2.1 percent from a year earlier, the department said. Refineries operated at 87.1 percent of capacity last week, down 2.4 percentage points from the week before, according to the department. It was the lowest utilization rate since the week ended May 9. Refineries were forecast to operate at 89.5 percent of capacity last week, unchanged from the week before, according to the median of analyst estimates in the Bloomberg survey. Crude-oil inventories dropped 1.56 million barrels to 295.3 million. Stockpiles were forecast to decline 675,000 barrels, according to the survey results.

a trader gestures in the crude oil options pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange

Oil has tumbled 16 percent from a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11, as a stronger U.S. dollar limited the appeal of commodities as a hedge against inflation and high prices cut fuel consumption. Prices also fell the past two days as Hurricane Dolly moved away from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Energy companies evacuated some oil rigs as a precaution. That cut production in the Gulf by 4.7 percent, the U.S. Interior Department said yesterday. Companies that carried out evacuations include BP Plc, Noble Corp., Chevron Corp., Devon Energy Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Oil and other commodities may drop further and the dollar increase if the Federal Reserve boosts interest rates to curb inflation. Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser yesterday said higher mortgage costs and continued declines in house prices pose no bar to raising interest rates. Policy makers must increase borrowing costs before inflation expectations become "unhinged," Plosser said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday.

The dollar traded at 107.74 yen at 11:11 a.m. in Singapore, after rising 0.5 percent yesterday, when it reached 107.97, the highest since June 26. The U.S. currency was at $1.5684 per euro, after rising 0.5 percent yesterday and touching $1.5670, the strongest since July 9.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AP/Energy Department, Bloomberg News and LA Times

Original Source: Bloomberg

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