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  • Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board - sources

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 6:06 PM EDT

    By Jonathan Spicer and Emily Stephenson NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts The lawyer's name emerged as the White House weighs candidates with community banking backgrounds to fill gaps on the Federal Reserve's powerful but depleted board, the sources said. People familiar with the White House's process said administration officials may fill one of the remaining openings with someone with banking experience, as opposed to an economist. Two sources said the administration is considering Diana Preston, a lawyer who recently left a post at the American Bankers Association, which represents many small banks. More »Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board - sources

  • Special Report: For private deals, no one is watching the watchdogs

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 1:41 PM EDT

    By Emily Flitter OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - From 2006 to 2009, Provident Asset Management raised $485 million from 7,700 investors who were drawn to its promises of annual returns as high as 18 percent on oil and gas assets. Law firm Mick & Associates helped. Provident paid Mick to provide "due diligence" reports to help brokers decide whether to recommend the investments to their clients. Brad Updike, a Mick energy-sector specialist, reviewed each of the 23 deals, known as private placements. More »Special Report: For private deals, no one is watching the watchdogs

  • Conservative Koch-backed group uses soft touch in recruiting U.S. Hispanics

    Reuters - Tue, Apr 22, 2014 4:51 AM EDT

    By Andy Sullivan ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The conservative advocacy groups backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are known mostly for spending millions of dollars to pelt Democratic candidates with negative television ads. The group, known as The Libre Initiative, is sponsoring English classes, driver's license workshops and other social programs to try to build relationships with Hispanic voters in cities from Arizona to Florida - even as the group targets Democratic lawmakers with hard-edged TV ads. Libre's task is complicated by Republican lawmakers' reluctance to act on a proposed overhaul of the United States' immigration laws and the harsh rhetoric used by some Republicans that many Americans have seen as anti-Hispanic or anti-immigrant, pollsters say. More »Conservative Koch-backed group uses soft touch in recruiting U.S. Hispanics

  • Spanish banks face tough rivalry in small companies bet

    Reuters - Mon, Apr 21, 2014 5:46 AM EDT

    By Sarah White and Jesus Aguado MADRID (Reuters) - Across Spain, the message is hard to miss in office windows showcasing offers: banks want to lend to small companies again. After gorging on property lending in the run-up to a financial crisis, banks are looking to revive high-margin loans to businesses as the economy emerges from a prolonged slump and bond-trading income slumps. A fight to win over clients will likely squeeze the margins many hope to make from lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are typically charged higher interest rates than larger, less risky businesses. "The big challenge will be that banks will be competing for the best SMEs, but we need to see lending to the rest of the economy in order for the banks to increase their recurrent revenues," said Rui Croca, analyst for European banks at ratings agency DBRS. More »Spanish banks face tough rivalry in small companies bet

  • In the driving seat: China's yuppies are new market force for global automakers

    Reuters - Sun, Apr 20, 2014 7:24 AM EDT

    By Samuel Shen and Norihiko Shirouzu SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Global automakers are scrambling to meet the demands of China's young urban professionals, who want a car that makes them stand out, yet don't always have the money to splurge on a top-end model. After nearly two decades of frenzied growth driven mainly by the very wealthy, China's auto market is maturing, yet remains ferociously competitive with manufacturers having to react quickly to shifting consumer trends. People like Zhou Wenxi, a 32-year-old Shanghai cram-school owner, and Guo Yetao, 23, a software salesman from Hangzhou, are fuelling two trends: hot demand for smaller crossover sport utility vehicles like Ford Motor Co's EcoSport; There is a potential "seismic shift" in the influence these young urban professionals will have on China's auto market, says Yale Zhang, head of Automotive Foresight, a Shanghai-based consultant. More »In the driving seat: China's yuppies are new market force for global automakers

  • Walking, 'talking' drilling rigs aim to modernize fracking

    Reuters - Tue, Apr 15, 2014 6:45 AM EDT

    By Ernest Scheyder WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The backbreaking life of a roughneck, the iconic worker bees of oilfield drilling rigs, is getting a little easier. Schramm Inc, which built the drilling rig that four years ago helped rescue 33 trapped Chilean copper miners, has designed a 500,000-pound rig for the oil and natural gas industry that can walk, rotate 360 degrees, be operated with a remote control, and load pipe automatically. More than 200 sensors monitor pneumatics, oil flow and myriad other processes, "talking" via satellite or Wi-Fi to Schramm's Pennsylvania headquarters and signaling any problems. Riding the global boom in fracking - the practice of injecting sand, water and chemicals deep underground to release oil and gas - Schramm's latest rig, although pricey, allows producers to sharply reduce labor costs, the company says. More »Walking, 'talking' drilling rigs aim to modernize fracking

  • Beijing rejects IMF's hard-landing warning for China's economy

    Reuters - Sat, Apr 12, 2014 8:40 PM EDT

    By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior Chinese official hit back on Saturday at International Monetary Fund warnings that China's economy faced the danger of a hard landing due to poor asset quality, saying the government was taking action to deal with financial risk. Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said China worked closely with the IMF but did not agree with all of its analysis. "In general, we think they are a very professional financial institution, but some of the methodology used and some traditional thinking, they also need reform," he told a small group of Western journalists on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington. If your policy suggestion is (to be) a valuable suggestion, you must base it on reality." IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned of the risk of what she termed a "hard landing" in China, the world's second-largest economy, and negative repercussions on other emerging markets in her Global Policy Agenda released at the start of the meetings in Washington on Thursday. More »Beijing rejects IMF's hard-landing warning for China's economy

  • U.S. investors look for quick rebound from winter doldrums

    Reuters - Sun, Apr 6, 2014 4:08 AM EDT

    By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Companies across America are blaming the brutal winter for weak first-quarter results, but investors are expecting a quick rebound in the second quarter and will likely judge harshly companies that are less optimistic about a recovery. "The truth is the weather did really hurt things," said Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial Service in Exton, Pennsylvania. More »U.S. investors look for quick rebound from winter doldrums

  • Private-sector hiring breaks out of winter freeze

    Reuters - Wed, Apr 2, 2014 1:36 PM EDT

    By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. companies stepped up hiring in March for a second straight month, offering fresh evidence the economy was regaining momentum after a weather-driven lull over the winter. "Whatever impact the weather was having is starting to dissipate and we are starting to see the economy gain traction," said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina. The National Federation of Independent Business said small business employment increased by an average of 0.18 worker per firm, up from 0.11 in February. More »Private-sector hiring breaks out of winter freeze

  • Europe strikes deal to complete banking union

    Reuters - Thu, Mar 20, 2014 3:18 PM EDT

    By John O'Donnell and Tom Körkemeier BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe took the final step to complete a banking union on Thursday with an agency to shut failing euro zone banks, but there will be no joint government back-up to pay the costs of closures. The breakthrough ends an impasse with the European Parliament, which persuaded euro zone countries to strengthen the scheme. It completes the second pillar of banking union, which starts at the end of the year when the European Central Bank takes over as watchdog. The accord means that the ECB has the means to shut banks it decides are too weak to survive, reinforcing its role as supervisor as it prepares to run health checks on the still fragile sector. More »Europe strikes deal to complete banking union

  • U.S. tries to find savings in penny-pinching - literally

    Reuters - Tue, Mar 4, 2014 3:47 PM EST

    By Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a budget proposal that aims to make government more efficient, President Barack Obama on Tuesday floated the idea of using alternative metals to make penny and nickel coins. The fiscal 2015 budget, released on Tuesday, points out that the coins' manufacturing and circulation have not changed in decades and that the Treasury Department has been reviewing the coins' production. The budget does not include a specific cost savings figure for the potential changes but it identifies the rise of electronic commerce as a reason to review the coins' makeup and distribution. Obama's 2014 budget had pegged the cost of manufacturing a penny at two cents and the price of a nickel at 11 cents. More »U.S. tries to find savings in penny-pinching - literally

  • Canadian commercial lending at record level in Q4: PayNet

    Reuters - Wed, Feb 19, 2014 5:03 AM EST

    Commercial borrowing by small and medium-sized businesses in Canada jumped in the final quarter of last year to hit a record high, helped by increased appetite for loans from companies in the oil patch, a PayNet survey showed on Wednesday. PayNet, which tracks commercial financing for millions of North American small and medium-sized businesses, said its Canadian Business Lending Index rose to 223 in the fourth quarter from a downwardly revised 209 in the previous quarter. "Right now, the credit environment is very good for Canadian small business because the demand is there for their goods and services," said Anthony Zambon, director of PayNet Canada. "The balance sheets of these small and medium-sized businesses are in very good shape, so that is a very favorable sign for the Canadian economy," said Zambon. More »Canadian commercial lending at record level in Q4: PayNet

  • Canada move to cut retail price gap with U.S. seen ineffective

    Reuters - Wed, Feb 12, 2014 6:05 PM EST

    By Louise Egan OTTAWA (Reuters) - Proposed legislation to crack down on companies that unjustifiably charge more for goods in Canada than in the United States has raised eyebrows among experts on the issue as it is seen as being ineffective in lowering prices. In Canada's federal budget on Tuesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised to give the country's competition watchdog more power to prohibit this sort of price discrimination, which has long frustrated consumers. The news came as a surprise, particularly as it was not one of the recommendations made by a Canadian Senate committee that studied the trend at Flaherty's request and reported back in February 2013. It's very difficult to imagine how they would enforce this," said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Market. More »Canada move to cut retail price gap with U.S. seen ineffective

  • U.S. consumer officials seek input on improving mortgage data

    Reuters - Fri, Feb 7, 2014 12:26 AM EST

    U.S. regulators plan to seek input on how to improve public data used to spot discriminatory lending and other possible abuses in the mortgage market, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Friday. The consumer bureau, or CFPB, wants to beef up that data so it can see more potential problems in the markets, as well as track how its sweeping new rules for lenders affect borrowers' ability to get loans. The CFPB plans to ask small businesses for feedback on what information to collect and to ask for tips on how to make gathering that data less onerous for small firms. "One of the main purposes of this effort is to gain greater insight into issues about access to credit," CFPB Director Richard Cordray told reporters. More »U.S. consumer officials seek input on improving mortgage data

  • U.S., China data drag TSX to one-month low

    Reuters - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 4:51 PM EST

    By John Tilak TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dropped to a one-month low on Monday as weak economic data from China and the United States made investors more circumspect about the global economic recovery, sending shares in every major sector lower. The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slipped 1 percent. More »U.S., China data drag TSX to one-month low

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