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

    Reuters - 18 hours ago

    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

  • Ford to boost large truck production at Kentucky plant

    Reuters - Thu, Jan 30, 2014 11:02 AM EST

    Ford Motor Co is spending $80 million to boost production of large pickups and SUVs this year at its Louisville truck plant, the U.S. automaker said Thursday. The Kentucky facility, one of two Ford plants in Louisville, last year built 353,662 vehicles. Most of those were Ford's popular F-Series Super Duty, a bigger, brawnier sibling to the company's mainstay F-150 pickup. The truck plant, which opened in 1969 and has been running close to its rated annual capacity of 365,000, will hike that by 55,000 to 420,000, Ford said. More »Ford to boost large truck production at Kentucky plant

  • Mobile ad revenue lifts Facebook past Wall Street targets

    Reuters - Wed, Jan 29, 2014 5:06 PM EST

    By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc's fourth-quarter revenue jumped 63 percent, beating Wall Street targets, as the Internet company's mobile ad sales continued to accelerate. Shares of Facebook surged 10 percent to $58.90 in after-hours trading on Wednesday. "The mobile shift is happening and it's working really well for Facebook," Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in an interview. Facebook said it now has 1.23 billion monthly users, with 945 million accessing the service on a smartphone or tablet. More »Mobile ad revenue lifts Facebook past Wall Street targets

  • Morgan Stanley names Bowles as lead director, replaces Kidder

    Reuters - Tue, Jan 28, 2014 5:48 PM EST

    Morgan Stanley on Tuesday named Erskine Bowles, a prominent Democrat and investor, as independent lead director of its board of directors, replacing C. Robert Kidder. Bowles is co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which was created by President Barack Obama in 2010. He was also a general partner of Forstmann Little & Co, and briefly worked at Morgan Stanley early in his career. In a statement, Chief Executive and Chairman James Gorman cited Bowles' experience in both finance and public service as qualifications. More »Morgan Stanley names Bowles as lead director, replaces Kidder

  • Analysis: U.S. bankers voice new optimism as businesses line up for loans

    Reuters - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 7:03 AM EST

    By Michael Erman NEW YORK (Reuters) - Loans to businesses have risen to a record high and bank executives say they are increasingly optimistic about the U.S. economy. Increasing demand for bank loans often is a prelude to higher economic growth. With the U.S. government budget crisis fixed for now and Europe showing signs of economic recovery, companies feel more comfortable borrowing to invest in machinery, factories, and buildings. JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, who has long described himself as "cautiously optimistic" about the economy, recently dropped the modifier "cautiously," he said on a conference call with investors last week. More »Analysis: U.S. bankers voice new optimism as businesses line up for loans

  • UK watchdog launches review into RBS's small business lending

    Reuters - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 5:02 AM EST

    Britain's financial regulator has appointed two outside firms to review part-nationalized Royal Bank of Scotland's treatment of struggling small business customers. RBS, which is 82-percent owned by the government, has been accused by government adviser Lawrence Tomlinson of pushing struggling small firms into its Global Restructuring Group (GRG) "turnaround" unit, so it could charge higher fees and interest, and take control of their assets. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Friday that consultancy Promontory Financial Group and Mazars, an accounting firm, will conduct the independent review which will be paid for by the bank. If this is the case, the second stage of the review will identify the root cause of these issues and make recommendations to address any shortcomings identified," the FCA said in a statement. More »UK watchdog launches review into RBS's small business lending

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