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Report: U.K. Financials Cutting More Jobs; OPEC Prez Forecasts $75/Barrel; Oil Falls With Global Stocks; Chalco Scaling Back Spending; S&P Cuts Ireland's Credit Rating; Investors Paid Cash for 40% of 2nd Home Purchases in 2008; Grain Prices Likely to Fall; Microsoft Settles Patent Suit
- The Confederation of British Industry forecasts that the United Kingdom's financial-services sector may cut up to 15,000 jobs, or 1.4% of the industry's workforce, in the second quarter, Bloomberg reported. The CBI also forecasted revenues to "fall sharply." "Firms are making heavy cuts to staff numbers and investment plans to make savings and reflect weak demand," Ian McCafferty, CBI chief economic adviser, said in a report.
- Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos, the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said that oil prices could reach $75 a barrel this year, Reuters reported. "There is in fact some expectations that the G20 meeting this week will come up with solutions that will stimulate the economy so that the price of oil could reach between $70 and $75 per barrel," de Vasconcelos said.
- Oil prices fell 7.6% Monday, as global stock markets sunk and the U.S. dollar strengthened. "There is little, if any, fundamental data that justifies the price increases over the last few weeks," James Williams, an economist at energy research firm WTRG Economics, told MarketWatch.
- After forecasting a first-quarter loss, Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. (ACH) said it will reign capital spending by at least 34%, or $1.9 billion (13 billion yuan). It will also suspend planned projects and tighten mergers and acquisitions in both home and abroad markets, Bloomberg reported.
- Standard & Poor's downgraded Ireland's AAA credit rating one step to AA+ with a "negative" outlook yesterday (Monday). It was the fourth downgrade of a euro-region government this year as the global financial turmoil raised borrowing costs and swelled the budget deficit. S&P lowered the ratings of Spain, Portugal and Greece in January. Ireland received the top rating in October 2001, Bloomberg reported.
- Investment and vacation homes accounted for 30% of all purchases of existing and new homes in the United States in 2008, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday (Monday). More than 40% of investment home buyers paid cash for their properties, with most indicating that portfolio diversification was a factor in the purchase, the NAR said, according to Reuters. Total market share of homes purchased for investment was 21%, unchanged from 2007, and 9% were vacation homes, compared with 12% market share in 2007.
- Cash prices for soybeans will probably drop 28% this year, while corn will tumble 31%, as U.S. farmers prepare to plant record amounts of soybeans and demand for corn falls, according to a Bloomberg survey of 24 analysts and traders. "I don't see any major bull move in commodities in the next several years," said Commodity Information Systems, Inc. President Bill Gary, who correctly predicted in July that prices would plunge as credit tightened.
- Software giant Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and Dutch navigation device maker TomTom NV (AMS: TOM2) reached a settlement over software patents, Reuters reported yesterday (Monday). Under terms of a five-year agreement, Microsoft said TomTom will pay Microsoft for use of eight car navigation and file management system patents in the case, while Microsoft will be able to use the four patents included in the TomTom countersuit without any payment to TomTom. TomTom confirmed there was a settlement but declined further comment.
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