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With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.
Dollar Skims Year-Low Versus Euro; General Mills Profit Soars 51%; Whistleblower: Moody's Inflated Ratings; Taiwan Index Gaining 30% in 2010?; Mortgage Apps Rose 12.8% Last Week; Ford Building Small Car in India; Sinopharm IPO Debuts Strongly; New Zealand Emerges From Recession;
- The U.S. dollar yesterday (Wednesday) nearly touched a one-year low against the euro as investors' regained their risk appetite for less secure assets. "The dollar is likely to remain weak in the near term," Lee Hardman, a currency strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in London, told Bloomberg News. "What's driving the dollar lower is the exceptionally loose liquidity conditions, and this encourages its use as a funding currency."
- General Mills Inc.'s (NYSE: GIS) per-share profit jumped 51% in its fiscal first quarter ended Aug. 30. The food maker said profit rose to $420.6 million, or $1.25 a share, compared to 79 cents a share a year earlier, Reuters reported. General Mills credited to new products, higher prices and cost-cutting measures. At the same time, commodity prices dropped, giving General Mills a window to get more for their dollar. The company raised its full-year earnings forecast to $4.40 to 4.45 a share, excluding items, from its previous forecast of $4.20 to $4.25.
- A former Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO) analyst, Eric Kolchinsky, is accused his former employer – in front of congressional investigators – of giving inflated and overly rosy ratings, The Wall Street Journal reported. In a letter obtained by The Journal, Kolchinsky said Moody's issued a high rating on a debt security despite being aware it was planning to downgrade the assets backing the securities. "Moody's issued an opinion which was known to be wrong," Kolchinsky wrote, citing other instances of inflated ratings.
- The manager of Taiwan's best performing fund said Taiwan stocks may jump more than 34% in 2010 as economic ties between China strengthen and European demand for its technology companies returns, Bloomberg reported. "People were excited to buy Taiwan shares even when it used to be just talk and no action" with China ties, Robyn Hsu, who helps manage $3 billion at Capital Investment Trust Corp., told Bloomberg. "Now that the financial memorandum of understanding is going to be signed, it's just the beginning of real gains. I expect shares to keep rising."
- Mortgage applications last week rose 12.8% from the week prior, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report. The uptick springs from a higher amount of refinancing, which increased 17.4% from the week before. The MBA's survey covers about half of all U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, MarketWatch reported.
- Not long after news of its plans to build a third China plant were leaked, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) announced it will start production of a small car, the Figo, in India early next year. Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said the Figo won't be as small as, and wouldn't complete directly, with Tata Motor Ltd.'s (NYSE ADR: TTM) Nano. But he emphasized Ford's focus on smaller vehicles down the road. "We expect the small car segment will double in the next 10 years," he said at Figo's launch in New Delhi, Reuters reported. "When you look at vehicle size, about 60% of the vehicles worldwide would be smaller vehicles like the new vehicle here."
- Shares of China's largest pharmaceutical group, Sinopharm Group Co., jumped 18% in its first day of trading in Hong Kong. The highly anticipated initial public offering was listed at HK$18.84 ($2.43) in early trading then jumped to set a high of HK$19.74, MarketWatch reported.
- New Zealand emerged has from its longest recession in three decades, as the country's gross domestic product (GDP) unexpectedly expanded 0.1% in the second quarter ended June 30. Consumer spending rose, as well as demand for two of its primary exports – logs and dairy products. The news sent New Zealand's dollar to a 13-month high as traders placed bets that the central bank will raise interest rates, Bloomberg reported.