Japanese shipping line Mitsui OSK has paid Y4bn to the Shanghai Maritime Court to free an ore carrier impounded in a dispute that dates back to World War II

The Shanghai Court seized the vessel last weekend after ruling that Mitsui OSK, as heir to a pre-war Japanese shipping firm, owned Y2.4bn for decades of lease payments.

The seizure opened the door to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities for Japanese companies over wartime disputes, mostly in payments sought by families of labourers who were forced to work in Japan during the war. Chinese courts accepted such a case for the first time in February, after decades of refusals.

The Mitsui case also marks how long running political tensions between China and Japan, which have been inflamed by their fight over a string of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, are now spilling over into the world of commerce.

 

President Barack Obama has said the islands in the East China Sea disputed by Tokyo and Beijing are covered by the US-Japan defence treaty as he sought to use the first day of a trip to Asia to reassure anxious allies in the region.

In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Mr Obama became the first sitting US president to acknowledge that his country considered the islands – which Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu – to be part of the defence alliance between Washington and Tokyo.

 His comments were clearly designed to show support for Japan, Washington’s most important ally in the region, but immediately prompted an angry response from China which says the US is trying to encircle it.

“The policy of the United States is clear – the Senkaku islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security,” Mr Obama said in written responses to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. “And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

Mr Obama is spending a week in the region, visiting Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. His trip comes at a time of considerable uncertainty in the region about US staying power, which has been prompted by the president’s public reverse over military action in Syria, defence budget cuts and political gridlock that caused Mr Obama to cancel an Asian trip last year. >> Read More

 

The asset quality of bank loans to infrastructure developers is deteriorating at a faster pace than that of loans advanced to any other sector, underlining the challenge the next government will face in reviving investment and kick-starting stalled projects.

As of 31 March, banks had restructured Rs.50,239 crore of loans they had given to the infrastructure sector—21% of all loans they recast in the last fiscal year under the so-called corporate debt restructuring (CDR) mechanism.
Restructured loans to public works projects swelled from Rs.21,912 crore (9.57% of the total) in the previous year and Rs.16,774 crore (11.14%) in the year before that.
Total loans restructured by banks via CDR, on a cumulative basis, rose toRs.3.3 trillion as of 31 March, from Rs.2.3 trillion a year ago. Worryingly, the figure does not reflect the total amount of restructured loans in the banking system because banks also recast loans on a bilateral basis outside the CDR platform.
A slump in economic growth to the slowest pace in a decade, coupled with delayed project approvals such as environment and forest clearances, problems in land acquisition and high borrowing costs have hit developers of long-gestation and capital-intensive infrastructure projects particularly hard. >> Read More

Negative News for Tea Stocks ?

24 April 2014 - 7:59 am
 

NEGATIVE-TEAExtremely dry weather conditions would severely crimp tea production, an industry association warned today.

The Indian Tea Association said the continuous dry and drought-like condition in Assam and north Bengal would lead to poor recovery from tea bushes and rise in costs, while giving a muted crop outlook.

An impending wage negotiation due in Bengal and a delayed application of fertilisers because of inadequate rain may cause further havoc in the industry.

Adverse weather conditions have prevailed since the beginning of the new season of 2014. Total rainfall from January till April 20 has been 71mm against a crop requirement of 310mm during the period in Northern Assam.

“With the drought and wages, cost escalation will happen. There could be a 20-25 per cent rise in the cost of production. The Darjeeling market does not look very good,” ITA chairman Arun N. Singh said. >> Read More

 

The BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi stepped up his attack on the Congress and lashed out at its leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, vowing to make them account for every penny and every minute.

“You have crossed all limits,” Modi said referring to the Congress at a rally at the end of his four-stop campaign tour of Gujarat. “You have even insulted Sardar Patel. I am going to take revenge.”

“I will seek accounts of every penny and every minute. Your CBI will not be able to harm me in any way. Twenty more days remain. Harass me as much as you can, I am still in the battlefield,” Modi said, speaking in Gujarati.
He repeatedly referred to the UPA government as the “government of mother and son”.

“The PM is coming, Soniaji is coming, yuvraaj will also come,” Modi said referring to the upcoming visits to Gujarat of Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Rahul.

“I want to tell them not to misguide the people of Gujarat. Your bidaai (departure) is certain, so better go with a smile on your face.”

 

Forget bank-runs, the water run has begun in China. Residents of the western city of Lanzhou rushed to buy mineral water earlier this month after local tap water was found to contain excessive levels of the toxic chemical benzene. But that is the tip of what is a massive problem facing the Chinese people. Not only do they suffer choking smog day after day, but, as The Business Times reports, sixty per cent of underground water in China which is officially monitored is too polluted to drink directly, state media have reported, underlining the country’s grave environmental problems.

As The Business Times reports,

 

Sixty per cent of underground water in China which is officially monitored is too polluted to drink directly, state media have reported, underlining the country’s grave environmental problems.

 

Water quality measured in 203 cities across the country last year rated “very poor” or “relatively poor” in an annual survey released by the Ministry of Land and Resources, the official Xinhua news agency said late Tuesday. >> Read More

Americans are purging their excesses one by one. Spending by the US Federal government has seen the steepest drop as share of national income since demobilisation after the Second World War.

Claims that President Barack Obama is bankrupting America with a lurch towards hard-Left statism are for tabloid consumption only. Outlays have fallen from 24.4pc to 20.6pc of GDP in five years. Spending is roughly in line with its 40-year average. This fiscal squeeze has been achieved without driving the economy into recession or a Lost Decade, a remarkable feat.

The US Congressional Budget Office expects the budget deficit to drop to 2.8pc of GDP this year, and 2.6pc next year. This is about the same as the eurozone but with a huge difference. The US economy is expanding fast enough to outgrow its debts.

The US energy revolution is of course half the story. It has stoked booms across the Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Texas.

Francisco Blanch, from Bank of America, estimates that shale gas and oil have given the US economy an extra tailwind worth 1.9pc of GDP – what he calls the “energy carry” – with effects rippling through the chemical and plastics industries. New investments in ammonia plants are rising at an exponential rate, thanks to natural gas prices that are $4.40 (per BTU) in the US and $15 on Asia’s spot market. >> Read More

 

At a glance:

The Earnings Headlines:

  • *APPLE 2Q SALES $45.65B , EST. $43.53B
  • *APPLE 2Q EPS $11.62 , EST. $10.17
  • *APPLE 2Q GROSS MARGIN 39.3%, EST. 37.7%
  • *APPLE SEES 3Q TAX RATE 26.1%
  • *APPLE SEES 3Q REV. $36B-$38B, EST. $37.88B
  • *APPLE SEES 3Q GROSS MARGIN 37%-38%, EST. 37.3%

The Capital Structure Shift:

  • *APPLE SETS 7 FOR 1 STOCK SPLIT, BOOSTS BUYBACK TO $90B
  • *APPLE BOOSTS QUARTERLY DIVIDEND TO $3.29-SHR FROM $3.05
  • *APPLE EXPECTS TO ACCESS PUBLIC DEBT MARKETS DURING 2014
  • *APPLE SEES ACCESSING PUBLIC DEBT MARKETS DOMESTICALLY, INTL
  • *APPLE SEES TERM DEBT SIMILAR TO AMOUNT RAISED IN 2013

With Christmas a distant memory, the first three months of the year are typically a fallow period for companies that make a living selling smartphones. Apple has gone some way to bucking that trend.

Profits at the iPhone maker climbed to $10.2bn, or $11.62 a share, in the latest quarter from $9.5bn, or $10.09 a share, in the same quarter in 2013. >> Read More

Facebook profits surge

24 April 2014 - 6:25 am
 

Moments ago Facebook reported its GAAP and non-GAAP results (a very important distinction). Here is the Non-GAAP (i.e., we enjoy keeping our head in the sand) summary:

  • Q1 revenue $2.5 billion, beats expectations of $2.36 billion
  • Q1 revenue from advertising $2.27 billion
  • Q1 EPS $0.34, beat expectations of $0.24
  • Free cash flow – Free cash flow for the first quarter of 2014 was $922 million.
  • Capital expenditures – Capital expenditures for the first quarter of 2014 were $363 million.
  • Cash and marketable securities – Cash and marketable securities were $12.63 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2014.
  • Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.28 billion as of March 31, 2014, an increase of 15% year-over-year. Unclear how many of these are bots originating out of Egypt and India.
  • Daily active users (DAUs) were 802 million on average for March 2014, an increase of 21% year-over-year.
  • Mobile DAUs were 609 million on average for March 2014, an increase of 43% year-over-year.
  • Mobile MAUs were 1.01 billion as of March 31, 2014, an increase of 34% year-over-year. 

The results in a nutshell: >> Read More

Overnight US Market

24 April 2014 - 6:13 am
 
Dow Industrials16501.65-12.72-0.08%
S&P 5001875.39-4.16-0.22%
Nasdaq Comp.4126.97-34.49-0.83%
Russell 20001147.08-8.53-0.74%
NYSE Comp.10585.47-13.55-0.13%
Nasdaq 1003557.04-31.77-0.89%
Dow Transports7742.26+7.36+0.10%
Dow Utilities543.15+0.33+0.06%

Internals were negative, worse on the Nasdaq. Advances/declines were just below flat on the NYSE and 5 to 11 on the Nasdaq, with up/down volume just below flat on the NYSE and 1 to 2 on the Nasdaq. New highs/lows were 139/6 on the NYSE and 40/18 on the Nasdaq.

Leaders — Gold/Silver (+2.00%), Airlines (+1.48%), Metals (+1.15%), Natural Gas (+0.62%), Commodities (+0.61%), Banks (+0.50%), Defense (+0.43%), Oil Services (+0.40%)
Laggards — Disk Drives (-1.76%), Biotechs (-1.53%), Homebuilders (-1.35%), Software (-1.14%), Comp. Tech (-1.07%), Comp. Hardware (-0.85%), Telecoms (-0.69%), Network (-0.47%)

Treasury Yields — 6 Month: 0.04 %,  2 Year: 0.39 %,  5 Year: 1.71 %,  10 Year: 2.69 %,  30 Year: 3.47 %

Energy Prices — Crude oil: $101.47/barrel,  Gasoline: $3.09/gallon,  Natural Gas: $4.73/mmBTU

US Dollar Index — 79.865

Precious Metals — Gold: $1284.60/ounce,  Silver: $19.45/ounce,  Platinum: $1400.00/ounce

ASR Note:  
What was that all about? I have no idea…

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Baroda, India.