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El Salvador sells 80 pct of gold reserves to hedge risk -central bank

April 25, 2015 - reuters.com

SAN SALVADOR, April 24 (Reuters) - El Salvador's central bank sold about 80 percent of its gold reserves last month to diversify risk and take advantage of the metal's appreciation, a central bank official said on Friday. The country, which has been dollarized since 2001, sold 5.412 tons of gold for $206 million, which will go into the Bank's reserve portfolios to protect it against market volatility. The poor Central American nation was the only country to sell gold in March, while Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia increased their holdings, according to data released by the International Monetary Fund on Friday. ID:nL1N0XL1LC El Salvador's central bank expects the economy to grow 2.8 percent this year, above the 2.2 percent reached in 2014, thanks to a U.S. recovery and lower oil prices. (Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Alan Crosby) ((Alexandra.Alper@thomsonreuters.com; 5255-5282-7142; Reuters Messaging: alexandra.alper.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: ELSALVADOR DEBT/

Net U.S. dollar longs fall to lowest since Sept-CFTC and Reuters

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Speculators reduced positive bets on the U.S. dollar, pushing the currency's net long position to their lowest since September, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Thomson Reuters released on Friday. The value of the dollar's net long position slipped to $37.87 billion in the week ended April 21, from $39.68 billion the previous week. Net longs on the dollar declined for a fourth straight week. (Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama) ((richard.leong@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6313; Reuters Messaging: richard.leong.thomsonreuters.com@thomsonreuters.net; Twitter @RichardLeong2)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/CFTC

FOREX-Dollar falls on business spending, euro eases on Greece

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* U.S. durable goods data add to outlook worries * Dollar index touches near three-week low * Euro gains dwindle as Greece gets aid warning * Sterling shrugs off election worries and gains (Adds late prices, weekly performance data) By Michael Connor NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Data showing a seventh straight monthly decline in U.S. business spending plans knocked the dollar lower on Friday and gave Federal Reserve policymakers even less reason to raise near-zero interest rates any time soon. The euro backed away from a two-week high against the dollar after euro zone finance ministers told Greece it will get no more aid until it strikes a full economic reform plan. ID:nL5N0XL2TR U.S. non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a proxy for business spending activity, declined 0.5 percent last month after a revised 2.2 percent drop in February, the U.S. Commerce Department said. Economists had forecast core capital goods orders gaining 0.3 percent in March, according to a Reuters poll. ID:nL1N0XL0OC Friday's durable goods report followed lukewarm data on U.S. retail sales, employment and housing starts, which suggest soggy growth that could cause Fed policymakers to delay raising rates for the first time in nearly a decade until later this year. "This puts more concern on the performance of the U.S. economy and adds to the pressure the dollar has experienced over the last month," said Sireen Haraji, currency strategist at Mizuho in New York. "Markets are concerned that this might postpone the Fed normalizing policy." Yields on U.S. Treasury debt US10YT=RR rose after the durable goods report. US/ The dollar index .DXY touched a near three-week low and was last down 0.4 percent for the trading day and off 0.60 percent for the week. Against the yen, the dollar was off 0.60 percent at 118.87 yen JPY= . Sterling GBP= was up 0.75 percent to $1.5172 after touching a five-week high against the dollar, despite assumptions that uncertainty ahead of next month's UK general election is a mounting risk for the pound. The euro EUR= was last up 0.40 percent against the dollar at $1.0866, after touching a two-week high of $1.09, as lingering hopes that cash-strapped Greece was making progress toward securing fresh funding were dashed. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the euro zone finance ministers, said Greece still needs to deliver a list of reforms to receive funding, adding Athens needs to work faster and euro zone ministers will take stock of progress at the next meeting on May 11 in Brussels. ID:nB5N0P801F Similarly, EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that despite some progress in talks with Athens, a deal was still far off. ID:nB5N0P801K (Additional Reporting by Anirban Nag in London; Editing by James Dalgleish) ((michael.connor@thomsonreuters.com; 646 223 6309; Reuters Messaging: michael.connor.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/

UPDATE 1-From Woking to Wall St: UK day traders dream of glory in daily grind

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* Futex HQ based in Woking, suburb outside London * "Flash crash" suspect Sarao said to have worked there * Prop trading often yields little money to start with * Firms charge traders fees for use of office (Updates to include statement from Futex) By Sudip Kar-Gupta WOKING, Britain, April 24 (Reuters) - The British trader accused of sparking market chaos in 2010 cut his teeth in a drab building in a sleepy suburb that highlights how "day traders" dreaming of glory have to first tackle grim offices, zero glamour and high risk. The building is home to Futex, one of several so-called "trading farms" in the UK that give training, office space and equipment to people prepared to make short-term trades, mostly within a day, with their own money in the hope of being hired or sponsored for a cut of their profits. Navinder Singh Sarao - who has been accused by U.S. authorities of contributing to the May 2010 "flash crash" in Wall Street - worked there between early 2003 and early 2008, according to a statement by Futex on Friday. "(Sarao) sat in a separate part of the company, away from the rowdy bunch," said Simon Maelzer, who worked at Futex for a few months in 2008. "He created his own space on the trading floor. I always noticed this guy, who was completely 'in the zone'." Sarao has been charged by U.S. authorities in a criminal and civil case with fraud and market manipulation; he is currently in jail in the UK. Authorities in the United States have sought to link him to the May 6, 2010 'flash crash,' where the U.S. stock market temporarily lost $1 trillion in market value in a matter of minutes. ID:nL1N0XK2H4 Maelzer, now a global macro strategist for research firm MacroVigilance.com, said that while Futex was a good company, those who joined were in for a hard ride at the start. "The Futex set-up was tough for beginners and many would get despondent and give up, although this is typical of the futures market in general. I didn't even get a salary at all," he said. The Futex traders - mainly men aged 25 to 35 - would make the daily commuter grind from London to Woking, around 23 miles (37 km) to the southwest, bringing their own laptops and software programmes, and then take on the markets in the spartan Futex office, said Maelzer. Futex would provide them with office space, desks, terminals carrying market data and phonelines and would take on the most successful ones, such as Sarao, help to fund them and share in their profits. For Jonathan Roy - whose first interview was at Futex after leaving Liverpool University - the fact that he had to go to Woking, an archetypal commuter town far from the glamour of the capital, was slightly offputting. "It's a bit of a trek just to get down there." HIGH FEES One Futex trader described Sarao in a March YouTube clip this year as a 'legend', and an online petition was underway by other traders to block Sarao's extradition to the United States. "He's a legend in our firm, I'd say. During the financial crisis, this guy had, for want of a better word, balls. He just used to get into big positions. He saw the risk, he saw the reward and he took on the trades," Futex trader Miltos Savvidis said in the YouTube clip. The few, casually dressed traders outside the Futex office in Woking this week said they had been told not to comment on the situation concerning Sarao, who is opposing extradition to the United States. Savvidis did not respond to requests sent via Futex for further comment. In a statement, the firm said it had no concerns about his trading during his tenure, which ran from early 2003 to early 2008. "Navinder's method involved no use of algorithmic trading and as such was purely a 'point and click' style of trading whilst he was at Futex," the firm said. "His trading did not give Futex (nor the regulators) any cause for concern." Roy decided against Futex and went to trade his own money - known as 'prop trading' - at Schneider Trading Associates in London instead. Roy said that while he gained invaluable financial markets experience at Schneider Trading, it was very difficult to make money to start off with due to high fees for the use of the desk and commission fees on executing trades. Roy is now a partner at London-based firm Charles Hanover Investments. "It's quite brutal to start with. We had 30 people to start with, but it was soon whittled down to about nine." Those in the industry said that one of the challenging aspects about Futex, Schneider Trading Associates and peers such as Amplify Trading were the fees for training courses and use of the office. Richard Edwards, who worked at various top investment banks including Lehman Brothers before setting up his own research firm HED Capital, said 9 out of 10 prop traders would lose money, but they all persisted in the hope of being the one who made it big. "It's a heroic activity because you're betting so much, which helps the market thanks to the extra liquidity. Most of them will lose out but those who make it stand to make millions." (Editing by Lionel Laurent, Philippa Fletcher and Nick Zieminski) ((sudip.kargupta@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 9795; Reuters Messaging: sudip.kargupta.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: FLASHCRASH TRADER/DAYTRADERS

Colombia's central bank interest rate decision was unanimous

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

BOGOTA, April 24 (Reuters) - The decision by Colombia's central bank to hold the benchmark interest rate at 4.5 percent was reached unanimously, bank chief Jose Dario Uribe said on Friday. (Reporting by Bogota newsroom) ((Peter.Murphy@thomsonreuters.com; +57 1 634 4133; Reuters Messaging: peter.murphy.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: COLOMBIA CENBANK/UNANIMOUS

PRECIOUS-Gold falls to 1-month low as global equities hit all-time highs

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* Spot gold down 1.4 percent * Record-high stock markets dampen investment interest * Silver hits five-week low (Adds analyst comment, updates prices; adds NEW YORK dateline, byline) By Luc Cohen and Jan Harvey NEW YORK/LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - Gold hit its lowest level in more than a month on Friday, falling for the third straight week as strength in global equities diverted interest from the precious metal, although uncertainty over the timing of a U.S. rate rise kept prices in a tight range. Spot gold XAU= was down 1.4 percent at $1,177.03 an ounce at 2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT), while U.S. gold futures GCv1 for June delivery settled down $19.30 an ounce at $1,175. That marked spot gold's largest single-session decline since March 6. Spot prices are down 2.2 percent this week, their biggest weekly loss in seven weeks. World stocks hit all-time highs on Friday as corporate updates in Europe and a post-dotcom-boom peak for the U.S. Nasdaq stoked investor optimism. MKTS/GLOB "That takes investment demand away from gold," said Bill O'Neill, co-founder of commodities investment firm LOGIC Advisors in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. O'Neill noted that significant funds were flowing toward European and Japanese equities as well, which he called the "flavor of the moment." The losses came despite a decline in the U.S. dollar, which hit a near three-week low against a basket of currencies .DXY after U.S. March durable goods orders data showed weakness in business investment spending, suggesting the economy is not strong enough for the U.S. Federal Reserve to lift rates. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ GRAPHIC-2014 asset returns: http://link.reuters.com/dub25t GRAPHIC-Gold/USD correlation: http://r.reuters.com/ryx52s GRAPHIC-Gold vs currencies: http://link.reuters.com/cyv95s ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> Attention is turning to the Fed's policy meeting next week for stronger clues on when the U.S. central bank will start increasing rates. That would raise the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion, while boosting the dollar. Weak data on U.S. jobless claims, manufacturing and home sales have hurt the dollar this week, boosting uncertainty over whether the Fed will conduct its first U.S. rate rise in nearly a decade in June or September. ID:nL1N0XK15W "All the U.S. data up to the next policy meeting will be (scrutinised)," said LBBW analyst Thorsten Proettel. Silver XAG= was down 1 percent at $15.71 an ounce, after hitting its lowest level in five weeks at $15.56, while platinum XPT= was down 1.3 percent at $1,117.75 an ounce and palladium XPD= was up 0.25 percent at $769.50 an ounce. (Additional reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Ruth Pitchford, David Clarke, Grant McCool) ((jan.harvey@thomsonreuters.com)(+44)(0)(207 542 7744)(Reuters Messaging: jan.harvey.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS PRECIOUS/

UPDATE 1-Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia raised gold holdings in March - IMF

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

(Adds details, background) NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation all bolstered their gold holdings last month as prices hit three-month lows, while El Salvador's holdings fell, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Friday. Russia increased its stocks by 30.533 tonnes to 1,238.292 tonnes in March, the data showed, resuming its buying after a pause early this year. The boost marked Russia's fastest bullion-buying pace since September 2014. The country, the world's fifth-largest holder of gold reserves, had been on a buying tear, upping its reserves for nine straight months to December. Belarus also boosted its holdings, raising them by 3.026 tonnes to 45.516 tonnes in March. Turkey raised its holdings by 2.696 tonnes to 513.010 tonnes. Kazakhstan increased its holdings by 2.287 tonnes to 198.410 tonnes, the data showed. El Salvador slashed its stocks by 5.412 tonnes to 1.372 tonnes last month, the data showed. (Reporting by Chris Prentice, editing by G Crosse and Bernard Orr) ((christine.prentice@thomsonreuters.com; +1-646-223-6136; Reuters Messaging: christine.prentice.thomsonreuters@reuters.net)) Keywords: GOLD IMF/

Ghana 91-day bill yield falls to 25.1178 pct

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

ACCRA, April 24 (Reuters) - The Bank of Ghana said the yield on its 91-day bill fell to 25.1178 percent at an auction on Friday, from 25.1435 percent at the last sale. The bank said it had accepted all 663.22 million cedis ($165 million) worth of bids tendered for the 91-day paper. For full details please click here: http://www.bog.gov.gh/privatecontent/Treasury/Auctresults%201430.pdf ($1 USD = 3.8050 Ghana cedis) (Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Bate Felix) ((matt.bigg@thomsonreuters.com; +233)(0209 607-203; Reuters Messaging: matt.bigg.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: GHANA BONDS/

Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia raised gold holdings in March - IMF

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Turkey, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian federation all raised their gold holdings last month, while El Salvador's holdings were lowered, data from the International Monetary Fund showed on Friday. (Reporting by Chris Prentice, editing by G Crosse) ((christine.prentice@thomsonreuters.com; +1-646-223-6136; Reuters Messaging: christine.prentice.thomsonreuters@reuters.net)) Keywords: GOLD IMF/

BRIEF-Fitch affirms Moscow region at 'BB+'

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

April 24 (Reuters) - Fitch: * Fitch affirms Moscow region at 'BB+'; outlook stable * Fitch-ratings reflect moscow's still sound,albeit declining,budgetary performance,low debt,economic indicators above national median * Fitch-forecasts Moscow will record sound operating balance at 8%-10% of operating revenue in the medium term * Fitch-expects Moscow region's budget deficit to widen towards 5% of total revenue as the region continues its investment in infrastructure * Source: (http://bit.ly/1d9LwIQ) ((Bengaluru Newsroom; +1 646 223 8780))

Nigerian central bank orders lenders to get tough with bad debtors

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* Central bank to bar debtors from FX market * Move aimed at avoiding repeat of 2009 bank bailout * Fitch sees NPLs above central bank's 5 percent cap By Chijioke Ohuocha LAGOS, April 24 (Reuters) - Nigeria's central bank ordered banks on Friday to crack down on borrowers with non-performing loans (NPLs) in a move aimed at avoiding a repeat of a 2009 industry bailout that cost the government $4 billion. A sharp drop in the global price of oil, Nigeria's main export, has triggered a currency crisis in Africa's largest economy and strained government's finances, while also harming the cash flow of some companies with foreign currency loans. Ratings agency Fitch said in February it expects NPLs for Nigerian lenders to rise above a central bank cap equal to five percent of their total loan portfolio but to remain below 10 percent this year, driven by high credit concentration in oil and gas and power sectors. ID:nFit914835 Under the new plan, banks will give bad debtors three months to square up their accounts. Failure to do will result in them being named and shamed in Nigerian media and being barred from currency and government debt markets. "The Central Bank of Nigeria has observed the rising trend of non-performing loans in the industry," Tokunbo Martins, director of banking supervision, said in a statement. "Banks and discount houses are required with effect from May 1 ... to give delinquent debtors three months' grace to turn their accounts from non-performing to performing status." They must then publish a list of those "delinquent debtors that remain non-performing in at least three national daily newspapers quarterly", the statement said. The central bank gave no estimate of the current level of commercial lenders' NPLs. In 2009, the central bank rescued several banks that had lent mainly to the oil and gas sector just before crude prices collapsed and as the stock market turned sour, triggering a near collapse of eight commercial banks. Fitch has said the recent sharp drop in oil prices and pressures on the local currency could affect the profitability, asset quality and capital ratios for lenders. The central bank has been battling to support the currency, which it has had to devalue twice despite spending billions of dollars from its reserves to defend the naira. However, demand for dollars, including for debt servicing, has not abated as oil prices and reserves remain low. Last month, the central bank limited the amount individuals can spend abroad on their debit cards to $50,000 per annum, down from $150,000, in order to support the naira. ID:nL5N0X72O9 (Editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Gareth Jones) ((chijioke.ohuocha@thomsonreuters.com; +234 703 4180 621; Reuters Messaging: chijioke.ohuocha.thomsonreuters@reuters.net)) Keywords: NIGERIA CENBANK/DEBT

BRIEF-S&P affirms Jordan's ratings at 'BB-/B'

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

April 24 (Reuters) - S&P: * S&P - ratings on Jordan affirmed at 'BB-/B'; outlook stable * S&P -lower oil prices will support Jordan's growth prospects, ease pressure on public finances, and help contain current account deficits * S&P -bilateral loans and grants will support Jordan's fiscal and external financing needs * S&P -expects Jordan's real gdp growth will continue to improve gradually in 2015 * S&P -Jordan's ratings remain constrained by high government and external debt burdens, with external imbalances in particular remaining wide * S&P -Jordan's "stable outlook reflects our expectation that Jordan's fiscal and external balances will continue to gradually improve" * S&P -lower oil prices, as well as energy diversification efforts, will ease pressure on Jordan's public finances,help contain current accout deficits * Source: (http://bit.ly/1JldG0L) ((Bengaluru Newsroom; +1 646 223 8780))

Few signs of electoral angst as sterling hits 5-week high

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

(Updates prices, adds more comment) By Jamie McGeever and Patrick Graham LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - Sterling rose to a five-week high against the dollar on Friday, joining a global push against the greenback and putting in doubt the running assumption that uncertainty ahead of the UK general election is a mounting risk for the pound. Hedge funds were said to be among those buying sterling, on track for a 1.5 percent gain on the week in its best two-week run against the dollar since the immediate aftermath of Britain's last general election five years ago. By 1521 GMT it was 0.8 percent higher on the day at $1.5167, having reached its highest levels since March 18. It had hit a five-year low of $1.4580 last week. "Since the start of the year strategists have been saying that every scenario from the election was bad for the pound," said Richard Benson, co-head of portfolio investments at Millennium Global, which manages currency exposure for sovereign wealth funds and other major institutions. "We think for example a Labour government that implements looser fiscal policy may lead to the Bank of England tightening interest rates faster, which would be good for the pound. What is bad for sterling is if we don't get a government at all." Several banks have published research recently suggesting a risk premium is built into sterling because the May 7 election is almost certain to deliver a hung parliament, leading to a potentially unstable coalition government. But outside of the fallout of the dollar's broad strength this year, there has been precious little pressure on spot rates. "We are having trouble finding it," said Josh O'Byrne, G10 currency strategist at Citi, adding that, if anything, sterling is on the strong side. The pound was also a third of a percent higher at 71.67 pence per euro, despite the common currency hitting a two-week high against the dollar. British economic data this week was mixed. Retail sales fell unexpectedly in March, but minutes from the Bank of England's last policy meeting showed the central bank saw a chance that inflation could rebound faster than expected. Traders will be firmly focused on the election campaign next week. One potential twist could come from the announcement from HSBC HSBA.L , Europe's largest bank, that it is reviewing whether to move its headquarters out of Britain following regulatory and structural changes in the industry. The main economic data releases will be the first reading of first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) on Monday, and the first glimpses into manufacturing and service sector activity in April with Friday's purchasing manager index reports. (Editing by Hugh Lawson) ((patrick.graham@thomsonreuters.com)(+44207 542 9429)(patrick.graham.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS FOREX/STERLING

GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities hit all-time high, Nasdaq to extend record

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* Benchmark Treasury yields down after weak U.S. data * MSCI World extends multiyear rally, Nasdaq to extend record * Eurogroup says "still far" from Greek deal (Updates prices, changes comment) By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Equities across the globe rode to all-time highs on Friday, with positive corporate earnings and a record peak for the Nasdaq Composite stoking investor optimism. U.S. giants Amazon AMZN.O , Microsoft MSFT.O and Google GOOGL.O led Wall Street higher, prepping the Nasdaq for a second straight record closing high. On Thursday, the index broke a closing record that had stood for more than 15 years. The MSCI All-Country World index .MIWD00000PUS hit a lifetime high of 441.46 points, extending a multiyear rally driven by plentiful central bank cash and the global economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. "I think we're on more solid footing than the last time," said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York, comparing the fresh Nasdaq highs with those in 2000, right before the Internet bubble burst. "There could be some vulnerability in some of the tech names, given the change in the value of the dollar, but I don't get the same sense that we're overvalued at these levels the way we were the last time we got here," he said. Investor sentiment in Europe was boosted by positive updates from companies including Electrolux ELUXb.ST and Renault RENA.PA . European companies are set for a bumper earnings season on the back of a weak euro and an improved economy. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 2.77 points, or 0.02 percent, to 18,055.92; the S&P 500 .SPX gained 3.3 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,116.23 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 34.10 points, or 0.67 percent, to 5,090.16. The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 rose 0.3 percent, with sentiment supported by a German business survey that rose by more than expected for April. The prospect of a breakthrough in Greece's debt drama underpinned markets. ID:nL5N0XL0FB Oil prices edged back from 2015 highs reached the session before but remain on course for weekly gains after renewed air strikes in Yemen stoked concerns on the security of Middle East oil shipments. Brent crude LCOc1 was on track for a fifth week of price increases in the last six, up 0.3 percent on the day. U.S. crude CLc1 dropped 1.7 percent to $56.79 but was on track for its sixth straight week of gains. The euro retreated from a two-week high against the U.S. dollar after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers, said that despite commitments from all sides to strike a deal on Greece they were "still far" from reaching one. The dollar index .DXY was flat. U.S. Treasuries prices rose as weak U.S. business investment data for March supported the view that it is unlikely the Federal Reserve will signal next week it is close to raising interest rates. ID:nL1N0XL0OC U.S. 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR were up 8/32 in price for a yield of 1.9191 percent, compared with 1.947 percent late on Thursday. (Editing by Toby Chopra and Jonathan Oatis) ((lionel.laurent@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 9746; Reuters Messaging: lionel.laurent.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS GLOBAL/

Venezuela carries out $1 bln gold swap with Citibank -media

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

CARACAS, April 24 (Reuters) - Venezuela's central bank has converted part of its gold reserves into at least $1 billion in cash through a swap with Citibank, local media reported on Friday. The deal will make more foreign currency available to President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government as the OPEC nation struggles with soaring consumer prices, chronic shortages and a shrinking economy worsened by low oil prices. Daily newspaper El Nacional said the deal was for $1 billion and was struck with Citibank, which is owned by Citigroup Co C.N . Former central bank director Jose Guerra and economist Asdrubal Oliveros of Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalitica said in separate interviews that the operation had been carried out. The central bank did not immediately respond to a request for comments. A Citibank official said the company had no comment. A source at the central bank told Reuters last month it would provide 1.4 million troy ounces of gold in exchange for cash. Venezuela would have to pay interest on the funds, but the bank would most likely be able to maintain the gold as part of its foreign currency reserves. ID:nL1N0WC292 Most of Venezuela's foreign reserves are held in gold after late socialist leader Hugo Chavez began moving central bank assets away from the dollar in the wake of the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. (Reporting by Corina Pons and Brian Ellsworth; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Paul Simao) ((alexandra.ulmer@thomsonreuters.com; Twitter: @ReutersVzla, @AlexandraUlmer; +58 212 655 2656; Reuters Messaging: alexandra.ulmer.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: VENEZUELA CENBANK/

UPDATE 2-CPPIB joins chorus against Barrick's executive pay structure

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

(Adds CPPIB comment, market reaction) By Euan Rocha TORONTO, April 24 (Reuters) - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the country's largest pension fund manager, on Friday joined other investors opposing Barrick Gold Corp's ABX.TO executive compensation schemes, arguing the company's pay awards were "outsize" and unrelated to performance. Toronto-based CPPIB said it plans to come out against the advisory vote on executive compensation that Barrick will be having at its annual shareholder meeting next week. It also said it plans to withhold support from Brett Harvey, one of Barrick's board members and the chair of its compensation committee. CPPIB own roughly 8.1 million Barrick shares, or less than a percent of the company's outstanding stock. "We continue to be concerned with the company's practice of granting outsized awards on a largely discretionary basis, which we believe is inconsistent with the governance principle of pay-for-performance," said CPPIB in a statement. Last week, two smaller Canadian pension funds, the British Columbia Investment Management Corp (BCIMC) and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, said they plan to withhold support from Barrick's entire board in light of their concerns with Barrick's executive compensation package. ID:nL2N0XE1CM This marks the second time in three years that Barrick is facing heat over its executive pay. The company lost an advisory vote on its executive pay structure in 2013, prompting it to lay out a new compensation program last year. However, the company's recent disclosure that Executive Chairman John Thornton was paid $12.9 million in 2014 unleashed fresh complaints. Barrick contends that with its new pay structure, its senior leaders' personal wealth is directly tied to the company's long-term success. (http://bit.ly/1GUbZ9I) But its detractors including well known proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis contend that Thornton's pay is not clearly tied to any established and measurable long-term performance metrics. ID:nL2N0X719N ID:nL2N0X62TX Separately, CPPIB's much smaller pension fund rival OPTrust also expressed its dismay with Barrick's pay structure, stating that it also plans to come out against the advisory vote on the pay structure. "Where it comes to Mr Thornton, we cannot easily discern any link between pay and performance ... OPTrust has decided to also withhold votes from returning compensation committee members," said a spokeswoman for OPTrust. Shares in Barrick were little changed in early trading on Friday. The investor outrage comes amid a growing outcry about large pay packages for senior executives at some Canadian companies. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO lost its advisory vote on its executive compensation structure on Thursday, in the face of blowback over mega payments to two retired executives. ID:nL1N0XK2J0 (Additional reporting by Susan Taylor and Allison Lampert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and W Simon) ((euan.rocha@thomsonreuters.com; +1 416 941 8185; Reuters Messaging: euan.rocha.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BARRICK GOLD AGM/COMPENSATION

GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities at all-time high after Nasdaq record

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* MSCI World extends multi-year rally * Europe lifted by earnings, Greece optimism * Eurogroup says "still far" from Greek deal * Oil prices steady (Updates with Eurogroup, US equity futures) By Lionel Laurent LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - Global equity markets rode to new all-time highs on Friday, with positive corporate updates in Europe and a post-dotcom-boom peak for the U.S. Nasdaq stoking investor optimism. There were also some positive signs from previously deadlocked negotiations between Greece and its international creditors, with Athens offering concessions on some key reforms in exchange for urgently needed new funding. ID:nL5N0XL0FB However, the euro retreated from a two-week high against the dollar after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of euro zone finance ministers, said that despite commitments from all sides to strike a deal on Greece they were "still far" from conclusion. "Our baseline remains that the status quo position -- more weary can-kicking -- is most likely to prevail," said Lucy O'Carroll, chief economist at Aberdeen Asset Management. The MSCI All-Country World index .MIWD00000PUS hit a lifetime high of 441.1 points, extending a multi-year rally driven by plentiful central bank cash and the global economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. By 1104 GMT the index was trading at 440.70 points, up 0.3 percent on the day. U.S. equity futures SPc1 were up 0.2 percent. On Wall Street on Thursday, the Nasdaq pushed above its previous record set in March 2000, the height of the dotcom boom. Weak readings on U.S. jobless claims, manufacturing and home sales contrasted with the shining share market performance and rekindled doubts about the timing of a U.S. rate hike. Investor sentiment in Europe was boosted by positive updates from companies including Electrolux ELUXb.ST and Renault RENA.PA . European companies are set for a bumper earnings season on the back of a weak euro and an improved economy. Shares of HSBC HSBA.L rose 3.2 percent after Europe's biggest bank said it would review whether to move its headquarters out of Britain, potentially dealing a blow to a country trying to balance tighter regulation with the importance of the financial industry to its economy. ID:nL5N0XL1JJ Sentiment was also supported by a German business survey that rose by more than expected for April. German 10-year Bund yields dipped but remained on track for one of their biggest weekly gains this year. The prospect of a breakthrough in Greece's debt drama underpinned markets. "We give a low probability to a default event in the coming month and expect a (tentative) deal to be struck by June, at the latest," Credit Suisse economists wrote in a note to clients. "Greece has shown a clear resilience in recent months, given that no official cash has been disbursed to the country for the past eight months or so." MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.9 percent, after marking its highest level since January 2008. China stocks slipped after the country's securities regulator said it would accelerate approval of initial public offerings in an apparent effort to cool the red hot market. The CSI300 index .CSI300 fell 0.8 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 0.5 percent, with both still on track for robust weekly gains. Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 ended down 0.8 percent after hitting a 15-year peak on Thursday, but was still up 1.9 percent for the week. Oil prices held steady near 2015 highs reached on Thursday, remaining on track for weekly gains after renewed air strikes in Yemen stoked concerns on the security of Middle East oil shipments. (Editing by Toby Chopra) ((lionel.laurent@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 9746; Reuters Messaging: lionel.laurent.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS GLOBAL/

CPPIB joins chorus against Barrick's executive pay structure

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

TORONTO, April 24 (Reuters) - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the country's largest pension fund manager, on Friday joined a slew of other investors opposing Barrick Gold Corp's ABX.TO executive pay structure. Toronto-based CPPIB said it plans to come out against the advisory vote on executive compensation that Barrick will be having at its annual shareholder meeting next week. It also said it plans to withhold support from Brett Harvey, one of Barrick's board members and the chair of its compensation committee. Last week, two smaller Canadian pension funds, the British Columbia Investment Management Corp (BCIMC) and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, said they plan to withhold support from Barrick's entire board in light of their concerns with Barrick's executive compensation package. ID:nL2N0XE1CM (Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama) ((euan.rocha@thomsonreuters.com; +1 416 941 8185; Reuters Messaging: euan.rocha.reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BARRICK GOLD AGM/COMPENSATION

GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities at all-time high after Nasdaq record

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

* MSCI World extends multi-year rally * Europe lifted by earnings, Greece optimism * Euro hits 2-wk high ahead of Ifo survey * Oil prices steady By Lionel Laurent LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - Global equity markets rode to new all-time highs on Friday, with positive corporate updates in Europe and a post-dotcom-boom peak for the U.S. Nasdaq stoking investor optimism. There were also some positive signs from previously deadlocked negotiations between Greece and its international creditors, with Athens offering concessions on some key reforms in exchange for urgently needed new funding. ID:nL5N0XL0FB "Optimism of some form of deal does appear to be slowly trickling back," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson. The MSCI All-Country World index .MIWD00000PUS hit a lifetime high of 441.1 points, extending a multi-year rally driven by plentiful central bank cash and the global economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. On Wall Street on Thursday, the Nasdaq pushed above its previous record set in March 2000, the height of the dotcom boom. Weak readings on U.S. jobless claims, manufacturing and home sales contrasted with the shining share market performance and rekindled doubts about the timing of a U.S. rate hike. Investor sentiment in Europe was boosted by positive updates from companies including Electrolux ELUXb.ST and Renault RENA.PA . European companies are set for a bumper earnings season on the back of a weak euro and an improved economy. The euro also rose to a two-week high ahead of a key German business sentiment survey, the Ifo, whose business climate indicator rose in April by more than expected. German 10-year Bund yields dipped but remained on track for one of their biggest weekly gains this year. The prospect of a breakthrough in Greece's debt drama underpinned markets. "We give a low probability to a default event in the coming month and expect a (tentative) deal to be struck by June, at the latest," Credit Suisse economists wrote in a note to clients. "Greece has shown a clear resilience in recent months, given that no official cash has been disbursed to the country for the past eight months or so." MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.9 percent, after marking its highest level since January 2008. China stocks slipped after the country's securities regulator said it would accelerate approval of initial public offerings in an apparent effort to cool the red hot market. The CSI300 index .CSI300 fell 0.8 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 0.5 percent, with both still on track for robust weekly gains. Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 ended down 0.8 percent after hitting a 15-year peak on Thursday, but was still up 1.9 percent for the week. Oil prices held steady near 2015 highs reached on Thursday, remaining on track for weekly gains after renewed air strikes in Yemen stoked concerns on the security of Middle East oil shipments. (Editing by Susan Fenton) ((lionel.laurent@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 9746; Reuters Messaging: lionel.laurent.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: MARKETS GLOBAL/

Vietnam domestic market commodity prices-April 24

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

April 24 (Reuters) - Following are domestic prices of Vietnam's key commodities. Unit: million dong VND= per tonne. Item April 20-24 April 13-17 Location Robusta beans 38.1-39.5 37.8-39.3 Central Highlands Black pepper 174.0-180.0 174.0-181.0 Southern region Refined sugar 13.0-15.5 13.0-15.5 Southern region Winter-spring paddy 5.00-5.70 5.00-5.70 Mekong Delta ___________________ SJC gold 3.508-3.520 3.519-3.526 Hanoi, HCM City NOTES: Gold prices are low/high selling prices quoted in million dong during the week by top manufacturer SJC per 3.75-gram ingot. Coffee export prices COFFEE/ASIA1 Rice export prices RICE/ASIA1 Historical data VNCOMM01 Central bank's gold auction SBVGOLD2013 ($1=21,500 dong) (Compiled by Hanoi Newsroom) ((ho.minh@thomsonreuters.com; +844 3825 9623)) Keywords: VIETNAM COMMODITIES/PRICES

UPDATE 2-Oregon mine that summoned armed guards in land dispute files appeal

April 24, 2015 - reuters.com

(Changes dateline from Portland; adds details on protest, comment from mine owner) By Jim Urquhart MEDFORD, Ore., April 23 (Reuters) - The owners of an Oregon gold mine who called in armed activists to protect their claim amid a bitter land use dispute with the U.S. government have appealed a federal stop-work order, a mine co-owner said on Thursday. About 100 mine supporters gathered peacefully outside a closed U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in Medford to decry what they call federal overreach, even as the owners insist they want to avoid a high-profile standoff. Sugar Pine Mine co-owner Rick Barclay told Reuters he has filed an appeal with a federal appellate review body and also requested a stay order to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from "doing any enforcement" before a hearing. "All I want is my day in court, with my property intact," Barclay said. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Tom Gorey said in a statement that the appeal had been received and that the agency shares the mining claimants' interest in peacefully resolving the matter through administrative channels. The protesters in Medford, some flocking from other states, included members of the Oath Keepers activist network and other conservative groups. "Do I regret calling (armed activists) in? No, not at all," Barclay said. "I am ashamed that I have to in order to bring compliance of the law to my own government in my own country. It's a sad state of affairs." At issue is a dispute over ownership records, Oregon Bureau of Land Management spokesman Jim Whittington said. The owners argue they have exclusive surface rights and need not follow federal regulations. But Whittington said while the owners have mining rights, the surface rights were ceded to the agency in 1961 by the then-owners. The miners say they want to avoid a standoff like last year's fight between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government in which the Bureau of Land Management sought to seize cattle because Bundy refused to pay grazing fees. Federal agents ultimately backed down. A Bureau of Land Management office in nearby Grants Pass was also closed on Thursday ahead of the protest. The agency said it had told employees to avoid the mine because of the armed activists. Oath Keepers said more supporters were en route to fill jobs for a long-haul protest, from security to cooking. Bundy's son, Ammon, said two family representatives had traveled to Oregon, and the family was monitoring the situation. (Reporting by Jim Urquhart in Medford, Oregon and Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Eric Walsh, Bill Trott and Mohammad Zargham) ((Eric.m.johnson@thomsonreuters.com; +1 206 922 2907; Reuters Messaging: Eric.M.Johnson.reuters.com@reuters.net; Twitter: @ByEricJohnson)) Keywords: USA MINERS/OREGON

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