Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is an excellent opprtunity to support local Staten Island stores.

Small Business Saturday is a great way for Staten Islanders to support local stores. This new holiday shopping promotion takes place Nov. 24, two days after Thanksgiving.

Especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Island merchants are hoping not to be overlooked amid the much-hyped sales by national retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

We encourage Islanders who plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend to do much of it locally on Small Business Saturday. There are bargains to be found in local stores as well.

“Instead of fighting the crowds on Black Friday, find local retailers in the community to support on Small Business Saturday,” suggests Scott Markoff of independently owned Fox Floors in New Springville.

To urge shoppers to give back to their local communities, American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010. Last year, an estimated 100 million people participated in the growing annual event, which features sales on Main Streets nationwide.

It has hundreds of supporters, including the U.S. Small Business Association, the Better Business Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Business.

On Staten Island, following widespread storm disruptions, Small Business Saturday can go a long way toward helping to revive our economy. That’s because they not only employ Staten Islanders, but they often use local vendors and, unlike the big-box stores and on-line merchants, the money they take in stays right here.

According to Toni Russo of Valentine Rose fashion boutique in Huguenot, shopping locally this season is vital.
“The small business community is now finding themselves in a tremendously difficult position,” Ms. Russo explained. “We do as much as we can to help our communities affected by this disaster; however, at the same time, we also need to maintain our livelihood.”

Small Business Saturday is being promoted in shopping districts across Staten Island — from Port Richmond Avenue, to Castleton Avenue, to Forest Avenue on the North Shore; along New Dorp Lane in Mid-Island, and on the South Shore.

There is no doubt that shopping at smaller stores during the holidays can help to boost the recovery help.”I feel it is essential to the rebuilding and restoring of Staten Island,” Ms. Russo said.

She added, “I truly feel that small businesses are what help to stimulate the growth of a community. I have seen the end result of vacant strip malls and store fronts, and I truly worry and certainly don’t want to sit back idly and watch that happen to our beautiful Staten Island.”

By shopping locally on Small Business Saturday and during the holidays, you can thank local merchants for their overwhelming outpouring of support to Hurricane Sandy victims here.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 91 percent of small-business owners contributed to their community in the last year through volunteering, in-kind contributions, and/or direct cash donations.

This has certainly been typical of Staten Island — more so than ever in the wake of the storm devastation.Please remember to take advantage of Small Business Saturday if you plan to go shopping this weekend.

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Deere 4Q net income misses analyst expectations.

Farm and construction gear maker Deere & Co. reported a bigger fourth-quarter profit as it sold more equipment at higher prices, but results still missed analyst expectations.

Deere said its net income rose 2.7 percent to $687.6 million, or $1.75 per share for the quarter ended Oct. 31. Revenue rose 14 percent to $9.79 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.88 per share. A year ago, Deere’s net income was $669.6 million, or $1.62 per share.

Deere revenue got a boost from a 4 percent increase in prices, although some of that gain was offset by unfavorable foreign currency exchange that hurt sales by 3 percent.

Equipment sales rose to $9.05 billion, topping analyst forecasts of $8.93 billion. Sales were strong in the U.S. and Canada, rising 26 percent for the quarter. Elsewhere, sales fell 2 percent. Sales of agriculture and turf equipment rose 16 percent, while construction and forestry equipment sales rose 7 percent.

Deere predicted that equipment sales would rise about 5 percent for the fiscal year that began this month, and would increase 10 percent in the first quarter. It expects full-year 2013 net income of about $3.2 billion. That’s a little more than analysts are expecting.

Deere is in a good position to carry out its growth plans, but ‘‘present global economic and fiscal concerns warrant continued caution,’’ Chairman and CEO Samuel R. Allen said.

Moline, Ill.-based Deere is the world’s largest maker of agricultural equipment. It also makes construction and forestry equipment, including backhoes, excavators, riding mowers and leaf blowers. Since it touches so many important manufacturing markets, it has a unique look into the state of the economy, in the U.S. and abroad.

Deere expects worldwide sales of agriculture and turf equipment to rise 4 percent in the upcoming year, boosted by high crop prices. However, sales are expected to be flat in the U.S. as livestock and dairy farmers remain cautious. It expects full-year sales in Europe to be flat to down 5 percent. It predicted 10 percent growth in South America. Deere expects worldwide growth of 8 percent for construction equipment, ‘‘due in part to modest improvement in U.S. economic conditions.’’

Deere shares fell $3.35, or 3.9 percent, to $82.64 in morning trading.

For the full fiscal year, Deere earned $3.07 billion, or $7.63 per share, up from $2.8 billion, or $6.63 per share, during the prior year. Revenue rose 13 percent to $36.16 billion for the year.end of story marker

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Women bishops

The Church of England Votes Against Women Bishops.

With many hoping to smash the stained glass ceiling, the Church of England voted over allowing women to serve as bishops on November 20. But the ceiling remains intact, as the vote failed to pass and the outcome could have major implications for the Church’s future.

The Church’s legislative body, known as the General Synod, made the decision late Tuesday afternoon. After a long day filled with dozens of speeches by various members of the Synod’s three elected houses – one each for clergy, bishops and lay people – at Church House in Westminster, London, the measure was put to a vote. It needed a two-thirds majority from each of the Synod’s houses to pass, but fell short by just six votes from lay-members.

For years, there has been a strong push to allow women to become bishops in the Church, which opened its doors to women priests back in 1992. Women bishops are already common in the Anglican churches in Canada, the U.S. and Australia and many in Britain were shocked at the Synod’s decision, which was widely expected to go the other way. Reverend George Pitcher, an Anglican priest at London’s St. Bride’s, was stunned by the vote, saying that it could cause “chaos in the Church of England.” The decision was also a blow to both the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who has long supported the move, as well as the incoming Archbishop, Justin Welby, who endorsed women bishops in his first address from Lambeth Palace just two weeks ago. “I will be voting in favor,” Welby told a group of reporters on Nov. 9. “And join my voice to many others in urging the Synod to go forward with this change.”

Though it’s not the most divisive issue facing the wider, worldwide Anglican community – that would be the question of gay marriage – ordaining women bishops has caused serious conflict within the Church of England for years now. According to Pitcher, the Church is divided between reformers who want to see the Church evolve and conservatives who are against the Church of England becoming a “mainstream, liberal, Episcopal—as in the States—type of Church.” Traditionalist members and clergy have been especially firm in their views that only men should serve in the role of bishops, believing it to be scripturally sound. “We accept that there are different interpretations of the scriptures,” Jane Patterson, a member of the conservative evangelical group Reform, told the Guardian, “but the church needs to guard against placing society’s views over what we see as God’s views, as expressed in his written word, the Bible.”

Meanwhile, others believe allowing women bishops is not only the right thing to do, but also the necessary thing to do to keep pace with modern England. The Church has been bleeding members for a number of years, with reports from the Research and Statistics Department of the Archbishops’ Council for 2010 showing that less than 2% of Britons attend regular services. And the Church’s latest move isn’t likely to register well with the average citizen; a July poll showed that 74% of Brits thought the Church of England should allow women bishops. “Theology doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” Jan McFarlane, the Archdeacon of Norwich, pointed out during her speech to the Synod on Tuesday. “A church so out of step with the world around us becomes an irrelevance.”

Incidentally, even some advocates of women bishops weren’t fully supportive of Tuesday’s measure anyway, as it included a clause allowing individual traditionalist parishes to opt for a stand-in male bishop to oversee a women bishop. The clause was an attempt to placate inflexible opponents of women bishops, but it obviously wasn’t enough to win over everyone. After the measure was rejected on Tuesday, Archbishop Williams expressed his sadness over the decision and added that “this vote of course isn’t the end of the story. This is not an issue that is going to go away.” Which, unfortunately, was the one conclusion that the entire Church of England was hoping for.

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Has the White House turkey pardon jumped the shark?

The annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon, dating back to JFK, is now a highly choreographed affair, involving two turkeys, their ‘bios,’ and a Facebook vote to decide who gets to be the official White House bird.
Has the White House tuWe ask this because this year’s traditional ceremony – in which President Obama will pardon a bird presumably otherwise bound for a Thanksgiving platter – is more, um, elaborate than ever. It involves two turkeys, and Facebook, and voting, and Carly Simon. This isn’t a lighter moment in a president’s otherwise heavy schedule, it’s an over-produced reality show. Call it “The Gravy Factor,” or maybe “America’s Got Drumsticks.”

OK, we’ll back up a moment and take this whole thing from the top. Since at least 1947, US presidents have participated in an annual event in which they receive a turkey from the National Turkey Federation in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving harvest feast.
At the beginning, these birds had a date with oyster stuffing. President Truman ate his, or at least said he was going to. President Eisenhower did the same thing.

But more recently, White Houses have decided it looks less carnivorous for them to grant the on-stage bird clemency. According to a White House history of the event, John F. Kennedy was the first to send his turkey back to the farm. “We’ll just let this one grow,” he said.

President George H. W. Bush was the first to use the actual word “pardon.” He sent his turkey to live out its days at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Va., thereby indicating he had a subtler sense of humor than historians give him credit for today.

Since then the ceremony has become more and more Hollywood. Two turkeys are involved – a primary turkey and a backup in case the first bird can’t carry out its duty of continuing to live.

Enter Gobbler and Cobbler. This year, some Obama aide had the bright idea of pitting these two birds against each other in a Facebook-based voting contest. The one with the most “likes” would be named the official White House bird.

Gobbler’s a four-month-old male from Rockingham County, Va., according to his Facebook description. His favorite food is corn, and his walk is “patient but proud,” according to the White House.

Cobbler is a four-month-old, 40-pound male, also from Rockingham, who’s a “strutter” and likes the song “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, according to his official bio.

(Sweet cornbread stuffing! Who’s the overachieving White House official who had to make that stuff up? They clawed their way to the top of Washington and thought they’d be running the world and instead they’re hawking poultry.)

At last look, Cobbler was the favorite – he had about 2,400 “likes” to Gobbler’s 2,100. Neither will be eaten, so the title is honorific. Maybe they get a sash, or a crown.

But here’s our point – it seems to us they’re being ironic about the whole ceremony instead of straightforward. “Cobbler”? Carly Simon? If it’s not worth doing it without a subtext, maybe it’s not worth doing at all.

It’s not like presidents enjoy it. Or at least, many don’t seem to. Ike and Jimmy Carter made their veeps shoulder most of the turkey-related duties. Ronald Reagan laughed when his turkey made a flyabout and bolted for freedom.

In 2009, Obama approached the bird to be pardoned, named “Courage,” and asked his (the bird’s) handlers if there was an “official gesture.” Come on – this whole thing has become too grandiose, like the “Happy Days” episode where Fonzie literally jumped a shark while water-skiing. At that point, the show’s creators were out of ideas, and it began to go downhill.

Perhaps the turkey pardon has reached that crucial turn in the narrative road. The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked Obama to end the practice, calling it “archaic.”

“The White House turkey ‘pardon’ is a sorely outdated event,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk wrote in a letter to the White House.

We might agree with that, but then again, the scalloped oysters are our own favorite part of the turkey-day meal.

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NEW DATA: How The Tablet Revolution Is Already Turning Ecommerce On Its Head.
Although there are far fewer tablets in existence than there are smartphones, Ipads, Samsung and Nexus tabs are already changing online shopping.

In some arenas — such as the conversion rate of visiting users into actual shoppers, and the average amount they spend — tablets are already at parity with old fashioned desktop computer shopping.

Monetate, a company that optimizes ecommerce sites, examined a sample of 100 million online shopping experiences to produce this data on the way tablets are replacing smartphones as shopping devices — and even threatening the dominance of the desktop.

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IIP and inflation data to guide market mood this week.

Stock markets are likely to witness volatile trading in the coming week in view of industrial output and inflation data that are lined up for release, according to experts.
That apart, there are indications that the government may hike fuel prices impacting market sentiment.
While stock markets may open on a bullish note following European Central Bank’s announcing last week a bond-buying plan to revive euro-zone’s ailing economies, key triggers for domestic markets in the form of IIP numbers and inflation data will appear from the middle of the week.
July’s industrial output data will be released on September 12, and August headline inflation figure on September 14.
While slowdown in economic growth has made investors cautious, inflation remains above the comfort level of the government as well as the Reserve Bank, keeping interest rates high.
The new data will provide key inputs for a decision on interest rates coming ahead of RBI’s monetary policy review on September 17, analysts said.
“Concerns over slowing growth and high level of inflation in the economy are expected to persist in the near-term. The Indian markets continue to take positive cues from global events in spite of the weak domestic economic and political environment,” Angel Broking said in a report.
It further said that RBI is unlikely to cut key rates in the mid-quarter review of the policy due next week since upside risks to inflation continue to persist.
Macroeconomic concerns may prompt investors to book profits at higher levels after a smart rally in the market last week, analysts said.
“It will not be easy to hold on to the gains amid growing concerns about the economy and the government’s ability to push through key reforms,” an expert said.
Besides, the government is widely expected to hike petrol, diesel, cooking gas and kerosene prices simultaneously in the coming week.
While the move will ease pressure on oil marketing companies, high crude oil prices remain a concern for the markets for the fear of fanning inflation.
On NSE index Nifty’s weekly outlook, Rakesh Goyal, Senior Vice President, Bonanza Portfolio, said: “For the coming week, if Nifty sustains above 5,350, likely upside target shall be 5,400-5,450. On the other hand, if it goes below the 5,300 level, further selling pressure is likely up to 5,280-5,250.”
On the global front, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will hold meeting on September 12-13 and markets will keenly await its outcome.

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Jobs market

Grim US jobs market hurts Obama bid.

US JOBS growth slowed sharply in August, setting the stage for the Federal Reserve to pump additional money into the sluggish economy next week and dealing a blow to President Barack Obama as he seeks re-election.
Non-farm payrolls increased only 96000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday.
While the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% from 8.3% in July, that was because many Americans had given up job hunting. The survey of households from which the jobless rate is derived actually showed a drop in employment.
“This weak employment report, in jobs, wages, hours worked and participation is probably the last piece the Fed needs before launching another round of quantitative easing next week,” said Joseph Trevisani, chief market strategist at Worldwide Markets in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
The lacklustre report piled pressure on Obama ahead of the November vote in which the health of the economy looms large.
“This report underscores President Obama’s failed promises to get our economy moving again,” House of Representatives speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, said in a statement. “Wages are stagnant, gas prices and health care costs are up, our national debt has surpassed R134.4-trillion and millions of Americans remain out of work or underemployed.”
Economists polled by Reuters had expected payrolls to rise 125000 last month, but some had pushed their forecasts higher after upbeat data on Thursday.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke last week said the labour market’s stagnation was a “grave concern”, a comment that raised expectations for a further easing of monetary policy.
The economy has experienced three years of growth since the 2007-09 recession, but the expansion has been grudging and the jobless rate has held above 8% for 43 straight months – the longest stretch since the Great Depression.
The jobless rate, which peaked at 10% in October 2009, poses a threat to Obama’s re-election bid.Free job posting in Brazil: Cadastro de vagas de emprego gratis Unlimited job ads for companies.

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Winemakers eager to crack black market.

Johannesburg – South Africa’s wine-makers are still trying to break into the black market, they said at the recent Soweto Wine Festival.
More black consumers were drinking wine, but it still did not amount to a “big change”, said Boekenhoutskloof Winery sales manager Innocent.”We do see change, but it’s not that big change we’re looking for,” he said.
“Today (at the festival) they are drinking wine, but tomorrow they’ll be drinking beer.”
Bon Courage representative Spikkels Senekal agreed. There was “a huge market” of black drinkers, but they usually opted for beer and whiskey, with wine consumption adding up to “very little.”
There was “a lot of room for growth,” he said.
Festival co-owner Marilyn Cooper said the wineries had found that participants this year – the eighth year of the festival – were more knowledgeable than in the past.
“When we started, people didn’t really know about wine. Now they know a great deal.”
The expansion of the market was “a process”, she said. “I promise you that by next year (black people will) be drinking more wine.”Wine drinking was “part of a lifestyle you acquire”, she said, and argued that the wine market could not be broken up demographically.
“You can’t say this is a black market and this is a white market. That’s the old South Africa. You cannot break this market up into black consumers and white markets.”
Cooper said the key for wine-makers to get more black consumers would be to take their business to black consumers – in the same way the wine festival did.
“You don’t see that anywhere else: white people behind the counter selling to black people.”
Her partner Mnikelo Mangciphu owned wine shops in Soweto and the Johannesburg CBD and has recently opened a shop in Gugulethu, outside Cape Town, she said.
Some wine-makers at the festival said that while expanding the black market was important, it was only part of the equation. Black ownership of wineries remained an issue.
Although many wine brands were owned by black companies, they did not own their own vineyards and had to purchase wine in bulk from established vintners, said Vernon Henn, the general manager of Thandi, one of the country’s three black-owned wineries (they own their own land and vineyards).
Henn said wineries were capital intensive and “cash hungry”, and that new entrants to the industry faced an uphill battle.
Thandi had struggled for shelf-space in shops, as retailers were uncertain whether it had the funds to promote itself.
“We don’t have all the funds to please the buyer,” Henn said.
He also took the government to task for not helping to do more to help small, black producers of wine.
The wine served at Parliamentary events seemed to come only from the nation’s large producers, he said.
Cooper agreed that transformation had largely been limited to brands.
“I don’t want to lie to you. wine-making in the Cape is owned by whites,” she said. “In 20-years, we’ve got three (black-owned companies) who actually own the land.”She said most wineries became profitable only in their second or third generations.
“It’s an expensive business. How much wine at R35 a bottle do you have to sell just to repay your loan?” she asked.

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Many stocks broke

Last week was pivotal for equities as well as a reminder that the 3½ year-old recovery is still alive. Many stocks broke out to new recovery highs as the result of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) announcement that it would commence a bond-buying program to stimulate the troubled euro zone economy. The S&P 500 (SPX) made its highest close in four years as stock prices across many sectors rallied on the prospect of increased liquidity, the lifeblood of any bull market.Before we get into the equity market outlook in light of the upcoming 4-year cycle peak, let’s take a minute to discuss a subject of vast importance. Normally our focus is on the internal momentum of the NYSE broad market as well as the various stock market industry groups, such as gold stocks. Internal momentum is arguably the best measure of the incremental demand for stocks and is based on the new highs-new lows. Internal momentum is important because it tends to precede the direction of stock prices, i.e. if internal momentum starts rising while stock prices are falling, it’s usually only a matter of time before stock prices turn around and follow the lead of internal momentum. Conversely, when internal momentum is declining while stock prices are rising, this divergence usually results in stock prices plunging at some point since internal momentum almost always leads stock prices.

With that said, let’s turn our attention to the external momentum (i.e. price momentum) of the stock market as opposed to internal momentum. External momentum is the type of momentum that traders are most familiar with. It’s easily identifiable by merely looking at the chart of the major indices or of any number of individual stocks or commodities. For instance, a stock that has established a rising trend above a moving average such as the 15-day, 30-day or 60-day MA, or a stock in which a rising trend line can be drawn is identified as a “momentum stock” by the conventional wisdom of Wall Street. The daily chart for Apple Inc. (AAPL) is an excellent example of a high profile “momentum stock” as shown below (Note: this is not a buy recommendation).

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The problem with relying on external momentum to make trading decisions is that you never know when the momentum is going to dissipate. By the time an upward trend has become established in a stock or ETF, it’s not uncommon for retail traders to jump in and buy under the assumption that the momentum will continue, only for the uptrend to fail and reverse as soon as they jump in. Trading external momentum is like flying an airplane without an instrument panel: it’s theoretically possible I suppose but highly unadvisable. Internal momentum represents the “instrument panel” for trading stocks since it shows you what isn’t visible on the surface of the market. Internal momentum in most cases gives you a good idea as to whether the uptrend in a particular market sector will continue or dissipate since you’re looking at rate of change as opposed to simple linear extrapolation.

Having said all of this, there is one exception to the external momentum rule. The only time I ever trust external momentum over internal momentum is when it comes to reading the New Economy Index (NEI). The New Economy Index (NEI) reflects the market performance of the most critical U.S. consumer retailers and business service providers and is an excellent measure of the strength or weakness of the domestic retail economy. Unlike government economic statistics, it doesn’t lag by a few weeks but presents a real-time picture of what’s actually happening in the everyday U.S. business economy. The NEI is a simple average of the weekly stock prices of the leading components of the U.S. economy: online and bricks-and-mortar retail sales, transportation, employment, full-service consumer sales, etc. The stock price of the leaders in each of these sectors is averaged to give the weekly NEI reading.

Why is the NEI so important? Because in a bull market, the NEI is perhaps the single best reflection of how the U.S. retail business sector is holding up. NEI isn’t always a leading indicator, but it nearly always coincides with tops and bottoms in not only the stock market but also the economy. NEI just made a new all-time high as Friday, August 31. This chart presents the picture of a still bullish consumer retail economic picture, one that Fed chief Bernanke is surely watching. The last time the Fed intervened with QE2, the NEI had preceded this by giving a “sell” signal. No such sell signal has been made in the New Economy Index since 2010. The positive picture in the NEI also explains why investors in recent months have been apt to treat even the slightest positive economic news headlines with a bullish response.

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When NEI finally turns down and breaks below its 12-week and 20-week moving averages (see above chart), we’ll have our first major indication that the recovery is ending. At present, most of the individual components of NEI are still holding steady near recent highs, but with an important exception: the stock of Fed-Ex (FDX) has been underperforming lately along with its competitor United Parcel Service (UPS). This is partly in response to the rising gasoline prices of recent weeks, but if this disturbing trend continues it will surely bode ill for the U.S. business economy at some point. Transportation is the backbone of business and both FDX and UPS are highly sensitive barometers which point to trends in the state of domestic small and mid-size businesses.

This is why it will be critical that we closely monitor the status of the New Economy Index in the next few weeks, for a reversal of the long-established uptrend in the NEI will signal a reversal of the bull market and economic recovery that has been underway these last couple of years. NEI is a prime example of how external momentum can be just as important as internal momentum in determining the direction of not only the stock market, but of the domestic economy as well.

Having examined the importance of external momentum, let’s return to our discussion of NYSE internal momentum. Thursday’s ECB announcement amounted as much to a resuscitation of the bull market for equities – and an additional boost for gold and silver – as a short-term rescue for the euro zone. From a technical perspective, the powerful rising trend in the NYSE dominant longer-term internal momentum indicator suggested that bullish news from Thursday’s ECB meeting could spark a rally. News can be deceptive and hard to interpret in a directionless market. But when you have at least one or two key longer-term internal momentum indicators in a strong upward trend, good news tends to have a bullish effect on stock prices. This is why it’s so important to monitor the longer-term internal momentum indicator (shown below).The fact that the 4-year cycle is still peaking also played into the hands of the buyers after last week’s ECB action. Central bank stimulus policy is far easier to implement when the forward momentum generated by the cycles is established as it has been this year to date.

Despite the breakout to new highs and the major internal improvements of the last two days there’s still a question as to whether the stock market may have topped out in what could amount to little more than a short-term “blow off” or sucker’s rally. A Reuters news article on Friday afternoon drew attention to this very subject as it called into question the staying power of the rally. The article’s headline was the very epitome of skepticism: “A nice rally while it lasted.” It’s uncommon for a supposedly neutral news source like Reuters to take a definite position on the direction of the stock market, especially in a headline. This could be interpreted, from a contrarian perspective, as a premature call on this market rally, especially since mainstream news sources have a history of being wrong in their market calls.

On the opposite side of the fence was this week’s Barron’s cover. The cover speaks for itself as it suggests the bull market has staying power and will continue despite the efforts of the bears at stopping it. Might this also be interpreted as a contrarian signal that the bull market will in fact soon be halted?

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Shedding some light on these conflicting news headlines is the latest AAII investor sentiment reading, released on Thursday. The AAII poll showed that the percentage of bullish and bearish investors were dead even at 33%, with the percentage of neutral investors also 33%. In other words, investors and media alike are at odds with each other about the short-term direction of the stock market. There is a near perfect division between bulls and bears, with both sides being nearly equal. Major tops are usually preceded by a surplus of bulls over bears for several weeks – normally around two or three months. Only in the last four weeks have there been more bulls than bears (not counting this week’s neutral reading).

This brings us to the final consideration in our analysis of the stock market. The 4-year cycle is scheduled to peak around October 1, plus or minus a few days. That leaves us the better part of September before this important yearly cycle peaks. The rising 4-year cycle has provided a strong underlying support for the stock market for the bulk of this year and has confounded the bears up until now.

Another important factor is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Thursday, September 13. Many Fed watchers expect the central bank to commence another round of so-called quantitative easing (QE) to help stimulate the labor market. If the Fed disappoints these expectations, however, it could play into the hands of the bears.

The most important thing to watch will be the NYSE internal momentum indicators, which are based on the 52-week new highs and lows. As long as most of the individual internal momentum indicator components continue rising in the days ahead, the bull market should remain intact. Only if the key indicators reverse in the next several days will we have to worry about a premature peak for the stock market.

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New UrbanSpace market

New UrbanSpace market brings even more food  options to Meatpacking District .

Vendors include SoBar, Mazie’s Bites, Cuzin’s Duzin, 4Food, Hot Blondies Bakery and more.
A new market has popped up underneath the Highline.
UrbanSpace, the company behind the Union Square Holiday Market and the soon-to-close Dekalb Market, has brought 65 fashion and food vendors to the corner of Washington and 13th Sts.
Customers will recognize many of the foodie offerings — pop-up market regulars such as Roberta’s Pizza, Momofuku Milk Bar and Asia Dog have all set up shop.
But there are also some new options, including a farm-to-table restaurant and juice bar and an e-commerce bakery specializing in blondies, and several Dekalb Market transplants.

To create a unique dining experience, UrbanSpace reached out to Troi Lughod, creative director of T.H.A.T. Artist Inc. and co-owner of Chelsea Market’s Bar Suzette.
A collaboration between Lughod, chef Chris Whaley and beverage director Alexis Parrin, SoBar at the Meating Point serves up healthy alternatives to normal market fare — the menu features fresh, beautifully plated dishes and a variety of juices made from seasonal fruits and veggies.
“We’re doing farm-to-table, something like you’d find at restaurants,” says Lughod, who sources produce from nearby greenmarkets. “We wanted to offer an oasis.”

Dekalb Market vendor Mazie’s Bites can now be found in Manhattan.
Chef and owner Shana Silas whips up what she calls “international soul food” because of its global inspi rations.
Popular dishes include crispy fried fish tacos, a jerk BBQ chicken sandwich and loster mac and cheese.

Another Dekalb Market vendor who’s made the move to urbanSpace Meatpacking is Cuzin’s Duzin.
A former Dunkin Donuts’ baker with 25 years of doughnut-making experience, Todd Jones now fries up mini, fluffy treats that come shaken in powdered sugar, cinnamon or chocolate.

The midtown burger bar has six types of burgers available at the Meatpacking market.
Each is made with 4Food’s signature (W)holeburgers, a doughnut-shaped patty using grass-fed beef from Hudson Valley Harvest.
The unique shape allows the meat to be stuffed with different fillings and toppings: the Caliburger comes with avocado and chili mango while the Mac Daddy is filled with mac and cheese.

Laura Paterson and Lorin Rokoff have taken blondies to a whole new level.
The pair, who met while working at the Museum of Moving Image, opened Hot Blondies as an e-commerce bakery in 2008 and bake out of a Chelsea kitchen.
Their stand at UrbanSpace Meatpacking gives customers a way to buy their blondies (classic chocolate chip, butterscotch white chocolate, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter chocolate chunk) in person.
And brunettes, fear not.
Paterson and Rokoff also make four versions of a rich, fudgy brownie.

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CRTC to examine market share in Bell/Astral deal.

Telecom giant will control too much TV in English Canada, say opponents.
A public hearing into Bell’s $3.4-billion acquisition of Astral Media will focus on how much of the English-language TV market the telecom giant will corner if the deal were to go through.

The CRTC will examine the multibillion dollar transaction on Monday and hear from multimedia, telecom and radio companies, producers as well as film groups and consumer advocates — many of them against the deal.

“The big question is what percentage of the viewing market will Bell end up with after this transaction is concluded,” said telecom consultant Mark Goldberg.

“That’s the fundamental issue to be explored,” said Goldberg, of Toronto-area Mark Goldberg & Associates.

Bell’s parent company BCE said if the deal is approved it will own 33.5 per cent of the English-language market, under the 35 per cent threshold set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for approval.
Too much power?

However, not every one agrees with the math put forward by BCE.

Telecom competitor Telus Corp. believes Bell would have too much control of English-language TV content and leave consumers with fewer choices and higher cable bills.

Telus has argued that the purchase of Montreal-based Astral, along with Bell’s part ownership in the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment TV assets, and its stake in joint venture assets, such as Teletoon, would give Bell 49.5 per cent share of the English-language television audience.

The “Just Say No To Bell” campaign’s website says if the deal is successful, Bell would control 37.6 per cent of TV viewing. It wants the federal government to stop the deal.

“If Ottawa allows this deal to proceed, Bell Canada will dominate the Canadian TV broadcasting scene and become a threat to the industry and to Canadian consumers,” the Just Say No to Bell website says.

“When too much power is concentrated in one company it often means higher prices and poorer choices for consumers.”

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Goldberg said Bell’s English language market share will have to be determined.

“So one of the most contentious issues is figuring out the actual calculation and reaching an agreement there and what approach the CRTC will use,” Goldberg said.

BCE announced the Astral deal last March aimed at creating a media powerhouse poised to take on rivals in providing digital content to consumers. At the time of the deal, BCE chief executive George Cope had said the deal gives Bell important new content for online services and mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers.

In 2010, BCE bought the rest of the CTV assets it didn’t already own for $1.3 billion.

CTV operates more than 25 stations across the country, 30 specialty channels including sports networks TSN and RDS online video programming and properties such as,,,, and It also owns CHUM Radio, which operates more than 30 radio stations throughout Canada.

Astral is Canada’s largest pay and specialty TV broadcaster and owns 84 radio stations in 50 Canadian markets and 24 television services. It is also the third-largest outdoor advertising company and has a stake in the country’s only subscription radio service, XM-Sirius Canada.

If the deal goes ahead, Bell said it would control 24.4 per cent of the French-language market. Bell has said the acquisition of the Astral media assets will provide more competition in Quebec’s French-language market which is dominated by Quebecor Inc.

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Why my company doesn’t have any values.

My company doesn’t have any values. There, it’s out in the open.
Does this mean that we’re dishonest, that we don’t believe in trust and integrity? Not at all. In fact, integrity is at the core of everything we do. But it’s not written on some stupid poster on the wall, reminding our staff what we stand for.
In most large corporates, the company values are a wish list rather than a true reflection of the attitudes and behaviours of the company’s employees. In other words, a group of senior executives sit around a boardroom table and decide between themselves what values they’d like their workers to display. Accountability. Responsibility. Honesty. Respect. Blah. Blah. Blah. It’s a lucky packet of buzzwords; take your pick. But none of it relates to how their employees actually behave in real life – or indeed how the senior executives themselves behave.
Your values are instilled in you during your formative years, a product of your upbringing and your environment. It is incredibly naïve to think that you will change your whole belief system because the company you work for thinks that it’s a good idea. It’s simply not going to happen. So a top-down approach to defining company values – set by the senior executives – is a complete waste of time.
In reality, the company values are an aggregation of the core personal values of the people who are hired to work for that company. It can’t be any other way. And this leads to two very important conclusions.
The first is that if you want your company to display certain values, then you need to hire people who already have those values as part of their core belief set. In other words, the list of company values is much more useful as a recruiting guide than as an employee-behaviour guide. It should act as the most important filter before making any new hire.
The second conclusion is a bit more disturbing. If personal values are difficult to change, then it means that telling existing employees to change their values in order to agree with the company’s stated values is an exercise in futility. The only way to ensure that the desired values are entrenched in the company culture is to get rid of the employees who don’t already have these values as part of their core belief system.
Harsh, but true. Especially because as you go higher up the corporate ladder, there’s often an increasing tendency to think that the company values don’t apply to you.

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A scary (but revealing) story.
I recently attended a talk by the HR director of one of the large retail banks. To set the tone, she started off by proudly showing off the bank’s eight values. However, two of them – “servicing our customers” and “delivering to shareholders” – are not values at all. At least not according to the Oxford Dictionary definition, which is: “principles or standards of behaviour”. The last time I checked, servicing a customer was a task, not a principle. And on top of that, it doesn’t say anything about how to service the customer. Come to think of it, most of their client-facing employees are pretty grumpy so it’s probably a good thing they didn’t think to change it to “servicing a customer well”. And “delivering to shareholders” is a business objective, not a value.
In fact, defining “delivering to shareholders” as a core company value is both disturbing and revealing. This bank recently underwent a huge retrenchment exercise – clearly to cut costs in order to enhance shareholder returns. The bank also has a history of introducing additional fees under the radar – at the expense of customers – without adding any additional value. Again, this practice is very good for generating additional returns for shareholders. At least the bank’s being consistent with its stated values.
The problem is that another one of its core values is “growing our people”. It’s very difficult to do this while you’re retrenching them. It’s also very difficult to “uphold the highest levels of integrity” when you’re secretly introducing fees that you hope customers won’t notice.
I asked the HR director how she deals with these glaring contradictions and inconsistencies in the bank’s stated values. I asked her how she deals with the inevitable disillusionment and cynicism when employees see that the behaviour of senior management conflicts with the way they want their underlings to behave.
She had no answer for me. In fact, she admitted there were many other contradictions in their values that I hadn’t even mentioned. It’s a sad indictment.

The bottom line.
Defining company values can be a very useful exercise – provided the sole purpose is to formulate strict hiring and firing filters. Then you won’t have to tell employees how to behave – by default, it will be part of who they are already. And it will be driven into the company culture without having to put pointless posters up on the walls.
That’s why my company doesn’t have any values. We don’t need them.

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Market is likely

Market numbers to shoot up.

The number of properties going to auction in the next couple of weeks is set to increase dramatically with 690 scheduled for next weekend and 750 for the weekend before the grand final.
But the real test of the market is likely to come next month when a sustained run of higher volumes will reveal the depth of buyer demand and vendor realism.
REIV chief executive Enzo Raimondo said the number of properties that have gone to auction is 19 per cent lower than last year.
Last weekend, the second of the highly-anticipated spring property market, retained many of the bleak qualities of winter: cold winds and rain and low levels of patchy quality stock going to auction.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria declared a 61 per cent clearance rate from 466 auction results, only slightly lower than last weekend’s 62 per cent and much better than the 55 per cent recorded at the same time in 2011.
In contrast, there were 512 private sales.
While 182 properties passed in at the weekend, 118 of them were passed in on vendor bids. Passing a property in on a vendor bid can be a tactical move, which means agents can negotiate with all interested parties. It can also mean there are no bidders interested in a property, or none who is keen to make a public move.
Yesterday at Mount Eliza, Aqua director Michelle Skoglund passed in a cliffside mansion at 11 Pelican Place with a vendor bid of $2.6 million.
Ms Skoglund said there was a later bid of $2.7 million for the nine-room 100-square property, which was being sold by the mortgagee-in-possession, the Bank of Queensland.
‘It was a big turnout and we had seven registered bidders so I expect it to sell in the next day or two,” Ms Skoglund said.
Title deeds show the house was owned by Carolyn Long, a shareholder in plumbing company Eliza Holdings (Vic), which is under administration and in the process of being wound up by liquidators.

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For sale

The house was last for sale in 2007 for more than $4.2 million. It was built in the mid-1990s by Ahmad Jamshidi and includes a swimming pool and tennis court.
In East Brighton, Kay & Burton director Stewart Lopez sold 1D Regent Street in Brighton after auction for $2 million after only one potential buyer bid at auction.
‘That’s an interesting example of what happens at an auction at the moment. We got into protracted negotiations with a second buyer, who wasn’t at the auction, but who said ‘Let us know if it passes in’,” Mr Lopez said.
It eventually sold to the highest bidder at the auction, he said.
Mr Lopez said the auction system is playing an increasingly small part at the high end of the property market.
‘The majority of our sales are private sales and many of them don’t get reported.”
He said vendors want to keep their results out of the public eye.
‘Our office has sold five houses in the last two weeks for between $2 million and $5 million. There is activity at the moment. Things are happening but they are underground,” he said.
Down on the Surf Coast, Ian Lewtas, from Anglesea agency Allpoints, passed in a beach house at 52 Aireys Street, Aireys Inlet, on a vendor bid of $650,000.
The house, from a deceased estate, is on 6000 square metres. It sold after the auction for an undisclosed amount.
‘It’s a buyer’s market at the moment. We are coming out of a very tough winter,” Mr Lewtas said.
‘It’s been a pretty tough six months on the coast. People have got other properties to sell and while they want to buy down here, they have to wait for them to sell.”

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Housing market

US Housing market: It’s good time to lock in a bargain.

There is a nagging question to consider before you jump into home-buying after one of the worst housing slumps in American history. Will you ever make money?
Based on how the market has performed in the past, there is no clear answer.
Not that there hasn’t been good news about home prices lately. Prices have rebounded in most of the largest US cities over the last five months. The closely watched S&P Case-Shiller home-price index rose 0.9 percent in July on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Low interest rates provide an added bonus: With mortgage rates still at generational lows – 30-year loans still average well under 4 percent – it’s a good time to lock in a bargain.
Residential housing is still a buyer’s market, and it will be for some time. There was an inventory of 2.4 million unsold homes as of July, according to the National Association of Realtors. That is roughly a 6-month supply, based on current sales trends.
But such statistics don’t provide a basis for determining whether buying a home will be a money-making proposition.
Housing prices have a history of following demographic trends. When veterans came back from World War Two, for example, they wanted homes that would accommodate their growing families.
When their children – the Baby Boomers – became home buyers, they fueled the market from the late 1970s through 2006.
Historically, the two greatest surges in home prices over the past century occurred between the end of World War Two and the mid-1950s and from 1999 to 2006. When there are large numbers of home buyers of child-bearing age, that seems to correlate highly with home sales.
The last run-up in prices was the largest, according to data collected by Yale Professor Robert Shiller, author of “Irrational Exuberance” and co-creator of the Case-Shiller housing indexes. A rush to real estate combined with Baby Boomer liquidity, distrust of the stock market and a bubble mentality to drove that mania.
Homeowners got smaller price bumps during the inflationary late 1970s up until 1980, and increases remained moderate until 2000, when home prices went on a bubble-fueled tear, according to Shiller’s historical data.
Is history any guide to the future performance of housing?
In one respect, yes. If the Millennial generation, born after 1980, jumps into the market en masse as their parents did, then they will bid up prices.

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Buy homes

However, that assumes they can afford to buy homes. High unemployment and wage levels that have not been keeping pace with inflation for the past decade suggest that many would-be home buyers will remain renters.
The idea that home prices will always track the rate of inflation is not always true when it comes to specific neighborhoods or regions. It is a myth that home prices consistently rise.
I took a look at my own home in the suburbs of Chicago, which we had built in 1999. If it had kept pace with inflation, it would be worth $433,000 today. For this rough calculation, I used the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator.
After I ran the CPI calculator estimate, I discovered that my home is probably worth – based on current market value – at least $183,000 less than what 14 years of consumer price inflation would have dictated.
The housing meltdown and subsequent foreclosures have depressed housing prices by up to 50 percent in some areas.
Places like Stockton, California, which recently filed for bankruptcy, have been devastated. Atlanta is also still reeling.
Florida, Arizona, Nevada and parts of California are still feeling the effects of the housing crash.
What does this mean if you want to jump back into the housing market? You may get a bargain, but don’t expect to see the appreciation the country has experienced in the past.
Housing is not like the stock market in that it could take many years, or even decades, to bounce back.
Keep in mind that this housing recession is unpredictable because it is unusual for its duration and intensity. Two national housing downturns in the 1990s (1990-91 and 1994-95) were accompanied by relatively small recessions and recoveries within a year or so.
Since the US is linked to a global economy teaming with uncertainty and a banking system that still hasn’t resolved its pre-2008 issues, homes are worthwhile shelters, but they still may be dubious investments.
- John Wasik is a Reuters columnist and the opinions expressed are his own.

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Property market senses

Property market senses the bottom.

But the green shoots are fragile and still depend on credit flow, location and cash-rich ex-pats.
Can it be true? Has the property market truly bottomed out? And not only that, but showing some signs of life?
Well yes and no. Very encouraging signs are there for all to see. The newspaper property supplements are less anaemic and signs proclaiming “Sold” which have been as rare as hens’ teeth are suddenly being seen in some of the better Dublin enclaves. Agricultural land is making record prices.
And there are tentative signs that if potential buyers can survive a searching examination of their finances — now so intimate that it would shame a proctologist — there are mortgages being approved.
Even property auctions, a leit-motif of the halcyon days of the boom, are making a re-appearance after a five-year absence.
While there are huge tracts of the country where the residential property market is still on life support there are at least some signs elsewhere that suggest the patient is out of intensive care.
Recovery has started in Dublin, not all of the capital, but in the areas where there are good family homes near the better schools and with access to good public transport and other infrastructure.

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Good locations

Robert Ganley of auctioneers Knight Frank said there is no doubt that there has been a substantial increase in demand for family homes in good locations.
“There is a big rise in the number of viewings, but more importantly we are actually seeing competition for properties that are currently priced. We are seeing two or three bidders with evidence of funds. These days we would always seek evidence that funds are available and approved. We are seeing competition among people with hard cash and people with loans approved. That’s something we haven’t seen for five years or so,” said Mr Ganley.
He said the family home sector is strong — particularly in the €400,000 to €800,000 range and that’s where competition for good houses in hotting up.
“At the higher end of the market, the €1.5m to €3m range, we are seeing a lot of ex-pats coming back to Ireland and buying. The majority of those deals are being funded by money which has been earned abroad, either in sterling or other denominations. They are coming back for a number of reasons but we have seen that one of the main factors is their desire to educate their children here,” he added.
Mr Ganley points out that fees in a good private school or boarding school in Ireland are about €15,000 while a similar school in the UK could have annual fees of £30,000.
“That’s a big saving. The other sector which is coming back are those ex-pats who are planning retirement, maybe not now but in five years’ time. They are saying ‘now is a good time to buy in Ireland, the euro is weak and there is value and the market has bottomed out’,” he said.
He believes there is still cash out there held by people who did sell up in the good times and decided to rent.
“They are coming back to buy. Also there are those younger people who have always rented who are now tempted to buy because rents are going up so it’s nearly starting to be cheaper to buy,” he said.

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The increase in the number of auctions is a positive sign.
“We have put a number of properties to auction and plan more in the next few months. It’s a sign of better demand.
“In some ways, when you go to auction you do limit your market but, depending on the property, if you do have a number of potential buyers with cash or are mortgage approved then it can be advantageous,” he added.
Mr Ganley said they are seeing real interest in good country properties with land that are well priced.
Interest is coming from the UK particularly and from ex-pats coming back from the Americas and the Middle East.
“There’s a lot of nonsense spoken about the American market. In essence they are Irish people from America who are buying. There’s always an Irish link. An American living in Houston, Texas, doesn’t just jump up and decide ‘Actually I’m going over to live in Ireland tomorrow.’ Either he is Irish or his wife is Irish. There is a connection.”
Irish living abroad are helping fuel the recovery in certain segments of the property market.
Analysis of their own sales by Knight Frank shows that — for the Dublin south residential market this calendar year for sales agreed and sold — 55 per cent of houses in the €1m to €3m bracket were sold to ex-pats with money earned abroad with no mortgage at the time of purchase. Half of these were UK-based, 25 per cent Europe and 25 per cent from the Middle and Far East.
In the country properties, market this year ranging in price from €400,000 to €2.5m, 46 per cent were bought by UK-based ex-pats, nine per cent by US-based ex-pats and 45 per cent by Irish living in the Republic.
Knight Frank is selling Inish Turk Beg Island in Clew Bay, Co Mayo, which was transformed by the Egyptian-Irish businessman Nadim Sadek, who turned it into a hip super luxury retreat that can accommodate 36 people in a series of houses.
“Anyone could end up buying that. We have had really good international interest. The guide price is €2.85m,” said Mr Ganley.

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Will Coonan, of Coonan auctioneers, said there is a definite improvement in the Dublin area, specifically Castleknock, Clontarf and south Dublin where asking prices are sometimes being exceeded.
“In the areas 12 to 20 miles from Dublin the demand is also noticeable with certain types of properties becoming easier to sell — particularly good three or four-bedroom semi-detached and some quality detached houses.
“Prices vary considerably but demand for houses in the €450,000 to €750,000 is quite strong in the city areas and €250,000 to €450,000 outside the city,” he added.
He said that in recent months Coonan’s has had to put some of the more sought-after family homes to “best and final bids” because of the lack of supply for what the market is demanding.
But getting mortgages continues to plague the market despite the banks’ claims about their availability.
“They are available but the slow progress for applications and the continuous questioning of their financial history can often test the patience of many applicants. Mortgage approvals that last for more than 90 days would help purchasers in their hunt for a property and greatly assist purchasers acquiring a new home which has yet to be completed,” he said because fitting the viewing process, negotiation and conveyance all within three months is generally not possible.
“Despite the constant talk about ghost estates a shortage of good quality new homes is becoming apparent in the cities and the stronger commuter towns. There has been good demand from first-time buyers to avail of Mortgage Interest Relief and with sales required to be closed prior to December 2012 to avail of that tax relief we have recently had good activity here in Co Kildare in places like at Moyglare Hall, Castlepark and Griffin Rath in Maynooth, The Ryebridge in Kilcock and Hazelwood in Celbridge which is currently sold out,” he said.
But Mr Coonan warned that to fund the construction of a new development requires capital from the financial institutions.
“Unless this becomes available developers and builders will simply not have the ability to build the new homes that are required in areas where demand is now apparent.

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Potential buyers

Simon Ensor of Sherry FitzGerald said that they now have 7,000 potential buyers registered at their offices nationwide — a return to pre-boom figures.
“An even more interesting fact is that, when we asked them, 4,000 out of the 7,000, claimed they were cash buyers. That is hugely significant. There is no doubt the banks are still being very, very selective about who they approve and for how much. So a market which is not dependent on conventional mortgage lending is very important and very significant.”
Mr Ensor said the result is a bit of vibrancy in the market.
“When you are selling a good family home in the right location not only will you have one potential buyer but you would have two or three.”
He said there is no doubt that word has filtered back to those people who went into rental accommodation waiting for the market to bottom out that it now appears that point has been reached.
“Not only that but there is definitely an upward nudge in specific sectors,” he added.
Another pointer is that people who are actively looking for homes in the well-established areas are seeing it for themselves at viewings.
“Last weekend in Dublin we had a house on open view and we had 56 parties looking at it. That’s back to the more traditional market that existed until 2006. The good thing is that people have realised the bottom has been achieved and they are not going to save another 10 per cent by waiting until next year.”
“At the more affordable end of the market it is now consistently cheaper to buy and service a mortgage rather than pay rent,” Mr Ensor added.

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Long-term target

VW set to capture 10% of passenger car market.

Volkswagen Group Malaysia Sdn Bhd is on track to achieve its long-term target of capturing 10% of the Malaysian passenger car market, said Volkswagen AG’s head of Greater China and Asean commercial operations, Weiming Soh.
Currently, Volkswagen Malaysia holds over 2% of the annual local passenger car market.
He said the company experienced growth in car sales in Malaysia since the transformation of the carmaker’s business module here since 2006.
“We are still very far from realising the target, but I am very sure that Volkswagen Malaysia under a good management, is on track to achieve the target.
“We are also expanding in all areas to achieve our target. For instance, we will be growing our dealership base from 20 to some 50 dealers,” Soh told reporters after launching the new Volkswagen Beetle on Friday.
He said the carmaker’s expansion plan in Malaysia would create about 5,000 to 6,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen Malaysia managing director Ricky Tay said the carmaker is considering introducing Volkswagen hybrid vehicles in Malaysia, given the tax benefits and emphasis given by the government for energy-efficient vehicles.
“The revised National Automotive Policy gives a lot of emphasis for hybrid, electric as well as energy-efficient vehicles. That is the main reason for us to consider bringing in our hybrid vehicles.
“Even though some of our cars which are currently marketed in Malaysia are considered as energy-efficient vehicles under the revised policy, I still think that there are some space for Volkswagen in the local hybrid market,” he said.
The new Beetle, launched in conjunction with The Volkswagen Das Auto Show 2012, comes in a 1.2-litre and 2.0-litre version.
The 1.2-litre Beetle comes in five colours with a on-the-road price tag (excluding insurance) of RM139,888, while the price of the advanced engine capacity car is yet to be determined. – Bernama

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Clinical trial market to reach $1 billion by 2016: Report.

In spite of the recent bad press the clinical trial market has received, a research report says a positive change is taking place with the country being viewed as a drug discovery destination, and the market likely to cross $ 1 billion by 2016.
According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report, the domestic clinical research organization (CRO) market was worth $ 485 million in 2011, but is set to cross $ 1-billion-mark by the turn of 2016.
The report says that the large, easy-to-access, treatment-naive population, high degree of available cost arbitrage of up to 30-50 percent over the US, and an improved regulatory environment is driving the domestic CRO market, which is growing at 11-13 percent.
Recently, the media was awash with reports of a large number of deaths due to clinical trial-related reasons, and the poor compensation being paid out by companies responsible.
As many as 438 lives were lost in 2011 during clinical trials, however only 16 deaths due to the serious adverse events (SAEs) of the drugs being used were recorded, according to information given by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week. Average compensation paid in 2011 was a paltry Rs 2.2 lakh.
Azad had admitted that the alarmingly low-level of compensation could be due to the absence of proper compensation rules but added that the ministry will come out with new regulations on the same soon.
The domestic CRO market is dominated by multinational pharma companies. While the MNCs are into global trials, domestic drug companies usually look at conducting local trials.
“Therapeutic areas in which research can be conducted here are varied, and this is likely to result in more number of studies in the country,” says the Frost & Sullivan report, adding “emerging areas, such as diagnostic research, are also expected to drive the domestic CRO market.”
However, increasing competition, quality concerns and lack of quality infrastructure in smaller cities are some factors that impede the growth rate of the CRO market.
“Consumer confidence in the clinical trials data is lacking, greatly impacting the CRO market. This is due to the fact a number of small-scale CROs having compromised on the standard of their studies in their bid to compete,” report said.
“Developing a single-window clearance for clinical trials as well as clear guidelines on the types of international/global trials that can be performed on Indians will shore up the market growth,” notes the report.

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