Weak currency encourages Australia's gold miners to dig deeper

2015-11-29 03:18:24

SYDNEY Nov 29 Gold miners in Australia, emboldened by a weakening currency, have been increasing production in the face of a global rout in the precious metal, figures released on Sunday showed.Output by the world's no. 2 producer behind China climbed to 72 tonnes in the third quarter, up 1 percent up on the previous quarter and 2 percent higher than the same period a year ago, according to a survey by sector consultants Surbiton Associates."The declining value of the Australian dollar has once again been the great saviour of our gold sector and of the local resources industry in general," Surbiton director Sandra Close said.The value of Australian dollar over the third quarter declined from around 77 U.S. cents to around 70 U.S. cents.The weaker currency translated into a A$20 lift in the average gold price over the quarter for Australian producers versus the previous period to A$1,550 per ounce, Close said. At the current exchange rate of about 72 U.S. cents, the local gold price sits at A$1,468.99 per ounce.U.S.-dollar spot gold fell nearly 2 percent to a near six-year low of $1,052.46 an ounce on Friday, which analysts attributed to a strong U.S. dollar and prospects of a U.S. interest rate rise in December.. Some of Australia's biggest mines increased output over the quarter, according to Close.These included the Super Pit mine in Western Australia, a joint venture between Newmont Mining Corp and Barrick Gold Corp, which lifted production by 32,000 ounces in the third quarter versus the second quarter. The Newmont-owned Tanami mine recorded a 10,000-ounce rise in output, while the Gwalia lode owned by St Barbara Ltd upped its yield by 15,000 ounces.Australia last year produced 285 tonnes of gold, a distant second to the roughly 450 tonnes dug out of mines in China in 2014, according to industry data.A decade ago, South Africa was the top gold producer followed by the United States, Australia and then China. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Facebook makes paid time off for baby leave a global benefit

2015-11-28 04:24:27

SAN FRANCISCO Nov 27 Less than a week after Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said he would take two months of paternity leave, the social media company announced it is extending its parental leave policy to full-time employees outside the United States.The policy, which provides four months of paid time off, will be provided to all new parents regardless of gender or location, starting Jan. 1. Employees may take leave at any point up to a year after the birth of their child, Lori Matloff Goler, the company's head of human resources, said in a Facebook post late Wednesday.Facebook currently offers only U.S.-based workers up to four months of paid leave."We want to be there for our people at all stages of life, and in particular we strive to be a leading place to work for families," she added. "An important part of this is offering paid parental or 'baby' leave." Goler said the new policy will primarily help new fathers and employees in same-sex relationships outside the United States, noting that it will not change maternity leave already available to employees worldwide. Zuckerberg last week said he would take two months off after his daughter's birth. Zuckerberg announced in July that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were expecting a baby girl; they have not said when the baby is due.His announcement was seen in Silicon Valley as a strong endorsement from a high-technology industry top executive on the importance of family time. Technology companies in Silicon Valley have been rushing to extend parental leave allowances and other benefits to help recruit and retain employees.Many high-tech workers, however, do not take advantage of such benefits for fear of falling behind at work or missing out on promotions. (Reporting by Jim Christie; Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Leslie Adler)

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks sink as Brazil shares fall sharply

2015-11-27 23:23:26

SAO PAULO, Nov 27 Latin American stocks sank on Friday, as shares in Brazil fell sharply amid concerns that efforts to fight corruption in the region's largest economy could derail efforts to address budget woes. Volumes were thin as many traders were still away from their desks following the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Investors treaded lightly after Chinese stocks posted their largest daily loss since August, hurting commodity prices. Traders were also cautious ahead of what may be the first U.S. interest rate increase in almost a decade when the Federal Reserve meets next month. The Brazilian real shed nearly 0.6 percent against the dollar. President Dilma Rousseff's austerity program to fix Brazil's shaky finances is again in trouble after her point man in the Senate was arrested in a widening corruption scandal. Shares of Grupo BTG Pactual SA dropped for a third day in a row after Brazilian police arrested the bank's chief executive and controlling shareholder on Wednesday, contributing to a 2.7 percent loss in the country's benchmark Bovespa stock index. Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2100 GMT: Latin American market prices from Reuters Stock indexes Latest Daily YTD pct pct change change MSCI Emerging Markets 823.4 -1.75 -12.36 MSCI LatAm 1,63.86 -3.03 -25.75 Brazil Bovespa 45,872.916 -2.7 -8.27 Mexico IPC 44,247.98 -0.29 2.55 Chile IPSA 3,719.01 -1.01 -3.43 Chile IGPA 18,305.39 -0.85 -2.99 Argentina MerVal 13,165.399 2.45 53.46 Colombia IGBC 8,248.44 -1.11 -29.10 Venezuela IBC 12,955 0.05 235.73 Currencies Latest Daily YTD pct pct change change Brazil real 3.8450 -0.57 -30.88 Mexico peso 16.602 -0.25 -11.19 Chile peso 711.5 0.14 -14.77 Colombia peso 3,107 -0.68 -23.14 Peru sol 3.3721 0.12 -11.66 Argentina peso (interbank) 9.6725 0.05 -11.61 Argentina peso (parallel) 14.91 1.41 -6.10 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Russia seeks economic revenge against Turkey over jet

2015-11-26 23:43:30

ISTANBUL/MOSCOW Russia threatened economic retaliation against Turkey on Thursday and said it was still awaiting a reasonable explanation for the shooting down of its warplane, but Turkey dismissed the threats as "emotional" and "unfitting".In an escalating war of words, President Tayyip Erdogan responded to Russian accusations that Turkey has been buying oil and gas from Islamic State in Syria by accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, which include Moscow, of being the real source of the group's financial and military power.The shooting down of the jet by the Turkish air force on Tuesday was one of the most serious clashes between a NATO member and Russia, and further complicated international efforts to battle Islamic State militants.World leaders have urged both sides to avoid escalation.Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered his government to draw up measures that would include freezing some joint investment projects and restricting food imports from Turkey.Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Moscow could put limits on flights to and from Turkey, halt preparations for a joint free trade zone, and restrict high-profile projects including the TurkStream gas pipeline and a $20 billion nuclear power plant Russia is building in Turkey.Russia's defense ministry meanwhile said it had suspended all cooperation with the Turkish military, including a hotline set up to share information on Russian air strikes in Syria, the TASS news agency reported."We are strategic partners ... 'Joint projects may be halted, ties could be cut'? Are such approaches fitting for politicians?," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara."First the politicians and our militaries should sit down and talk about where errors were made and then focus on overcoming those errors on both sides. But instead, if we make emotional statements like this, that wouldn't be right."Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was still awaiting a reasonable answer from Ankara on why it downed the fighter jet. Moscow insists it never left Syrian air space, but Ankara says it crossed the border despite repeated warnings.The Turkish foreign ministry said diplomatic missions and Turkish business interests in Russia had come under attack and said Russia's ambassador in Ankara had been summoned in protest. Erdogan said the Russian jet was shot down as an "automatic reaction" to the violation of Turkish air space, in line with standing orders given to the military.Those instructions were a separate issue to disagreements with Russia over Syria policy, he said, adding Ankara would continue to support moderate rebels in Syria and Turkmen fighters battling President Assad's forces.Erdogan told CNN that Russia, not Turkey, should be the one to apologize for the incident. And in an interview with France 24, he said he had called Putin after the jet was shot down but that the Russian leader had not yet called him back. "PROVE YOUR CLAIMS"Medvedev on Wednesday alleged that Turkish officials were benefiting from Islamic State oil sales, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was no secret that "terrorists" use Turkish territory. "Shame on you. It's clear where Turkey buys its oil and gas ... Those who claim we are buying oil from Daesh like this must prove their claims. Nobody can slander this country," Erdogan said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State."If you are seeking the source of weaponry and financial power of Daesh, the first place to look is the Assad regime and countries that act with it," he said.Moscow says its military involvement in Syria is aimed at battling terrorist groups including Islamic State, casting the campaign to a supportive Russian public as a moral crusade that must be completed despite obstruction from elsewhere.Turkey and its allies say Russia's real aim is to prop up its ally Assad and that it has been bombing moderate opposition groups in areas of Syria like Latakia, where the jet was downed, and where there is little or no Islamic State presence.Russian forces have shown no sign of backing down, launching a heavy bombardment against insurgent-held areas in Latakia on Wednesday, near where the jet crashed.A Reuters correspondent on the Turkish side of the border saw rockets and tank shells being fired from government-controlled western Latakia eastwards into rebel-held territory, sending plumes of smoke rising from the wooded hillsides. TOURISTS, FOOD AND WHEAT Turkey's action infuriated Russia, but Moscow's response has been carefully calibrated. There is little sign it wants a military escalation, or to jeopardize its main objective in the region: to rally international support for its view on how the conflict in Syria should be resolved.But it clearly wants to punish Turkey economically.The head of Russia's tourism agency, Rostourism, said cooperation with Turkey would "obviously" be halted. At least two large Russian tour operators had already said they would stop selling packages to Turkey after Russian officials advised holidaymakers against traveling to its resorts. Russians are second only to Germans in terms of the numbers visiting Turkey, bringing in an estimated $4 billion a year in tourism revenues, which Turkey needs to help fund its gaping current account deficit.Medvedev meanwhile said Russia may impose restrictions on food imports within days, having already increased checks of Turkish agriculture products, its first public move to curb trade.Moscow banned most Western food imports in 2014 when Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis, leading to supply disruptions as retailers had to find new suppliers and galloping inflation.The row has also put a brake on new wheat deals between Russia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters, and Turkey, the largest buyer of Russian wheat. (Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul, Mehmet Emin Caliskan in Yayladagi,; Lidia Kelly, Polina Devitt, Olga Sichkar and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow, Sarah McFarlane in London; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Giles Elgood and Anna Willard)

Rio Tinto sees commodity prices subdued in short term

2015-11-26 03:17:32

SYDNEY Nov 26 Commodity prices are likely to remain subdued in the short term as markets come to terms with oversupply and slower Chinese growth, the head of global mining giant Rio Tinto's copper and coal divisions said on Thursday.Jitters about China's fiscal and monetary responses to the slowdown there had rattled markets, but Rio still expects China to grow at around 7 percent this year, Rio Tinto copper and coal chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in Sydney. "I believe these supply-side issues, combined with certain macro-economic conditions, and the action of some industry players such as hedge funds, mean that some market distortions exist." (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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