Monday, August 10, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Mass evacuation in China after BUSINESS typhoon pounds Taiwan World pins recovery hopes on rising house prices Agence France-Presse
BEIJING - China rushed nearly one million people out of harm’s away as Typhoon Morakot slammed into its coast Sunday after triggering Taiwan’s worst flooding in 50 years to leave at least three people dead.
LONDON - For homeowners around the world struck by the collapse of property markets, figures showing the downward spiral may be halting are the most meaningful signs yet of a possible economic recovery.
After also leaving tens of thousands trapped in Taiwan, the powerful storm landed in China’s Fujian province at 4:20 pm (0820 GMT), the provincial meteorological bureau said. Morakot pounded Taiwan over the weekend with powerful winds and torrential rain, forcing the government to deploy the military to rescue stranded residents, officials said. Television footage showed a woman in tears reporting that her daughter and husband had plunged into a river when a flash flood swept away their car in Taiwan’s central county of Nantou. “My daughter called me twice saying: ‘We’re being washed away! Hurry, hurry!’ Then I lost them,” the sobbing woman told reporters. Officials said three people were confirmed dead and at least another 31 were missing as Morakot dumped a record 2.5 metres (100 inches) of rain on the southern Taiwanese county of Pingtung. At least 10,000 people were trapped in three coastal townships, Pingtung deputy magistrate Chung Chia-pin said, and officials said tens of thousands of other people were also trapped in the counties of Tainan and Chiayi. “This is the worst flooding in Chiayi in 50 years,” county magistrate Chen Ming-wen told reporters, issuing a plea for more rubber din-
ghies and water pumps. A typhoon in August 1959 killed 667 people and left some 1,000 missing in Taiwan. Across the Taiwan Strait, more than 505,000 people had been evacuated from the Fujian coast and another 490,000 were relocated in the neighbouring province of Zhejiang, the Xinhua news agency reported. Zhejiang issued a red alert earlier Sunday as it registered a maximum wind speed of nearly 180 kilometres (113 miles) an hour around the coastal city of Taizhou, Xinhua said. Gale-force winds were expected to persist for at least three days and waves were forecast to reach as high as seven meters, it said. More than 35,000 ships were called in to port as the storm approached, Xinhua quoted Zhejiang flood-control headquarters as saying. A cargo ship was stranded in the rough seas and rescuers were trying to rescue its eight sailors, the agency reported. Xinhua said the ship, Daqing 254, lost control and was blown onto a reef area on Qingshan Island near Fujian’s Ningde City early Sunday as it tried to shelter from the wind. Among the missing in Taiwan were 14 workers who disappeared when their makeshift shelter beside a river in southern Kaohsiung county
As battered banks and stocks rally again, news that US house prices are finally rising after nearly three years of traumatic decline offers the greatest hope to hard-pressed homeowners from California to Krakow. The sub-prime home loan crisis in America was the pressure-point that exposed underlying global financial chaos — and many economists say property prices there are the linchpin for confidence in broader economic recovery. US home sales have been rising and the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller index of home prices in 20 major US cities showed a 0.5 percent increase between April and May — the first monthly rise since 2006. “This is the first time we have seen broad increases in home prices in 34 months. This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing,” said Standard & Poor’s analyst David Blitzer. Data from the National Association of Realtors also showed the median price of existing US home sales was 181,600 dollars (127,200 euros) in June — 15 percent lower than a year ago, but up from 174,700 in May. Celia Chen, an analyst at credit rating agency Moody’s, said there were “tantalizing signs that the descent in house prices is at least moderating,” but warned that house prices will not reach their 2006 highs until 2020. Analysts remain skeptical on the longer-term outlook for property prices as stable economic growth remains vulnerable to rising unemployment and government
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From page 1
The 25-year-old, his head partially shaven and large scars visible on his scalp, greeted Krishna in the apartment where he had been recuperating but was not well enough to speak publicly. His cousin Lakshmi Bongnani said Theerthala was progressing well, although he had vision and memory problems due to a brain injury suffered in the attack. “It’s going to take a year or more (to recuperate),” Bongnani told reporters. He said Krishna had pledged that the Indian government would provide whatever support was necessary. The foreign minister, whose stated purpose in visiting Australia was to “get a clearer sense of what is happening on the ground”, declined to meet with a delegation of Indian students after his audience with Theerthala.
Police called on people to remain vigilant and stressed their counterterrorist operations were ongoing, as the military stepped up security for the president. “We have optimised and increased security for him and his family,” military spokesman Sagom Tamboen said. “Based on the police information that there is a cell group that wanted to attack RI-1 (Yudhoyono), then we act according to the situation.” National police spokesman Nanan Soekarna said it could take two weeks to confirm whether Noordin was killed as heavily armed police riddled the squat farmhouse with bullets and explosions on Saturday morning. “The whole process of DNA testing will take two weeks. It’s a standard procedure,” he said.
A collapsed hotel building is seen in heavily flooded river after Typhoon Morakot hit Taitung county, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009, in Taitung County, eastern Taiwan. The six-story hotel collapsed and plunged into a river Sunday morning after floodwaters eroded its base, but all 300 people in the hotel were evacuated and uninjured, officials said. was washed away by rising floodwaters early Sunday. Armoured vehicles and marine landing craft, as well as rubber dinghies, were mobilised in a rescue operation involving at least 1,200 troops, Taiwan’s defence ministry said. The troops were distributing food and drinking water to residents affected by the flooding, which in
some places had gone as high as the first storey of buildings. Television footage showed a sixstorey hotel in Taipung, southeastern Taiwan, collapsing in the floods. Staff and guests had already been evacuated, the reports said. The typhoon has caused at least 832 million Taiwan dollars (26 million US) in agricultural damage and temporarily cut electricity to more than one million
households, according to officials. Morakot also left flooding and landslides in its wake after grazing the Philippines on its way to Taiwan. The Manila government’s civil defence office said the storm had left a total of 21 people dead including two French tourists and a Belgian, with seven other people still missing.
“The test is being conducted at the Kramat Jati police hospital,” he added, referring to a hospital in Jakarta where the body of the militant found in the farmhouse was taken after the siege. National police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri said late Saturday that the identification process would take less than a week. Noordin, 40, a Malaysian Islamist, has been blamed for multiple terror attacks against “iconic” Western targets in Indonesia which have killed around 50 people and injured hundreds since 2003. The latest were believed to have been the July 17 twin suicide bombings on the JW Marriott and RitzCarlton hotels in the capital, which killed seven people including six foreigners, plus the two bombers. A member of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terror group responsible for the 2002 Bali attacks which killed more than 200 people, he split to form his own even more
violent network to “defend Islam” from perceived injustice. The self-proclaimed leader of “AlQaeda in the Malay Archipelago” was one of Asia’s most wanted men and had a 100,000-dollar bounty on his head from the Indonesian government, who saw him as public enemy number one. The police raid on his suspected hideout overshadowed other operations including the arrest of five of Noordin’s alleged accomplices and the uncovering of a major bomb factory in Bekasi, outside Jakarta. Two would-be suicide bombers were shot dead by police early Saturday at their rented house in Bekasi as they tried to resist arrest, police said. Police chief Danuri said they had rigged a small truck as a bomb and were planning to launch a suicide attack against Yudhoyono’s main residence, which is a 12-minute drive away. The attack had been planned to take place around Indonesia’s Independence Day on August 17, and had been ordered by Noordin during a meeting on
April 30 as revenge for the execution of the Bali bombers late last year, Danuri said. Police have come close to arresting Noordin several times in the past and have captured or killed some of his closest associates during a sixyear manhunt. Analysts said his death would be a blow to his network, estimated to number as few as 30 hardcore cadres, but would not end the terror threat in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. “Every time there was an attack, there were new accomplices,” Institute for International Peacebuilding researcher Taufik Andrie said. “There are several people who have the potential to replace Noordin.” He said he doubted the reports that Noordin had been killed. “The dead guy doesn’t seem to be Noordin. He has impeccable instincts for evading police raids,” he said.
strategies for a clean exit from recession after unprecedented fiscal stimulus. But that is doing little to dampen cautious optimism on property markets. Official data in China is showing house prices in 70 cities were up 0.8 percent in June from May, rising for the fourth straight month, while real estate investment nationwide rose 9.9 percent in the first half of the year. In Britain, house prices rose by 1.1 percent in July to just under 160,000 pounds (187,600 euros, 267,700 dollars) from June, but were down 12.1 percent over 12 months, a survey from home-loans provider Halifax showed this week. In neighboring Ireland, however, prices have fallen by up to 40 percent from their peak in 2006 and are still going down — with the government now working to provide 90 billion euros in guarantees to the loan market. Likewise, Spain’s second-biggest bank BBVA has forecast that house prices after a decade-long, tourism-fuelled property boom will still fall by nearly 30 percent between 2008 and 2011 before they start to recover. In the Gulf emirate of Dubai, house prices have almost halved over the past year. The sector there is struggling with a shortage of liquidity and job security for expatriates who represent over 80 percent of the population. The decline in Dubai has had wider implications, with US bank Morgan Stanley saying world steel production will remain below 75 percent capacity as it awaits a revival in the construction sector in the Middle East.
Fed to stay supportive even with economy healing Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON - Even as the US economy seems to be emerging from recession, the Federal Reserve is likely to signal it will maintain extraordinary efforts to spur growth until a recovery takes root, analysts say. The Federal Open Market Committee meeting Tuesday and Wednesday is widely expected to keep on hold the ultra low federal funds rates in a range of zero to 0.25 percent to stimulate lending and prop up economic activity. The Fed led by Chairman Ben Bernanke could make some changes however in its special efforts to pump over one trillion dollars of liquidity into the financial system — which some call “quantitative easing” — that may no longer be needed, say some economists. “We expect the Fed to sound more confident about the outlook by noting that the economy appears set to grow in the second half of the year,” said Dean Maki, economist at Barclays Capital, who argues that the latest reports support the view “that the US recession ended in June.” “In light of this, we do not expect it to expand its 300 billion-dollar Treasury (bond) buying program, which is set to be completed in mid-September.” Other analysts note that the Fed has a delicate task of keeping inflation expectations in check while instilling confidence in the recovery without creating any new bubbles. “They probably don’t want to be too pessimistic,” said Cary Leahey, senior economist at Decision Economics. “But they want to temper the enthusiasm of the market” about economic recovery.
The latest economic figures show an economy that is still falling but narrowing its decline. Gross domestic product fell at a 1.0 percent pace in the second quarter, after a 6.4 percent plunge in the January-March period. Even unemployment, the weak link in the economy, showed signs of improving. The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a point to 9.4 percent in July as job losses narrowed to 247,000 from 443,000 in June. “The payrolls report hints that the worst of the labor market crunch is over,” said Krishen Rangasamy at CIBC World Markets. But, while the US economy will see some growth in the second half of the year, growth will be too mild to put a significant dent in the unemployment rate, which should continue to creep higher.” Few economists expect the Fed to make any change to interest rates until early 2010, or if employment starts to grow. But the central bank is also likely to take pains to show it has an “exit strategy” in place when needed. Eugenio Aleman, senior economist at Wells Fargo, said the Fed may have to be ready to hike rates once the economy shows it is recovering on its own without artificial support of the central bank and various stimulus programs. Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors said the Fed will seek to send a message “that they are seeing more and more places where the economy is beginning to stabilize or move forward.” But Naroff added: “They are not going to declare the recession is over.” He said there remains considerable fear that even a small hike in rates could undermine a nascent recovery.
Obama: Worst may be over in economic crisis
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama said on Friday the latest U.S. unemployment figures showed the worst may be over in the economic crisis but acknowledged there was more work to be done to put the economy back on track. “This morning we receive additional signs that the worst may be behind us,” Obama said in an appearance in the White House Rose Garden after a government report that the U.S. jobless rate in July fell for the first time in 15 months. Obama sought to cast in the best possible light the latest economic data despite economists view that economy has a long way to go to recover from one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Obama’s speech came at the end of a
week in which a Quinnipiac University poll showed his job approval rating had dropped to 50 percent as Americans express doubt about his handling of the U.S. economy and healthcare. “I’m convinced that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Obama declared, saying his policies had helped unfreeze credit and a rising market was restoring value to battered 401K savings plans. “We’ve pulled the economy back from the brink,” he said. But he added, “We have a lot further to go. We will not have a true recovery while we are still losing jobs.” Employers shed 247,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said on Friday, the least in any one month since last August, taking the unemployment rate to 9.4 percent, down from 9.5 percent in June.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
People walk past the World Trade Center construction site, Friday, Aug. 7, 2009 in New York.President Barack Obama said on Friday the latest U.S. unemployment figures showed the worst may be over in the economic crisis but acknowledged there was more work to be done to put the economy back on track.
Headline : Indonesia awaits DNA test to confirm terror leader's death