Monthly Archives: May 2019

US Gold up, as world awaits Bernanke speech

Many market watchers remained long-term bulls on gold although they said the precious metal could correct further after rising as much as $US400 since July on speculation the Fed this week would announce new plans to stimulate a sluggish US economy.

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“With that big sell-off in Germany, it spooked people about the financial problems lurking in Europe and the European banks. You will probably see gold pull back a little more, but the (upward) trend would still be intact,” said Evan Smith, co-manager of Global Resources Fund at US Global Investors, which manages $US2.5 billion in assets.

Spot gold was up 0.5 per cent at $US1,759.99 an ounce by 2.32pm EDT (0432 AEST) in choppy trade, about $US60 above a session low of $US1,702.44, its lowest in nearly two weeks.

US December gold futures settled up $US5.90 an ounce at $US1,763.20.

Trading volume was extremely heavy for a third straight day, on pace to be one of the highest this year.

Copper also jumped nearly two per cent to close at a three-week high.

Germany’s DAX dropped as much as four per cent on rumours Germany could enact a short-selling ban following the example of other European nations.

A German Finance Ministry spokesman told Reuters they were not planning a general short-selling ban.

PRICES UP AHEAD OF BERNANKE SPEECH AND HURRICANE

Oil prices also rose modestly as traders await a major speech by Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and the arrival of Hurricane Irene on the US east coast.

New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in October, gained 14 cents to close at $US85.30 a barrel.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for October added US47 cents to settle at $US110.62 a barrel on the IntercontinentalExchange.

On Friday, Bernanke is set to give a speech at a central bankers’ conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which will be scrutinized for hints of whether he supports further monetary-policy action to boost the US economy.

Last year on the same occasion, the Fed chief had unveiled a second round of quantitative easing, a $600 billion bond buying spree that flushed the US and world economies with cash and sent the dollar falling and asset prices rising.

Traders were also waiting for Hurricane Irene, which was no longer bearing down on the US Gulf of Mexico coast – home to many refineries and offshore oil rigs – and was instead heading for the US east coast.

“Fears of demand destruction should run high as Irene and her ferocious winds could do some major damage. We need to say a prayer that Hurricane Irene will turn and do the least possible damage,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest Research.

The oil market was meanwhile underpinned by ongoing unrest in Libya, with analysts saying the petroleum-rich North African country may take longer than expected to get its crude production facilities back to normal.

“Over the coming week, crude markets will be looking for clearer information on the condition of the Libyan oil and gas infrastructure,” said Sanjeev Gupta, head of Ernst & Young’s Asia-Pacific oil and gas practice.

EURO SLIPS AGAINST DOLLAR

The euro slipped against the dollar as markets remained cautious on the eve of US growth data and US Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke’s speech.

In London deals, the euro slid to $1.4369 from $1.4414 late in New York on Wednesday.

The euro gained against the yen to 111.20 yen from 110.94 yen Wednesday. The dollar also increased to 77.39 yen from 76.97 yen.

Analysts said the foreign exchange market would not see any major moves until Friday’s much-awaited speech.

“Despite this week’s rally in equity markets, nervousness remains about what lies in store this Friday at Jackson Hole,” Michael Hewson analyst from CMC Markets said.

ASIAN MARKETS JUMP AFTER WALL STREET RALLY

Asian markets surged on Thursday, following another rally on Wall Street and ahead of a Bernanke’s speech.

The more positive mood — helped by a strong batch of US manufacturing data — saw safe haven assets fall, with gold tumbling further from its record high above $US1,900 and the yen weakening.

Regional firms with links to Apple slipped while its rivals rose after Steve Jobs announced his resignation as chief executive of the US computer giant on Wednesday.

Tokyo closed 1.54 per cent, or 132.75 points, higher at 8,772.36 while Seoul rose 0.56 per cent, or 9.80 points, to 1,764.58 and Sydney added 0.98 per cent, or 45.2 points, to 4,212.8.

Hong Kong rose 1.47 per cent, or 285.69 points, to 19,752.48 while Shanghai soared 2.92 per cent, or 74.17 points, to 2,615.26.

Traders took their cue from a third straight day of gains on Wall Street, where sentiment was boosted by data from the US Commerce Department showing new orders for durable goods rebounding 4.0 per cent in July from June, suggesting manufacturing growth

could pick up in the coming months.

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NY park reopened to anti-Wall St protesters

Anti-Wall Street protesters have trickled back into a New York park that had been their home for two months until police cleared the encampment, but they were barred from pitching new tents.

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The Occupy Wall Street movement was thrown into crisis during a turbulent 24 hours that began with a surprise early morning raid in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to clear all tents in the privately-owned area.

Protesters then spent the day playing a game of cat-and-mouse with authorities as they sought to re-establish their base near Wall Street, the symbolic epicenter of a movement protesting alleged corporate greed which has spawned copy-cats in other US cities and abroad.

In the evening, police reopened the park and let the demonstrators back in one-by-one — but only after a New York judge backed a ban on pitching tents, rejecting their legal challenge to the dismantling of the camp.

“No one will be denied entry,” a police officer said at the gate, as people began to wander back in again. Once inside, the crowd began to chant: “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street.”

Both sides were claiming a victory of sorts after judge Michael Stallman ruled that the owners of the park and the authorities were not denying protesters their constitutional right to freedom of speech by banning them from camping.

“Zuccotti Park will remain open to all who want to enjoy it, as long as they abide by the park’s rules,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The judge’s ruling “vindicates our position that First Amendment rights do not include the right to endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space with tents and tarps,” Bloomberg said.

But protesters were also elated that they were allowed back into the park, owned by Brookfield Properties, which they have been occupying since mid-September.

Dallas Carter, 32, said the protesters “have to go back to court to get the tents and sleeping bags again. But it’s still a victory.”

“The police don’t have too much choice,” said Mike Reilly, 29, from Philadelphia. “The movement will survive in one way or another.”

Cheering protesters agreed to march to the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday to mark the movement’s two-month anniversary.

New York police moved into the park — a short walk from the stock exchange and the site of the World Trade Center — at about 1:00 am (0600 GMT) Tuesday with bright lights, high numbers of helmeted officers, and an army of sanitation workers.

About 200 people were arrested during the operation, which saw only sporadic violence and ended before dawn, leaving cleaning crews to cart off piles of tents and other gear, and then scrub the square clean.

The decision by Bloomberg to end the occupation followed crackdowns in other US cities, and spurred officials in London to resume legal action against a camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

Small business owners in the area had complained about the noise and unsanitary conditions in the camp, accusing the demonstrators of trashing their store bathrooms and driving away customers.

Pressure had been mounting on Bloomberg to resolve the situation in a neighborhood already strained by years of disruption from the World Trade Center rebuilding project.

On Monday riot police dismantled a similar protest camp in Oakland, California, arresting more than 30 demonstrators. Some 50 protesters were arrested in Portland, Oregon on Sunday. A protest in Denver was also recently broken up.

Tuesday’s development left the Occupy DC protest in Washington as one of the last significant permanent camps created by the movement.

“I don’t think there’s any plan on leaving,” said Marc Smith, a spokesman. “There’s really not too much concern at this point.”

More than 300 protesters marched on the White House on Tuesday, inviting President Barack Obama — who was en route to Australia at the time — to side with their movement.

Elsewhere, at least 1,000 protesters descended on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, but school officials said they would not allow them to set up a new camp.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was “aware” of the situation but maintained that “each municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues.”

“We would hope and want that… a balance is sought between the long tradition of freedom of assembly (and) freedom of speech in this country.”

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Congo blast survivors describe apocalyptic scenes

“I experienced the apocalypse,” said Jeanette Nuongui, the soul survivor from a family home that was destroyed in one of the blasts that rocked Brazzaville.

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“It is by the grace of God I am here. My mother died, my father, my two brothers and my two sisters also. There’s nothing left,” she added.

At least 100 people, possibly many more, were killed and hundreds more wounded when a weapons depot caught fire, triggering a series of at least five explosions.

Firefighters were finding it hard to fight blazes because of ongoing blasts, officials said, with a military barracks and the area around the munitions depot devastated.

“It was the first explosion that blew everything up,” said Victorien-Constant Obani, a soldier whose house was located opposite the barracks. His wife was injured in the arm.

“What happened here was more than a typhoon, more than a civil war,” Obani said. “My house was destroyed, I don’t know what I am going to do.”

The blasts were even felt across the Congo River in the neighbouring city of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where windows shattered on some buildings.

Soldiers said a blaze in two munition depots in the Mpila armoured brigade barracks, in east Brazzaville, had triggered the explosions.

“I was terrified by the smoke climbing into the sky,” said Willy Kaba, who arrived soon after the first explosion at about 0800 GMT. “After plucking up courage, I approached the scene and saw the whole munition camp destroyed — the buildings, the walls.”

Resident Dutroc Messengo said a young man had lost both legs and another was killed when their house collapsed.

Another resident, Blaise Mongo, said women and children had fled to neighbourhoods away from the ruined area, while men stayed behind to protect what little remained from looters.

Near the barracks, three churches were damaged or destroyed and houses could be seen with their roofs hanging off, their doors broken and windows blown out.

Xinhua news agency said some 140 Chinese workers from the Beijing Construction Engineering Group were working near the munitions depot when the blasts occurred.

The dormitory building of China’s Huawei company was badly damaged, but there were no casualties reported there, Chinese officials said.

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Saleh vows return as pressure mounts

Protesters demanded a swift transfer of power from Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday as his deputy said the veteran Yemeni president would return within days after surgery in Riyadh for blast injuries.

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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Saleh to act “in the best interest of his people” while the White House called for an “immediate transition.”

“His excellency is making a strong recovery and will return home in the coming days,” Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi said at a meeting of the ruling General People’s Congress, quoted by the official Saba news agency.

FRAGILE TRUCE IN SANAA

In Sanaa, a fragile truce held despite a deadly sniper attack on loyalists of a powerful tribal chief blamed for Friday’s bomb attack which wounded Saleh as he prayed inside a mosque in his compound.

As Saleh, 69, recuperated in a Riyadh military hospital, a committee of youth activists that has been a key player behind the four-month uprising against his nearly 33 years of iron-fisted rule called for a quick transfer of power.

The committee urged “all national and political forces to begin by forming an interim presidential council.”

It also called for the formation of a “government of technocrats” to lead the transition.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen’s capital on Sunday to cheer what they saw as the end of Saleh’s regime.

IMMUNITY OFFER STILL ON THE TABLE

Impoverished Yemen’s wealthy Gulf neighbours, who have been trying to broker a peaceful transition for months, said their proposal for Saleh to hand over power in return for the promise of immunity from prosecution remained the “most suitable solution.”

“The council member-states could activate (the proposal) and follow up on its implementation, if Yemen parties agree on it,” said Gulf Cooperation Council chief Abdullatif al-Zayani, whose mediation efforts since April have repeatedly run into objections from Saleh.

The EU foreign policy chief recalled that the Yemeni president had almost signed the Gulf proposals on three occasions, and said: “He knows perfectly well what he needs to do for his people.”

“I trust he will do that,” Ashton added.

WASHINGTON DEMANDS ‘IMMEDIATE TRANSITION’

Washington also reiterated its support for the Gulf plan.

“An immediate transition is in the best interests of the people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

The parliamentary opposition has vowed to prevent Saleh’s return to power, following a crackdown on anti-regime protests that has killed at least 200 people across Yemen.

“We will work with all our strength to prevent his return,” parliamentary opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan told AFP. “We see this as the beginning of the end of this tyrannical and corrupt regime.

SURGERY SUCCESSFUL

The president underwent two “successful” operations on Sunday, a Saudi official in Riyadh told AFP.

“The first was to remove a piece of shrapnel from his chest, and the second was neurosurgery to his neck.

“The next procedure will be for cosmetic surgical purposes. The period of convalescence is two weeks, after which he will return to Sanaa,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The embattled president, in power in Sanaa since 1978, had flown to Riyadh on a Saudi medical aircraft late on Saturday, while a second plane carried members of his family.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it had received Saleh at his request and out of religious duty.

It also said it hoped the Yemeni parties would sign up to the Gulf transition plan.

BRITAIN SAYS MILITARY ASSETS DEPLOYED NEAR YEMEN

Britain on Monday confirmed the deployment of military assets near Yemen but did not verify reports that ships were on standby in the Gulf to evacuate its nationals.

“As part of routine deployment UK military assets are in the region, although we are not prepared to comment further on their exact operational tasking,” a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said.

Around 80 marines were on board naval support ship RFA Fort Victoria, according to the BBC, while Sky News reported that the RFA Argus was also in the area.

The MoD would not confirm whether an evacuation was planned and repeated Foreign Secretary William Hague’s plea for all British nationals to leave Yemen immediately by commercial means.

In a statement delivered on Friday, Hague said it was “extremely unlikely” the British government would be able to evacuate its nationals given the volatile situation.

Britain first advised nationals to leave on March 12, and a dramatic escalation of hostilities led Hague to issue Friday’s strongly-worded warning.

The Argus has a dual role as a “Primary Casualty Receiving Facility (PCRF)”, comprising two operating theatres and 100 beds, and as an aviation training facility, while the Fort Victoria serves as a stores ship and tanker.

Both vessels are part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a civilian-manned fleet which provides support for the Royal Navy.

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Medal of the Order of Australia recipients

The Medal of the Order of Australia is awarded to individuals nominated by the community whose achievements are deemed ‘worthy of recognition’ by the Order of Australia Council.

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This year’s recipients include Men’s Shed founder Warren Humphries, R U Ok? Day founder, the late Gavin Larkin as well as teen solo sailor Jessica Watson and snowboarding medallist Torah Bright.

Former screen star and boxer, the late Gus Mercurio, has also been honoured.

The following is a list of other notable recipients. The It’s An Honour website will have a full list of recipients at a later stage.

Dr Kenneth Vernon Bailey

For service to the community of the Australian Capital Territory.

The Reverend Dr Warren Keith Bartlett

For service to the Uniting Church in Australia, and to the community.

Dr Colin Gabriel Benjamin

For service to the community through roles with social welfare organisations, and to business.

Ms Torah Bright

For service to sport as a Gold Medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Mr Peter John Brooke

For service to the community as a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Queensland.

Mr Ronald Alan Brownlees

For service to local government, and to a range of health and community organisations.

Mr Paul William Brunton

For service to Australian history through curatorial roles with the Mitchell Library.

Mr Joseph Anthony Caputo

For service to the Italian community in Australia, to the Victorian Multicultural Commission, and to local government.

Sister Maria Casey

For service to the community as Postulator for the Canonisation of Mary Mackillop, and to the Catholic Church in Australia.

Squadron Leader Robert Barson Cowper DFC* (Ret’d)

For service to veterans and their families through a range of ex-service organisations.

Sister Margaret Anne Culhane

For service to the international community, particularly refugees from Asia and Africa, to women, and as an educator.

Mr Robert Phillip Dobson AFSM

For service to the community through voluntary roles with a range of service organisations.

Mr Grant Stephen Dorrington BEM

For service to the community through contributions to road safety, and to the management and development of the Australian Football League in Western Australia.

Mr Peter Nicolaus Ellis

For service to the arts through the collection and preservation of Australian folk history and heritage.

Mr Peter John Fenton

For service to the Australian film industry as a sound engineer.

Mr William Michael Flynn

For service to the community of Ballarat, and to the Catholic Church in Australia through administrative roles.

Father Paul Bernard Gardiner

For service to the community in the fields of education and religion, as Postulator for the Canonisation of Mary Mackillop, and to the Catholic Church in Australia.

Dr Dorothy Mary Gibson-Wilde

For service to heritage preservation in Queensland.

Mrs Jennifer Ann Gorrel

For service to the community of the Riverina through a range of health and social welfare organisations.

Mr Peter Hansen

For service to the building and construction industry, and to the community.

Mrs Ina Patricia Harbison

For service to marine conservation in South Australia.

Mr Arnold Rex Harcourt

For service to the community as an author, researcher and historian, particularly of the founding and early days of Melbourne and Victoria.

Mr Geoffrey Raynor Hook

For service to the print media as a political and social commentator, and as a cartoonist.

Mr Owen Ray Hughan

For service to the sport of basketball as a player, coach and administrator.

Mr Warren Desmond Humphries

For service to the community of Labrador, particularly through roles with the Men’s Shed.

Mr Jack George Kyros (deceased)

For service to the Greek community of Western Australia.

Mr Gavin James Larkin (deceased)

For service to the community through the advancement and promotion of suicide prevention awareness, and as Founder of R U OK? Day.

Mrs Lydia Lassila

For service to sport as a Gold Medallist at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Mrs Madeleine Mary Le Surf

For service to the community of Manly.

Mr Gus Mercurio (deceased)

For service to boxing as an administrator and sports commentator, as a film, television and stage actor, and to the community.

Dr Kerry Leonard Moroney

For service to rural medicine, and to the community of Narrabri.

The Honourable Peter Frederick Morris

For service to the Parliament of Australia through a range of ministerial portfolios, and to the maritime industry and ship safety.

Mr Edward Maurice Murrell (deceased)

For service to the community of the Dungog Shire, to local government, and to emergency service organisations.

Commander Robert Emulis Nelson RAN (Ret’d)

For service to education through the development and national delivery of the Science and Engineering Challenge.

Mr Xuan Tiep Nguyen

For service to the Vietnamese community in Australia.

Ms Deborah Ruth Nicholls

For service to the community, particularly as a refugee advocate.

Mr Denis Richard Page

For service to business, and to the community of the Australian Capital Territory.

Mr Emanuel Andrew Petrelis

For service to the Greek community of Western Australia, to business, and to education.

Mrs Helen Poulos

For service to children in hospital and to their families.

Mr Peter James Prineas

For service to conservation and the environment in New South Wales through executive and advocacy roles.

Mrs Beverley Frances Snell

For service to international health.

Ms Julie Anne Tongs

For service to the Indigenous community of the Australian Capital Territory.

Mrs Sabina van der Linden-Wolanski (deceased)

For service to the community through a range of Jewish organisations.

Mrs Claire Russell Vickery

For service to the community through the Butterfly Foundation.

Ms Barbara Gay von Ess

For service to people with autism spectrum disorders and their families, as an advocate and educator.

Mrs Phyllis Ware

For service to Friends of the Royal Perth Hospital.

Ms Jessica Rose Watson

For service to sailing and to youth through the achievement of sailing solo and unassisted around the world, and as a role model for young Australians.

Mrs Anna Wellings

For service to women’s health through a range of breast cancer support organisations, particularly Dragons Abreast ACT and Region and Breast Cancer Network Australia.

Mrs Ildikó Wetherell

For service to the Hungarian community in South Australia.

Mr Oscar Ralph Whitbread

For service to the Australian film and television industry.

Dr Pamela Kaye Williams

For service to women’s health through executive roles with breast cancer awareness organisations.

Mr Robert Willis

For service to the preservation of Australian folklore and traditional music.

Mr Hayden Paul Zammit

For service to the community of Broken Hill through a range of fundraising and volunteer programs, and to youth leadership.

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