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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Bank sector gloom, deflation puncture revival hopes ]

Bank sector gloom, deflation puncture revival hopes

Bank sector gloom, deflation puncture revival hopes
April 15, 2009 - Reuters

Tentative hopes that the world economic crisis was easing took a new hit on Wednesday when Switzerland's largest bank UBS posted a quarterly loss of $1.7 billion and said it would axe thousands more jobs.

In the United States, U.S. consumer prices fell unexpectedly in March as slumping demand pushed down energy and food costs, showing that the world's biggest economy was still deep in recession despite U.S. President Barack Obama's assertion that his remedies were starting to work.

World stocks fell on Wednesday after the previous session's three-month high.

The UBS announcement punctured positive sentiment this week after Goldman Sachs posted a surprisingly good first-quarter profit.

"After the first euphoria, investors are now slamming on the brakes. UBS is queueing up as just another bank with bad news," said Heinz-Gerd Sonnenschein, an equity strategist at Postbank.

UBS, a bellwether for the banking industry, said it would post a first-quarter loss of nearly 2 billion Swiss francs ($1.74 billion) and cut a further 8,700 jobs on top of thousands it has already announced.

Sources told Reuters in the United States that the Obama administration was drawing up plans to disclose the financial health of the country's 19 biggest banks, including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase.

Markets are anxiously awaiting the results of the so-called "stress tests", which will indicate which banks are on their way to recovery and which will need more government help.

Obama said in a speech on Tuesday that moves to recapitalise banks, strengthen the housing market and rescue the auto sector were starting to generate signs of economic progress.

But he cautioned: "There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods yet."

The head of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, said he still saw a "lot of stress" in the economy and did not anticipate a quick end to the recession.

CPI FALL FIRST SINCE 1955

The U.S. Labor Department said on Wednesday its closely watched Consumer Price Index fell 0.1 percent, after increasing 0.4 percent in February. Year on year, consumer prices fell 0.4 percent in their first decline since since August 1955.

Spain's CPI for March also posted its first annual fall in half a decade.

U.S. energy prices dropped 3.0 percent after rising 3.3 percent the previous month. The food index eased 0.1 percent for a second straight month.

"The numbers speak to an economy that is in deep recession, but we're no longer in the shock mode of staggering numbers that speak to a serious slide lower in terms of macroeconomic activity, coupled with the threat of inflation," said Peter Kenny, managing director of Knight Equity Markets of New Jersey.

"That scenario, which we were dealing with in the fourth quarter, is behind us."

Other data also painted a bleak picture as wholesale prices in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, posted their biggest yearly decline for 22 years.

European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber said the council should focus on banks instead of capital markets in any non-traditional measures it decides to take.

Weber, who also heads the Bundesbank, said measures should reflect the important role banks have in the euro zone.

NEW PIMCO FUND

PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund manager, looked to to the future by announcing plans to launch an asset-backed fund linked to the U.S. scheme to sop up bad assets.

"We believe this financial crisis will be resolved by the U.S. and other core financial market rehabilitation. So we want to invest in these core countries where the financial rehabilitation will be led and where policy makers will be most aggressive in addressing the financial crisis," its Asia director, Brian Baker, said in Shanghai.

China, which has been a key engine for global growth, is likely to report on Thursday its slowest quarterly growth in nearly two decades.

Analysts said China's quarter-on-quarter growth, however, might point to a recovery in the world's third-largest economy.


(Source: Financial Mirror, http://www.financialmirror.com/News/Cyprus_and_World_News/14931)



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