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By Marc Jones LONDON (Reuters) - European markets cautiously navigated warnings that the conflict in Ukraine was sliding out of control, focusing instead on whether the European Central Bank will strengthen its stimulus plans when it meets this week. Ukraine reported its forces were under fire again from Russian tanks on Monday as fresh signs emerged that the troubles are damaging the euro zone's already-fragile economy. Signs that growth impetus waned in the key industrial engine of Germany, and in Spain and the Netherlands too, is also less than reassuring." Despite the uncertain backdrop, shares on Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index largely held their ground in morning trading after markets in Asia had also shrugged off some mildly disappointing data from China. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned at the weekend that a "full-scale war" was imminent if Russian troops continued to support pro-Moscow rebels as European leaders threatened new sanctions.
By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - When Charlie Crist last governed Florida, his green energy and climate policies made him few friends among the state's powerful electricity corporations. Florida's three largest utilities have poured money into the re-election campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott in an expensive and closely watched political battle for the nation's largest swing state. As Republican governor between 2007 and 2011, Crist "sent shivers through the entire utility system," said Colleen Castille, who headed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Jeb Bush. Crist was a darling of clean energy advocates, hosting a climate change summit in 2007 alongside another green Republican, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Kenneth Bae, who was arrested 18 months ago and sentenced to 15 years hard labor for attempting to bring down the state, told CNN he was working eight hours a day, six days a week, and was the only inmate at a prison camp staffed by more than 20 officials, including a doctor. Tourists Matthew Miller and Jeffrey Fowle, who were arrested this year, told CNN they were being treated well as they awaited imminent trial. Jeffrey Fowle, a middle-aged man from Miamisburg, Ohio, said he was being treated well: "I hope and pray that it continues, while I'm here, two more days or two more decades." He was arrested in May after he left a bible under a bin in the toilet of a sailor's club in the northeastern city of Chongjin.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble renewed a call for a core group of European Union countries to move ahead faster with economic and political integration, 20 years after his ground-breaking proposal fell on deaf ears in key partner France. In an article published in the Financial Times on Monday, Schaeuble proposed creating an EU commissioner with the power to reject national budgets that breach the bloc's fiscal rules, and establishing an inner-core parliament for the euro zone. "In order to make progress in all of these areas, we should keep using the approach that proved its mettle back in 1994: to establish cores of co-operation within the EU that enable smaller, willing groups of member states to forge ahead," Schaeuble wrote in the article, co-authored by fellow German Christian Democrat Karl Lamers. They acknowledged that many EU countries remain reticent about closer political union that would involve transferring more sovereignty to Europe.
Growth in Chinese manufacturing activity slowed in August, two closely watched surveys showed Monday, losing momentum as a declining property sector and waning stimulus effects weigh on the world's second-largest economy. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 51.1 last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. The indices track manufacturing activity in China's factories and workshops and are closely watched indicators of the health of the economy. Analysts said the result indicated China's economic recovery was being stunted by problems in the property sector -- where new home prices posted their fourth consecutive month-on-month decline -- as well as the weakening impact of stimulus measures taken to boost growth.
South African utility Eskom said on Monday that a report in the country's leading business newspaper that power supply would be "highly constrained" for the next five years was a "worst-case scenario." "It would not be correct to say categorically that it would take five years. Etzinger was responding to a report in the Business Day newspaper that said the poor state of the country's power stations would keep supply margins razor-thin for at least another five years. It cited a presentation it said was prepared by Eskom management. Eskom, which supplies virtually all of the power for Africa's most advanced economy, is scrambling to keep the lights on by building new stations while trying to maintain and repair older ones.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fearing a Russian invasion and occupation of Alaska, the U.S. government in the early Cold War years recruited and trained fishermen, bush pilots, trappers and other private citizens across Alaska for a covert network to feed wartime intelligence to the military, newly declassified Air Force and FBI documents show.
Indian factory output slowed slightly in August after jumping to a 17-month high the previous month, but growth remained strong, a key HSBC survey showed Monday. The positive data came three days after new figures showed India's economy grew by a forecast-beating 5.7 percent in the first financial quarter, its best pace since early 2012. The British banking giant said its Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which measures factory production, eased to 52.4 points from 53.0 the previous month. In the survey, keenly watched as a harbinger of industrial expansion and economic health, a reading of more than 50 points suggests expansion while anything below indicates contraction.
By Jonathan Cable LONDON, (Reuters) - Euro zone manufacturing growth slowed slightly more than initially thought last month as new orders dwindled and factories suffered amid rising tensions in Ukraine, a business survey showed on Monday. Factories barely increased prices last month, and manufacturing activity in France fell at the fastest pace in 15 months, in disappointing news for the European Central Bank before Thursday's monetary policy-setting meeting. Markit's final August manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index came in at 50.7, the lowest in over a year and below both July's 51.8 and an earlier flash estimate of 50.8. "Although some growth is better than no growth at all, the braking effect of rising economic and geopolitical uncertainties on manufacturers is becoming more visible," said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.
Egypt revised up its annual consumer price inflation rate to 11.04 percent for July from an earlier figure of 10.61 percent, the statistics agency said on Monday, after the government cut subsidies on fuel. Egypt's annual core consumer price inflation rate, which strips out subsidised goods and volatile items such fruit and vegetables, was also adjusted higher to 9.57 percent from 9.35 percent, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said. CAPMAS did not give a reason for the revision. Egypt's economy has been in turmoil since a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, deterring tourists and foreign investors and straining the country's finances.
While the BOJ is likely to stick to its assessment that the economy is recovering moderately, pessimists on the board may propose offering a bleaker view on components such as factory output, say sources familiar with the bank's thinking. "It's pretty clear from data out so far that the economy is undershooting the BOJ's forecast," said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. "The rebound in July-September may prove to be much weaker than expected." The BOJ cut its assessment on exports earlier this month to say they were "weakening" but left intact its view that factory output, while also weakening, continues to "rise as a trend". Household spending fell more than expected in July and analysts expect bad weather and lasting effects from the tax hike to weigh on consumption in coming months, casting doubt on the BOJ's view that domestic demand remains firm.
Weak investment spending and slow trade led Germany to contract for the first time in over a year in the second quarter, data showed, suggesting Europe's largest economy is running out of steam just as the impact of the crisis in Ukraine starts to bite. Germany's Federal Statistics Office confirmed on Monday an earlier estimate showing a 0.2 percent contraction in seasonally-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) on the quarter. "The second-quarter contraction was a reaction to the strong first quarter so I think we'll return to moderate positive growth in the third ... but there's no shortage of uncertainty factors at the moment," said Thilo Heidrich, an economist at Postbank, referring to the standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine and the crisis in Iraq. Gross capital investment in Germany fell by 2.3 percent and construction investment dropped by 4.2 percent, in part due to a mild winter which boosted building activity in the first quarter.
Indonesia posted a slim trade surplus in July, bouncing back from a deficit the previous month caused by increased imports before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday, data showed on Monday. Suryamin, the head of the official statistics agency, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said imports surged in June before the start of Ramadan but actually slowed during the holy month in July. Narrowing the deficit is one of the main economic challenges facing Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo, who will take office in October.
South Africa's rand steadied near the weaker end of a recent range against the dollar on Monday, opening the week on the backfoot as investors worried about Ukraine/Russia tensions and weakness in the local economy. The rand was also dogged by worse-than-expected trade data on Friday, which highlighted the South African economy's external vulnerabilities. Mid-week sees the release of the business confidence index and a survey of business conditions from purchasing managers in Africa's most advanced economy.
By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Growth in China's vast factory sector slackened in August as foreign and domestic demand slowed, stoking speculation that further policy easing would be needed to prevent the economy from stumbling once more. The surveys of purchasing managers (PMI) from across Asia told a tale of underwhelming new orders and faltering exports, overshadowing brighter spots such as India and Taiwan.
By Koh Gui Qing BEIJING (Reuters) - Growth in China's vast factory sector cooled in August as foreign and domestic demand slowed, two surveys showed on Monday, spurring new calls for more policy easing to prevent the economy from stumbling once more. A purchasing managers' index (PMI) published by the National Bureau of Statistics fell from a 27-month high to 51.1 in August, slightly less than forecast as factories shed jobs for at least the 24th consecutive month. The declines in both PMIs prompted some analysts to re-state their support for more policy action to lift the fading growth momentum in the world's second-biggest economy. He said the central bank could cut interest rates or reduce the amount of reserves that banks must hold as deposits to re-stoke the economy.