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South Africa's rand weakened against the dollar on Friday for a fifth consecutive day, falling by close to a third of a percent, as the currency struggled to shake off fundamental economic weakness. Data released in the previous session showed South Africa's trade deficit for June had narrowed from 7.4 billion rand ($690 million) to 19 million rand with exports edging up slightly, but the rand failed to gain a foothold against a strengthening dollar. "July's trade report will not encourage much optimism either due to impact of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) strike." The strike lasted four weeks and hit the operations of major automobile makers as well as construction of two badly-needed power plants.
WELEETKA, Okla. (AP) — Folks once settled in this sleepy central Oklahoma town to get away from the crime and hubbub of big-city life. Mom-and-pop shops bustled with plenty of customers, and many residents didn't bolt their doors or draw their shades at night. Most here never worried about people like Kevin Sweat.
ArcelorMittal South Africa said on Friday its first-half loss narrowed compared to last year but earnings are expected to remain under strain because of weak domestic economic growth and labour disputes. Africa's biggest producer of steel reported a headline loss of 2 cents a share for the six months to end-June compared with a loss of 31 cents the same period last year. Headline earnings, the main profit gauge in South Africa, exclude certain one-off and non trading items. South Africa's main manufacturing union ended a four-week strike in the metals and engineering sector on Monday after accepting a wage increase offer from employers.
By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares were mostly under water on Friday after a sudden slump on Wall Street spilled over globally, though a surprisingly strong pick up in manufacturing helped Chinese markets hold at seven-month highs. In a promising omen for world growth China's official measure of industrial activity (PMI) rose to 51.7 in July from 51.0 in June, beating forecasts of 51.4 and the highest in 27 months. All of which helped China's stock markets top up the week's hefty gains. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 1 percent.
By Julie Steenhuysen and Colleen Jenkins CHICAGO/WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) - A U.S. aid worker who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus while working in West Africa will be flown to the United States to be treated in a high-security ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, hospital officials said on Thursday. The aid worker, whose name has not been released, will be moved in the next several days to a special isolation unit at Emory. The unit was set up in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said her agency was working with the U.S. State Department to facilitate the transfer.
By Leika Kihara and Stanley White TOKYO (Reuters) - Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda came out fighting on Friday, giving a spirited defence of the economy's performance after a run of weak data, and reiterated his readiness to expand stimulus if inflation faltered on the path to his 2 percent target rate. "The BOJ is not aiming at achieving the price stability target of 2 percent temporarily. "I would like to emphasize that...given the BOJ's clear and strong commitment to the 2 percent inflation target, it is a matter of course the BOJ will make adjustments if necessary to ensure the target is met," he said at a seminar. He stressed that the BOJ will vigilantly monitor how a decline in real income affects consumer spending.
By Matt Siegel and Tom Miles SYDNEY/GENEVA (Reuters) - Several member states of the World Trade Organisation voiced frustration after India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling led to the collapse of the first major global trade reform pact in two decades. WTO ministers had already agreed the global reform of customs procedures known as "trade facilitation" in Bali, Indonesia, last December, but were unable to overcome last minute Indian objections and get it into the WTO rule book by the July 31 deadline. "We have not been able to find a solution that would allow us to bridge that gap," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told trade diplomats in Geneva, just two hours before the final deadline for a deal lapsed at midnight (2200 GMT Thursday). Most diplomats had expected the pact to be rubber-stamped this week, marking a unique success in the WTO's 19-year history which according to some estimates would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy.
By Annika McGinnis WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Katy Perry, Jason Derulo and Stevie Wonder were all there - but the only guest who got to give President Barack Obama a hug during his speech was restaurant owner Tim Harris. Harris has Down syndrome, but he owns his own restaurant and is a Special Olympics star in year-round sports. "Presidents need encouragement once in a while too...Thank you, Tim," Obama said after Harris left his seat during the president's remarks to give him a hug, Harris' trademark at his restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job growth likely cooled a bit in July, but retained enough momentum to suggest the economy remained on solid ground. Still, it would mark the sixth straight month that employment has expanded by more than 200,000 jobs, a stretch last seen in 1997. The unemployment rate likely held at a six year-low of 6.1 percent, but could surprise on the downside after surveys showed Americans becoming more upbeat about jobs. "As long as we have job growth going in the right direction and the labor market tightening up, we are still in a good place," said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica in Dallas The economy grew at a 4.0 percent annual pace in the second quarter after shrinking at a 2.1 percent rate in the first three months of year.
The official purchasing managers index (PMI) hit 51.7 last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. "We are optimistic about China's economic outlook in the remainder of this year, as the growth momentum is picking up while the inflation remains mild," ANZ Bank economists Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao said in a note reacting to the PMI survey. The index tracks manufacturing activity in China's factories and workshops and is a closely watched indicator of the health of the economy. Separately, British bank HSBC said its final PMI reading for July also came in at 51.7, up from 50.7 in June but weaker than the preliminary 52.0 announced last week.
By Koh Gui Qing BEIJING (Reuters) - China's factories posted their strongest growth in at least 1-1/2 years in July as new orders surged to multi-month highs, two surveys showed on Friday, cementing bets that the economy is re-gaining momentum after a spate of stimulus measures. Now that looser monetary policy is having its intended effect, some analysts questioned the need for more economic stimulus in China, at least in the near term. "There is no reason in China to be concerned about growth right now," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics. Worried by a slowdown in the economy in the first quarter, China began easing policy in April by cutting taxes, hastening investment, and lowering the reserve requirement for some banks.
China's decline in property prices accelerated in July, an independent survey showed, adding to concerns over the sector, a key component of the world's second-largest economy. The average price of a new home in 100 major cities was 10,835 yuan ($1,757) per square metre last month, down 0.81 percent from June, the China Index Academy (CIA) said. All of China's 10 biggest cities posted month-on-month falls, with the average price in Beijing dropping 1.6 percent to 32,736 yuan per square metre. "Pressured by high inventory levels and elevated debt ratios, most property developers adopted a price cut strategy to boost sales," said CIA, the research unit of real estate website operator Soufun.
By Sarah Marsh and Richard Lough BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's bond and stock markets and peso currency dropped on Thursday after Latin America's No. 3 economy defaulted for the second time in 12 years following the collapse of last-ditch talks with holdout creditors. The default came after Argentina failed to strike a deal with lead holdout investors NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of Elliott Management Corp and Aurelius Capital Management, in time for a midnight Wednesday EDT (0400 GMT) payment deadline. "Those who expect us to sign any old thing, threatening us that the world will come to an end otherwise, should not count on me," Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said in her first comments since the default. The government maintains it has not defaulted because it made a required interest payment on one of its bonds due 2033, but U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan blocked that deposit in June, saying it violated his ruling.
(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review a case about whether the federal government can subsidize health insurance for millions of Americans, a party involved in the lawsuit said on Thursday. The petition requests the U.S. high court decide the issue after two lower U.S. court rulings created uncertainties last week regarding the legitimacy of subsidies for individuals enrolled on federally run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is coordinating and funding the cases, filed the petition, according to the not-for-profit's website. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision that the language in the Affordable Care Act dealing with subsidies shows they should only be provided to consumers who purchase benefits on exchanges run by individual states.
By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill to fund border security blew up in House Speaker John Boehner's face on Thursday, leaving Republicans in disarray and struggling to reconcile Tea Party demands with the need to deal with a humanitarian crisis on the southwestern border with Mexico. A carefully crafted, $659 million bill to pay for more border security and help feed and house tens of thousands of Central American children arriving illegally in the United States unexpectedly collapsed on Thursday. Tea Party-backed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had his fingerprints all over Thursday's debacle for Boehner. The measure, complained Cruz, would not reverse President Barack Obama's 2012 policy of suspending deportations of undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children by their parents.