Minister hails aid program
Economy Minister Alvaro Santos Pereira said the fourth review of the country’s aid program has been successful as the government complies with the terms of the international plan to ensure further financing. “The final part of the review will be taking place in the next few days, but we believe that it has been a fairly successful review,” Santos Pereira, 40, said in a Friday interview in Lisbon. The Portuguese finance ministry will hold a news conference tomorrow about the conclusions of the fourth quarterly review of the country’s financial aid program provided by the EU and the IMF. Portugal is cutting spending and raising taxes to comply with the terms of the 78 billion euro (US$97 billion) aid plan.
Konarka files for bankruptcy
Konarka Technologies Inc, the thin-film solar panel manufacturer backed by Chevron Corp, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and New Enterprise Associates Inc, filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts. “Konarka has been unable to obtain additional financing, and given its current financial condition, it is unable to continue operations,” Howard Berke, chief executive officer of the Lowell, Massachusetts-based company, said on Friday in a statement. Konarka listed US$100,000 to US$500,000 in assets and US$10 million to US$50 million in debt in its Chapter 7 filing yesterday in US Bankruptcy Court in Worcester, Massachusetts. Konarka NB Holdings LLC, in a separate filing, listed US$1 million to US$10 million in assets and as much as US$50,000 in debt. At least four other US solar panel manufacturers filed for bankruptcy in the past year as prices fell 50 percent because of oversupply and production expansion in China.
GDP up a weak 0.2 percent
The nation’s economy barely expanded in the first quarter as frustrated business leaders cut back on investments, setting the stage for another disappointing year and casting new doubt on the health of emerging markets. The economy grew just 0.2 percent compared with the final three months of last year, less than half the pace markets expected. The third straight quarter of weakness in the world’s sixth-largest economy prompted new calls for President Dilma Rousseff to enact much bolder reforms that could reclaim the country’s mantle as a favorite of global investors. That reputation has faded since the middle of last year as Brazil failed to cope adequately with the challenges posed by its boom over the past decade.
SEC acts to curb volatility
The US Securities and Exchange Commission approved two proposals to alter trading curbs meant to curtail volatility in the US stock market. The regulator approved a system known as limit-up/limit-down that prevents trades at prices outside a specified band, according to a statement on the SEC Web site on Friday. It also backed changes to broader circuit breakers instituted after the 1987 market crash that halt exchange-listed securities in US markets during periods of volatility. Both programs will be implemented on Feb. 4 for a one-year pilot period. The price band will be 5 percent above and below for stocks higher than US$3 in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Russell 1000 Index and a group of about 430 exchange-traded products, the SEC said. It will be 10 percent for other securities higher than US$3. Those between US$0.75 and $3 can move up to 20 percent, while those less than US$0.75 can move the lesser of 75 percent or US$0.15.