S&P reassures Spain
Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) on Wednesday said if Spain requested a full bailout from EU rescue funds and the IMF, this would not affect the country’s debt rating. “The sovereign ratings on the Kingdom of Spain would likely not be directly affected should Spain’s government request a bailout through official financing by the European Financial Stability Facility, the European Stability Mechanism, or the International Monetary Fund,” the agency said in a statement. S&P cut Spain’s sovereign debt rating in April by two notches to “BBB+” and added a negative outlook, warning the government’s budget situation would worsen as the Spanish economy contracts.
Business contraction slows
Business activity continued to contract this month, but at the slowest pace in six months, according to preliminary data released yesterday by the survey firm Markit. The survey of activity in the private sector from purchasing managers, an important leading indicator of economic activity, came in at 48.9, up from 47.9 last month. Markit said the survey data indicated that job losses continued this month, with the rate of decline unchanged from last month.
Singapore casinos fined
Singapore’s two casinos have been fined more than US$1 million since they opened in 2010, mostly for violating laws aimed at deterring locals from gambling, official data showed yesterday. The Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa casinos on Wednesday were fined S$357,500 (US$287,199) and S$140,000 respectively by Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA). The casinos were punished for “breaching social safeguard requirements during the period May 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011,” the CRA said.
Diageo increases payouts
The world’s biggest spirits group, Diageo PLC, increased its payout to shareholders, saying it was confident that buoyant demand for whisky and spirits in Asia and Africa would help it hit medium-term targets. The company yesterday said it was raising its full-year dividend by 8 percent to ￡0.435 per share, after an increase in sales driven by emerging markets. Earnings after taxation gained 2 percent to ￡1.94 billion (US$3.09 billion) in the group’s 2011-2012 financial year to June, compared with ￡1.90 billion last time around, Diageo said in a results statement.
Citic sells stake to Qatar
A state-owned Chinese investment company says it has sold a 22.2 percent stake to an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. Citic Capital Holdings Ltd’s (中信資本) deal with Qatar Holding LLC expands Beijing’s financial ties with Middle Eastern economies. Citic Capital CEO Zhang Yichen (張懿宸) said the company hopes the relationship with Qatar Holding will expand its investment opportunities abroad. Citic Capital manages US$4.4 billion in assets in real estate, private equity and finance.
Rail expansion canned
Russia has dropped plans to extend its existing high-speed rail links to 2018 World Cup host cities because of budget constraints, the Vedomosti business daily said yesterday. The initiative had represented one of the planks of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s promise to use the football tournament to revitalize Russia’s far-flung regions and gain long-term benefits from the costly event.