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Thursday, January 28, 2010


Fed's upbeat assessment causes most Asian markets to rebound
Most Asian share markets gained Thursday because of a more optimistic assessment of the economy from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Japan's Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.6%, while China's Shanghai Composite inched up 0.3%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6%, South Korea's Kospi Composite added 1% and Taiwan's Taiex climbed 1.8%. New Zealand's NZX 50 gave up 0.3%, while Singapore's Straits Times Index had added 1.8% and Indonesia's shares were up 1.6% in late trading. The Wall Street Journal (28 Jan.)

Obama focuses on jobs, economy in first State of the Union address
U.S. President Barack Obama put jobs and the economy at the heart of his first State of the Union address, a speech that dealt mostly with domestic issues. Of the money banks repaid for their bailouts, $30 billion should be put into a program to help community banks loan to small businesses, he said. Obama called for a tax credit for small businesses that hire or raise employees' pay. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, singled out the tax credit for praise, saying it "could be a substantial game-changer." The Washington Post (28 Jan.)

Rep. Frank: Obama's proposal to rein in banks could become law soon
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said a proposal by President Barack Obama to rein in major financial institutions and their activities could become law within six months. Frank said the proposal could be woven into legislation already making its way through Congress. "I think [Sen.] Chris [Dodd] will get a bill out in March," Frank said. Financial Times (tiered subscription model) (27 Jan.)

Survey shows most Americans are in favor of "TARP tax"
A survey conducted by Republican Glen Bolger and Democrat Stan Greenberg found that while U.S. President Barack Obama has struggled through the past few weeks, one bright spot for the administration is the proposed "TARP tax," named for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Almost 60% of respondents said they supported the tax when it was described as a "responsibility fee" that would "discourage big bonus payouts and ensure the big banks that caused the crisis pay for the bailout." However, about 40% of respondents opposed the fee when they were told banks would pass on the cost to consumers and restrict small-business lending. The Wall Street Journal/Deal Journal blog (27 Jan.)

China's SWF is moving ahead with more resource investments
Having enjoyed substantial gains on its investments in mining, energy and commodities, China Investment Corp. is moving ahead with a round of investment in resource companies, economists said. The $300 billion sovereign-wealth fund escaped the 2008 credit crunch relatively untouched and probably generated a return of more than 10% on its investments last year, said Jan Randolph, director of sovereign risk, analysis and forecasting at IHS Global Insight. China Daily (Beijing)/Agencies (28 Jan.)

Siemens plans to phase out business with Iran
Siemens, the biggest engineering conglomerate in Europe, said it is winding down its business with Iran and is no longer accepting orders from the country. The action came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in favor of tightened U.N. sanctions against the country. Siemens CEO Peter Löscher told shareholders that the company might be able to phase out all of its business with Iran by the middle of this year. Spiegel Online (Germany) (27 Jan.)

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