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Singapore Stalls Currency; Fears for Global Rebound Print E-mail

Reuters – 12 October 2009

Singapore's central bank decided against encouraging currency appreciation at a policy review on Monday, saying it lacked faith in the global recovery and feared slower growth in the island's export-dependent economy.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) uses the currency as its main policy tool, and traders had pushed it higher, anticipating the central bank would tolerate more appreciation as the economy rebounded strongly from recession earlier this year.

The central bank kept policy on hold even though gross domestic product grew a seasonally adjusted 14.9 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, beating forecasts as services and manufacturing surged.

The central bank said it did not think the Singaporean economy could sustain that pace of recovery while demand sputters in its Western export markets.

'While prospects for the external economies have improved, final demand in Singapore's key export markets...has yet to recover decisively,' the bank said in statement.

 
Singapore Lifts Growth Outlook Amid Third-Quarter Expansion Print E-mail

MarketWatch - 12 October 2009 

The government of Singapore sharply upgraded its economic outlook for 2009 Monday, as the city-state's gross domestic product continued to expand at a rapid clip in the third quarter amid an improvement in manufacturing activity.

Singapore's GDP for the July-to-September period rose at a seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of 14.9% from the previous three months, though it paled in comparison with the upwardly revised estimate of 22% in the second quarter.

"A clear but modest recovery is underway globally, at least for the next three to four quarters. One-off factors such as restocking activities and fiscal stimulus measures will continue to support growth in the near term," the ministry wrote in a statement.

Manufacturing activity soared 34.9% and services rose 9.5%, but the construction sector declined 0.6%, advance estimates released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry showed.

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Royal London Reports Increased Profits Print E-mail

TEP – 8 October 2009

Profits at mutual life and pensions company Royal London has increased by 8 per cent at £108m in the six months to 30 June.

The increase of the European embedded value from £100m in the same period last year was helped by high new business margins and a strong increase in protection business margins from 4 per cent to 7.6 per cent according to the Edinburgh-based insurer.

It added that EEV profit before tax of £49m the same period last year was at a loss of £284m and new life and pensions business premiums increased 12 per cent to £1.2bn from £1.06bn.

Mike Yardley, group chief executive of Royal London, said that increasing operation profit is a good result.

He said: "As our markets continue to be affected by the difficult economic environment, increasing the operating profit to £108m is a good result. We continue to focus on our core markets - pensions, protection and asset management.

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Pound Advances as IMF Raises U.K. Growth Forecast Print E-mail

Bloomberg – 6 October 2009

The pound advanced against the euro for the third time in four days as the International Monetary Fund raised the U.K.’s economic growth forecast for 2010.

The British currency was little changed against the dollar, paring earlier declines, after the IMF said gross domestic product will expand 0.9 percent next year, from a July prediction of 0.2 percent, as the housing-market slump eases and exports increase. Sterling’s gains versus the euro were buoyed after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said foreign-exchange moves were having “adverse” effects, signaling concern about the strength of the single currency.

“There has been an upswing in the economic data, pointing to the U.K. going from being a laggard in the global recovery to closing the gap with the others,” said Jane Foley, a research director in London at Forex.com, an online currency trader.

The pound weakened to its lowest level in six months versus the euro and fell to less than $1.60 for the first time since July after the Newcastle Journal cited Bank of England Governor Mervyn King on Sept. 24 as saying the pound’s decline is “helpful” for the process of rebalancing the British economy, The U.K. trade deficit narrowed to 2.5 billion pounds in July, from 4 billion pounds in November 2007, when the pound reached a 26-year high against the dollar.

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Aviva Unveils Details of Reattribution Windfalls Print E-mail
The Independent – 1 October 2009

Some 805,000 customers of Aviva will share in a £470m payout from next month, the insurer said today. Most will receive tax-free payouts of between £214 and £1,230 after voting to relinquish any future claims to the profits generated by the funds that hold their investments.

Individual payouts to customers of the CGNU and CULAC with-profits funds will be slightly higher than expected as the total value of the inherited estate for the reattribution is £1.25bn, more than the minimum level of £1.2bn on which the offer was based.

The reattribution will start in early November and be completed by Christmas, Aviva said. Mark Hodges, chief executive, Aviva UK Life, said: "Our objective has always been to create a reattribution that was fair to both shareholders and policyholders. I'm pleased that we've been able to conclude the process in time for most customers to receive their payments by Christmas.”

Eligible policyholders had to choose to accept the offer and just over 87 per cent voted during the election process, with 96 per cent choosing to accept the cash offer. Customers who voted “yes” should automatically now receive their payment. The estimated 195,000 policyholders that voted “no” or failed to vote will continue to benefit from any future profits in the funds.

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