Oil Rebounds in Volatile Year-End Trade

SINGAPORE: Oil prices edged up in Asia today after falling sharply in the previous session, as analysts predicted increased volatility and no end in sight this year to tumbling prices.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for January delivery rose 63 cents to USD 54.74, while Brent crude for February gained 16 cents to USD 59.43 in mid-morning trade.

WTI dived yesterday USD 2.36 to its lowest since May 2009, while Brent tumbled USD 1.91.

“Until the issue of low global demand and oversupply is resolved, we will continue to see this type of market volatility as investors test the waters,” Daniel Ang, investment analyst at Phillip Futures, told AFP.

“There are two camps in the market at the moment. Some who believe prices can fall further, and others who are betting that it should be above USD 60,” Ang added. Crude prices have plunged roughly 50 per cent since June owing to plentiful supplies, a stronger dollar and weak demand as the global economy struggles, analysts say.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the oil producers group that supplies about 40 per cent of the world’s crude oil, has so far declined to cut output to curb the price plunge.

Saudi Arabia, the leading OPEC producer, said yesterday that competitive pressures prevent it from reducing output, and the kingdom can weather falling prices.

“It is difficult, or even impossible, for Saudi Arabia or PEC to undertake any measure that would lead to a reduction in (their) share of the market and an increase in that of others” who do not belong to the cartel, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told the official Saudi Press Agency.

TNIE

Modi most popular leader in the world, but after Xi Jinping: survey

PM Narendra Modi with Xi Jinping. Photo: AP A global survey conducted across 30 countries measuring the confidence citizens have in their own leaders has found that China’s President Xi Jinping enjoys most domestic support in handling domestic and international affairs, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi coming a close second.

The study, which surveyed 26,000 respondents in 30 countries, was conducted by Japanese firm GMO Research, and its findings were published in a research paper released on Thursday by Tony Saich, a professor at Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Among respondents in each of 10 “key countries” including India, China, the United States, Russia and Japan, the survey found that on the issue of “domestic confidence” in handling domestic and international affairs, Xi was ranked favourably by 94.8 per cent of Chinese respondents on domestic issues and 93.8 per cent on international affairs.

Modi was second, receiving 93.2 per cent domestic confidence on domestic issues and 93.3 per cent on international affairs. He was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin at 86 per cent on domestic and international affairs – a figure that has likely fallen significantly following Russia’s recent economic meltdown.

Modi’s high rating domestically is especially significant considering the tight constraints on the media and public information in China.
Modi stands out among leaders in democratic countries, the survey finds.

As Harvard’s Saich points out on Xi and Putin’s high ratings, “Leaders do not fare so well in countries where the press and public are more critical of their leaders and policy. Thus, Chancellor Merkel (of Germany) receives 63.2 per cent confidence for her handling of both domestic and international affairs. President Obama enjoys a confidence level in his handling of domestic affairs of 51.7 per cent and 49.1 per cent for international affairs. Poor President Zuma of South Africa comes off worst in both categories with a rating of 12.8 per cent for confidence in his handling of domestic affairs and 18 per
cent for his handling of international affairs”.

In terms of global recognition of leaders, Obama expectedly fares much higher than the rest, with 93.9 per cent of global respondents aware of the US President. Putin came in second, while Xi ranked fourth and Modi eighth with 32.9 per cent.

In terms of global perceptions of world leaders across the 30 countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel fares better than Xi and Modi, enjoying 79.2 per cent confidence on her handling of domestic affairs and 77.2 per cent on international issues.

Xi comes in second, with 78.5 per cent and 76.5 per cent on domestic and international issues, with Modi third, enjoying 72.5 per cent and 69.8 per cent confidence among respondents in the 30 countries on his handling of domestic and international affairs.

IT

Jeans Made That Will Prevent Digital Pick Pocketing

A pair of jeans containing material that blocks wireless signals is being developed in conjunction with anti-virus firm Norton.

The trousers are intended to stop thieves hacking into radio frequency identification (RFID) tagged passports or contactless payment cards.

According to security experts this type of theft is a growing problem.

The jeans are designed by online clothing company Betabrand and use a silver-based material to block signals.

They are due to go on sale in February.

Security software maker Norton teamed up with San Francisco-based Betabrand in October to make the jeans and a blazer. The jeans will retail at $151 (£96) and the blazer at $198.

TG

16 Billionaires Who Were Once Dirt Poor

Some of the world’s wealthiest people started out dirt poor.

Here are 16 rags-to-riches stories that remind us through determination , grit, and a bit of luck anyone can overcome their circumstances and achieve extraordinary success.

1.Kenny Troutt, the founder of Excel Communications, paid his way through college by selling life insurance.

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Troutt grew up with a bartender dad and paid for his own tuition at Southern Illinois University by selling life insurance. He made most of his money from phone company Excel Communications, which he founded in 1988 and took public in 1996. Two years later, Troutt merged his company with Teleglobe in a $3.5 billion deal.

He’s now retired and invests heavily in racehorses.

2.Starbucks’ Howard Schultz grew up in a housing complex for the poor.

Net worth: $2.3 billion

In an interview with British tabloid Mirror, Schultz says: “Growing up I always felt like I was living on the other side of the tracks. I knew the people on the other side had more resources, more money, happier families. And for some reason, I don’t know why or how, I wanted to climb over that fence and achieve something beyond what people were saying was possible. I may have a suit and tie on now but I know where I’m from and I know what it’s like.”

Schultz ended up winning a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan and went to work for Xerox after graduation. Shortly after, he took over a coffee shop called Starbucks, which at the time had only 60 shops. Schultz became the company’s CEO in 1987 and grew the coffee chain to more than 16,000 outlets worldwide.

3.Investor Ken Langone’s parents worked as a plumber and cafeteria worker.

Net worth: $2.6 billion

To help pay for Langone’s school at Bucknell University, he worked odd jobs and his parents mortgaged their home.

In 1968, Langone worked with Ross Perot to take Electronic Data Systems public. (It was later acquired by HP.) Just two years later, he partnered with Bernard Marcus to start Home Depot, which also went public in 1981.

4.Born into poverty, Oprah Winfrey became the first African American TV correspondent in Nashville.

Net worth: $3 billion

Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi, but this didn’t stop her from winning a scholarship to Tennessee State University and becoming the first African American TV correspondent in the state at the age of 19.

In 1983, Winfrey moved to Chicago to work for an AM talk show which would later be called “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

5.John Paul DeJoria, the man behind a hair-care empire and Patron Tequila, once lived in a foster home and his car.

Net worth: $3.2 billion

Before the age of 10, DeJoria, a first generation American, sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family. He was eventually sent to live in a foster home and even spent some time in a gang before joining the military.

With a $700 dollar loan, DeJoria created John Paul Mitchell Systems and sold the shampoo door-to-door while living in his car. He later started Patron Tequila, and now invests in other industries.

6.Mega-resort owner Kirk Kerkorian dropped out of school in the eighth grade to become a boxer.

Net worth: $4 billion

To financially help his Armenian-immigrant family, Kerkorian dropped out of school in the eighth grade and later would become a boxer called “Rifle Right Kerkorian.” During World War II, Kerkorian worked for Britain’s Royal Air Force. He eventually turned his interest to constructing many of Las Vegas’ biggest resorts and hotels.

7.At one time, businessman Shahid Khan washed dishes for $1.20 an hour.

Net worth: $4.4 billion

He’s now one of the richest people in the world, but when Khan came to the US from Pakistan, he worked as a dishwasher while attending the University of Illinois. Khan now owns Flex-N-Gate, one of the largest private companies in the US, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and Premier League soccer club Fulham.

8.Forever 21 founder Do Won Chang worked as a janitor, gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop when he first moved to America.

Net worth: $5.5 billion

The husband-and-wife team – Do Won Chang and Jin Sook – behind Forever 21 didn’t always have it so easy. After moving to America from Korea in 1981, Do Won had to work three jobs at the same time to make ends meet. They opened their first clothing store in 1984.

Forever 21 is now an international, 480-store empire that rakes in around $3 billion in sales a year.

9.Ralph Lauren was once a clerk at Brooks Brothers dreaming of men’s ties.

Net worth: $8.2 billion

Lauren graduated high school in the Bronx, New York, but later dropped out of college to join the Army. It was while working as a clerk at Brooks Brothers that Lauren questioned whether men were ready for wider and brighter designs in ties. The year he decided to make his dream a reality, 1967, Lauren sold $500,000 worth of ties. He started Polo the next year.

10.Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal came from modest beginnings in India.

Net worth: $13.2 billion

A 2009 BBC article says the ArcelorMittal CEO and chairman, who was born in 1950 to a poor family in the Indian state of Rajasthan, “established the foundations of his fortune over two decades by doing much of his business in the steel industry equivalent of a discount warehouse.”

Today Mittal runs the world’s largest steel making company and is a multibillionaire.

11.Luxury goods mogul Francois Pinault quit high school in 1974 after being bullied for being poor.

Net worth: $14.2 billion

Pinault is now the face of fashion conglomerate Kering (formerly PPR), but at one time, he had to quit high school because he was teased so harshly for being poor. As a businessman, Pinault is known for his “predator” tactic, which includes buying smaller firms for a fraction of the cost when the market crashed. He eventually started PPR, which owns high-end fashion houses including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.

12.Leonardo Del Vecchio grew up in an orphanage and later worked in a factory where he lost part of his finger.

Net worth: $19.1 billion

Del Vecchio was one of five children who was eventually sent to an orphanage because his widow mother couldn’t care for him. He would later work in a factory making molds of auto parts and eyeglass frames.

At the age of 23, Del Vecchio opened his own molding shop, which expanded to become the world’s largest maker of sunglasses and prescription eyewear with brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley.

13.Legendary trader George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and arrived in London as an impoverished college student.

Net worth: $24 billion

In his early teens, Soros posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture in order to stay safe from the Nazi occupation of Hungary. In 1947, Soros escaped the country to live with his relatives in London. He put himself through the London School of Economics working as a waiter and railway porter.

After graduating, Soros worked at a souvenir shop before getting a job as a banker in New York City. In 1992, his famous bet against the British pound made him a billion dollars.

14.After his father died, business magnate Li Ka-shing had to quit school to help support his family.

Net worth: $28.3 billion

Ka-shing fled mainland China for Hong Kong in the 1940s, but his father died when he was 15, leaving Ka-shing responsible for supporting his family. In 1950, he started his own company, Cheung Kong Industries, which manufactured plastics at first but would later expand into real estate.

15.College dropout Sheldon Adelson grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement house.

Net worth: $28.8 billion

Adelson, the son of a cab driver, grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and began selling newspapers at the age of 12, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

A Forbes profile of the billionaire says years later, after dropping out of the City College of New York, Adelson “built a fortune running vending machines, selling newspaper ads, helping small businesses go public, developing condos and hosting trade shows.”

16.Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison dropped out of college after his adoptive mother died, and he held odd jobs for eight years.

Net worth: $51.3 billion

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a single mother, Ellison was raised by his aunt and uncle in Chicago. After his aunt died, Ellison dropped out of college and moved to California to work odd jobs for the next eight years. He founded software development company Oracle in 1977, which is now one of the largest technology companies in the world.

This September he announced his plans to step down as Oracle’s CEO.

TG

US, Cuba announce historic thaw in ties

The United States and Cuba moved to end five decades of Cold War hostility on Wednesday, agreeing to revive diplomatic ties in a surprise breakthrough that would also ease a crippling US trade embargo.

In the wake of a prisoner exchange, President Barack Obama said Washington was ready for a “new chapter” in relations with communist Cuba and would re-establish its embassy in Havana, shuttered since 1961.

“We are all Americans,” Obama declared, breaking into Spanish for a speech that the White House portrayed as a bid to reassert US leadership in the Western Hemisphere.

Cuba’s President Raul Castro, speaking at the same time in Havana, confirmed that the former enemies had “agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties” after a half century of rancor.

“President Obama’s decision deserves the respect and acknowledgement of our people,” Castro said, while warning that the embargo -which he calls a “blockade” – must still be lifted.

In Washington, Obama admitted the US trade ban had failed and said he would urge Congress to lift it, while using his presidential authority to advance diplomatic and travel links. “We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalise relations between our two countries,” he said.

“Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.”

DH

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