Tag Archives: number

Microsoft says small number of its computers hacked

00-024SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp said on Friday a small number of its computers, including some in its Mac software business unit, were infected with malware, but there was no evidence of customer data being affected and it is continuing its investigation.

The world’s largest software company said the security intrusion was “similar” to recent ones reported by Apple Inc and Facebook Inc.

The incident, reported on one of the company’s public blogs happened “recently”, but Microsoft said it chose not to make any statement publicly while it gathered information about the attack.

“This type of cyberattack is no surprise to Microsoft and other companies that must grapple with determined and persistent adversaries,” said Matt Thomlinson, general manager of Trustworthy Computing Security at Microsoft, in the company’s blog post.

Over the past week or so, both Apple and Facebook said computers used by employees were attacked after visiting a software developer website infected with malicious software.

The attacks come at a time of broader concern about computer security.

Newspaper websites, including those of The New York Times , The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, have  been infiltrated recently. Earlier this month US President Barack Obama issued an executive order seeking better protection of the country’s critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

Number of new building jobs still uncertain

Master Builders Queensland says while building activity is expected to increase this year, there is no way of knowing how many construction jobs will be created.

Premier Campbell Newman is hoping growth in the construction and tourism sectors will offset the potential loss of 1,000 coal mining jobs this year.

However, a new survey by Master Builders shows the construction industry continued to shed jobs in the three months to December.

Director of housing policy Paul Bidwell says while conditions should improve, it is impossible to say when that will happen.

“It’s not possible to talk about the number of jobs over a period but if building activity picks up, as we’re confident it will in 2013 going forward,” he said.

“Over the next year or two, jobs will grow.”

Topics: economic-trends, building-and-construction, activism-and-lobbying, urban-development-and-planning, housing-industry, qld, cairns-4870, townsville-4810, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700, bundaberg-4670, maroochydore-4558, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350, mount-isa-4825, longreach-4730

First posted January 22, 2013 08:57:46

Toyota reclaims number one title

A Toyota showroom in the US Toyota’s recovery has been boosted by a sharp rebound in sales in the US market Japanese carmaker Toyota has regained its slot as the world’s biggest vehicle maker, capping a year of a dramatic turnaround in its fortunes.

Toyota said it sold 9.75 million vehicles in 2012, a jump of more than 22% from a year earlier.

General Motors, which was the biggest vehicle maker in 2011, sold 9.29 million vehicles in 2012.

Toyota’s sales in 2011 were hit by natural disasters in Japan and Thailand which hurt production at its factories.

However, Toyota, and other Japanese carmakers that were affected, have seen a steady recovery since then and have been regaining share in key markets such as the US.

“The last two years have been very difficult for Toyota,” Vivek Vaidya, an auto analyst with Frost & Sullivan, told the BBC.

“The regaining of the top slot would definitely be heartening for the firm and is good news for its investors and share holders,” he added.

Toyota’s rivals also reported record numbers in vehicle sales for 2012.

Nissan Motor said it sold 4.94 million vehicles globally, up almost 6% from the previous year, while Honda Motor said it saw a jump of 19% from a year earlier, selling 3.82 million vehicles.

Profit boost?

Along with the natural disasters, Japanese carmakers have also been hit by a strong yen.

Continue reading the main story
We are likely to see profit margins rise, giving it more cash in hand and the ability to invest in developing new technologies”

End Quote Vivek Vaidya Frost & Sullivan A strong currency not only makes Japanese goods more expensive to foreign buyers but also hits firms’ profits when they repatriate their foreign earnings back home.

This especially hurts companies – such as Toyota – which rely heavily on overseas sales.

However, Japanese carmakers have received a boost in the past few weeks as the yen has fallen against the US dollar.

The Japanese currency has dropped nearly 15% against the US dollar since last November. It was trading close to 90.8 yen against US dollar in Asian trade on Monday.

Analysts said the fall was likely to have a positive impact on Toyota’s growth.

“The decline in the yen is a welcome relief for Toyota,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Mr Vaidya.

“We are likely to see profit margins rise, giving it more cash in hand and the ability to invest in developing new technologies, which should help in its growth momentum going forward.”

The Japanese carmaker raised its annual profit forecast in November.

It has predicted a net profit of 780bn yen ($8.6bn; £5.4bn) for the financial year to 31 March 2013, up from its earlier of forecast of 760bn yen.

Potential pitfalls

However, the carmaker does face some potential hurdles, not least from the continuing territorial dispute between Japan and China.

China is the world’s biggest car market and is seen as key to future growth of firms such as Toyota.

However, the dispute centred around a group of islands in the East China Sea, which flared up late last year, has hurt relations between the two countries and seen Japan’s exports to China decline.

The dispute is still unresolved and some fear that it may blow up again in the coming months and further hurt trade relations between the two countries.

The fear is that any such move may see anti-Japan sentiment rise and hurt sales of Japanese brands in China.

Analysts said that any such decline was likely to have a negative impact on Toyota’s growth.

Number of new building jobs still uncertain

Master Builders Queensland says while building activity is expected to increase this year, there is no way of knowing how many construction jobs will be created.

Premier Campbell Newman is hoping growth in the construction and tourism sectors will offset the potential loss of 1,000 coal mining jobs this year.

However, a new survey by Master Builders shows the construction industry continued to shed jobs in the three months to December.

Director of housing policy Paul Bidwell says while conditions should improve, it is impossible to say when that will happen.

“It’s not possible to talk about the number of jobs over a period but if building activity picks up, as we’re confident it will in 2013 going forward,” he said.

“Over the next year or two, jobs will grow.”

Topics: economic-trends, building-and-construction, activism-and-lobbying, urban-development-and-planning, housing-industry, qld, cairns-4870, townsville-4810, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700, bundaberg-4670, maroochydore-4558, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350, mount-isa-4825, longreach-4730

First posted January 22, 2013 08:57:46

Why 8% may not be the magic number for China

China’s manufacturing and export sectors have been hurt by a slowdown in global demand In Chinese tradition, the number eight is considered to be very auspicious. So much so that people are willing to pay extra to have it as part of their home address, car registration or even their phone number.

Eight is also the number that many pundits and China observers have for long touted as the magic figure for China’s economy.

They have long presented 8% gross domestic product (GDP) growth as a threshold below which the country’s economy could not fall, if it hoped to maintain social stability.

Some have even gone to the extent of suggesting that there is a Faustian bargain between the Chinese government and its people, whereby the people accept the one-party rule of the Communist Party in exchange for the Party ensuring economic growth – above the magical 8% per year number.

The fact that China’s economy has not seen growth below 8% since 1999 has only added another dimension to the argument.

In reality, however, there is nothing magical about the number as far China’s economy is concerned. Indeed, growth need not remain that high in the coming years for China to continue to be a stable society.

Rising incomes There is indeed a deal between the Communist Party and the Chinese people, but what it is really about is not a particular growth figure.

It is about the Chinese government stepping out of people’s lives and continuing to provide ways for them to make money and improve their quality of life from the end of the Cultural Revolution onward.

At this point in China’s economic history, achieving 8% annual growth is no longer essential to accomplishing that, as real poverty has mostly been eradicated.

People on the lower end of the income scale are continuing to get richer in real terms today.

In 2012, China’s lowest earners saw their wages rise by 14% on average, while inflation was held to about 2%.

In fact, my company’s research suggests that people earning less than 3000 yuan ($480; £300) per month are among the most optimistic segment of Chinese society.

That is because they are seeing their incomes rise in real terms and there is strong demand for workers in a shrinking labour pool.

The low-income labour market remains tight, as many factories and companies are running at 20% below ideal employment numbers.

Social change

People across Chinese society have much more freedom to do what they want without interference from the government.

Before the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the Chinese government’s control over people’s lives was basically absolute.

During the mass famines of the early 1960s resulting from the Great Leap Forward, which started in 1957, tens of millions of people were not allowed to move around the country freely and so starved to death because they could not leave famine-stricken areas in search of food.

Buyers looking at a model of a new home development in China The migration of large number of people to urban areas has seen a surge in property prices

But since the late 1970s, restrictions on movement have been freed up – and what you have seen as a result is the largest rural-to-urban migration in history.

Poor people in the countryside have been able to earn more and improve their families’ lives by moving to cities, getting higher-paying jobs and sending money back home.

Subsequent reforms have allowed people to marry and divorce without approval of work units.

Before the 1980s, it was practically impossible for Chinese to obtain a passport and travel overseas. Now they are becoming world travellers.

In 2010, 50 million Chinese travelled abroad, a figure that swelled to 90 million in 2012.

Chinese were the largest spenders per head in London during the 2012 Olympics and account for more than 50% of luxury sales in France.

Restructuring growth

However, while the slowdown in the pace of growth is not disastrous for China, one cannot deny that it is going to pose some difficulties.

The government needs to reset expectations on growth and restructure its economy to keep the deal going.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the country’s growth has been driven by exports and investment.

The government’s massive stimulus package in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis was heavily weighted toward infrastructure investment.

But now China needs to shift to more of a consumer-driven model and there are signs that it is doing that.

We estimate that in the first nine months of 2012, 55% of China’s economic growth came from consumption.

This is the direction China’s economy needs to continue to move in, but as it does so, overall growth will necessarily slow.

Chinese people understand that the economic cycle goes up and down. They are not stupid. They can accept lower rates of overall growth as long as their lives are continuing to improve.

However, if they see living costs go up and they are no longer able to afford homes and education for their families, it may start to become a big concern.

Eradicating corruption

Aside from restructuring the economy, China has to help solve corruption.

While many Chinese people can tolerate official corruption up to a certain point, they cannot abide rampant corruption plus economic stagnation, especially if it is at the expense of their own opportunities to make money.

Women cover their noses and mouths while walking in Beijing Rising pollution levels in cities such as Beijing have become a big concern

If people feel that their own chances of getting rich are hurt by corruption, it may cause social instability.

Pollution, food quality and safety are the final key issues.

The air quality in Beijing, which was already bad, has been abominable in the last week, and the situation has resulted in widespread anger from the people.

A steady stream of food and product safety scandals has continued, despite repeated official pledges to solve safety issues over the last four or five years.

China’s key mission will have to provide real progress on corruption and pollution, as well as food and product safety.

Accomplishing this will be necessary to maintain social stability, but will not necessarily mean reaching 8% annual growth.

In fact, lower growth is healthy, as it will force officials to green-light sustainable businesses, rather than merely approve anything that can help economic growth, despite the effect of pollution.

Shaun Rein is the Founder and Managing Director of the China Market Research Group. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

Number portability ban to benefit industry, say analysts

Big player­s expect­ed to hike callin­g rates, cut market­ing costs.  MNP has, so far, facilitated more than 25 million consumers – which constitute over 20% of the mobile phone users. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The recent ban on Mobile Number Portability (MNP), which allows cellular subscribers to change their service provider while retaining the same number, will benefit the telecom industry with a possible increase in cellular tariffs and average revenue per user (ARPU); according to a research report by Elixir Securities Pakistan.

The report, which has been co-authored by Raza Rawjani and Naveen Yaseen, said, “With increased switching costs for cellular subscribers, we expect cellular operators to increase their calling rates.”

The report also said that market leaders will be the first to increase their calling rates. “We expect larger players, Mobilink and Telenor, to lead the hike in calling rates – first step could be in the form of withdrawal of low call rate packages. Further savings can accrue from declining marketing costs,” the report said.

If mobile cellular operators (CMOs) act along the predictions of Elixir analysts, their consumers will no longer enjoy what is known to be the lowest calling rates in South Asia.

In the entire region, Pakistan’s telecom sector has the lowest price per minute and ARPU – a key measure of telecom revenue. According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the telecom ARPU for financial year 2010-11 was $2.45.

Analysts predict that ARPU’s can increase by 20% to 25% in two years, which translates to higher calling rates.

They argued that as per the telecom services history, many countries have started with low price plans to gain a sizeable market share and faced immense competition initially. Government intervention, consensus among players or pure economic rationality, however, has led the players to move away from price competition in most countries.

Putting Pakistan’s case in that perspective, the analysts said government’s banning of MNP and disallowing sale of pre-paid SIMs could be the tipping point.

“We are an ARPU-based industry. With telecom subscribers already reaching saturation point, the growth in the subscribers’ base will become stagnant,” Naveen Yaseen told The Express Tribune, explaining how the ban will cause the calling rates to go up.

Yaseen said that with MNP allowed, consumers had the option to switch to a different network ensuring price competition among the industry players and this kept calling rates low. Banning of MNP will halt subscriber growth and there will be no competition on prices, which will lead to rise in cellular tariffs, she said.

The report argues that price competition is beneficial till it leads to a larger subscriber base or increases minutes of usage (MOU), which is not happening. Further competition on price, is therefore, not expected.

Giving an example of Ufone –PTCL’s wholly-owned cellular subsidiary – the report said, a 10% rise in the operators’ ARPU translates in to Rs0.5 per share increase in its earnings – which will increase Ufone’s revenues by Rs5.6 billion, at a conservative net margin of 45%. Positive expectations regarding the MNP ban drove the PTCL stock to Rs18.01 per share from Rs16.77 on the day (November 15) when the ban was announced, depicting an increase of 7%.

It is relevant to mention that MNP was introduced in March 2007 by government’s own initiative to facilitate mobile consumers willing to change their service provider for better packages. It has, so far, facilitated more than 25 million consumers – which constitute over 20% of the mobile phone users.

Zong, the latest player to enter Pakistan’s mobile market, was the fastest growing operator in terms of net addition after getting almost 4.2 million subscribers during fiscal year 2011 – a significant number of that addition came through MNP.

According to PTA, 483,239 mobile phone subscribers ported-in to Zong from June to August 2012. Ufone and Mobilink, on the other hand, lost around 320,000 customers to other networks through MNP.

Based on Elixir’s report, it is safe to assume that operators with lower subscribers’ base, Warid and Zong to be more specific, will be among the worst hit operators while big players who were losing their customers because of MNP will benefit from it.

Banning of MNP coupled with new mechanism for selling fresh SIMs will certainly slow down growth both in sales and subscribers and can even create a possible merger of the smallest operators – Warid could be a likely target for both Zong and Ufone.

Number of customs centres increased by 25%

Abu Dhabi: Customs centres increased by 25.5 per cent this year compared to last year. The number of customs centres climbed by 13 centres to reach 64 land, air and sea customs centres compared to 51 centres, the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) said.

The increase was concentrated in Dubai (5 centres), Ras Al Khaimah (4 centres), Fujairah (2 centres) and Ajman (2 centres), the FCA said. “The number of land centres rose during the period from 20 to 27, while air centres rose from 14 to 21”, added the FCA.

This year, land customs centres represent 42.2 per cent of the total centres in the UAE, while sea centres represent 25 per cent (16 centres) and air centres represent 32.8 per cent (21 centres), said the FCA.

Dubai has the largest number of customs centres in the UAE with 32.8 per cent (21 centres), followed by Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah with 18.8 per cent (12 centres each), Sharjah with 15.6 per cent (10 centres), Fujairah with 7.8 per cent, Ajman with 4.7 per cent and Umm Al Quwain with 1.5 per cent (one centre), said the FCA.

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The increase in centres came as a response to the trade movement between the UAE and its partners around the world, said Khalid Ali Al Bustani, FCA Deputy General Manager. This increase reflects the position of the UAE on the world trade map as a first business gateway to the Arab Gulf and the Middle East.

The expansion of customs centres emphasises the good leadership in different Emirates and how they realise the new developments in trade trends and their ability to respond to these developments, he added.

The customs centres map, Al Bustani indicated, includes 12 centres in Abu Dhabi: 5 land centres, 5 sea centres and 2 air centres. Dubai has 21 centres consisting of 11 land centres, 5 sea centres and 5 air centres, while Sharjah has 10 centres consisting of 4 land centres, 2 air centres and 3 sea centres.

Meanwhile, Ras Al Khaimah’s share rose to 12 centres: 5 land and sea centres plus 2 air centres. Fujairah has 5 centres consisted of 2 sea centres, 2 air centres and one land centre. The map also included 3 centres in Ajman; one land centre and two sea centres, in addition to one sea centre in Umm Al Quwain.

Local customs departments, he said, implement high quality strategic plans to improve performance in such centres to fight fraud and smuggling and protect the homeland since there are political and security changes in several regions across the world.

The procedures in such customs centres are simple and easy to make it easier for merchants, importers and passengers, he said. The FCA and the local customs departments are keen to confront challenges, affecting the movement of individuals and goods across such ports with easier procedures and enhanced cooperation with customs departments at neighbouring countries. This is done through bilateral customs committees and liaison officers, he stressed.

Al Bustani praised the procedures applied by local customs departments with the view to enhance the inspection ability in the customs centres, using state-of-the art technology, such as X-ray, used across the world. He praised customs inspectors in these centre for being vigilant and helping to fight smuggling and fraud.

The FCA set a map for customs centres in the UAE in cooperation with the local customs departments and the relevant authorities, Al Bustani said. The map includes names and locations of the customs centres as well as a breakdown into land, air and sea centres in accordance with internationally recognised standards.

Number of FMCG firms swell in Jafza

Dubai: The number of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), health care, food and beverage companies in Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) has grown to over 700 so far in 2012, increasing from 556 in 2009, Jafza said in a statement on Monday.

The increase in the representation of these sectors in Jafza goes hand-in-hand with a rise in the level of trade contributions these Jafza companies have made to the region since 2001, reaching a peak of Dh16 billion in 2011.

This promising continued success of the FMCG, Food and Health sector within Jafza formed the base of discussions during the recent Strategic Customer Forum hosted by Jafza for these companies based in the Free Zone. The forum provided a platform for discussions of global trends and sector specific issues whilst encouraging open dialogue regarding how Jafza can help this sector’s companies succeed and what issues facing their business environment Jafza can help resolve. The forum was attended by high level representatives from industry leaders based in the Free Zone, including Beiersdorf Middle East, Unilever Gulf, Cedars Jebel Ali Hospital, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson Middle East and Nestle Middle East.

In his keynote speech at the forum Ebrahim Al Janahi, Deputy CEO of Jafza, said: “Despite a decline of more than 7 per cent in global food industry’s overall imports and exports this year companies in this sector have continued to thrive in Jafza. The increase in number of companies choosing Jafza as a base and expansions undertaken by existing companies in terms of their facilities and also their scope of operations is true testament to how our companies are beating global trends.

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Senior officials from Jafza and the top FMCG, Food and Healthcare companies joined the discussions in the forum, alongside key representatives from Jafza partners, including Dubai Customs, Dubai Trade, Dubai Municipality, RTA and Ministry of Health.

Among the main topics discussed were updates on initiatives that had been taken to meet issues raised in the previous forum and feedback on current issues that were affecting companies in this sector.

Al Janahi spoke about two major steps Jafza had undertaken to meet specific requests raised by FMCG, Food and Health customers, saying: “Key among the initiatives Jafza has undertaken to meet its promise to customers has been the Jafza initiative to call for a joint forum of key stakeholders to draw an effective strategy to fight illegal trade and violation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the world. As a vital trade and logistics hub, this is a matter of strategic priority for all of us.

Second, in order to address issues raised by Jafza companies regarding the issuance of Certificates of Origin, Jafza signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Economy to increase the ease with which these certificates are issued.”

One of the main problems facing companies in this sector, raised in last year’s forum, was the issue of congestion on the roads within Jafza. This was a cause of delays with transport of goods for many companies. In answer to this, Jafza has spent the last year developing comprehensive plans with RTA to improve the road infrastructure within the zone; several phases of which are well underway and on track for completion in the first quarter of 2013.

Good jobs number electrifies Obama campaign

CLEVELAND, Ohio: A relieved Barack Obama basked on Saturday in shock good news as unemployment dipped below eight percent to the lowest point of his presidency, stealing headlines from Mitt Romney’s thumping debate win.

Unexpected data showing the jobless rate fell to 7.8 percent electrified Obama’s re-election campaign, which was knocked back by the president’s grim performance in Wednesday’s first presidential debate.

“Today, I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again,” said Obama who was pumped up at a rowdy rally in Virginia, in a marked contrast to his listless performance in his clash with Romney.

The Republican challenger, banking on a turnaround in the polls after the debate in Denver, immediately claimed the Obama economy was not in a “real recovery”, but the Labor Department figures robbed the attack of its previous potency.

“If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent,” Romney said as he too stumped for votes in the battleground state of Virginia.

Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan warned that Americans should not settle for the “new normal” of diminished economic expectations under Obama.

The political world meanwhile debated whether the jobs data was an “October Surprise” style event that will come to be seen as a moment the election, now just a month away on November 6, turned in Obama’s favor.

The Democratic incumbent, who has come to dread the monthly drumbeat of grim jobs data as the sluggish recovery haunted his presidency, also seemed to enjoy firing a rebuke at Romney’s downbeat reaction to the figures.

“Today’s news certainly is not an excuse to try to talk down the economy to score a few political points. It is a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now,” Obama said.

“We have made too much progress to return to the policies that led to the crisis in the first place. I can’t allow that to happen. I won’t allow that to happen,” he added before heading off to a second rally in swing state Ohio.

“After losing about 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, our businesses have now added 5.2 million new jobs over the past two and a half years.”

Some Republican sympathizers griped that the sudden three-tenths of a percentage point drop in unemployment in September, was strangely convenient given the proximity of the election.

“Unbelievable jobs numbers … these Chicago guys will do anything … can’t debate, so change numbers,” tweeted Jack Welch, the former chief executive of industrial giant General Electric.

The numbers “don’t smell right when you think about where the economy is right now,” he later told Fox News, defending his tweet.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the allegations “utter nonsense” and pointed out that the data is collated by professional civil servants at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, not political appointees.

No president since World War II has won re-election with the unemployment rate above 7.4 percent, so Friday’s figures and a flurry of favorable news coverage were greeted with delight within the West Wing of the White House.

With only one more monthly jobs report due before the election, Obama can argue the economy is trending the right way, and may be able to blunt Romney’s attacks in their next debate on October 16.

There was still an air of mystery cloaking Obama’s muted showing at the Denver debate, although incumbent presidents softened by years of deference, have sometimes struggled in their first head-on clash with their rival.

The New Yorker magazine released its new cover showing Romney debating an empty podium, behind which was an empty chair, similar to the one Clint Eastwood addressed, as a placeholder for Obama, during his notorious appearance at the Republican National Convention in August.

Meanwhile, Romney was in Tampa, Florida, where he visited La Teresita, a popular family-owned restaurant well known for its Cuban dishes.

Romney and his wife Ann went from table to table, shaking hands and saying hello to patrons.

When one of the diners asked the Romneys about the purpose of the visit, the candidate told him: “We’re going to get some food here.”

The Romneys left carrying a plastic bag with several food containers and a couple of additional boxes of food.

The La Teresita staff did not allow the Republican nominee to pay for the food, but the woman who gave the Romneys their order said that the White House hopeful left a cash tip for the restaurant staff.