US stocks and bonds slip; oil up

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Updated 29 January 2013
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US stocks and bonds slip; oil up

NEW YORK: US stock indexes were under pressure, following the trend elsewhere in the world, though oil prices rose on strong US durable goods data and earnings results from Caterpillar.
Investor optimism got a small boost after rating agency Fitch scaled back the chance it will strip the US of its AAA status, saying a recent deal on the country’s debt limit
removed the near-term risk of a cut.
In commodity markets, Brent oil prices steadied near a three-month high at just over $ 113 a barrel before the Fed meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday and US employment data on Friday expected to show more signs of recovery in the world’s biggest oil consumer.
US light sweet crude oil rose 42 cents, or 0.44 percent, to $ 96.30 per barrel.
Prices for US Treasuries slid after a gauge of planned US business spending rose in December and investors pushed for price concessions ahead of a debt auction later in the day.
But there was wariness in anticipation of a series of significant US economic events this week, including the initial estimate of fourth-quarter GDP, the US Federal Reserve’s
first policy meeting of the year and January payrolls data.
“You can’t find more of a global bellwether than Cat, and people are pleased with the number, which suggests there could be less concern about slowing growth in China after this,” said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.23 points, or 0.00 percent, at 13,895.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 0.48 points, or 0.03 percent, at 1,502.48.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.62 points, or 0.37 percent, at 3,161.33.
“Markets don’t go up in a straight line,” said Garry Evans, global head of equity strategy at HSBC In London.

“I think that people are realizing there could still be problems out there.”
Adding to potential pitfalls ahead were signs from Washington that the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts due to take effect by March 1 could go ahead, threatening a hit to confidence in the giant US economy.
Fitch said a downgrade was still likely later in the year if Washington failed to use the new breathing space to put in place a credible debt reduction plan.
A strong start to the earnings season has boosted US equities, with major averages rising for four straight weeks.
The S&P has gained for eight straight days, its longest winning streak in eight years.
But MSCI’s benchmark world share index was down 0.2 percent on Monday after a nearly 4.5 percent gain this month on signs of economic recovery in the US, stabilization in the euro zone and accelerating growth in China.
European stocks slipped 0.1 percent, with the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index of top company shares hovering just under a two-year high.
The market’s softer tone also followed a weaker session in Asia, where falls in technology companies caused MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan to drop 0.5 percent.
Data from the European Central Bank gave another reminder that the recent surge in financial markets is not being matched in the real economy.
Lending by banks to euro zone companies, consumers and home buyers contracted in December for the eighth straight month as recessions across much of the region sap the appetite to borrow and banks’ willingness to lend.
“As of the end of 2012, there was no sign of improvement in credit flows,” said Marie Diron, an economist who works on Ernst & Young’s euro zone forecasts in London.
Data showing inflows to global equity funds slowed in the past week and comments from several major investment banks noting signs that the market may be reaching a natural top added to the caution.
US Treasury debt prices were lower. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was down 10/32, the yield at 1.9846 percent.
The euro was little changed against the dollar at $1.3457, though slipping from an 11-month high touched on Friday.
The prospects of a member country being forced to leave the euro zone have all but vanished since the middle of last year, a survey showed.
The dollar was down 0.2 percent against the yen after the US home sales data, though the Japanese currency is expected to remain weak on expectations Japan’s government will keep pushing for aggressive monetary easing, whereas the Fed’s view could change if the economic recovery strengthens.


Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

Updated 30 min 34 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia has lion’s share of regional philanthropy

  • Kingdom is home to three quarters of region's foundations
  • Combined asets of global foundations is $1.5 trillion

Nearly three quarters of philanthropic foundations in the Middle East are concentrated in Saudi Arabia, according to a new report.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute with funding from Swiss bank UBS, also found that resources were highly concentrated in certain areas with education the most popular area for investment globally.

That trend was best illustrated in the Kingdom, where education ranked first among the target areas of local foundations.

While the combined assets of the world’s foundations are estimated at close to $1.5 trillion, half have no paid staff and small budgets of under $1 million. In fact, 90 percent of identified foundations have assets of less than $10 million, according to the Global Philanthropy Report. 

Developed over three years with inputs from twenty research teams across nineteen countries and Hong Kong, the report highlights the magnitude of global philanthropic investment.

A rapidly growing number of philanthropists are establishing foundations and institutions to focus, practice, and amplify these investments, said the report.

In recent years, philanthropy has witnessed a major shift. Wealthy individuals, families, and corporations are looking to give more, to give more strategically, and to increase the impact of their social investments.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have become increasingly high profile — but at the same time, some governments, including India and China, have sought to limit the spread of cross-border philanthropy in certain sectors.

As the world is falling well short of raising the $ 5-7 trillion of annual investment needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UBS sees the report findings as a call for philanthropists to work together to scale their impact.

Understanding this need for collaboration, UBS has established a global community where philanthropists can work together to drive sustainable impact.

Established in 2015 and with over 400 members, the Global Philanthropists Community hosted by UBS is the world’s largest private network exclusively for philanthropists and social investors, facilitating collaboration and sharing of best practices.

Josef Stadler, head of ultra high net worth wealth, UBS Global Management, said: “This report takes a much-needed step toward understanding global philanthropy so that, collectively, we might shape a more strategic and collaborative future, with philanthropists leading the way toward solving the great challenges of our time.”

This week Saudi Arabia said it would provide an additional $100 million of humanitarian aid in Syria, through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

The UAE also this week said it had contributed $192 million to a housing project in Afghanistan through the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.