Article: Despite slight improvement, we need to fix Social Security now

#AceFinanceNews – July.31: Despite slight improvement, we need to fix Social Security now:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/despite-slight-improvement-we-need-to-fix-social-security-now-2015-07-31

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Article: Obama administration extends Pell grants to prisoners

#AceFinanceNews – July.31: Obama administration extends Pell grants to prisoners:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/obama-administration-extends-pell-grants-to-prisoners-2015-07-31

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Lloyds’ profit below hopes after new mis-selling charge added to compensation bill

#AceFinanceNews – LONDON (Reuters) July.31: Lloyds Banking Group set aside a further 1.4 billion pounds to compensate customers mis-sold loan insurance, pushing its first-half profit below analysts’ forecasts.

The charges take Lloyds’ bill for mis-selling loan insurance to 13.4 billion, more than any other bank, and overshadowed plans by the bank to return excess capital to shareholders through special dividends or share buybacks.

The mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) by banks and other financial services companies is Britain’s most expensive consumer finance scandal and has cost banks and other financial services firms about 28 billion pounds.

It is one of a number of scandals, including the attempted rigging of benchmark interest and foreign exchange rates, which have undermined public trust in Britain’s banks.

Lloyds’ profit below hopes after new mis-selling charge

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MARKETS: ‘ China’s investors lick Julys wounds after massive sell offs ‘

#AceMarketsNews – LONDON (Reuters) July.31: Commodities and China investors waved a relieved goodbye to July on Friday following a brutal sell-off that has revived fears about the global economy and overshadowed more encouraging news from the U.S. and Europe.

There were signs that the rout wasn’t over yet as Chinese stocks – which have suffered their worst monthly drop in 6 years – wobbled again, oil prices slipped following a more than 15 percent July slump and metals from industrial copper to precious gold hit multi-year lows.

That happened despite a pause in the dollar’s recent rise, which has been compounding the commodity pressure as signs build that the U.S. Federal Reserve is heading for its first rate hike in almost a decade.

European markets, relieved that Greece looks to be staying in the euro after its last-minute deal this month, saw a solid start to the day to cap a more than 4 percent monthly rise for stocks [.EU] and the biggest drop in Italian bond yields in two years.

“The main moves this week have been the continued broad-based weakness in commodities,” said Societe Generale strategist Alvin Tan. “Essentially they have been on the downtrend for a month and of course we have been on a roller coaster ride in China equities and that has affected sentiment.”

European stocks were underpinned by some upbeat company earnings. Shares in UCB surged 5.2 percent after the Belgian pharmaceutical company raised its 2015 forecasts and

bank BNP Paribas gained 3.5 percent after its Q2 revenue rose nearly 16 percent.

Economists were waiting for July euro zone inflation and unemployment data due at 0900 GMT and for in-depth U.S. wage data due later. But just as important remained commodities and China.

Copper, considered a bellwether for global economic activity, was facing a 9 percent monthly loss as it stumbled to $5,238 an tonne. Gold was down over 7 percent on the month at $1,081.95 an ounce as it chalked up its longest run of week-on-week falls in 16 years. [GOL/]

FRAGILE CHINA

China’s CSI300 index ended flat after a late dip to leave it down 14.7 percent on the month, and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1 percent, extending its July losses to 13.4 percent despite recent support measures by the country’s authorities.

China’s securities regulator said on Friday it was investigating the impact of automated trading on the market and has clamped down on 24 trading accounts found to have abnormal bids for shares or bid cancellations.

Crude oil also slipped for a second session as concern over global oversupply intensified after the head of the OPEC oil exporters’ cartel indicated there would be no cutback in production. U.S. crude was down 0.3 percent at $48.2 a barrel.

Lead by China’s woes, emerging stocks looked on track to finish their third straight month in the red, with many near multi-year lows as the sector grappled with the prospect of U.S. rate rises and sluggish growth data at home.

U.S. gross domestic product data released on Thursday showed growth accelerated in the second quarter, though slightly short of some forecasts. Growth was tweaked higher in the first quarter, backing the Fed’s assessment at its meeting this week that the economy was expanding “moderately.”

“We believe there’s enough here for the Fed to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years,” said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York.

The dollar inched down about 0.1 percent on the day to 124.030 yen, after rising as high as 124.58 overnight, its highest level since June 10.

The euro edged about 0.1 percent higher to $1.0938, after dropping to a one-week low of $1.0835 on Thursday.

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Commodities, China stocks lick wounds after brutal July

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MARKETS:’ Top equity index moves forward as media shares rise ‘

#AceMarketsNews – LONDON (Reuters) July.31: Britain’s top equity index moved forward on Friday as a rise in the shares of media group ITV and energy company BG set the market up for a fourth straight day of gains.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which had risen in the last three sessions, was up by 0.1 percent at 6,675.04 points. The FTSE is up around 2 percent since the start of 2015 but some 6 percent below a record high of 7,122.74 points set in April.

ITV rose 1.6 percent, making it one of the best performing stocks, after European cable operator Liberty Global increased its stake in ITV to 9.9 percent, but said it still had no intention of taking over ITV.

BG also rose 0.8 percent. Even though BG’s core earnings nearly halved in the second quarter after a huge hit from persistently weak oil prices, its results still beat market expectations.

However, shares in InterContinental Hotels slipped back 3.5 percent, after having climbed 4.6 percent in the previous session, after the company said it was not in merger talks with Starwood Hotels.

Ryan Mitchell, senior investment manager at Logic Investments, said he was going ‘long’ by betting on the FTSE rising up to 6,900 points, although he cautioned that concerns over Chinese economic growth remained a risk.

“The FTSE looks well supported due to some good earnings that have come out lately. I’d be looking to buy any dip in the market,” he said.

Outside of the main FTSE 100 index, mid-cap stock JD Sports surged 8.3 percent after the company hiked profit forecasts.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)

FTSE forges ahead as BG and ITV rise

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