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Defense-related shares in Japan beat the national benchmark and U.S. peers since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power and embarked on a policy to strengthen the military and lower barriers to arms exports.
The CHART OF THE DAY tracks defense gauges for Japanese, American and European equities and counterpart geographic benchmarks normalized from Dec. 14, 2012, just before Abe led an election victory, through Aug. 18. Goldman Sachs
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European stocks bounced back Monday from Ukraine-related selling while Asian markets were subdued by further signs of weakness in China’s property market.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX jumped 1.5 percent to 9,229.97 and France’s CAC 40 added 1.2 percent to 4,225.37. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent to 6,726.92. European markets tumbled Friday on reports Ukraine destroyed a Russian military convoy that had entered its east. Futures pointed to gains on Wall Street, with Dow futures up 0.4 percent to 16,705. S&P 500 futures added 0.4 percent to 1,961.
ASIA’S DAY: Trading was cautious after Friday’s selling spasm in Europe and on Wall Street. Weak China property prices added to the caution. Japan’s Nikkei 225 inched up 0.1 percent to 15,322.60 while Seoul’s Kospi dropped 0.5 percent at 2,053.13. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was little changed at 24,955.46 but China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.6 percent to 2,239.47. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 5,587.10. Southeast Asian markets were mixed. Taiwan’s benchmark fell 0.7 percent.
CHINA CHILL: A fall in China’s residential property prices for July added to other recent signs of economic softening. Government data showed prices decreased in 64 out of 70 cities for new apartments. For secondhand apartments, prices decreased in 65 of the 70 cities. “Given weakness remains rampant in certain parts of China’s economy, there have been growing calls for further stimulus measures recently,” said IG strategist Stan Shamu.
UKRAINE: Ukrainian army troops penetrated deep inside a city controlled by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine in what could prove a breakthrough development in the four-month-long conflict, the Ukrainian government said Sunday. That came after NATO on Friday said a Russian military column ventured into Ukraine, and the Ukrainian president said his forces destroyed most of it. Russia denied it.
JACKSON HOLE: Central bankers, policy experts and academics from around the world meet at Jackson Hole, Wyoming for an annual talkfest later this week. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s speech Friday on the U.S. labor market is expected to “reiterate her views that slack remains substantial, and that the Fed should keep monetary policy accommodative still in order to address that,” Mihuzo Bank said in a commentary.
ENERGY: Oil is trading near its lowest since April after fears of supply disruptions from major producer Iraq faded, removing much of the risk premium that built up in May and June. The benchmark U.S. crude futures contract was down 93 cents at $96.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
CURRENCIES: The euro dropped to $1.3390 from $1.3399 late Friday. The dollar rose to 102.46 yen from 102.36 yen.
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CHICAGO—The just-concluded three-game series in Seattle was always going to be huge for the Blue Jays.
You could see its importance come into focus at the beginning of August when the Mariners began to heat up and the Jays started cooling off.
Series success would nicely set up the rest of this road trip, even the rest of the season.
Failure? Well, now we’re going to find out.
The Jays lost the middle game of the set to right-hander Chris Young on Tuesday. That one game, in hindsight, may be looked upon as the turning point in what is looking more and more like a slow, painful drop to .500 or below.
Young was the one Seattle pitcher the Jays had to beat before taking their chances with Hisashi Iwakuma. Instead, the journeyman beat them with an 85 m.p.h. letter-high fastball. He has been doing it all season in posting a solid record of 11-6 with a 3.20 ERA. The Jays started J.A. Happ against Young, and it was exactly the type of matchup they needed to win in order to be contenders.
But the Jays offered little resistance until it was too little, too late.
The complexion of Toronto’s season now changes.
Losing to Felix Hernandez and Iwakuma would have been acceptable if combined with a win over Young. Losing two of three would have left the Jays just one game behind the M’s in the wild-card chase and a couple behind the Tigers. That would have left them in position to compete, especially with Edwin Encarnacion set to return on Friday.
But now it’s all about mathematical hope and putting together a long win streak in the face of starting pitching matchups that rarely seem to favour the Jays. There are no signs of anything good about to happen, unless Encarnacion comes back and carries the offence for 40 games.
Is it a coincidence the Jays’ dismal streak started on the day after the Aug. 1 trade deadline, after GM Alex Anthopoulos failed to pull the trigger on any deal, except for acquiring utility infielder Danny Valencia two days earlier?
The Jays were talking bravely about the return of Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and Encarnacion being their equivalent moves to a big deadline deal. Lawrie’s return to action lasted all of three innings, and more air was sucked out of the clubhouse.
The Mariners picked up Austin Jackson and added Kendrys Morales. The Tigers got David Price. The Orioles added lefty Andrew Miller to an already solid bullpen. The Yankees picked up Stephen Drew, Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy and Martin Prado. The Royals made a strong August addition in Josh Willingham. The A’s have Jon Lester.
The Blue Jays? The clubhouse simply received excuses and assurances the money was there but no move seemed a good fit. Whoosh! More air sucked out of the room.
The Jays are 3-9 since the trade deadline and have lost four of their last five series heading in to play the nothing-to-lose White Sox. The raw numbers tell a daunting tale for the Jays.
They have 40 games remaining. To win 95 games, which would seem to be a lock for at least a wild-card and maybe the division, the Jays must go 32-8. To win 90, which would put them in the hunt all the way through the final month, they must win 27 of the next 40. To equal Tim Johnson’s 16-year-old high of 88 wins set in 1998, manager John Gibbons and his troops need to go 25-15.
Even to the most optimistic Jays fans, this would seem to be the best they could hope for.
Simply put, 10 games above .500 over the next 40 games is a tall order for a team that has been 10 games below .500 since maxing out at plus-14 and leading the AL East by six games. Where are the positive signs? Someone needs to step up on both the pitching and hitting sides of the equation.
On June 1, when Mark Buehrle was 10-1, there was a thought that when the Jays visited Chicago he might be vying for career win No. 200. He needed 16 wins at the start of the season. Now, 76 days later, Buehrle will be facing his old team attempting to win his 12th game of the season, trying to regain the precision of his pitches and the good luck that made him an early Cy Young favourite.
The fact of the matter is, in the next 40 games, it’s Buehrle and R.A. Dickey that really need to step it up. Dickey went down 2-0 in the first inning Wednesday in Seattle but did not allow another run through six. The bottom line, though, is they lost and trailed the entire game. There are no consolation prizes in October.
Marcus Stroman is the Jays’ best starter right now, but does that make him an ace? No. Good teams look at the pitching matchups and there is no Blue Jays starter anyone fears.
Stroman is not going to get any better and more competitive than he is now. The four guys that need to step up if the Jays are going to put on any kind of a late-season run are Buehrle and Dickey on the pitching staff and Encarnacion and Jose Bautista on offence.
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina • Negotiations have apparently ended without success on a private-sector deal to end the legal battle that forced Argentina into default last month for the second time in 13 years.
Aurelius Capital Management LP said it had been in talks with private parties to sell its Argentine bonds at the heart of the dispute, but the offered payments were not even “remotely acceptable,” to the U.S.-based investment fund.
“That engagement has convinced us that there is no realistic prospect of a private solution,” Aurelius said in a statement issued late Wednesday that did not disclose the details of the proposals, nor the participants.
Argentina was forced into a default July 30 by its decade-long legal battle with Aurelius and other U.S. investors who refused to accept lower payments for bonds that the South American country defaulted on in 2001.
The investors obtained a U.S. court order, upheld by the Supreme Court, preventing Argentina from making a $539 million interest payment on July 30, triggering a second default by the country high risk personal loans. Analysts have warned that the default could derail an already weak Argentine economy.
Argentina has said it cannot pay the approximately $1.5 billion sought by the holdout investors without offering the same terms to investors who previously accepted lower payments, at least not until next year when a clause requiring equal treatment expires. The Argentine government says it is not really in default, since it made the interest payment but the bank was prevented from distributing the money.
Argentine media have reported that local and multi-national banks have been in negotiations to buy the debt from the holdouts but none of the alleged participants have confirmed the talks or been willing to publicly discuss the details. Aurelius said that the entities making the proposals “were not prepared to fund more than a small part, if any, of the payments they wanted us to accept.”
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OTTAWA—About one in six members of the military have reported experiencing symptoms of mental or alcohol disorders, Canada’s number crunching agency said Monday amid calls for “proactive” measures to combat the problem.
In a 2013 survey of full-time regular Canadian Forces members, Statistics Canada found that nearly 17 per cent of respondents had experienced symptoms in the previous 12 months consistent with at least one of a half-dozen disorders.
The military has been grappling to identify the triggers that led to a series of suicides among soldiers in 2013 and earlier this year.
A report last fall that reviewed 38 suicide investigations came up with 74 different recommendations on how to deal with the issue.
There were 25 confirmed suicides in 2011 and an additional 17 deaths in 2012, said the report.
Statistics Canada’s Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey asked about major bouts of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, incidents of anxiety or panic and alcohol abuse, as well as alcohol dependence.
Major depressive episode was the most common disorder reported, with eight per cent of regular force members meeting the criteria.
Roughly five per cent reported having experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety.
“Symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder were reported by 5.3 per cent of full-time regular force members in the 12 months prior to the 2013 survey, while 4.7 per cent reported symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder,” the agency reported.
Another 3.4 per cent reported symptoms consistent with panic disorder.
Soldiers also reported troubles with substance abuse.
Of the regular force members surveyed, 2.5 per cent said they had symptoms consistent with alcohol abuse while two per cent said they were dependent on alcohol.
The results are somewhat in line with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s findings among the general population.
In a comprehensive mental health study conducted in 2011, the association found that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime.
Still, NDP defence critic Jack Harris described the Statistics Canada findings as “alarming” and said the government needs to take steps to lower the numbers of soldiers suffering with mental or alcohol abuse problems.
“The biggest worry I have is the concern that they’re not getting treatment fast enough,” said Harris.
Military officials say adequate care is being provided to Canadian Forces members who reveal that they are having difficulties.
But Harris said the government needs to fund programs to help soldiers cope better before their problems get out of hand, and to reduce the stigma that exists about mental disorders.
“In the military they expect people to stay in shape and they help them find ways of doing that from a physical standpoint,” said Harris.
“(But) mental health is an important part of being able to carry on and to do your job in the military.
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With what appears to be another exceptional corn harvest headed our way, you might think farmers would be shopping for new trucks and planning pricey vacations.
But for many of them — particularly those who rent their farmland — 2014 looks like it’s bringing too much of a good thing.
It’s a simple case of supply far exceeding demand, with corn prices rapidly falling to the point where growers may actually lose money, despite having fields bursting with corn.
“A lot of crop producers are nervous,” said Pat Westhoff, director of the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute. “They didn’t expect prices to fall as much as they have.”
Indeed, industry observers knew a correction was coming after several years in which rising demand and poor weather shoved prices into record territory, topping $8 a bushel in 2012.
Last year, prices slipped below $5 a bushel. And now the U.S. Department of Agriculture is suggesting the price could drop as low as $3.65, with some observers worried it could go even lower.
The problem is that many farmers can’t sell corn at that price and make a profit. It varies from farm to farm, but typically a grower who rents land needs to make about $4 a bushel to pay for seeds, fertilizer, herbicides, fuel, equipment depreciation and rent.
The picture is better for those farmers who own their land. That brings production costs closer to $2 per bushel. But experts say most large operators rent half or more of the land they farm.
So those farmers are in the uncomfortable position of watching as mild weather and strong harvest forecasts push prices ever lower.
It’s a far cry from the 2010 to 2012 stretch, when rising demand and drought pushed prices upward. The drought of 2012, in particular, hammered fields, reducing the national average yield to around 120 bushels per acre — well below last year’s harvest of more than 160 bushels per acre.
“People who had a decent crop that year actually made some money,” Westhoff said payday loan.
Some farmers have insulated themselves, somewhat, from this year’s price plunge by using advance contracts — agreements to sell corn at a set price. It’s a gamble than can pay off in this situation for farmers who agreed to such deals when prices were still above $5 a bushel.
“If they haven’t already sold it, there’s not much they can do,” said Darrel Good, an agriculture economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
One of the few options is to store the corn instead of selling it at losing prices.
It’s an option that can work, but one that has its drawbacks, said Jim Stuever, president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association.
Stuever, who farms 1,000 acres near Dexter, Mo., plans to store some of his corn this year, even though there’s no guarantee prices won’t slip even further.
And more importantly, he said, “That doesn’t create cash flow.”
That can make it tough when it comes time to pay land owners, seed merchants and other suppliers before the next planting season starts.
“They are businesses just like we are,” Stuever said.
Farmers do have a safety net, of sorts, in the form of crop insurance and subsidies provided by the farm bill passed by Congress earlier this year.
Crop insurance kicks in when yields or revenues drop 25 percent below a farm’s average. The farm bill subsidies are triggered by corn prices falling below $3.70 a bushel over an extended period — though it’s unclear whether those prices will fall low enough to trigger that.
Regardless, farmers are left worrying over how they will cope with the coming years, if things don’t change.
“If we have prices below $4 for several years running, we’d have a very different world than they thought they were in,” Westhoff said.
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are edging higher in late morning trading Friday as investors weighed productivity gains against escalating geopolitical troubles in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq. U.S. fighters dropped bombs on Islamic militants in Iraq a day after President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes to protect U.S. civilians there and Iraqi refugees. Investors bought up the U.S. 10-year Treasury notes, a refuge in troubled times.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose eight points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,919 as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial was up 72 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,440. The Nasdaq composite rose 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,349.
GEOPOLITICAL JITTERS: U.S. fighter planes dropped laser-guided 500-pound bombs on an Islamic State artillery device and the truck towing it, according to a military spokesman. The move follows President Obama’s authorization on Thursday of airdrops of humanitarian aid and airstrikes to counter advancing Sunni radical militants.
Investors are also keeping an eye on Ukraine and on Gaza, where a three-day cease-fire came to an end. In addition, the World Health Organization on Friday declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be an international public health emergency that requires an extraordinary response to stop its spread.
BOND BUYING: Investors sought safety in U.S. Treasurys, driving the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to its lowest level since June 2013. The yield fell to 2.37 percent from 2.41 percent late Thursday.
PRODUCTIVITY GAIN: U.S. workers were more productive in the April-June quarter and labor costs rose slightly, a sharp turnaround from grim first-quarter figures bad credit payday advance. The Labor Department said Friday that that productivity increased 2.5 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, after plummeting 4.5 percent in the first quarter.
EUROPEAN STOCKS: Germany’s DAX fell 0.3 percent while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares dropped 0.5 percent. France’s CAC-40 was flat.
All those indexes look set to close down for the week. The three major U.S. indexes are also set to post weekly losses.
THE QUOTE: “A red end to another red week looks firmly entrenched for equities,” said Will Hedden, premium client manager at IG. “The weekend will feel like a long time for potential bad news to fester after many geopolitical events have come to a head all at the same time.”
LULU SURGES: Shares of Lululemon Athletica rose $1.11, or 2.8 percent, to $40.14. The company founder, Dennis “Chip” Wilson, has agreed to sell half his stake in the company as part of a truce to avert a potentially messy battle for control of the retailer of yoga apparel and other exercise gear.
JAPAN TUMBLE: In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 slid 3 percent to 14,778 as the yen strengthened. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.3 percent to 2,194.42.
COMMODITIES: Crude oil rose 29 cents to $97.63 a barrel. Gold rose 0.1 percent at $1,313 an ounce.
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New York artist Sam Van Aken has a challenge not shared by many — if any — of his peers.
Aside from sketching and sculpting, he spends a good deal of his energy figuring how to keep hungry groundhogs off of his art works.
That’s because Van Aken, 42, is creating living sculptures — unique fruit trees designed to bloom in multiple colours while bearing 40 different varieties of stone fruit such as apricots, cherries and peaches.
The associate professor in Syracuse University’s art department calls his living work The Tree of 40 Fruit.
“The trees were a way to collapse an entire orchard onto a tree,” Van Aken said in an interview.
His works in progress are already a hit with chipmunks, squirrels, deer and at least one particularly enthusiastic groundhog who dropped by recently.
“During the summer in the nursery, it’s crazy,” Van Aken said. “The groundhog was hanging upside down, chewing on the fruit.”
Van Aken humanely traps the varmints who sneak into his studio and drives them off campus, hoping they won’t return.
“You’re always trying to find ways to keep them at bay,” he said, adding that the exercise has given him flashbacks to Bill Murray’s character in the movie Caddyshack, and his efforts to keep a dancing gopher from destroying an exclusive golf course.
The Tree of 40 Fruit project had multiple sources of inspiration for Van Aken, who grew up on a dairy farm outside Reading, Penn.
One is the very act of grafting one plant onto another, something that has fascinated Van Aken since childhood.
Artistically, he explored that idea through works such as Hybrids, where he joined plastic fruit. There was also an art piece called Eden, when he grafted plants and flowers.
Along the way, the idea rooted itself in his brain that he could do the same thing for real.
His vision was to create a living work that, for most of the year, appeared to be a normal stone fruit tree.
Then in the spring, it would blossom into several different colours and in summer it would bare a multitude of fruit.
He chose the number 40 because it’s a particularly significant one in western culture, often linked to the fulfillment of promises.
Along the way, what started as an artistic aim became practical when he learned that the Plum and Apricot Orchard at the New York State Agricultural Station was scheduled to be torn out.
Van Aken then found himself preserving fruit in a way that didn’t involve canning or pickling.
He is perpetuating antique and heirloom varieties of fruit that might otherwise be lost.
“In fact I might be the only person that currently has several of these varieties,” Van Aken said.
He’s now six years into what he hopes will be an eight- to nine-year project.
“After two more years of growth my aim is to have trees that are bearing all 40 fruit,” he said
One of his goals is to place a grove of Tree of 40 Fruit in an urban setting. He’s working with Chris Thompson, an art historian/critic/entrepeneur and real estate developer, and his development partner Jed Troubh.
The plan is to put the trees on 24/7 public view.
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