Stranded Container Ship on Verge of Breaking Apart
The container ship Rena, stranded off the northeast coast of New Zealand, threatens to break apart and leak more oil into the Bay of Plenty near Tauranga, Bloomberg News reports. The ship ran aground nine days ago and is now showing signs of cracking.
Tug boats have been mobilized to help in efforts to remove oil from the ship, but an estimated 350 tons of oil has already spilled, leading beach closures along the coast. As many as 70 containers have fallen off the ship and contents are reaching the shoreline, along with oil.
China’s Trade Surplus Narrows
China’s trade surplus fell last month to the lowest level since May, as exports grew at a slower than expected rate, Bloomberg News reports. Officials said that China’s trade faces headwinds from a strengthening yuan and falling consumer confidence in developed nations.
Exports climbed 17.1 percent year-over-year in September from a year earlier, while the trade surplus fell to $14.5 billion from $17.7 billion in August. Imports also grew at the lower-than expected rate of 20.9 percent.
Slumping trade may discourage further increases in China’s interest rates, while yesterday the nation’s State Council announced tax relief for the country’s small businesses.
Slovakia To Approve Bailout Funds
Slovakia politicians have cleared the way to approve enhancements to a temporary bailout fund to address Europe’s debt crisis, Bloomberg News reports. The last country needed to complete the ratification process, Slovakia is expected to approve the European Financial Stability Facility, after maneuvering around political road blocks. Enhancing the powers of the EFSF is seen as crucial to preventing Greece’s debt crisis from spreading to other countries in the region. Global stocks and currency markets rebounded briefly on the news, but went lower after Martin Andersson, director- general of Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority, said risks to Europe’s bank industry are “rapidly” mounting.
Sony Suffers New Hacker Attack, Product Recall
Sony has locked almost 100,000 user accounts on its PlayStation Network and frozen other online services after detecting unusual log-in activity, The New York Times Reports. Sony issued a statement yesterday explaining that the company suspected hackers were trying to gain access to Sony accounts using log-in data obtained from other Web sources.
Yesterday, the company also announced it had discovered a defective part in its Bravia flat-screen TVs that could cause the product to melt. Sony is offering free repairs worldwide on the televisions.
Still recovering from factory shutdowns related to the March earthquake and tsunami, Sony is also affected by a soaring yen.
Dissent Divides Federal Open Market Committee
The Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve, is becoming increasingly divided between members who advocate strong steps to boost the economy and those who see mounting risks to more stimulus efforts, The New York Times reports.
The minutes of the September meeting of the committee, show that three of the 10 members voted against efforts to reduce long-term interest rates, while two members wanted the Fed to take even stronger action. Contributing to the growing division is uncertainty over the causes of the continued weakness in the U.S. economy.
BlackBerry Service Disruptions Add to RIM’s Woes
Millions of BlackBerry users, including those at several U.S. government agencies, suffered service disruptions yesterday and were forced to resort to phone calls and FAXes in lieu of emails, instant-messaging and Web browsing, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Research in Motion, which has been losing market share to iPhones and Android-based smartphones, has not forecast when service will be restored. The problem apparently stems from a hardware failure in the network’s infrastructure.
Singapore’s Economy Close to Stalling
Slowing economic growth worldwide hurt Singapore’s exports and brought growth to near zero in the third financial quarter, Bloomberg News reports. The gross domestic product for the nation rose at an annual rate of 0.8 percent last quarter from the previous quarter, which saw a 6.5 percent decline in GDP.
A return to global recession may prompt the Money Authority of Singapore to take steps to stimulate the economy and halt appreciation of the Singapore dollar.