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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Bank stocks still 50% below all-time highs

Category : Business, Stocks

U.S. stocks may be trading at new highs, but there’s one sector that’s still miles behind: banks.

See the original post: Bank stocks still 50% below all-time highs

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EDF £3bn deal with Network Rail makes trains ‘mainly nuclear powered’

Category : Business

French firm’s eight UK nuclear power stations behind supply to electrified tracks that will power 75% of trains by 2020

The majority of Britain’s trains will be indirectly running on nuclear power for the next 10 years following Network Rail’s agreement to a £3bn deal with EDF to supply electricity to the railways.

At present just over half of rail traffic is electric rather than diesel, but by 2020 three-quarters of Britain’s trains will be running on electricity as another 2,000 miles of tracks are converted, with lines in south Wales, the north-west and the Midlands among the biggest works ahead.

While the French-owned EDF already supplies most of Network Rail’s electricity, the deal puts the company on an exclusive footing until 2024. EDF benefits from guarantees that the railway’s supply of about 3.2TWh of electricity a year will be matched by energy generated from the company’s eight nuclear power stations.

David Higgins, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: “Rail is already the greenest form of public transport and this partnership with EDF Energy will help us make it greener still. Our work to electrify hundreds of miles of railway represents the biggest programme of rail electrification in a generation and will provide faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for millions of passengers every week while cutting the cost of the railway.”

Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy’s chief executive, said: “Network Rail is the biggest single electricity customer in the UK so this long-term deal is a massive vote of confidence in our nuclear backed energy.”

Electric trains are regarded by some as not only quieter and potentially more environmentally friendly than their diesel counterparts, but also as causing less wear and tear to the tracks.

Fuel duty cancellation: ‘I suppose at least it’s something’

Category : Business

Jo Callaghan drives 60 miles a day, and with living costs rising elsewhere she welcomes the cancellation of a fuel duty rise

As someone who spends nearly £80 every 12 days to fill up her Peugeot 307, Jo Callaghan is thankful the chancellor has cancelled the planned 3p a litre rise in fuel duty.

The insurance company team manager drives nearly 60 miles each working day between her home on the outskirts of Hastings, East Sussex, and her office in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

She averages about 16,000 miles a year, and like many drivers stung by rising petrol bills tries to cut costs wherever she can. She drives a fuel-efficient diesel car and takes advantage of supermarket deals.

“I nearly always buy petrol at one of the supermarket stations, using their money off vouchers,” she says. “If I’m ever in Eastbourne, for example, I pop into the Sainsbury’s there as it’s cheaper.”

The 3p rise would have added about £50 a year to her annual petrol bill. “Everything else is going up so much that I suppose at least it’s something. But tax or no tax, the price of petrol seems to keep rising.”

She’s considered switching to the train but the cost is even higher, and she estimates it would add an extra 40 minutes each way to her journey. “Sometimes I get home late and you feel as a single female it’s not really feasible to travel late at night on the train,” she says.

Moving closer to her workplace is also out of the questions. Well-paid jobs are few and far between in Hastings, she says, while in Tunbridge Wells high house prices put property out of her reach.

Sullivan Awarded Radon Mitigation Work in Japan

Category : Stocks

SAN DIEGO, CA–(Marketwire – Dec 3, 2012) – Sullivan International Group, Inc. (Sullivan) announced today the award by US Air Force of a contract at the Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. Sullivan is the managing partner of the Sullivan-Weston Services JVA, LLC, a Joint Venture between Sullivan International Group and Weston Solutions. This contract is awarded to mitigate radon in military family housing at the Yokota Japan Air Force Base. Yokota Air Base is a United States Air Force Base located on the island of Honshu, Japan, on the Kanto Plain 28 miles northwest of Tokyo at the foothills of the Okutama Mountains. “Our recent win with Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo, Japan is an important win for Sullivan that allows us to enter the DoD market in Japan and supports our international expansion. This project expands the scope of services that we offer to AFCEE and the geographic footprint within which we offer those services to AFCEE and other clients,” said Rik Lantz, Sullivan International Client Services Manager.

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Petrobras (PBR) says it started production at the Chinook oil and gas field in the ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico last week. The well is drilled in a resevoir nearly five miles deep – a world record depth – using advanced drilling technology…

Category : World News

Petrobras (PBR) says it started production at the Chinook oil and gas field in the ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico last week. The well is drilled in a resevoir nearly five miles deep – a world record depth – using advanced drilling technology to explore for oil in the extreme environment. Post your comment!

Read more: Petrobras (PBR) says it started production at the Chinook oil and gas field in the ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico last week. The well is drilled in a resevoir nearly five miles deep – a world record depth – using advanced drilling technology…

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Donnycreek Energy Inc.: Drilling of Second Deep Basin Montney Well at Kakwa Underway

Category : Stocks

CALGARY, ALBERTA–(Marketwire – Aug. 22, 2012) - Donnycreek Energy Inc. (“Donnycreek” or the “Company”) (TSX VENTURE:DCK) reports that drilling commenced today on the Hz 14-30 -63-5 W6M well, the Company’s second well on its Deep Basin lands at Kakwa, Alberta where the Company has a 50% working interest in 16 contiguous sections of Montney P&NG rights. The well is targeting the Montney Formation and is located approximately two miles from the Company’s initial Montney well, which tested at greater than 2,500 BOE/d as more particularly described in the May 24, 2012 press release of the Company.

Excerpt from: Donnycreek Energy Inc.: Drilling of Second Deep Basin Montney Well at Kakwa Underway

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A committee of legislators in Maryland votes to expand gambling in the state and the Washington D.C.-area, setting up a wider vote for the full House this week. Naturally, working out how much in taxes the state will rake in was one of the biggest…

Category : World News

A committee of legislators in Maryland votes to expand gambling in the state and the Washington D.C.-area, setting up a wider vote for the full House this week. Naturally, working out how much in taxes the state will rake in was one of the biggest hurdles to clear. Waiting it out: MGM Resorts (MGM +0.7%) with a $800M complex in the works for suburban Maryland about ten miles from the Capitol. 1 comment!

Excerpt from: A committee of legislators in Maryland votes to expand gambling in the state and the Washington D.C.-area, setting up a wider vote for the full House this week. Naturally, working out how much in taxes the state will rake in was one of the biggest…

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Majority of car owners struggling to cope with rising costs

Category : Business

According to research by a motoring website, nine out of 10 drivers cited escalating petrol prices as their main complaint

High fuel costs, surging insurance premiums, badly maintained roads and continuous roadworks are forcing motorists to change their driving habits, according to research by Motors.co.uk.

Its latest survey found 75% of drivers were frustrated by the rising costs of owning a car, with nine out of 10 citing escalating prices of petrol as their main complaint. Another 71% were put off by the countless potholes and neverending roadworks plaguing local roads.

Many of those polled said they were leaving their cars at home as a result.

The online poll of 2,669 adult motorists found that four in 10 are cutting back on time spent on the road and looking to public transport (20%), walking (32%) or cycling (5%). Others looked elsewhere to trim costs, such as reducing their grocery bill or cancelling gym memberships.

Another 71% believe that government policies are not on their side, despite the postponement of a 3p-a-litre rise in fuel duty in June. Originally planned for August, the tax hike will now not be implemented until next January.

Phill Jones, Motors.co.uk’s commercial director, said: “Not only are drivers tired of the cost of driving, they’re exhausted by the state of the roads, maintenance of which has badly fallen by the wayside.

“The number of consumers cutting back on driving is frankly alarming, and it is imperative that both the government and the local councils do all they can to get Britain back on the roads.”

Petrol prices are moving upwards again after a 10-week slump. After bottoming out at 130.81p a litre on 1 July, average petrol prices at the pumps in the UK have rebounded to 133.12p a litre, according to the AA, which expects prices to climb even further over the next two or three years.

The average cost of motor insurance rose by 2.1% for the three months to the end of June, according to the AA Insurance Premium Index. Some insurers policies, however, are cutting prices to stay competitive.

In late 2011, a survey conducted by the AA found that 76% of its members were cutting back on car use, other spending, or a combination of the two. Its findings have also shown that the average costs of owning a medium-sized family car rose from £5,519 a year in 2011 to £5,983 a year currently, based on 10,000 miles of driving.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said that consumption is expected to continue to fall as petrol prices remain volatile. “It’s been going on for so long that it is now a mindset amongst drivers and businesses to reduce fuel consumption.”

The Department for Transport’s national travel survey also shows that each driver clocked up an average of 3,376 miles a year in 2009 and 2010, down from 3,679 miles in 2004 and 2005. In that same period, public transport use rose from 722 miles to 745 miles.

Danny Connolly from east London, recently switched his golf club membership from Kent to one nearer his home to save on petrol. “At the end of the day, I couldn’t afford it,” he said. “It was costing me more for petrol than the golf membership.” The window cleaner, who makes three trips to the golf club a week, was spending £120 a month on petrol. His golf membership cost £100 a month.

Connolly, a divorcee who earns about £35,000 a year, has also cut down on the number of times he visits his children in Essex. “The cost can really add up. It’s insane,” he said.

Millie Plinston, an architect who lives in London, will be visiting her mother in Dorset by train next year. The train journey to Dorset and back, she said, costs £20. The same trip by car costs double that. “We use the car minimally,” said Plinston, who does not drive to work. “Next year, when my daughter is older, we’ll be travelling to Dorset by train instead.”

BP’s ‘spirit of the Gulf’ Olympics hospitality is hard to swallow | Laurie Tuffrey

Category : Business

The oil company that devastated the Gulf of Mexico is positioning itself as gatekeeper to the region’s culture and cuisine

While McDonald’s will remain king of the chips at the London 2012 Olympic Games, BP has charged itself with delivering the culinary “spirit of the Gulf”. The Louisiana Office of Tourism announced this week that the oil company would be hosting a series of events for Team USA that will pair three Gulf coast bands with chefs from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida preparing “the world’s freshest and best-tasting seafood”.

No doubt Team USA will enjoy the New Orleans jazz and Cajun food on offer, but it’s more than a little troubling that, after the 2010 Gulf oil spill, BP has co-opted the phrase “spirit of the Gulf” as a promotional device to position itself as the gatekeeper to the region’s culture and cuisine.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig suffered a “well integrity failure” 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, it led to the worst accidental oil spill in US history. The spread of oil from the leak was vast – BP found around 1,000 miles of oiled coastline, but other figures suggest between 2,900 and 68,000 square miles of ocean was affected – with devastating effects for marine life and the seafood industry.

Dean Blanchard was one of the shrimpers who was hit by the fallout of the spill; his firm used to account for 11% of US shrimp supply, but the oil slick effectively killed off his livelihood. At the time of the spill, he talked to us about his feelings towards BP and its then-chief executive Tony Hayward in a report from the Sand Dollar marina in Grand Isle, Louisiana:

“He took away everything I love most in the world. I am going to hunt that son of a bitch down like a ‘coon,” he said. “He wants his life back after all he has done to us? The hell with him.”

[...]

[Blanchard] is equally scathing of BP’s oil clean-up strategy. “I could take two 32oz Big Gulp cups from the 7-Eleven and do more than what they are doing,” he said.

[...]

Around the corner from his operations, a family has erected 101 simple white crosses memorialising what has been lost to the spill.

There is sea food industry, with crosses for tuna, shrimp and oyster catches, but also “beach sunrises”, “seafood gumbo”, “redfish rodeo”, “family time”, “porch sitting” and “dog on beach”.
And for all his bluster, Blanchard is overwhelmed by the loss.

“I think I did everything right, and here this idiot came and didn’t know how to run his business and put me out of my business. People used to respect me in this town. Now I wake up in the morning and I don’t know what to do.”

Back in the Olympics PR world, Crystal Ashby, BP’s vice-president of government and public affairs, tells us: “BP is proud to use the power of the London 2012 Olympic Games as another way to promote the Gulf coast, draw new visitors to the region and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the community.”

In the light of the Louisiana memorial’s litany of loss, it’s hard to say exactly how BP has promoted the Gulf Coast. Ravaging ecosystems and destroying community livelihoods, though, probably wouldn’t make the list.

This Olympic marketing move looks, at best, horrifically ironic and, at worst, like rubbing salt (or should I say oil?) in the wound.

British ‘absent’ from Battersea Power Station auction

Category : Business

Battersea Power Station and surrounding land sells for £400m to Malaysian consortium

British companies were “noticeable by their absence” in the hotly contested auction of Battersea Power Station, according to the lead agent on the deal.

The derelict site was sold this week for £400m to a Malaysian consortium which said that it would take 15 years to transform the listed building and surrounding land into £8bn worth of housing, shops and offices.

But Stephan Miles-Brown at Knight Frank said: “Apart from Chelsea Football Club via [property tycoon Mike Hussey's] Almacantar, it was a bit disappointing that no UK developer, housebuilder or institution was in there at the end. On the other hand it’s good to see that London can attract foreign capital.

“The likes of British Land and Berkeley Group were interested, but were put off by the substantial upfront investment. “The entry cost is high before you’ve laid a brick. It probably would take a sovereign wealth fund or a large multinational to bankroll that.”

Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, wanted to build a new 60,000-seater stadium at the 39-acre site, but was outbid by Malaysian developers SP Setia and Sime Darby and the Employees Pension Fund of Malaysia. Bids for the former power station came from around the world – places as far afield as Brazil, China, south Africa and Kazakhstan.

Miles-Brown said that “20 years ago there weren’t any foreign investors” when construction projects in Britain were dominated by UK housebuilders such as Bovis Homes, George Wimpey or Taylor Woodrow, pension funds such as Talbots, and City institutions including the Pru and Legal & General.

His comments came as the Shard, the latest addition to London’s skyline which was funded by the state of Qatar, was inaugurated by the Qatari prime minister and Prince Andrew, followed by a laser show in the evening. The 309.6m skyscraper, designed by Renzo Piano, is the tallest building in western Europe.

“Qatar is bankrolling the Shard. Is that set to continue? Yes, I imagine it’s a trend,” said Miles-Brown. “Maybe it’s a trend that’s continuing rather than new.”

He noted that Battersea was previously owned by an Irish developer, Treasury Holdings, preceded by Hong Kong property tycoon Victor Hwang. “The last British owner was John Broome and he went bust.” Broome, then chairman of Alton Towers and one of Lady Thatcher’s favourite businessmen, wanted to turn the former power station into a theme park – one of a series of failed attempts to revive the site over the past 30 years.