Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Breaking News - June 7th, 2011.

Flights in several South American countries are being disrupted by clouds of ash spread by a Chile volcano range. Flight to and from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, have been suspended, while in Chile, Santiago airport has also seen cancellations. Earlier, Chilean authorities expanded the evacuation area around the Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle volcano range, about 800km (500 miles) south of Santiago.

It began erupting at the weekend and continues to produce a column of ash. Aviation officials say around 60 flights - domestic and international - from Ezeiza and Aeroparque airports in Buenos Aires have been cancelled. The country's main airlines - Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral - announced that they had cancelled all flights until further notice.

Global food prices will remain high and volatile throughout this year and into next despite record food production. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) twice yearly Food Outlook analysis says rising demand will absorb most of the higher output. It says its index of food prices in May was at 232, only six points below February's record high of 237. The FAO says higher food prices could mean poor countries will see food import costs rise by up to 30%. That would mean them spending 18% of their total import bills on food this year, compared with the world average of 7%.

Fashion house Prada is trying to raise up to $2.6bn (£1.6bn) when it goes public (IPO) on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The privately owned company wants to sell 423.3 million shares to investors in a range of 36.50 to 48 Hong Kong dollars, the BBC has learned. Prada would be the first Italian company to list in Hong Kong, as it tries to take advantage of China’s growing appetite for luxury goods. The company was founded in 1913 and also owns Miu Miu and Church's Shoes. According to documents filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Prada expects to open 70 more stores in Asia by 2014, of which 30 will be in China. "We believe further growth is possible due to the continuing growth of the Chinese economy," the company said. Prada, said it also hopes to expand in the Middle East, Russia and Brazil. The company is run by the husband and wife team Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada, who is the founder's granddaughter

The struggling US housing market passed a sad milestone in the first quarter of this year, posting a further deterioration that means the fall in house prices is now greater than that suffered during the Great Depression. The brief recovery in prices in 2009, helped by government aid to first-time buyers, has now been entirely over, and the average American home now costs 33 per cent less than it did at the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. The fall in house prices in the 1930s Depression was 31 per cent – and prices took 19 years to recover after that downturn. And in the latest Conference Board consumer confidence survey more people expressed uncertainty over their future economic prospects. The confidence index fell unexpectedly to 60.8 from a revised 66.0, when economists had expected it to rise to 67.0. Falling house prices and negative equity combined with high petrol and food prices and a still-weak jobs market to raise consumers' fears for the future.

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