BRUSSELS (AP) — Official figures show inflation across the 18 European Union countries that use the euro dipped further toward zero in September, a move that's likely to maintain pressure on the European Central Bank to back further stimulus measures.
Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, says Tuesday that consumer prices in the eurozone rose only 0.3 percent in the year to September against the previous month's 0.4 percent.
Inflation, which is at its lowest level since October 2009, is way below the ECB's target of just below 2 percent.
One reason behind the ECB's recent interest rate reductions has been to prevent a sustained bout of falling prices — so-called deflation, which can make consumers delay purchases.
Eurostat also said unemployment in the eurozone was unchanged at 11.5 percent in August.News Topics: Business, General news, Inflation, Economy, Prices
People, Places and Companies: Europe
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LONDON (AP) — Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland says strong economic conditions are boosting its finances and that it expects to take a smaller hit from bad investments this year.
The bank, which was rescued by the British taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis, issued an unscheduled trading update on Tuesday to report it would "significantly outperform" its previous guidance of 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in impairment charges. It says it now expects to put aside only half a billion pounds for bad loans.
Rising property prices in Ireland have helped its Ulster Bank unit. RBS Capital Resolution, which contains toxic investments, has improved with the economy. RBS says uncertainties remain, however.
The bank is undergoing a sweeping restructuring to focus on its core business in the U.K.News Topics: Business
People, Places and Companies: United Kingdom, Scotland, Western Europe, Europe
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Japan is pinning its hopes of leaving the Asian Games with 50 gold medals on its track stars — and the marathon could be their biggest prize.
For Yuki Kawauchi, Japan's top man in the race, there is already a lot riding on Friday's main event, which will be run on a hilly course through the streets of Incheon. If he wins, he will automatically earn a berth in the 2015 world championships in Beijing. A finish in the top eight ahead of his teammate will be enough to send him to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"I had a lot of poor performances in training but my condition has been steadily improving since August," Kawauchi said on Tuesday. "I came here for the gold."
To get it, he will have to outrun Shumi Dechasa, an Ethiopian runner who competes for Bahrain. Dechasa won the Hamburg Marathon in May with a personal-best 2:06:43. Kawauchi's best is 2:08:14.
Ryoko Kizaki is a gold-medal favorite in the women's race.
Japan, which is fielding one of the largest teams in Incheon, had 36 golds midway through Tuesday's events.
As expected, superstar Saori Yoshida won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Asian Games gold in the 55-kilogram division in women's wrestling, and the Japan women are headed into the women's football final against North Korea in another marquee event likely to generate a lot of excitement back home.
But Japan had a mixed performance in the pool.
The Japanese won 12 golds there — 10 behind the Chinese. Though strong in the heats, Japanese swimmers failed to come through in the finals on the last day of the event, and were repeatedly relegated to second and third place. Losing their Asian Games title to China in the men's 4x100 medley relay was an especially bitter end to the competition.
To make matters worse, disputes over history and ownership of Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea prompted Chinese fans to boo Japanese swimmers, while China's social media buzzed with anti-Japanese commentary.
And, for the first time in their Asian Games history, the Japanese decided to expel a former gold medalist from their swimming squad after he confessed to stealing a South Korean photojournalist's camera.
Naoya Tomita, who failed to medal in Incheon, has been fined by authorities and is awaiting permission to get a flight out of the country — which Japanese officials say he will have to pay for himself.News Topics: Sports, 2014 Asian Games, Asian Games, Women's sports, Women's track and field, Women's swimming, Track and field, Swimming, Events, Aquatics, Women's aquatics
People, Places and Companies: Saori Yoshida, Japan, South Korea, East Asia, China, Asia, Greater China
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
TOKYO, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Japan's unemployment rate fell to a three-month low of 3.5 percent in August from a 3.8 percent retraction logged a month earlier, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a report Tuesday.
The number of people unemployed dropped by 400,000 in the recording period, marking the 51st straight drop from year-earlier levels, the ministry said.
The ministry's figures revealed however that overall economic malaise stemming from the April 1 tax hike from 5 to 8 percent, which has forced businesses to slash investments, including those on new employees, is still impacting the unemployment rate and, while it's narrowing, has highlighted a sluggishness in businesses creating new jobs.
The data also came in below median economists' forecasts of a 3. 8 percent unemployment rate in August.
In addition, in the recording period, the ministry's data also showed that women left the job market or gave up on looking for employment, possibly because they wanted to stay home to become mothers and homemakers, or possibly because they had reached retirement age.
Thus far, economists have yet to ascertain whether the women leaving the workplace had been doing so of their own volition, or if they were being discouraged from joining or returning to the labor market after bearing children, which would be in direct contravention of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's globally announced " Womenomics" policy.
New jobs created in July compared to a year earlier painted a slightly brighter picture, with 530,000 new jobs added in the month, 460,000 more jobs than a year earlier and marking the 20th straight year-on-year increase, the ministry's data also showed, particularly in construction industries and those involved in healthcare.
Conversely, retail and wholesale sectors were seen to cut jobs in the recording period, with companies still relying heavily on non-contract and part-time workers to save costs and make up for labor shortages, the ministry's data showed.
According to the latest statistics, the number of regular employees dropped 40,000 on year to 33.05 million in August, on the heels of tumbling 60,000 in July. The number of non-regular workers, meanwhile, jumped to 19.48 million in August, an addition of 420,000 jobs, compared to an increase of 600,000 non-regular workers in July.
Payroll jobs were up by 90,000 on month, the ministry said, at a seasonally adjusted 63.62 million in August, after retreating by 60,000 jobs a month earlier.
The adjusted number of unemployed people fell by 180,000 to 2. 30 million after rising 40,000 in July, the data also showed.
Separate data from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare showed Tuesday that job availability here was flat from July, with the ratio of employment offers to job seekers steady at 1:10 in August, meaning that for every 110 possible positions that were available, there were 100 eligible job seekers.
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Mangroves are being destroyed three to five times faster than the average rate of forests loss, causing emissions which cost billions of dollars annually, according to a new report launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Monday.
"Mangroves are also threatened by climate change, which could result in a further loss of 10 to 15 percent of mangroves by the year 2100," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here, quoting the new UNEP report.
Mangroves are found in 123 countries and more than 100 million people worldwide live within 10 kilometers of large mangrove forests, allowing them access to fisheries, clean water, and protection from erosion and extreme weather events, among other benefits.
"The new report says that despite the mounting evidence supporting the many benefits of mangroves, they remain one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet," he said.
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 300,000 people have been displaced in Ukraine, with more than 5 million people living in conflict-affected areas, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said here Monday, quoting information from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"Humanitarian needs in areas under the control of armed groups are reportedly significant, with local organizations and Red Cross teams having nearly exhausted their supplies and with only limited amounts of aid having been delivered due to insecurity," Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.
"Items such as winter clothing, shoes, medicine, and food are also in short supply," the spokesman said. "Some areas in the east have only limited or no access to drinking water and diesel generators are needed to power water pumps and treatment units."
According to the spokesman, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will release a report on Ukraine in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, which will cover the situation of Ukraine for the period from Aug. 18 and Sept. 16.
Military clashes between Ukrainian government troops and independence-seeking militia, which started in March in the eastern parts of the country, have claimed at least 2,600 lives and displaced approximately 260,000 people.
Eastern towns such as Donetsk and Luhansk are among the worst affected areas in the country, with almost 94 percent of civilians displaced.
The fighting has also caused lack of access to basic necessities, such as water and food, as well as power shortages, alongside severe damage to infrastructure, including buildings and roads.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) remains a threat not only for the region, but also for the rest of the world, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday.
"ISIS has nothing to do with Islam," Rutte said at a press conference in the Hague. "It is a terrorist organization that abuses Islam to reach their goals. I have zero respect for them."
Last week the Dutch government decided to send a military mission against ISIS in Iraq. The Netherlands deploys six F-16 fighter aircraft that can carry out military actions. In addition, the Netherlands will contribute to training of the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces.
The Dutch mission in Syria is limited to humanitarian and diplomatic help.
"We accept what the Americans and some Arabian countries are doing," Rutte said. "We are not condemning it, not at all, but for us there was not enough international mandate, not enough basis to get involved in Syria. We remain member of the international coalition, but we are only active in Iraq."
The first phase of the operation will last six to twelve months. "After that we will consider again, although we don't think it will be finished by that time," Rutte said.
PARIS (AP) — France's interior minister says the number of French radicals joining extremists in Syria and Iraq has soared this year, saying that justifies a tough new anti-terrorist law adopted this month.
Bernard Cazeneuve said on RTL radio Tuesday that the number of French radicals in the region has grown 74 percent this year, to about 1,000 people. That figure includes those who traveled there or back and 200 people who hope to go.
Cazeneuve said authorities are monitoring a French member of the Islamic State group identified by the U.S. State Department last week as one of 10 "Specially Designated Global Terrorists" targeted by new sanctions.
France was the first country to join U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State extremists and has increased its monitoring of French people suspected of joining them.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: France, Middle East, Iraq, Western Europe, Europe
BANGKOK (AP) — Global stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after Wall Street declined and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a major financial center, added to political risk worries.
KEEPING SCORE: France's CAC-40 rose 0.5 percent to 9,380.11 and Germany's Dax gained 0.1 percent to 9,432.38. Wall Street looked poised to recover some of Monday's losses, with futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 both up 0.1 percent in pre-market trading.
ASIA'S DAY: Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.3 percent to 22,932.98 points after protesters blocked streets in the business district. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 1.5 percent but rebounded to end the day down 0.8 percent at 16,173.52. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent to 2,363.87 despite a report that September manufacturing growth stayed at August's low level. India's Sensex rose 0.8 percent to 26,799.93. Sydney and Bangkok also rose while Singapore and Jakarta declined.
HONG KONG PROTESTS: Thousands of people have blocked streets in the territory's business district to protest government plans to require candidates in the territory's first election for its leader to be approved by a panel dominated by business leaders who support the communist mainland government. Some banks and schools closed temporarily and some public transit was suspended but analysts say they see no large-scale impact yet on the territory's economy.
CHINESE MANUFACTURING: HSBC Corp. said a monthly survey showed manufacturing grew in September but was unchanged from August's slow rate. The bank's China economist, Hongbin Qu, said that showed the economy faces downside risks and requires more accommodative monetary and fiscal policy.
JAPAN: Government data showed Japan's industrial output fell by 1.5 percent in August, much weaker than the modest increase expected by forecasters. Wage growth slowed to 1.4 percent over a year earlier from the previous month's 2.4 percent. Analyst Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said the labor market is likely to weaken further and earnings growth could settle at about 1 percent.
UKRAINE UNREST: Ukraine suffered its deadliest violence in more than a week as fighting in the east between pro-Russian rebels and government troops killed at least 12 people and wounded 32. That came despite a Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement and assurances by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last week that "the most dangerous part of the war" is over.
THE QUOTE: "U.S. stocks fell overnight against a geopolitical backdrop that was worsened by the ongoing protests in Hong Kong and the highest casualty count in Ukraine since a ceasefire was agreed upon," said Desmond Chua of CMC Markets in a report.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 17 cents to $94.74. The contract lost 3 cents on Monday to close at $94.57. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 17 cents to $97.37.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.31 yen from Monday's 109.40 while the euro was steady at $1.269.News Topics: Business, Stock prices, Protests and demonstrations, Economy, War and unrest, Stock indices and averages, Financial markets, Stock markets, Leading economic indicators, Political and civil unrest, General news
People, Places and Companies: Petro Poroshenko, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Japan, Bangkok, Southeast Asia, Ukraine, Greater China, East Asia, Asia, Eastern Europe, Europe
Portugal will be part of the international coalition combating the Islamic State (IS), said the country's Defence Minister Jose Pedro Aguiar Branco.
"Combatting Islamic 'jihadi' terrorism is a responsibility of the civilized Western world," Branco said in the northern city of Porto, reported the Portuguese News Agency Lusa.
He added that "at the right time" it would become clear what Portugal's assistance would involve and that cooperation could be provided in a number of ways including "intelligence training or humanitarian assistance."
U.S. warplanes started a bombing campaign against IS targets in Iraq on Aug. 8 and Syria on Sept. 22, with separate help from France and Arab nations.
A NATO summit in Newport, Wales earlier this month put IS at the top of the organization's agenda.
Portugal was a founding member NATO when it was set up in 1949.
The British government launched an independent review of the sharing economy on Monday, in a bid to make Britain global center for sharing economy.
The review, led by Debbie Wosskow, the CEO of Love Home Swap, will unpick the policies and regulations that surround the sharing economy and present a route map for the development of sharing economy in Britain, said the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
"The sharing economy is disrupting existing markets and changing the face of business," said Matthew Hancock, the Business and Enterprise Minister.
"By opening doors for everyday entrepreneurs to trade directly with each other online, these new market places are driving down costs and pushing the frontiers of innovation," said the minister.
It was estimated that 25 percent of British adults were sharing online, and current global revenues of around 9 billion pounds (about 15 billion U.S. dollars) could reach 230 billion pounds per year by 2025.
The sharing economy was estimated to reach 50 percent market share in key sectors such as holiday accommodation and car-hiring/car rental 2025.
Debbie Wosskow saw economic potential for the sharing economy.
"The sharing economy has the potential to ensure that customers get the best deal going. Co-working services such as NearDesk give small businesses access to office facilities, without entering into costly and risky long-term leases," she said.
The focus of the review will be on three well-established areas, personal and commercial space; transport; and time and skill sharing. It will also look at sectors where there is significant growth potential, including fashion, food and personal items such as power tools.
The findings of the review were expected to be published by the end of the year.
Slovakia hosts NATO air combat exercises MACE XVI which starts from Monday.
According to Slovak Defence Ministry spokesperson Martina Ballekova, as many as 660 military personnel from 14 NATO countries and two countries of the Partnership for Peace are taking part in the air combat exercises in Slovakia.
The exercises are being used to train methods of overcoming anti-air defences by the use of tactical aircraft in conditions of radio-electronic interference and to practice air combat in fighters.
"All the air equipment is being looked after by Sliac Airbase, with the command located in Zvolen and the ground equipment stationed at the training facility at Lest in Central Slovakia," said Slovak Lieutenant-Colonel Andrej Ulicny on Monday.
Apart from Slovakia's MiG-29 fighters, F-16 jets (Belgium, Denmark, Norway), DA-20 Falcons (Norway), Learjet 40s (Germany), RAFALEs (France), Gripens (Sweden), EA 18Gs (USA), C 130Js (Denmark) and Typhoons (Spain) are also taking part.
PLOVDIV, Bulgaria, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The 70th International Technical Fair, the largest event of this type in Southeast Europe, kicked off in Plovdiv on Monday, bringing together 860 direct exhibitors from 37 countries and regions.
Ekaterina Zaharieva, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policy, said while opening the exhibition that this year an increasing number of foreign companies were interested in Bulgaria as a promising destination for imports of technology and equipment.
She said Bulgarian business also fortified its presence using funds from the European Union (EU) to participate in exhibitions.
"This trend is gaining momentum, and this is one of the best ways to find new markets and business partners," Zaharieva said.
Ivan Sokolov, Board Chairman of International Fair Plovdiv, which organizes the exhibition, said that a few years ago, the International Technical Fair chose the slogan "New life, new technologies," creating opportunities for innovation of new generation.
The six-day event covers 85 economic sectors and nine specialized exhibitions, such as water management and technologies, transport and auto service equipment, building materials and machines, with Bulgarian company Litex Motors presenting Chinese Great Wall Motors cars that it has assembled since 2012.
The event is accompanied by a comprehensive business program comprising over 30 conferences, seminars and roundtables focused on the instruments for financing under EU operational programs and their implementation.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- U.S. pending home sales slowed modestly in August, but contract signings remain at their second-highest level over the past year, a leading U.S.industry group reported on Monday.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said its index of pending home sales, which measures the number of contracts that have been signed but not yet closed for purchasing previously-owned homes, fell to 104.7 in August from 105.8 in July.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said steady and fewer distressed sales and less investor activity is likely behind August's modest decline.
"Fewer distressed homes at bargain prices and the acknowledgement we are entering a rising interest rate environment likely caused hesitation among investors last month," he said. "With investors pulling back, the market is shifting more towards traditional and first-time buyers who rely on mortgages to purchase a home".
The NAR index is a forward-looking indicator of previously-owned home sales, since there is usually one or two months' lag between signing a contract and closing a deal. A reading of 100 indicates an average level of sales activity.
Italian police searched the Israelite Hospital in Rome and some offices of the regional government on Monday, as part of a probe into suspected fraud in the National Health Service (NHS).
Ten people were charged with fraud and forgery, including Antonio Mastrapasqua, currently Israelite Hospital's director general and former president of the National Institute of Social Security (INPS).
The top manager was put under investigation for forgery, while two officials from the previous government of the Lazio region, to which Rome capital city belongs, and seven employees of the Israelite Hospital were accused of both fraud and forgery.
Police searched medical records in several offices of the hospital, in two local health units and three clinics, and also searched regional government offices related with the public health department.
No employees of the regional government were put under investigation.
The anti-fraud operation was seen as the latest development following an investigation launched by Rome's prosecutors early this year.
According to prosecutors, several medical diagnosis made by the Israelite Hospital would have been changed and made worse in the past, in order to inflate costs and get higher refunds from the regional health service in Lazio.
The fraud is alleged to have been carried out between 2007 and 2009, involving a vast majority of medical files especially regarding dental care within the medical centre.
Lazio region's current government, led by governor Nicola Zingaretti, has decided to suspend due payments worth some 15.5 million euros (19.6 million U.S. dollars) to the Israelite Hospital, and to freeze two agreement protocols signed between the centre and the previous regional governments in 2011 and 2012.
The "Corte dei Conti", or Court of Audit, which is entrusted with the role of safeguarding Italy's public finance, has launched its own investigation to find out why regional funding was not revised immediately after the management of the Israelite Hospital was put under probe.
NEW DELHI, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday in New York on defense cooperation in what is seen as a shift of India's policy towards the Jewish state, said local media Monday. The Indo-Asian News Agency quoted the prime minister's office as saying Monday that Netanyahu also invited Modi to Israel, which the latter accepted. A statement from the Indian prime minister's office said "The two leaders reviewed the robust relationship, and rapidly growing trade. They also discussed how ties could be further expanded."
Sunday's meeting was the first high-level meeting between India and Israel since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's 2003 visit to India. As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi had visited Israel in 2006.
India had in the past strongly supported the Palestinian cause at the United Nations and the non-aligned movement.
However, India failed to condemn the Israeli military operation in Gaza in the summer this year, triggering protests at home.
Israel also briefed the Indian prime minister on its perception of the situation in West Asia, said Indian prime minister's office in the statement.
"Defense ties and cooperation in the field of computer software, and cyber security were also discussed," the statement said.
Modi made a pitch for Israeli investments and the two prime ministers discussed boosting bilateral trade that now stands at about 6 billion U.S. dollars, said Indo-Asian News Service.
India is importing defense equipment from Israel to diversify its sources of such procurement.
India also intends to import from Israel methods and technologies for farming in arid land and for water management, solid waste treatment in urban area, said the report.
The government of Mariano Rajoy on Monday approved measures aimed at preventing an independence referendum scheduled to be held in the Catalan region on Nov. 9.
The government will appeal to the Spanish Constitutional Court in an attempt to have the referendum declared illegal.
The decree giving the go-ahead for the referendum was signed by Catalan leader Artur Mas on Saturday, following a referendum law being approved by 79 percent of the vote in the Catalan regional parliament a week earlier.
Rajoy's special cabinet meeting took place a day after the Spanish State Council unanimously voted to support the government should it decide to appeal against both the Catalan referendum and the referendum law to the Constitutional Court.
"We always said that this referendum was not going to be held because it goes against the Constitution," said Rajoy.
"It is openly against our constitution, because the decision rests with the whole of the Spanish people and because one part cannot take a decision which affects all of us," he added.
Rajoy said the referendum "went against the law, divided the Catalans and took them away from Spain and Europe."
State lawyers will now begin to prepare the case of the Spanish government.
At the same time, preparations are continuing in the Catalan region to hold the referendum with the launch of an information campaign over the vote.
BEIJING (AP) — Five-time major winner Maria Sharapova moved into the third round of the China Open with ease on Tuesday, while Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska late-season slump continued with another early loss.
The fourth-seeded Sharapova saved seven of nine break points she faced in a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, a semifinalist last week at the Wuhan Open.
Radwanska, the fifth seed, was beaten by Italy's Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-4. Since winning the Canadian Open in August, Radwanska hasn't advanced past the quarterfinals in five events.
All of the big men's names are in action on Tuesday, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray playing their opening matches.
On the women's side, No. 1 Serena Williams takes on Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, and her sister Venus plays France's Caroline Garcia.News Topics: Sports, Men's tennis, Women's tennis, Tennis, Men's sports, Women's sports
People, Places and Companies: Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Elina Svitolina, Roberta Vinci, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova, Caroline Garcia, China, Greater China, East Asia, Asia
Nearly two months after the introduction of Russia's ban on imports of certain food products from the European Union, the direct impact on Slovakia is more than 6 million euros (about 7.62 million U.S. dollars).
"The direct impact on Slovak agricultural sector is more than 6 million euros. The total amount of export of Slovak agricultural products was last year 31 million euros," the Slovak Agriculture and Regional Development Ministry said on Monday in a press release.
This includes the losses of Eastern Slovakian meat producer Mecom, to the tune of 3.9 million euros and diairies Rajo, Senoble and Gemermilk, which announced that their joint losses due to the ban are at around 2.3 million euros so far.
"There are 250 tonnes of powdered milk in stock, the sale of which wouldn't bring in any profits at the moment because prices have gone down by 30 percent," said Gemermilk sales manager Martin Uzik.
The Agriculture Ministry warns that the indirect impacts are even more dangerous, pointing to food surpluses, which in turn influence the market price of foodstuffs. Around 1.2 million tonnes of Polish apples originally set to be exported to the Russian market have ended up elsewhere in Europe because of the food embargo.
According to the Agriculture Ministry's estimates, the purchasing price of apples has dropped by 20-30 percent year-on-year.