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Nikkei slips from 6-wk high, hurt by euro zone doubts


* Comments from Germany take wind out of equity rally* U.S. earnings in focus, Japan earnings start next weekBy Hideyuki SanoTOKYO, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average fell more than 1 percent on Tuesday from a six-week high hit the previous day on concerns that Europe’s solution to its debt crisis may not be as fast and comprehensive as some had hoped for.Shares in Olympus gyrated wildly, tumbling to a fresh 2-1/2-year low since its shock dismissal of its CEO, with the camera and endoscope maker under pressure to disclose details of payments to advisers in the buyout of a UK-based medical equipment firm. It later ended morning trade up 1 percent.Germany said on Monday that a summit of EU leaders next Sunday would not produce a miracle cure for the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis, a warning that poured cold water on hopes of a clear-cut solution to the debt’s crisis.”I’d say more than half of equity rally this month had been driven by hopes of European policy steps. I thought the rally would run out of steam after the EU summit but it came faster,” said Soichiro Monji, chief strategist at Daiwa SB Investments.The Nikkei average fell 1.5 percent to 8,742.57, while the broader Topix index lost 1.3 percent to 752.36.For now, support for the Nikkei is seen around 8,689, a 38.2 percent retracement of its rally to Monday’s six-week closing high from its Oct. 5 low, and then at its 25-day moving average, now around 8,650.”As long as the Nikkei stays above its 25-day moving average, I think the market’s uptrend will continue,” said Toshiyuki Kanayama, a market analyst at Monex Securities, adding that he thinks the market is in a rising trend after formation of double bottom in late September to early October.Shares of exporters, which had benefited from optimism on the euro zone’s debt crisis in the past week, underperformed the overall market.Machinery manufacturers and makers of electronics goods both fell 1.8 percent.Olympus continued to trade heavily and hit a fresh 2 1/2-year low of 1,455 yen before rising back to end morning trade at 1,570 yen. The stock has lost 37 percent since the abrupt firing of its CEO on Friday.The company told investors on Monday that it may take legal action against ousted Chief Executive Michael Woodford, accusing him of disclosing confidential information in media interviews.Woodford in turn has accused the board of firing him for probing allegations of improper payments related to acquisitions, according to media reports.Investors are also focused on U.S. corporate earnings, with the scorecard so far mixed at best.This week will see reports from Apple Inc , Intel Goldman Sachs , Bank of America and other prominent companies.”Looking at U.S. corporate earning so far, I’m left with the impression that even though EPS is coming in line with expectations, the top line is weak at many companies. I expect global shares to slip towards the end of month,” Monji said.Earning announcements from Japanese companies will also gather pace in the final week of October. Analysts are generally upbeat on the past quarter as companies are recovering from the damage from the earthquake and nuclear accident in March.Still, the yen’s strength and signs of slowdown in the global economy are hurting some companies, especially exporters.Yaskawa Electric , which cut its operating profit outlook for the year to March to 14 billion yen from 20 billion yen on the strong yen and slow sales of motors used in chipmaking equipment, dropped 6.1 percent to 589 yen.

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German comments sap sentiment, send markets lower


Investors rushed to seek protection in the options market against losses, with the CBOE Volatility index VIX — Wall Street’s so-called fear gauge — rising 18.2 percent to 33.39 on Monday, its highest one-day jump since August.In Asian credit markets, spreads on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment grade index, another gauge for whether investor risk appetite is returning, were about 12 basis points wider early on Tuesday, after tightening by about 26 points over the past week on hopes of progress in Europe.Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said on Monday that even though European governments would adopt a five-point platform to address the crisis, a definitive solution would not be reached at the October 23 European Union summit.This came in the heels of a Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers in Paris the past weekend, which had raised expectations that European banks would be recapitalized, and the region’s bailout fund expanded to deal with a potential debt default by Greece.”Although markets were not expecting the debt crisis to be resolved overnight, shares prices are likely to succumb to profit-taking after a rally,” said Hiroichi Nishi, equity general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.2 percent, with the materials sector in the MSCI index slumping more than 2 percent.The Nikkei stock average opened down 1.4 percent, while Australian shares were down 1.6 percent.World stocks, as measured by the MSCI’s all-country world equity index, fell 1 percent, and U.S. stocks suffered their worst loss in two weeks on Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 2.12 percent.The MSCI have recovered from 15-month lows by more than 10 percent in the past nine days, on growing expectations Europe was finally accelerating efforts to resolve its debt crisis.The euro fell from a one-month high against the dollar of $1.39148 hit on Monday.Oil was also lower, with Brent crude down 0.2 percent to $109.90 a barrel and U.S. crude futures down 0.2 percent at $86.19.Retreating appetite for risks benefited government bonds, with 10-year U.S. Treasuries gaining 23/32 in price to yield 2.17 percent on Monday.The declines in the markets may be limited given a lack of rush into other assets perceived as safe-haven.Gold was flat and the dollar index was also little changed.

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Duffy set to be announced as AIB’s new CEO-report


The spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report.The Sunday Business Post, which did not cite any sources, said AIB’s salary proposal for Duffy, who runs a consultancy in Singapore, was believed to be within a government-imposed 500,000 euros annual cap.But the newspaper said AIB would seek clearance for Duffy to be part of any future long-term incentive scheme agreed by the government for bankers.

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Ford UAW contract gains support in ongoing vote


The running tally as of Friday morning was 7,529 “yes” votes and 6,385 “no” votes, according to posting by the United Auto Workers Ford Department. That is about 54 percent for and 46 percent against.Two new plant votes, including an 87-percent vote from the Twin Cities plant in St. Paul, Minnesota and 77-percent in favor from the Livonia Transmission plant near Detroit, pushed the “yes” votes up from 51 percent reported earlier on Friday.There are about 1,000 workers at the Livonia plant and about 700 at the St. Paul plant.Ford local unions vote through next Tuesday on the tentative pact, with the total vote result to be issued on Wednesday.The vote will affect about 41,000 UAW-represented Ford workers.The next big union local to report results will be UAW Local 600, the biggest Ford local, which will report results on Sunday. Local 600 represents a handful of plants near Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, including “The Rouge,” a sprawling factory built by company founder Henry Ford.UAW President Bob King said on Wednesday he was confident the pact would be ratified and that the weakening economy would undercut the union’s position if the two sides were forced back into bargaining.A Ford plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, voted 72 percent to approve the proposed pact, a union official said on Friday. That plant has been promised some of the production of the Ford Fusion sedan in a shift of work from Mexico. About 1,500 workers voted at the local representing the Flat Rock plant.Bringing back work from Mexico has been a selling point by King and UAW officials since Ford and the union reached a tentative agreement on October 4.UAW Local 1250 which represents two Ford engine plants in Cleveland where 1,032 workers voted, supported the contract by 53 percent to 47 percent.The proposed UAW contract at Ford is the richest of the deals offered to workers at the Detroit automakers. In one of the key differences, Ford workers would receive a signing bonus of $6,000 each, compared with just $5,000 for workers at General Motors Co and $1,750 at Chrysler Group LLC.Over the term of the contract, Ford workers are guaranteed at least $16,000 in bonuses. GM’s 48,500 union workers would get $11,500 at a minimum. At Chrysler, the weakest of the Detroit Three, guaranteed payout is just $5,750.Chrysler’s 26,000 unionized workers will vote over the next two weeks on a tentative contract agreement reached by negotiators on Wednesday.The Twin Cities plant, which once made the Model T, is scheduled to close in December. Many of its members voted in favor because the new contract promises production work at plants where the UAW workers can transfer, a union local official said.

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Italy’s president expresses concern about Berlusconi govt


Speaking of “acute tensions” inside the administration, Napolitano said delays in passing badly needed policies, raised “questions and concerns”.He added: “The question is whether the government majority…is capable of operating with the constant cohesion required to guarantee the adoption of measures that cannot be delayed.”

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Massachusetts goes it alone on hedge funds


* More managers expected to be hired in DecemberBOSTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Massachusetts, which has long bet big on hedge funds, hired 11 managers on Tuesday as part of the state’s push into direct investments with these types of portfolios.Trustees for the roughly $46 billion state pension fund voted on Tuesday to send $280 million into some of the world’s biggest and best-known hedge funds.A year ago, the pension fund agreed to stop using so-called funds of funds to select hedge funds and thereby save on fees. The state’s treasurer, Steven Grossman, said that state prefers to have a direct relationship.Now the fund unveiled the first managers in its direct hedge fund investment program.Massachusetts sent $25 million to each of the following fund firms: Anchorage Capital Group, Arrowgrass Capital Partners, BlueCrest Capital Management, Brevan Howard Capital Management, Claren Road Asset Management, Elliott Management, Kingdon Capital Management, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group , Taconic Capital Advisors and York Capital Management. Viking Global Investors will receive $30 million.The pension fund used consulting firm Cliffwater LLC to help find the hedge funds.Another group of 10 managers is expected to be hired in December, executives at the pension fund said.In the past, hedge funds have helped shore up the Massachusetts’ pension fund’s returns but this year many hedge funds are experiencing though times amid concerns about Europe’s debt crisis, the stalled U.S. economy with its stubbornly high unemployment rate, and concerns over upcoming elections around the world in the next year.