Toronto New York markets close on better note after big drop amid

by Brian McKenna, The Canadian Press Posted Jun 30, 2015 6:02 am MDT Last Updated Jun 30, 2015 at 3:16 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Toronto, New York markets close on better note after big drop amid Greek woes TORONTO – Buyers returned to North American stock markets Tuesday after frantic selling the previous session sparked by the Greek debt crisis drove most major indexes into the red for the year to date.The S&P/TSX composite index closed up a solid 63.18 points at 14,553.33, but still finished the first six months of the year with a slight loss courtesy of an almost 318-point plunge on Monday.The loonie was down sharply, off 0.64 of a U.S. cent at 80.06 cents amid speculation of a possible rate cut by the Bank of Canada after Statistics Canada reported gross domestic product contracted for a fourth consecutive month in April.Gareth Watson, director, investment management and research, Richardson GMP, described the GDP numbers as “disappointing,” noting economists had been expecting a 0.1 per cent gain versus the 0.1 per cent loss the economy actually delivered.“It will get some people talking about potentially a technical recession if Q2 ends up being in negative territory,” Watson said.“But, more broadly speaking, the concern here is that the Bank of Canada might look at the data and feel that perhaps another interest rate cut is necessary … and, of course, the Canadian dollar will always fall on those expectations that rates are going to go lower.”In New York, indexes were also higher after big drops Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average advancing 23.16 points to 17,619.51 following a 350-point drop Monday, its biggest of the year.The Nasdaq bounced back 28.40 points to 4,986.87 and the S&P 500 added 5.47 points to 2,063.11 and was marginally in positive territory for the year to date.In commodities, the August oil contract rose $1.14 to US$59.47 a barrel, while the August gold fell $7.20 to US$1,171.80 an ounce.Canadian markets will be closed Wednesday for the Canada Day holiday. New York markets will remain open but close Friday in advance of the July 4th Independence Day holiday on Saturday.Despite the recovery on markets Tuesday, Greece’s debt woes appear likely to drive volatility for some time to come.Currently, talks are at a standstill and the Greek people face a referendum on Sunday called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to accept or reject austerity terms demanded by creditors. As a result, Athens seemed certain to miss a midnight deadline Tuesday to make a 1.6-billion-euro repayment to the International Monetary Fund.“It’s been said that the IMF will give them a month’s grace period before taking any type of action,” Watson said, adding that the next big date is July 20 “when it owes, I believe, the (European Central Bank) some money.”So expect ongoing volatility between now and July 20 “no matter what the outcome (of the referendum) and definitely if the answer is ‘No,’” he added.Note to readers: This is a corrected story: A previous version gave an incorrect number for the S&P 500 close read more


West African stability still endangered by global traffickers warns new UN report

The report, a threat assessment issued by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and entitled Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa, cautions that the profit from cocaine trafficking alone may still be larger than the national security budgets of several West African countries, causing difficulties for local law enforcement.In addition, it notes that West African criminal groups have become increasingly independent and enterprising in their ability to bring drugs into the region.“Transnational organized crime is clearly a serious threat to West Africa,” Pierre Lapaque, the UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, said in a press statement marking the report’s release. “State institutions and the rule of law are weak in most of these countries and unless these organized crimes are tackled, instability is likely to persist and increase.”According to UNODC estimates, at least 50 tons of cocaine from the Andean countries transit through West Africa every year, heading north to Europe where they are worth almost $2 billion in street value. Most cocaine entering Africa from South America makes landfall around Guinea-Bissau in the north and Ghana in the south and are shipped to Europe via drug mules on commercial flights.The new report points out, however, that cocaine is not the only illicit drug affecting the region. In particular, it cites the “worrying” emergence of methamphetamine production in Nigeria, where two methamphetamine labs were detected in the 2011-2012 biennium, and a growth in trans-regional trafficking with some 3,000 methamphetamine couriers alleged to have transported an estimated $360 million worth of drugs from West Africa to East Africa in 2010. The report says that this is an indication that West African criminal groups are becoming increasingly influential in the transnational drug market. Last July, Yury Fedotov, the UNODC Executive Director, confirmed to the UN Security Council that with the increased trafficking, production and consumption of drugs, as well as piracy and insecurity, West Africa represented one of the key challenges for his agency as it had steadily transformed from being simply a transit route into a final destination of illegal substances as well.“The complex challenges West Africa faces represent a severe test for the individual countries and for the region as a whole,” Mr. Fedotov said. “UNODC will continue to work with its partners to build the commitment and develop the necessary solutions in this extremely fluid and fast-moving environment.”Other criminal markets are also discussed in the report, including the smuggling of migrants from West Africa to Europe, the trafficking of fraudulent pharmaceuticals from Asia to West Africa, and maritime piracy in the region.The report warns that while the trends and profits for these diverse markets tend to vary, their potential for sowing corruption, political instability, hampering development and promoting conflict remains “too large for the region to deal with on its own.”“West African States need to do more in terms of data collection and sharing, regional coordination in law enforcement and enhanced drug treatment and rehabilitation services, to mention some recommendations,” admits the UNODC report, while noting that the countries in the region are unable to fight the crime epidemic alone.“They will need support from the international community to make substantial progress in reducing the negative impact of transnational organized crime on the region’s development.” read more