Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekly Fundamentals - Commodities Weakened amid Speculations of Fed's Early Exit

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Sat Feb 23 13 03:56 ET

Last week began with further weakness of Japanese yen as G-20 statement largely shrugged off concerns over competitive currency depreciation in major economies. Release of the FOMC minutes caught most attention towards the end of the week. The minutes for the January FOMC meeting indicated that policymakers were more upbeat on the US economic outlook as driven by improved business confidence and household consumption. They acknowledged better employment conditions but stressed that 'the recovery in the labor market was far from complete'. The debate on additional QE remained rigorous but balanced. The focus was on the benefits and costs of additional asset purchases. While some suggested asset purchases to end 'well before the end of 2013', others warned of the 'significant' costs of ending purchases prematurely. Rigorous discussions about continuation of QE have triggered speculations of an early exit which sent the US dollar higher but risky assets including commodities and stocks lower.

Precious Metals: The complex declined last week with gold and silver losing -2.26% and -4.63% respectively. For PGMs, platinum and palladium plunged -4.19% and -2.16% respectively. The hot topic for precious metals is whether gold’s long-term uptrend has ended. The yellow metal made a record high above US$ 1900/oz in September 2011. Since then, price has been range-bounded with 1500 being the lower boundary. After failing to re-test the record high in October, gold price has since then declined -12%. A close look as the correlation between gold, US real interest rates and the USD should give us some insight on the issue.

Traditionally, US real interest rates are negative correlated with gold price, i.e. it is positive for gold as real rates are low and/or negative, as lowest interest rates reduce the opportunity cost of owning the precious metal. The following chart shows that the Fed’s QE programs have driven real rates lower in the past few years. However, recent FOMC meetings signaling that the central bank might terminate QE sooner than previously anticipated have lifted real rates. This has in turn put pressure on the yellow metal. While unstable, gold is conventionally believed to be trading in opposite direction as the greenback. The strength of the USD index in recent weeks has given additional pressure to gold.

It appears that these two indicators have been negative for gold’s outlook. Yet, investment demand has remained firm. Despite outflows, the size has remained modest. Data from SPDR Gold Trust suggested that ETF gold holdings have declined only -4% since October 2012 when gold price has dropped more than -10%. Indeed, although it is likely that downside risks to gold remains, whether there is a structural change in the price trend depends on further weakness in economic data from the US and China.

Natural Gas: The DOE/EIA reported that natural gas inventory fell -127 bcf to 2400 bcf in the week ended February 15. Stocks were -242 bcf less than the same period last year and -361 bcf above the 5-year average of 2 039 bcf. Separately, Baker Hughes reported that the number of gas rigs added +7 units to 428 in the week ended February 21. Oil rigs decreased -8 units to 1 329 and miscellaneous rigs remained unchanged and the total number of rigs fell -1 unit to 1 761. Directionally oriented combined oil, gas, and miscellaneous rigs added +3 units to 197 units while horizontal rigs added +1 unit to 1 140 units and vertical rigs slid -5 units to 424 during the week.

Crude Oil: Crude oil prices showed a reverse of the rallies over the past weeks with ease in geopolitical tensions and Saudi Arabia’s potential increase in output being the key factors. After cutting production in 4q12, the world’s largest oil producer is expected to rise exports in 2Q13 so as to meet demand in countries such as China. The front-month contract for WTI crude dropped -2.85% while the Brent crude contract fell -3.035. The WTI-Brent spread was narrowed modestly.

 

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Sentiment Damped on Downgrade of UK's Rating and Repayment of LTRO

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Mon Feb 25 13 00:46 ET

Financial markets moved sideways in Asian session on Monday. The outlook this week is likely gloomy amid global economic prospect remains unclear. Moody’s announced to downgrade the UK’s triple A rating while the second tranche of LTRO repayments by Eurozone banks were less than forecast. The focus this week was Abe’s nomination of the BOJ governor. A report from the Nikkei newspaper suggested that the government is likely to nominate Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda and Kikuo Iwata as BOJ governor and deputy governor respectively. Both of them are advocates of aggressive monetary expansion. Moreover, the US sequester is expected to begin on March 1.

Moody’s downgraded the UK sovereign rating by 1 notch from Aaa to Aa1. The rating agency stated that the country’s weak economic growth “poses an increasing challenge to the government’s fiscal consolidation efforts”. Moreover, Moody’s indicated that while the country’s "debt-servicing capacity remains very strong and very capable of withstanding further adverse economic and financial shocks, it does not at present possess the extraordinary resilience common to other AAA-rated issuers"p>

In the Eurozone, the ECB announced that 356 banks will make a repayment of 61.09B euro on February 27. This was compare with market expectations of 130B euro. The central bank began out the first LTRO in December 2011 and a second one in February 2012. It has given out over 1 trillion euro in total. A total 523 banks took 489B euro in the first round of LTROs while 529.53B euro was given out to 800 banks.

Commitments of Traders:

With the exception of heating oil, speculators were bearish towards the energy complex in the week ended February 19. Net length for crude oil futures slipped -14 957 contracts to 257 918. Net length for heating oil rose +3 853 contracts to 42 247 while that for gasoline slid -36 contracts to 94 377. Net short for natural gas soared +7447 contracts to 146 102.

With the exception of palladium, speculators were bearish towards precious metals during the week. Net length for gold future was down -23 184 contracts to 103 651 while that for silver futures fell -5 616 contracts to 26 456. For PGMs, net length for platinum dropped -1 390 contracts to 48 748 while that for palladium climbed +316 contracts to 26 200.

 

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Weekly Fundamentals - Widening of WTI-Brent Spread Persists

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Sat Feb 16 13 12:35 ET

Crude Oil: Events happened in recent weeks delayed the expected narrowing of WTI-Brent spread. First, capacity of the Seaway crude oil pipeline running from Cushing Oklahoma to the US Gulf was forced to be scaled back to 175K bpd by Enterprise after the operator expanded its capacity to 400K bpd from 150K bpd earlier in January. The reason given was "unforeseen constraints in outbound takeaway… the Jones Creek delivery point has reached maximum capacity"Another issue was the delay of the start up of BP’s Whiting, Indiana unit to July. The unit with expected capacity of 260K bpd has been closed since last November and was scheduled to commence operation in April-May.

Meanwhile, Brent crude has remained firm and has gained +4.45 since the beginning of the year. The Brent forward curve has been in backwardation since July 2012 with the front-month contract being supported by decline in non-OPEC supply shortfalls and steady growth in global demand.

Natural Gas: The DOE/EIA reported that gas inventory fell -157 bcf to 2527 bcf in the week ended February 8. Stocks were -270 bcf less than the same period last year and +348 bcf above the 5-year average of 2179 bcf. Separately, Baker Hughes reported that the number of gas rigs slipped -4 units to 421 in the week ended February 13. Oil rigs increased +7 units to 1 337 and miscellaneous rigs remained unchanged and the total number of rigs gained +3 units to 1 762. Directionally oriented combined oil, gas, and miscellaneous rigs added +9 units to 194 units while horizontal rigs dipped -4 units to 1 139 units and vertical rigs slid -2 units to 429 during the week.

Precious Metals: Despite the decline last week, PGMs continued to outperform gold and silver with platinum widening its premium to gold to above $75/oz, levels last seen in August 2011. . It was reported that the Zimbabwean government will seize nearly 28 hectares of land leased by Zimplats Holdings Ltd for reallocation of assets for local business. Yet, the move is expected to disrupt production of PGMs. Platinum is expected to continue to outperform gold with the platinum-to-gold ratio currently at a 17-month high. Meanwhile, production reports from miners indicated weakness output in the 4th quarter. Impala Platinum, the second-largest platinum producer, reported that its platinum output dropped -10% both q/q and y/y, to 411K oz in 4Q12. Total output for the calendar year 2012 was 1.46M oz, down -15.2% y/y.

 

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Crude Inventory Increased Less Than Expected

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Wed Feb 27 13 12:02 ET

The DOE/EIA reported that total crude oil and petroleum products stocks declined -5.90 mmb to 1088.80 mmb in the week ended February 22. Crude stockpile increased +1.13 mmb to 377.52 mmb as inventory soared in 3 out of 5 PADDs. Cushing stock fell -0.08 mmb to 50.58 mmb. Utilization rate was up +2.20% to 85.1%.

Gasoline inventory dipped -1.86 mmb to 228.50 mmb as demand climbed +1.90% to 8.60M bpd. Production added +3.08% to 9.21M bpd while imports climbed +13.86% to 0.58M bpd. Distillate inventory added +0.56 mmb to 124.18 mmb as demand fell 8.04% to 3.50M bpd. Imports dipped -46.94 to 0.16M bpd while production added 4.96% to 4.48M bpd during the week.

 

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Crude Oil Weekly Technical Outlook

Crude oil stayed in range below 98.24 last week. With daily MACD staying below signal line, 98.24 should be a short term top and deeper decline is in favor. Below 94.97 will confirm this case and should bring deeper pull back to 55 days EMA (now at 92.47) and below. On the upside, break of 98.24 is needed to confirm rally resumption. Otherwise, near term outlook is neutral at best.

In the bigger picture, price actions from 114.83 are viewed as a triangle consolidation pattern, no change in this view. And, such consolidation could still be in progress and Crude oil remains bounded in the converging range. Nonetheless, the pattern should be close to completion and an upside breakout should be seen soon. Above 100.42 will strongly suggest that whole rebound from 33.29 has resumed for above 114.83. And in case of another fall, strong support should be seen above 77.28 to bring rebound.

In the long term picture, crude oil is in a long term consolidation pattern from 147.27, with first wave completed at 33.2. The corrective structure of the rise from 33.2 indicates that it's second wave of the consolidation pattern. While it could make another high above 114.83, we'd anticipate strong resistance ahead of 147.24 to bring reversal for the third leg of the consolidation pattern.

Nymex Crude Oil Continuous Contract 4 Hours Chart

Nymex Crude Oil Continuous Contract Daily Chart

Nymex Crude Oil Continuous Contract Weekly Chart

Nymex Crude Oil Continuous Contract Monthly Chart


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Sentiment Boosted by Draghi's Affirmation of Monetary Easing

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Fri Mar 01 13 01:19 ET

Wall Street ended the day largely flat (DJIA: -0.15%; S&P 500: -0.09%) as early rise eased. Earlier in the day, sentiment was lifted as ECB President Draghi affirmed the central bank is not about to exit its current policy stance and the market expected Italian political leaders would be able to former a government. Yet, whether the government would be an effective one is another issue. In the commodity sector, the benchmark Comex contract for gold plunged to as low as 1574.3 before ending day at 1578.1, down -1.10%.

ECB President Draghi stressed that the "monetary policy remains accommodative" and the central bank is "far from having an exit in mind". In the Q&A session after a speech at the Catholic Academy of Bavaria, Draghi stated that "while sovereign debt markets have improved, bank lending is still very fragmented" across the Eurozone. Moreover, "credit in some countries is still difficult to obtain. The benefits of the painful actions undertaken so far have not yet materialized". In Italy, the centre-left allies were able to win a narrow victory in the lower house of parliament but the Senate was split. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stated that his centre-right coalition is willing to alliance with the centre-left rivals. Berlusconi stated that "markets go their own way. They are independent and also a little crazy". The EU has urged the country to form a stable government as soon as possible.

On the dataflow, Eurozone’s CPI eased to +2.0% y/y in January from +2.2% a month ago. Core inflation slowed to +1.6% in January from +1.7% y/y in the previous month. US GDP grew +0.1% in 4Q12, up from a previous estimate of -0.1% drop. The market had anticipated a better gain of +0.6%. Initial jobless claims fell to 344K in the week ended February 24 from 362K in the prior week. The market has anticipated a drop to 361K. In Japan, core CPI dropped -0.2% y/y in January while the leading Tokyo core CPI slipped -0.6% y/y in February.

Today, the University of Michigan confidence probably stayed at 76.3 in February, same as preliminary estimate. Construction spending might have added +0.5% m/m in January, easing from a +0.9% gain a month ago. The ISM manufacturing index probably fell to 52.5 in February from 53.1 in December.

 

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Panasonic HDC-TM700 (cnet)

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FCC's Genachowski touts accomplishments in announcing departure (Los Angeles Times)

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White smoke signals conclave has chosen new pope (Reuters)

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Report: Ford paying $750 million just to close plant in Belgium

Workers at Ford's Genk facility in Belgium

According to a report from Reuters, Ford is shelling out $750 million in a severance deal that will see the automaker close its facility in Genk, Belgium. The automaker reached this deal with the 4,000 hourly workers employed at the plant last week, which means the company will pay out an average of $187,500 per worker.

Ford is still negotiating with the 300 salaried workers at the factory, which currently produces the Mondeo sedan. All told, Ford expects to lose around $2 billion in Europe thanks in no small part to the region's ongoing economic downturn, and two more plants are scheduled to be shut down in Europe this year. The company will log its $750 million payout under "special items" for this quarter.

As you may recall, Ford took a similar path in the US back in 2009 when the domestic market took a spill. Back then, the company shelled out around $50,000 per employee with at least one year of experience, plus either $25,000 toward a new car or an extra cash payment of $20,000. It would seem the cost of closing plants in Belgium is a much harder pill to swallow than in the States...


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Leaked! MPAA Talking Points On Copyright Reform: Copyright Is Awesome For Everyone! (Techdirt)

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Video: Toyota mini doc chronicles Tundra towing Space Shuttle Endeavor

Toyota Tundra towing Space Shuttle Endeavour

Toyota has worked up a quick video detailing the brand's involvement in the transportation of the Space Shuttle Endeavour last year. As you may recollect, the California Science Center ran into a hitch when it came to moving Endeavour from LAX to its new home. While most of the route would be covered by a robotically controlled transporter, one portion of the route directed the shuttle over an interstate. Unfortunately, the bridge across wasn't designed to stand up to the weight of the shuttle and its motorized sled.

The Science Center would have to remove Endeavour from its transporter and place it on a lighter, non-motorized sled. That's where longtime Science Center sponsor Toyota came in. As it turns out, the automaker had to prove to the California Science Center that a Tundra could actually tow the massive shuttle, so engineers put on a little demonstration with a stock truck pulling the equivalent weight over flat ground for the same distance. Once the Science Center was satisfied that the Tundra could pull it off, the move was green lit and the rest is history. Check out the short documentary below for yourself.


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Confirmed: BMW confirms X4 for next year, i3 preorders starting to add up


Statement and Presentation by Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Annual Accounts Press Conference 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We have a clear vision for the years leading up to 2020: To be the leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility.

We are already the top-selling premium automaker worldwide. For us, however, leading the premium segment is more than volume leadership.

We set standards for products, technologies and services,
as well as manufacturing.

We bring innovations onto the market.

We create new segments and visionary design.

We turn our customers into fans.

We are shaping individual mobility of the future.

To achieve this vision, we have been implementing our Strategy Number ONE within the company since 2007. This demands persistence, strength and consistency. As a part of our Strategy Number ONE, we set three major milestones for the years: 2012, 2016 and 2020. We successfully completed the first third of our strategy in 2012. We achieved all of our interim targets. But, we still have two stages to go. We are now focusing on the next step through to 2016. This will set the foundation for 2020.

This is also the philosophy behind the latest model from BMW, which we are presenting to you today: The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo. It combines the dynamic performance of a sedan with the functionality of a Touring model. This model further enhances the already highly desirable range of BMW 3 Series cars. In fact, in 2012, one in every four BMWs sold was a 3 Series. What's more, the 3 Series is the most successful series in the premium segment overall. The new Gran Turismo shows once again what unites us all at the BMW Group: The passion for mobility.

Our common goal is to future-proof individual mobility.
Now, let me share with you where we currently stand and where we will focus going forward. I will concentrate on the following points:

What did we achieve in 2012?
How do things stand five years into our Strategy Number ONE?
What can our customers look forward to in 2013?
How will we approach the next stage of the strategy in 2016?

First: What did we achieve in the business year 2012?

Our commercial success has a firm foundation: the desirability of our products and the strength of our brands. BMW is currently ranked 14th in Fortune Magazine's list of the "World's Most Admired Companies". We are the only automaker and the only European company listed among the Top 15 of the Top 500 Most Admired companies in the world. No premium manufacturer in our industry has ever sold more vehicles in a single year than we did in 2012.

Here are the sales figures in detail:
BMW Group: over 1.84 million cars.
BMW brand: 1.54 million cars.
MINI brand: over 301,000 cars.
Rolls-Royce brand: Exactly 3,575 cars.
Motorcycles: Over 117,000 BMW and Husqvarna motorcycles.

These are all new records. This positive trend in our sales figures is reflected in the Group's key financials for 2012:
Revenues: EUR 76.8 billion
Profit before tax: EUR 7.8 billion.
Net profit: EUR 5.1 billion.
EBIT margin for the Automobile segment of 10.9 percent.
Our financial services business contributed over EUR 1.5 billion to the Group result.

So one thing is clear: We set new records in terms of revenues, pre-tax profit and net profit in 2012. This gives us the financial leeway that we need to make the right decisions for the future. In 2012, we spent EUR 3.9 billion on R&D. In addition, the volume of investment rose to EUR 5.2 billion. This is more than ever before. Investing early secures our future growth.

The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation – an "Iconic Change", as we call it. It will be up to the customer to determine which technologies will succeed and which services will be in demand.

One thing is clear: We want to drive and shape the technological transformation to sustainable mobility. This will require all of our innovative skills:
First, to develop new models and appealing mobility services,
And second, to continue improving our structures and processes
to further strengthen how we will work together.

What does this mean? In the coming years we will invest:
In both new and familiar technologies
In existing and new locations
In our brands and sub-brands
In established and aspiring markets
In new services and sales structures
And in ensuring our managers and associates have the skills needed
to succeed.

Key to all of these plans: We are making these investments from our own resources. Acting with an eye on the horizon is the best guarantee for making the future we envision become reality.
This is also confirmed by the positive movement in BMW ordinary shares.
BMW ordinary shares rose by over 40 percent during 2012 compared to the closing price for the previous year. To put this in perspective: The DAX gained about 29 percent during the same period. BMW shares also achieved a new record high of EUR 74 in 2012. This figure has already been surpassed this year. As is the standard practice in the BMW Group, both our shareholders and our associates benefit from our positive business performance through our employee share award plan. The Executive Board and Supervisory Board will therefore propose a dividend of EUR 2.50 per ordinary share and EUR 2.52 per preferential share at this year's Annual General Meeting. This is the highest dividend we have ever paid.

All permanent staff at German locations will receive a profit-related bonus for their part in this 2012 result. It remains one of the highest in Germany, compared across sectors and industries. Our results for 2012 stem from strong team performance. On behalf of the Executive Board, I would like to thank all of our associates for their efforts during 2012.

Our associates are our most important success factor, both now and in the future. This is why we increased the number of vocational trainees in Germany by about ten percent last year. 1,376 young people began their professional careers with the BMW Group at the start of the 2012 training year. The total number of trainees at the end of the year was 4,266.

Premium is beyond mainstream. Premium means always raising the bar. That also means making bold, counter-cyclical decisions. This is not always easy. But there can be no progress without this sort of decision and action.

There are many examples of this within the BMW Group.

We have often gone against the trend building new plants. Think of Dingolfing in the middle of the Oil Crisis in the early 1970s, or Leipzig in 2005, when many people were doubting whether Germany could still be a competitive manufacturing location. In the mid-1990s we opened our plant in Spartanburg, when other automakers from the US were withdrawing. In China, our plant in Shenyang began production in 2003, when we were selling only about 18,000 cars there. In 2012 we produced over 320,000. Today, these plants are key pillars of our global production network.

We focused on production that made most efficient use of resources at an early stage. As long ago as the early 1970s, we engaged the first environmental officer in the automotive industry. Since then, sustainable action has been firmly established as part of our business. In 2012 the BMW Group was listed as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the eighth time in a row. Our position as a recognized trailblazer in the area of clean production is a focal point in our current Annual Report.

We created the premium Sports Activity Vehicle segment. Until then there were no all wheel drive cars on the roads that were so sporty. From the late 1990s to date, we have sold over 2.7 million BMW X models. Next year we will expand our offering in this segment with the BMW X4.

In 2007, we launched our Strategy Number ONE as a clear roadmap to 2020. The goal was – and still is – to secure the future profitability of the BMW Group. For 2012 we wanted to achieve an EBIT margin of 8 to 10 percent in the Automobile segment.

This brings me to the second key point: How do things stand one-third of the way into the implementation of Strategy Number ONE?
There are four pillars to our strategy:
Growth
Shaping the future
Profitability
Access to technologies and customers.

We have implemented measures in all four pillars in the past five years.

What did we achieve between 2007 and 2012?

We have become more profitable. In terms of the EBIT margin of our Automobile segment, we were even over the corridor of the 8 to 10-percent range that we defined. We doubled our profit before tax in 2012 compared to 2007.

The price of BMW ordinary shares increased by over 70 percent between year-end 2007 and year-end 2012. During the same period, the DAX share index lost 5.6 percent in value.
We have consistently moved forward with our Efficient Dynamics technology program. By year-end 2012 our fleet was made up of 73 models with maximum CO2 emissions of 140 grams per kilometer.

In 2007 it was 27 models. Currently, we have 35 models that even fall below the 120 grams CO2 per kilometer level. Our core BMW 3, 5 and 7 Series are also available as full hybrid versions. There will be further improvements in Efficient Dynamics, too: by the year 2020, we want to reduce the CO2 emissions of our fleet by at least another 25 percent from their 2008 level. Our leading position in the field of sustainability is also the reason why we were the official automobile supplier to the Summer Olympics in London. Among our highly efficient fleet were a number of MINI E and BMW ActiveE models.

We have invested as much in training and professional development program for our employees as we have in Efficient Dynamics – around EUR 1.2 billion in the last five years.
We have ensured our associates are qualified for the technological transformation, even during the years of financial crisis. In many surveys, the BMW Group maintains its position as one of the most attractive employers.

Through the end of 2012 we expanded our global production network to 29 locations in 14 countries. In 2007 we had 23 production facilities in 12 countries. The latest example is our new Tiexi plant in Shenyang, which we run together with our Joint Venture Partner Brilliance. For us, planning a new location means setting new standards. Tiexi is the most advanced car factory in China and one of the most sustainable in the world.

As you can see: We achieved all of the interim targets in our strategy for 2012 and in some cases exceeded them. Compared to when Strategy Number ONE began, the BMW Group is now a stronger, more global and more future-proofed company.

Even in the context of changed external conditions, our strategy has proven robust:

At the time of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, the BMW Group achieved a profit and paid a dividend.

In 2010 and 2011 we brought the company back on the road towards success. We benefited from the impetus provided by positive economic developments in the early part of this period.
In 2012 we continued our success story despite a challenging and volatile environment.

This brings me to the third key point:
What can our customers look forward to in 2013?

This year we will offer our customers new models from all three car brands and BMW motorcycles. The BMW Z4 will be updated, as well as the BMW 5 Series with its sedan, Touring and Gran Turismo models.

The following will be new to the market:

The BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo.

The BMW M6 Gran Coupé.

and the new MINI Paceman.

Under the Rolls-Royce banner, the Wraith will be the most dynamic and powerful Rolls Royce ever.

There will also be a BMW 4 Series model for the first time. We have shown the BMW 4 Series Concept Coupé in Detroit and the media response has been very positive.

We intend for our successful course to continue this year as well.

We aim to achieve a new sales record at Group level.

The Group profit before tax should be similar to last year.

However, we are all aware that: The global financial environment is both uncertain and volatile. Our business performance is exposed to many risks:

High public debt levels.

The continuing recession in the EU.

China's flattening growth.

Uneven development in the automobile markets.

And political instability in numerous regions around the world.

Having a clear strategy to 2020 leads us to look to the future with confidence.

We will break new ground in 2013 by putting electric cars into series production. Already, the first Pre-production BMW i3s rolled off the assembly line in Leipzig in January. This is a clear signal to anyone who may still have had any doubts: The BMW i3 is definitely coming onto the market. It will be a reality by late 2013.

We will then be able to offer our customers a new dimension in driving pleasure. As media representatives, you will be able to road-test the electric BMW i3 yourselves already this fall. The BMW i3 is our approach for emission-free driving in urban areas.

Our experience with the MINI E and BMW ActiveE test fleets has shown that:
A range of 150 km is entirely sufficient for the great majority of drivers. Moreover, with a range-extender, the range can be increased.

Across the globe, the average distance driven on a daily basis is 64 kilometres and cars are parked for 22 hours each day. This time can be used to recharge the battery.

Aside from these practical reasons, we have always emphasized the need for emission-free cars in our portfolio. This enables us to achieve the long-term regulatory requirements for CO2 emissions that apply to new cars in the EU, US, China and other countries.

Many people here in Germany have a fairly sceptical view of the subject based on our local and regional circumstances. However, anyone driving in other countries in Europe or in a state like California will notice that many major cities now have parking areas with charging stations for electric cars. And true megacities have no choice but to promote alternative methods of mobility in the medium term. For instance, in Beijing, the China Daily reported in August 2012 that there were over a million applicants for fewer than 20,000 registration plates. Electric cars are exempt from this registration and the associated fees.

We are approaching the topic of electro mobility holistically. In the manufacture of the BMW i family we are also setting new standards:

In the use of innovative materials

In the careful use of resources and

In the industrialization of electric mobility.

As an engineer I can tell you for sure: We are revolutionizing how cars are made.

The BMW i3's car architecture is unique – with a "life-module" and a "drive-module".

The materials are unique – the cabin from carbon fiber and the "drive- module" from aluminum.

The manufacturing processes are also unique: Unlike traditional methods of manufacture, we are using high-tech bonding to connect the body elements.

The short manufacturing times are unique as well: Far fewer components are used. Processing times can be reduced through parallel operation.

As a result, it takes only half as long to make a BMW i3 compared to a car of a similar size in our portfolio.

There is another important aspect, too: The work process itself is much easier for the workers compared to traditional body construction.

The new car architecture makes workplaces more ergonomic.

Assembly is much quieter.

The production halls also use natural light.

The future belongs to those who dare to make their vision a reality. We believe in sustainable mobility. Many customers have already expressed interest in buying a BMW i3 – a car they do not know with technologies they are not familiar with. What this tells me is that:

Our customers have faith in our know-how and power of innovation. They trust that we will deliver „Sheer Driving Pleasure" with an electric car as well. This also applies to our mobility services.

These are a clearly defined part of our vision for 2020. Our car-sharing initiative DriveNow together with Sixt AG is doing well. Likewise, our innovative Apps such as "ParkNow", "Park at my House" and "My City way", facilitate mobility within the city. These are results obtained by our BMW i Ventures Company. In 2012 we also introduced DriveNow and ParkNow in San Francisco. Over 85,000 customers in Germany and the US are already using DriveNow.

This brings me to my fourth and last point: How will we approach the next stage of Strategy Number ONE in 2016?

We are shaping our future using our own ideas and from a position of strength. Our task is to ensure that the BMW Group has a promising future as well as a successful present.

In 2016, BMW will be 100 years old. We aim to sell over two million BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars that year. BMW Motorcycles and Financial Services will also continue to contribute to our success. Profitability is and will remain a key prerequisite for overcoming the challenges using our own resources. This is why we strive to maintain a range of 8 to 10 percent in terms of the EBIT margin of our Automobile Segment for the long term.

We will continue to develop our premium brands BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce at the right times. We are adding even more variety to our customers' driving pleasure.

Within our core BMW brand we offer a range of possibilities:

from emission-free cars in the BMW i family
to highly efficient and innovative BMW models
and efficient, high-performance cars in the BMW M range.

All of this is BMW.

The BMW M GmbH set a new sales record as it marked its 40th anniversary in 2012. Sales of more than 26,000 "M" vehicles put us well ahead of our competitors.

What's more, a BMW M3 won the German Touring Car Championships in 2012. After a 20-year absence from this important European racing series, we won the driver, team and manufacturer's titles as soon as we returned. Competition spurs us on. This applies to both motor sport and our core business.

We will continue to chart a new course for our company and for our industry. That's how we define premium. That's what makes us stand out. That's BMW.

Thank you!

BMW Group cautiously optimistic for 2013

Ambitious targets in challenging environment

Sales volume set to rise to new record figure in 2013

Earnings before tax expected at previous year's level

High rate of expenditure for new technologies and models

EBIT margin between 8% to 10% targeted for Automotive segment

All Strategy Number ONE interim targets fully attained

Reithofer: Several hundred advance orders received for BMW i3

Munich. After achieving a record-breaking year in 2012, the BMW Group's outlook for the current 12-month reporting period is cautiously optimistic, based on ambitious targets set amid a persisting difficult and volatile economic environment. "We are aiming to achieve a further rise in unit sales in the current year and hence a new sales volume record", stated Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, at the Annual Accounts Press Conference in Munich on Tuesday.

In view of the strong demand for its vehicles, the BMW Group will continue to invest in boosting capacity in 2013, thus enabling it to remain successfully on course. Development costs for new technologies and vehicle concepts will also continue to rise. 2013 alone will see the launch of eleven new models. By the end of 2014, some 25 new models will have been added to the range, ten of them totally new models.

"Due to high levels of expenditure for new technologies and models as well as investment in the production network, we expect to report Group profit before tax on a similar scale to the year 2012", continued Reithofer.

Despite the additional costs referred to, the Automotive segment continues to forecast an EBIT margin of between 8% and 10% for the current year. This corridor is also seen as a sustainable EBIT margin for the time beyond 2013. However, depending on political and economic developments, actual margins could end up being above or below the targeted range.

The Motorcycles segment forecasts further sales volume growth in the current year for the BMW brand thanks to attractive new models such as the R 1200 GS, which should, in turn, bring about a further rise in segment revenues and earnings.

The Financial Services segment is also expected to put in another strong performance and remains committed to achieving a return on equity of at least 18%.

Forecasts for the current year are based on the assumption that worldwide economic conditions will not change significantly.

Strategy Number ONE: First third successfully completed

The BMW Group has been tirelessly pursuing its Strategy Number ONE with great success since 2007, enabling it to achieve the intended impact of becoming significantly more profitable and competitive. The Group is also extremely well placed to meet future challenges: "We have now successfully implemented the first third of our strategy. All interim targets have been fully attained", emphasised Reithofer.

Group profit before tax doubled during the period between 2007 and 2012. At 10.9%, the Automotive segment's EBIT margin exceeded the targeted corridor of 8% to 10% during the past year. By way of comparison: the segment EBIT margin in 2006 was still only at a level of 6.4%. The return on equity of the Financial Services segment in 2012 was 21.2% (Number ONE target: >18%). The improvement in reported figures is also reflected in the share price: between the end of 2007 and the end of 2012, the price of BMW common stock rose by more than 70 percent.

Strategy Number ONE has also seen the birth of a whole host of innovative vehicle concepts – including the BMW i3 – as well as remarkable advances in terms of reducing fuel consumption thanks to EfficientDynamics technology. As from the beginning of 2013, the emissions of 73 BMW Group models do not exceed 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven. The equivalent figure five years ago was 27 models. The average fuel consumption of the fleet is 5 litres of diesel and 6.3 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres driven.

The BMW Group will continue its rigorous implementation of Strategy Number ONE through to 2020 and remain on a profitable growth course. The target for 2016 is to sell more than two million BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles.

Several hundred advance orders received for BMW i3

Electromobility will be very much in the spotlight for the BMW Group in 2013. "The future belongs to those who dare to venture", remarked Reithofer. The first pre-series BMW i3 came off the production line in January 2013. This innovative vehicle, which has been specifically designed to run with zero emissions for use in an urban environment, will come onto the market by the end of the year. "Several hundred advance orders have already been received for the BMW i3", added Reithofer.

The BMW i3 is designed with a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger compartment, an aluminium chassis, and sets new standards in the field of lightweight construction. The i3 will be 250 to 350 kilograms lighter than a conventional electric car.

The BMW i3 has an approximate range of 150 kilometres, which – based on experience gleaned from the MINI E and BMW Active E test fleets – is absolutely sufficient in most circumstances. Customers can also opt to increase this capability with a so-called Range Extender. Production times are reduced significantly by employing unique production methods and a significantly lower number of assembly parts. The BMW i3 will require only half the time needed to produce a conventional vehicle.

To have any chance of addressing the growing ecological challenges in the world's metropolitan areas, there is no getting around the use of zero-emission drive technology. "In the medium term, megacities have no choice but to encourage the use of alternative drive systems", underlined Reithofer. Electric vehicles in Beijing, for instance, are already exempt from the allocation procedure for number plates and from fees.

Reithofer: 2012 best year in BMW Group's corporate history

The BMW Group can look back on an excellent 2012 financial year: "The past year has been the most successful year in the BMW Group's corporate history, with new records achieved for sales volume, revenues, and Group earnings", stated Reithofer.

Revenues increased year-on-year by 11.7% to reach a new high of € 76,848 million (2011: € 68,821 million). Despite greater expenditure on new technologies and increased personnel costs, earnings also climbed to new record levels, with profit before financial result (EBIT) up by 3.5% to € 8,300 million (2011: € 8,018 million), profit before tax (EBT) up by 5.9% to € 7,819 million (2011: € 7,383 million) and Group net profit up by 4.4% to € 5,122 million (2011: € 4,907 million).

The total number of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles delivered to customers worldwide in 2012 rose by 10.6% to a new high of 1,845,186 units (2011: 1,668,982 units), thus enabling the BMW Group to maintain its position as the world's leading premium vehicle manufacturer.

Capital expenditure and R&D ratio within targeted corridor

Capital expenditure rose sharply (+41.9%) from € 3,692 million in 2011 to € 5,240 million in 2012 due to the number of new models, increased production capacities at various sites and preparation for the launch of the BMW i. The capital expenditure ratio increased to 6.8% (2011: 5.4%). Research and development expenditure went up by 17.2% to € 3,952 million (2011: € 3,373 million), mostly on projects aimed at securing the Group's future, resulting in an R&D ratio of 5.1% (2011: 4.9%).

Dividend to increase to € 2.50 per share of common stock

The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board will propose to shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on 14 May 2013 that the dividend be increased to a new high level of € 2.50 (2011: € 2.30) per share of common stock and € 2.52 (2011: € 2.32) per share of preferred stock. Based on these figures, the total distribution will rise to € 1,640 million (2011: € 1,508 million), corresponding to a distribution ratio of 32.0% (2011: 30.7%).

Automotive segment: EBIT rises to € 7.62 billion

The BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce brands all posted new sales volume records in 2012. Automotive segment revenues went up by 11.0% to € 70,208 million (2011: € 63,229 million), thanks to the sharp rise in the number of vehicles sold. The segment EBIT rose to € 7,624 million (2011: € 7,477 million/+2.0%), resulting in an EBIT margin of 10.9%. Profit before tax amounted to € 7,195 million (2011: € 6,823 million/+5.5%).

Free cash flow for the Automotive segment totalled € 3,809 million, an improvement of € 643 million on the previous year and well above the target of over € 3 billion set for the full year.

Sales of BMW brand cars increased by 11.6% to 1,540,085 units (2011: 1,380,384 units), thus exceeding the mark of 1.5 million units for the first time in a single financial year. The MINI brand surpassed the sales volume threshold of 300,000 units for the first time in a 12-month reporting period, with sales volume up by 5.8% to 301,526 units (2011: 285,060 units). Rolls-Royce was the clear market leader in the ultra-luxury segment in 2012. In total, 3,575 units were sold during the year (2011: 3,538 units/+1.0%),

Motorcycles segment also achieves sales volume record

117,109 BMW and Husqvarna brand motorcycles were sold worldwide during the past year (2011: 113,572 units; +3.1%), a new sales volume record for the segment.

Sales of BMW brand motorcycles went up by 2.0% to 106,358 units (2011: 104,286 units), while Husqvarna handed over 10,751 motorcycles to customers (2011: 9,286/+15.8%). In future, the Motorcycles segment intends to focus exclusively on the BMW brand. At the end of January 2013, the BMW Group signed a contract for the sale of Husqvarna with the Austrian company Pierer Industrie AG.

Segment revenues were 3.8% higher at € 1,490 million (2011: € 1,436 million). EBIT fell to € 9 million (2011: € 45 million/-80.0%) as a result of the new direction being taken for the BMW Group's motorcycles business. Profit before tax decreased accordingly to € 6 million (2011: € 41 million/-85.4%).

Financial Services segment remains on growth course

The Financial Services segment continued to perform well in the past year. Revenues went up by 11.7% to € 19,550 million (2011: € 17,510 million). Profit before tax came in at € 1,561 million (2011: € 1,790 million/-12.8%), whereby the decrease in segment earnings was primarily a reflection of the previous year's extremely high figures. In 2011, the segment recorded exceptional income of € 439 million resulting from the reduction in provisions for residual value and bad debt risks. Business with end-of-contract leasing vehicles gave rise to an exceptional gain of € 124 million in 2012.

The number of new lease and credit financing contracts signed worldwide (1,341,296) was 12.1% up on the previous year. The number of lease and financing contracts in place with dealers and retail customers at the end of the year rose by 7.1% to a total of 3,846,364 contracts.

Workforce up by 5.6%

The BMW Group's workforce increased during the period to 31 December 2012, growing by 5.6% over the year to 105,876 employees (2011: 100,306 employees) worldwide. The BMW Group needs engineers and skilled workers, in order to keep pace with the continued strong demand for the BMW Group's cars, forge ahead with innovations, and develop new technologies.

1,376 young people – 1,200 of them in Germany – started their vocational training with the BMW Group at the beginning of the new training year. The number of trainees in Germany therefore increased by more than 10%. At the end of 2012, the BMW Group employed a total of 4,266 apprentices worldwide.


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Could Cyprus Bring Down the European Economy? TIME Explains (TIME)

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Video: Inside one of Toronto's fastest-growing gaming companies (The Globe and Mail)

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Capcom Remastering DuckTales Game (Slashdot)

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HBO considers allowing HBO GO outside of cable packages (macnn)

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Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri Milner, Sergey Brin launch Breakthrough Prize (pictures) (CNET)

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Teased: Hyundai sketches out HND-9 luxury sports coupe concept ahead of Seoul

Luxury Sports Coupe Concept HND-9

- The HND-9 hints at Hyundai's next-generation luxury sports coupe design

- More details to be revealed at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show

March 21, 2013 – Hyundai Motor Company, the fastest-growing automaker by brand, today
unveiled exterior renderings of the 'HND-9', its latest luxury sports coupe concept.

The 'HND-9' represents an evolution of Hyundai's fluidic sculpture design philosophy. The
ninth concept model developed by Hyundai Motor Group's R&D Center in Namyang, Korea,
the HND-9 features sophisticated details in every design element, reinforcing a premium look.

In particular, the HND-9, with its dramatic long hood and wheelbase, is a modern
reinterpretation of the elegant image of a classic premium sports coupe.

Fluidic yet sleek character lines that stretch from headlamp to trunk, voluminous, powerful car
body and a striking, wide hexagonal-shaped radiator grille underscore the high performance
image of the concept.

Furthermore, butterfly doors, spiral-shaped lines connected to the headlamp, softly glistening
silver coating, dual twin muffler and uniquely designed head and rear lamps give the car a
sleek futuristic look.

As a rear-wheel drive, high-performance sports coupe concept, HND-9 is equipped with 3.3-
liter turbo GDi engine and 8-speed auto transmission, delivering maximum output of 370ps.

The HND-9 is set to make its world debut during Hyundai's press conference on March 28
at the 2013 Seoul Motor Show. More details of the concept's design and its cutting-edge
technologies will be revealed at the show.

About Hyundai Motor
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Co. has grown into the Hyundai Motor Group, with more than two dozenauto-related subsidiaries and affiliates. Hyundai Motor -- which has seven manufacturing bases outside of South Korea including Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, India, Russia, Turkey and the U.S. -- sold 4.06 million vehicles globally in 2011. Hyundai Motor, which employs over 80,000 worldwide, offers a full line-up of products including small to large passenger vehicles, SUVs and commercial vehicles. Further information about Hyundai Motor and its products is available at www.hyundai.com.


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Friday, March 22, 2013

YouTube tops 1 billion monthly users (USA Today)

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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (AT&T) (Albuquerque Journal)

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Apollo rockets recovered from sea (CNN)

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Gadgetwise Blog: A Sticky Dashboard Mount That Holds Any Phone (NY Times)

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Winklevoss Brothers Move On From Facebook (New York Times)

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Words With Friends (Geeknewscentral)

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Buzz Report: Space worms attack! (Albuquerque Journal)

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Punxsutawney Phil 'Indicted' for Lying in Forecast (Wall Street Journal)

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Lamborghini Marks 50th Anniversary with Veneno (Wall Street Journal)

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Dreamer killed remembered (Arizona Republic)

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Study: Younger buyers leaving Japanese for South Korean, American brands

Young Car Buyers Shift Preferences from Japanese to U.S. and Korean Brands, Reports Edmunds.com

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - March 20, 2013 - American auto brands are gaining strength with younger buyers in the U.S., while their Japanese rivals have taken a big step back, reports Edmunds.com, the premier resource for car shopping and automotive information. According to an analysis of new car retail registrations from R. L. Polk & Co., American brands accounted for 36.8 percent of cars bought by Americans age 25 to 34 in 2012, up from a share of 35.4 percent in 2008. Meanwhile the share of Japanese brands for the same age group plummeted from 50.6 percent to 42.9 percent during that period

But even with the incremental success of American brands, Edmunds.com found that the exodus from Japanese cars by young buyers is turning mostly toward South Korean brands. About 10 percent of new cars purchased by 25-to-34 year olds in 2012 carried South Korean nameplates, more than doubling the rate for this age group since 2008.

"U.S. automakers have burst onto the scene in recent years with small, fuel-efficient and affordable cars that really appeal to a young set of buyers," says Edmunds.com Sr. Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "But while Detroit might be chiseling away at the Japanese grip on Gen X and Gen Y, South Korean brands are taking big hacks. Not only are the Koreans making better cars for young people, but they've also worked to make credit available to young buyers who still don't have solid credit history."

The South Koreans' progress with young buyers reflects their overall growth in the U.S. market. Korean brands represented 9.5 percent of all new retail registrations in the U.S. in 2012, almost twice as much as their share of 5.0 percent in 2008.

European car labels are flexing their own muscles in the U.S. market as well, accounting for 9.9 percent of new car registrations in the U.S. last year, up from 8.5 percent in 2008. Like the South Koreans, European carmakers have delivered consistent growth among all age groups since 2008, with the biggest successes among older car buyers, thanks to Baby Boomers choosing European luxury cars post-retirement.

Edmunds.com offers a wealth of insights into car shopping behavior and habits through its Industry Center at http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/.


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Livescribe Echo (Albuquerque Journal)

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Indon satellite plan a blow to NBN (Australian IT)

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VIDEO Pitch: HIV spike cause alarm (V J Movement)

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Video: How to unload a truckload of bamboo poles

Truck unloading bamboo - video screencap

Have you ever wondered why home improvement delivery trucks have that little forklift piggybacking on the back of the trailer? To make unloading all the heavy supplies easier, of course. But what happens if you're trying to unload a massive amount of bamboo quickly and without a forklift? For this driver, the answer is to get creative.

We don't want to spoil that action for you, but you can check it out for yourself in the video posted below. We're just not sure if we should file this as a "How To" or a "What Not To Do" video. Either way, enjoy.


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Randy’s Miracle (Arizona Republic)

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Singapore: The World's Richest City (Wall Street Journal)

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World's Largest High-Rise Data Center Opens in Downtown New York City (Financetech)

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Buzz Report: Burning, burning iPods (Albuquerque Journal)

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Lockheed Martin Harnesses Quantum Technology (NYT)

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Microsoft Releases Details Of Law Enforcement Requests (Techdirt)

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Chevy's own contest points to C7 Corvette Stingray pricing

As much attention as the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has attracted since its debut back in January, we still have no idea how much the car will cost. Thanks to Chevy's Race To Win Corvette contest, we finally have a pricing estimate of sorts for the hot new coupe.

In addition to winning a trip for two to France and tickets to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the grand prize winner will also become the proud owner of a C7 Corvette, which has an "approximate retail value" of $71,860. While this would be quite a step up from the $49,600 base MSRP of the 2013 'Vette, keep in mind that this may also include options and taxes associated with the car – depending on where the car is sold, taxes alone could easily be in the $5,000 range. Or, it may just be some sort of estimate.

Regardless of how much the car costs, this sounds like an awesome contest. To enter, just head over to the Race to Win Corvette website.


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2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring (Albuquerque Journal)

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FCC chairman Genachowski to step down - report (DMeurope)

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Your next smartphone might use sapphire glass instead of Gorilla Glass (Extremetech)

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Talk Show Host Defends Women's Rights on Arab Radio (V J Movement)

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New Apple security hole reportedly opens door wide open to resetting accounts (zdnet)

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Lack of ICT skills holding Australia back: Ai Group (itnews)

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Rumormill: Ferrari LaFerrari supercar to spawn Maserati LaMaserati?

Maserati MC12 supercar - front three-quarter view, in motion

CAR reports Maserati may benefit from the introduction of Enzo-succeeding Ferrari LaFerrari (shown below). According to unnamed parties, Maserati is keen to create a successor for the MC12 (above) based on the bones of the new Ferrari.

Details are about as scarce as they come, but CAR reckons Maserati has a few options when it comes to building its own supercar. Those include using the suspension, chassis and electrical systems of the Ferrari but with a unique carbon fiber body and without the LaFerrari's hybrid system. The new take on the MC12 could use a detuned version of the 6.3-liter V12 from the LaFerrari or stick a quad-turbo 3.8-liter V8 behind the front seats.

The latter option could see the next MC12 yield up to 900 horsepower, putting it within reach of its cousin as well as hardware like the McLaren P1. Of course, all of this – including our fanciful name in the headline – is just speculation for the time being. CAR says that if the machine makes its way to production, it would could cost well over $1.3 million.


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Mexican lower house approves telecoms bill (DMeurope)

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2010 Mitsubishi Outlander 3.0 GT S-AWC (Albuquerque Journal)

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Beef Up a Too-Short Resume with Detailed Accomplishments and Volunteer Service (Lifehacker)

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Video: Watch how Corvette Racing's new collision-avoidance radar system works

When it comes to technology used in racecars, we generally expect it to trickle down to production cars, not the other way around. Well, Pratt & Miller has developed a new rear-facing radar that operates in a similar fashion to what we're used to in modern blind spot detection systems, only it is also capable of tracking cars as they approach and relaying vital information to the driver via a large display screen.

The innovative radar system debuted at last weekend's 12 Hours of Sebring for Corvette Racing, and this system makes perfect sense for endurance races like this since the cars sometimes have to drive through the night and in poor weather conditions.

The radar can detect cars even with poor visibility, and it uses easy-to-distinguish symbols for the driver to identify the proximity and closing speed of nearby racecars using different colors.


"The system uses a rear-facing radar sensor to track up to 32 objects, and runs on a custom-built Linux PC with a Core i3 CPU," said Chris Hammond, Embedded Systems Engineer for Pratt & Miller. "With a momentary glance the driver knows how many cars are following, how far back each one is, their closing speeds, and whether or not they are probably a faster class."

Displayed in the image above, the radar can detect cars even with poor visibility, and it uses easy-to-distinguish symbols for the driver to identify the proximity and closing speed of nearby racecars using different colors. The yellow marker shows a car that is driving at the same speed as this car, green is for a car that is falling away and red is for a car that is closing in quickly. The line through the marker indicates that the software thinks the approaching car is from a faster class, which would be the case when a Prototype car goes to pass a GT car in the American Le Mans Series. A large arrow that flashes to either side when the car is being overtaken, and there is also a line graph at the side of the screen to give an estimate of how many seconds back the cars are.

Currently, Hammond says that Pratt & Miller is the only company to have a system like this used for racing, and it plans on selling the technology to other teams in the future – although a price has not been set.

There are a couple videos posted below showing the system in action. The first one is a shot purely from the radar (so it has no audio) but shows a detailed look at how it all works. The second video is a point-of-view shot from Corvette Racing's Tommy Milner, and it shows how the driver uses the system in real time.


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Official: Audi RS5 Cabriolet priced from $77,900*

Audi kicks off spring with pricing announcement of all-new 2013 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet

Pricing starts at $77,900 for the all-new 2013 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet with class-leading* fuel efficiency and unadulterated V8 top down fun

The highly successful RS 5 coupe extends its model series with the addition of this high-revving performance soft-top, which entices with a unique combination of prestige, power and efficiency.

With nearly identical performance numbers as the coupe, the RS 5 Cabriolet is powered by a high-revving, naturally aspirated 4.2 liter V8 engine that produces 450 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and a maximum torque of 317 lb.-ft. between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. Equipped with the seven-speed double clutch S tronic® transmission with launch control and standard quattro® all-wheel drive, the RS 5 Cabriolet launches from 0-60 MPH in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed limited to 174 MPH; while at the same time achieving better fuel economy versus the primary competitors with an EPA estimated 16 city / 22 highway/ 18 combined and no gas guzzler tax.

"With spring just around the corner, Audi adds to the already impressive RS family with the all-new RS 5 Cabriolet, and at the perfect time," said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America, "Top-down driving has been considered one of the best experiences a driver can have behind the wheel, and what a better way to enjoy the weather than to drive this vehicle with the top down, listening to the exhilarating sound of this outstanding V8 engine."

Starting at $77,900, the RS 5 Cabriolet is the epitome of superior, high-end performance, prestige and practicality. When the top is down, it requires only 2.12 cu-ft. of its 13.42 cu-ft. trunk volume. On hot summer days when the top is down, drivers can select the optional climate-controlled seats for added comfort. During a cool fall day, the driver can remain warm when the top is down with the optional neck-level heating vents located on the seats.

The split rear seatbacks can be folded over individually, and a load-through hatch from the trunk to the rear seating area improves ease of access functionality. Special reinforcements contribute to the convertible body's high rigidity, and aluminum front fenders compensate for some of the added weight of the reinforcements.

RS 5 Cabriolet customers looking to achieve superior braking performance can select ceramic brakes for the front rotors, a standalone package priced at $6,000.

The new LED light strips illuminate the headlights and taillights with a restructured appearance. Similar to the headlights, the rear bumper was also redesigned; its diffuser is now much higher, and a honeycomb screen insert encloses the two large elliptical tailpipes of the exhaust system. On the trunk lid there is a subtle body color spoiler lip for additional downforce.

The sport seats have power adjustments, high side panels for optimal lateral support, integrated head restraints, a lumbar support and a pull-out thigh support. They are upholstered in black or lunar silver Fine Nappa leather or in the optional combination of leather and Alcantara. All leather types are pigmented to help reduce heating by sunlight. At the press of a button, the soft top opens and closes automatically in 15 seconds and 17 seconds respectively – even when driving at speeds of up to 30 mph.

The 2013 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet will go on sale in April 2013. To see and hear the sounds of spring created by Audi please visit: http://youtu.be/ufKc_7ZVyd0

ABOUT AUDI
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. Audi was a top-performing luxury brand in Europe during 2012, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S. Through 2016, AUDI AG will invest about $17 billion on new products, facilities and technologies. Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusanews.com for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.

All prices listed are the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price and exclude transportation, taxes, title, options, and dealer charges. Where stated, fuel economy values are EPA estimates; actual mileage will vary.

* Audi of America, Inc. defines the competitive class as automatic transmission versions of the 2013 Audi RS 5 Cabriolet and BMW M3 Convertible models. "Class leading fuel efficiency" based on EPA city, highway and combined fuel economy estimates for each model; 16 mpg city / 22 mpg highway/ 18 mpg combined for Audi RS 5 Cabriolet. Actual mileage will vary.


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Argentine cardinal becomes new pope (Reuters)

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Sentiment Mixed in Europe and US

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Wed Feb 27 13 00:15 ET

European financial markets remained pressured amid an inconclusive election in Italy. The US market was lifted after dovish comments from the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and more upbeat economic data. The Wall Street gained with the DJIA and the S&P 500 indices rising +0.84% and +0.61% respectively. In the commodity sector, the front-month contract for WTI crude oil slipped -0.52% while the Brent crude contract plunged to a 1-month low of 112.71 before settling at 112.71. Gold price rebounded for a second day with the benchmark Comex contract soaring to a 6-day high of 1619.7 before ending the day at 1615.5, up +1.82%.

The Italian Interior Ministry showed that, out of the 315 seats in the Senate, Bersani centre-left party has taken 113 seats while Berlusconi’s centre-right has got 116. Grillo’s Five Star movement and Monti’s centrists have got 54 and 18 seats respectively, the result suggested that there is no party with the majority in a chamber which a government must control to pass legislation. A caretaker government is the likeliest outcome and this might lead to another round of election. Ongoing political uncertainty in Italy is expected to adversely affect European recovery and would not help the troubled economy in the country.

At the testimony before the Senate, the Fed Chairman Bernanke continued to support the QE measures. He stated that “in the current economic environment, the benefits of asset purchases, and of policy accommodation more generally, are clear”. Concerning the costs of the QE program, Bernanke said that the Fed does not “see the potential costs of the increased risk-taking in some financial markets as outweighing the benefits of promoting a stronger economic recovery and more-rapid job creation”. He did not mention the chance of reducing monetary easing. Concerning fiscal policy, the Chairman suggested the Congress to “consider replacing the sharp, frontloaded spending cuts required by the sequestration with policies that reduce the federal deficit more gradually in the near term but more substantiality in the longer run”.

On the data flow, the US consumer confidence surprisingly rose to 69.6 in February from a downwardly revised 58.4 in January. New home sales climbed +59K to 437 in January. Today, the Eurozone economic confidence probably added +0.5 point to 89.7 in February while industrial confidence might have improved +0.4 point to -13.5 during the month. The US durable goods orders probably dropped -4% in January after a +4.6% gain a month ago. Excluding transportations, the reading might have slipped -0.4%, following a +1.3% gain in December. Pending home sales probably gained +2% m/m in January after a -4.3% decline a month ago.

The industry-sponsored API estimated that crude inventory added +0.90 mmb in the week ended February 20. Gasoline and distillate inventories slipped -1.4 mmb and -1.7 mmb respectively. The official DOE/EIA data might show that crude stock added +2.6 mmb. For fuels, gasoline and distillate inventories probably slipped -1.5 mmb and -1.7 mmb respectively.

 

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Natural Gas Weekly Technical Outlook

ONG Focus | Technical | Written by Oil N' Gold | Sat Feb 16 13 07:37 ET

Natural gas finally broke through the medium term rising trend line last week and closed below. The development suggest that whole up trend from 1.1902 has completed at 3.933 after hitting long term channel resistance. Further decline is now expected as long as 3.323 minor resistance holds, to 3.05 first. Break will resume the whole decline from 3.933 and should target 100% projection of 3.933 to 3.05 from 3.645 at 2.762 next.

In the bigger picture, the bounce off from the long term falling channel resistance for 6.108 retained the case that such decline isn't finished. Break of 2.575 support should make a new low below 1.902 to extend the whole long term down trend. Nonetheless, strong rebound from 2.575, followed by break of 3.933 resistance, will revive that case of long term reversal and target a test on 4.983 key resistance.

Nymex Natural Gas Continuous Contract 4 Hours Chart

Nymex Natural Gas Continuous Contract Daily Chart

Nymex Natural Gas Continuous Contract Weekly Chart

Nymex Natural Gas Continuous Contract Monthly Chart

 

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European Shares and Japanese Yen Weakened Further

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Tue Feb 19 13 00:15 ET

The US market was closed on the President Day while European stock weakened as the ECB President Draghi cautioned of risks to economic outlook in the Eurozone. Japanese yen continued its slump, now at the lowest level in 33 months, after the G-20 shrugged off the risks of currency war. Moreover, the market was moved by conflicting comments from Japanese official. In the commodity sector, the front-month contract plunged to a 4-day low of 95.21 before settling at 95.86 before settling at 95.86, down -1.49% while the Brent crude contract slipped -0.24%. Gold price remained fragile with the benchmark Comex contract losing for the third consecutive day to as low as 1596.7 before ending the day at 1609.5, down -1.59%.

In a speech at the European Parliament, the ECB President Draghi addressed the competitive depreciation of foreign exchange rates. He stated that "most of the exchange rate movements that we have seen were not explicitly targeted, they were the result of domestic macroeconomic policies meant to boost the economy. In this sense, I find really excessive any language referring to currency wars". He believed that both the nominal and real exchange of the euro has remained around its long-term average. Concerning the economic prospect, Draghi forecast that "economic weakness in the early part of 2013 is expected to be followed by a very gradual recovery later in the year" but he warned that "considerable further efforts are needed to ensure that Europe continues emerging from the crisis".

The BOJ's minutes for the January meeting indicated that a few members were reserved about the upgrades of Japanese economic outlook. Meanwhile, 2 BOJ members expressed that extending the maturity of BOJ bond buys was an option. Yet, the minutes were overshadowed by comments from policymakers. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso stated that the government has no plan to buy foreign bonds. His comments contradicted with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who reiterated that buying foreign bonds "exists as one idea". The next focus is the upcoming BOJ governor. News headlines stated that Toshiro Muto, a less dovish candidate than Haruhiko Kuroda or Kazumasa Iwata, is the leading candidate for the post. Abe stressed that he expects the governor to reflect the government's determination to beat deflation. Abe stated that "it would be necessary to proceed with revising the BOJ law if the central banks cannot produce results under its own mandate".

The RBA minutes released in Asian session unveiled that recent rate cuts have shown effects in boosting the economy while benign inflation might trigger further rate easing. Regarding developments in China and Japan, the minutes stated that "a wide range of indicators showed that growth in the Chinese economy had stabilized, underpinned by public spending and somewhat stimulatory financial policies... There had also been indicators of stronger growth of domestic demand" in East Asia with the exception of Japan.

 

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Bearish Sentiment Continued amid Worries over Chinese Property Tax Plan

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Thu Feb 21 13 23:54 ET

News headlines and economic data set the market in a negative tone and stocks and risky assets weakened further after the FOMC minutes indicated the possibility of an early termination of QE. In China, investors were cautious after the Chinese State Council report unveiled intention to extend the property tax pilot program and other measures to curb speculative demand and property prices. In the Eurozone, the disappointing PMI data suggested that the bloc’s economic outlook remained gloomy. Data in the US was also worrisome with headline Philly Fed index slumping and initial jobless claims climbing higher. Wall Street decline with the DJIA and the S&P 500 indices losing -0.34% and -0.63% respectively. In the commodity sector, the front-month contract for WTI crude oil slumped for a second consecutive day, falling to as low as 92.63 before settling at 92.84, down -2.50% while the Brent crude contract plunged to -1.79% during the day. The benchmark Comex gold contract rebounded after plummeting to 7-month low of 1554.4. The contract ended the day at largely flat at 1578.6.

At a State Council meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that the government would accelerate measures to curb the country’s real estate market. Xinhua News, the CPC government’s press agency, stated that the government would take various measures “ranging from raising the minimum down payment and higher interest rates for second-home mortgages to putting a conditional ban on the buying of properties by non-local residents” as “21 of 27 cities monitored register sales of floor space more than five times the area of the corresponding holiday week last year and at higher prices”. Meanwhile, “40 of China's 70 major cities saw property prices rise from the previous year, compared with 18 cities in November and 14 in October”. The government would maintain (may increase) the land supply and boost the construction of the government-subsidized housing for low-income households. Xinhua also cited media reports that the government would raise down payment for second-home purchasers 70% from 60% and increase he mortgage rate 1.3 times the benchmark interest rate instead of the current 1.1 times.

In the Eurozone, manufacturing PMI slipped -0.1 point to 47.8 in February, compared with consensus of 48.4. Services PMI also surprisingly dropped -1.3 points to 47.3 during the month.US’ headline Philly Fed index plunged -6.7 points to -12.7. Intiaily jobless claims rose to 362K in the week ended February 16. This was largely inline with market expectations of 361K. However, this has sent the 4-week moving average +8K to 361K during the week while the continuing claims were up +11K to 3 148K in the week ended February 9.

The DOE/EIA reported that total crude oil and petroleum products stocks declined -1.25 mmb to 1094.70 mmb in the week ended February 15. Crude stockpile increased +4.14 mmb to 376.39 mmb as inventory soared in 3 out of 5 PADDs. Cushing stock added +0.42 mmb to 50.66 mmb. Utilization rate was down -0.9% to 82.9%.

Gasoline inventory dipped -2.88 mmb to 230.35 mmb as demand climbed +0.39% to 8.44M bpd. Production added +0.45% to 8.94M bpd while imports slid -17.35% to 0.51M bpd. Distillate inventory dropped -2.28 mmb to 123.63 mmb although demand fell -3.40% to 3.81M bpd. Imports gained +105.59% to 0.29M bpd while production fell -1.95% to 4.27M bpd during the week.

 

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Financial Markets Slumped on Concerns over Termination of QE and March 1 Sequester

ONG Focus | Insights | Written by Oil N' Gold | Thu Feb 21 13 01:56 ET

Financial markets weakened as the FOMC minutes showed that some members proposed to end QE earlier than previously envisioned. Wall Street slipped with the DJIA and the S&P 500 indices losing -0.77% and -1.24% respectively. Commodities also declined as the USD climbed after the minutes. Investors were also concerned about the March 1 sequestration as well as potential increase in Saudi Arabia oil supply. The front month contract for WTI crude oil plummeted to a 1-month low of 94.21 before ending the day at 95.22, down -1.49% while the Brent crude contract fell -1.63%. The benchmark Comex gold remained weak after plunging -1.63% to the 6-month low on Wednesday.

The minutes for the January FOMC meeting indicated that policymakers were more upbeat on the US economic outlook as driven by improved business confidence and household consumption. They acknowledged better employment conditions but stressed that 'the recovery in the labor market was far from complete'. The debate on additional QE remained rigorous but balanced. The focus was on the benefits and costs of additional asset purchases. While some suggested asset purchases to end 'well before the end of 2013', others warned of the 'significant' costs of ending purchases prematurely. We anticipate the Fed to continue asset purchases through the end of 2013 but some tapering would be seen in 2H13. There were also discussions on the summary of economic projections (SEP). According to the minutes, it 'generally judged that the addition of the median of participants' projections could be useful to better illustrate the central outlook for the committee'. Furthermore, 'many participants' suggested exploring the 'potential for using the SEP to convey information about issues related to the Committee's future asset purchases and the Federal Reserve's balance sheet'.

The market is getting worried about the automatic federal budget cuts (“the sequester”) that would likely take effect on March 1 as the federal spending would be reduced by US$ 85B this year and US$1.2 trillion over 10 years. On the dataflow, housing starts dropped -64K to 890K in January, compared with consensus of a fall to 925K. Building permits climbed modestly higher to 925K in January from 903K a month ago. The market had anticipated a milder increase to 920K. Today, the government would release initial jobless claims probably rose to 361K in the week ended February 17 from 341K a week ago while Philly Fed index might have improved to 1.5 in February from -5.8 in January.

On oil inventory, the industry-sponsored API estimated that crude inventory added +3 mmb in the week ended February 15 while gasoline and distillate stocks fell -0.12 mmb and -1.6 mmb during the week. The report from the EIA/DOE probably showed a -2 mmb increase in crude inventory. For fuels, each of gasoline and distillate stockpile might have slipped -1.4 mmb during the week.

 

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