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Italian stocks lead Europe as budget deficit fears quelled

LONDON (Reuters) - Italian stocks turned from a drag into a boost for European markets on Wednesday as signs the government would target a lower budget deficit quelled investors’ fears of a damaging showdown with the European Commission.
Italian bank stocks jumped as much as 3 percent after government bond yields fell back and the spread to Bunds narrowed thanks to reports the government was targeting a lower budget deficit in 2020 and 2021. Still in the thrall of developments on the Italian front, the leading euro zone stocks index and the pan-European STOXX 600 climbed 0.3 percent with bank stocks the best-performing, up 0.8 percent. Italy’s FTSE MIB outperformed, up 0.5 percent with the banks index last trading up 0.7 percent. Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo were among the top gainers, up 2.6 percent each, while Mediobanca, UBI Banca, and Banco BPM also rose as much as 5 percent. Banks, which have large sovereign bond holdings, suffer the most from selloffs in the bond market and the…

Dell sees brisk sales of new ultrabooks

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Dell Inc's new ultra-thin laptop computer meant to rival Apple Inc's popular MacBook Air is doing much better than the company expected.

Sales of the XPS 13 ultrabook, which hit store shelves on Feb. 28, are now more than double the company's internal forecast, driven by strong demand from both consumers and big corporations, Dell said. 



"With this product, we went aggressive with the forecast," Dell product marketing director Alison Gardner said. "Since we started shipping it to customers, XPS 13 has exceeded our expectations."

Almost half of the sales of the XPS 13, which starts at $999, were to corporations, she added.

Dell's so-called enterprise business has doubled in the past five to six years and now represents half of the company's profit.

While Gardner declined to reveal the exact number of units sold so far or the internal forecast, she said Dell is seeing a lot of sales momentum for the super-thin category of laptops.

PC manufacturers plung…

Manufacturing sector expands slightly in April supported by bulging order books: HSBC PMI data

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The pace of growth in country's factory sector inched up in April, supported by bulging order books, but slower output growth and increasing price pressures dampened sentiment, a business survey showed on Wednesday. 

The HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), compiled by Markit, rose to 54.9 in April from 54.7 in March. 

The index has remained above the 50-mark that divides growth from contraction for more than three years. 

"Activity in the manufacturing sector expanded at a slightly faster pace in April. While output growth moderated ... new orders continued to pour in, including for exports," said Leif Eskesen, chief economist for India & ASEAN at HSBC. 

The new orders sub-index rose to 61.1 in April after falling to 58.1 in March, buoyed by strong exports, but while remaining solidly above 50 the factory output index fell for the third straight month. 

However, actual industrial output data is painting a bleaker picture with India posting slug…

Bharti Airtel Q4 net falls 28% to Rs 1006 crore, capex outlook between $3-3.2 billion

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India's biggest mobile phone carrier by subscribers, reported its ninth straight quarterly profit decline as intense price competition and losses on foreign exchange eroded earnings. 

Consolidated net profit fell to Rs 1,006 crore ($190.89 million) in the fourth quarter ended March from Rs 1401 crore a year earlier, Bharti said on Wednesday. The company said that the net income was impacted by higher costs on account of 3G license fee amortisation ( Rs 106 crore), 3G interest costs (Rs 84 crore), forexfluctuation losses (Rs 132 crore) and tax provisions (Rs 198 crore). 



The revenue grew at 11.6% for the full year in India & South Africa, mainly contributed by stability in pricing accompanied by growth in customer numbers. Africa, after adjusting for the number of days in Q1 FY11, grew by 18.8% in $ terms, on the back of network expansion and growing customer base. 

The consolidated EBITDA margins for the full year dropped to 33.2% versus 33.7% in the pre…

STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Shares rise by midday, DBS gains

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Singapore shares rose by midday on Wednesday, after China's manufacturing sector showed fresh signs of bottoming out in April and strong U.S. factory activity data raised hopes that the global economy was still on track for a recovery. The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) rose 0.52 percent to 2,994.00, holding above key resistance at the 50-day moving average around 2,986. "The markets have been holding up today. China's HSBC PMI came in slightly better than the last number we saw," said Ng Kian Teck, lead analyst at SIAS Research.




However, he said he expects the STI to remain rangebound ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls data due on Friday. Shares of DBS Group Holdings Ltd climbed as much as 1.5 percent to a five-week high, as investors warmed to the stock following its stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings last week. Upcoming Indonesian rules that may jeopardise DBS Group's $7.3 billion bid to take over Bank Danamon also helped sentiment as it lessened the…

BSkyB hopes results can outshine hacking headlines

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Probes into phone hacking and the legacy of a failed bid by Rupert Murdoch to seize full control look likely to overshadow a resilient set of results from satellite broadcaster BSKyB on Wednesday. BSkyB, already 39 percent-owned by Murdoch's News Corp, was dragged firmly into the centre of the hacking storm engulfing Murdoch's British newspaper business when its Sky News channel admitted last month that it hacked into emails on two occasions.





The channel said it had acted in the public interest but has been reprimanded for breaking the law by Judge Brian Leveson, who is leading an inquiry into press standards that is rocking the British establishment by delving into ties between journalists, politicians and police officers. Shares in BSkyB had been riding at their highest level in almost 10 years until revelations in July 2011 that an investigator for Murdoch's now defunct News of the World newspaper had hacked into the voicemail messages of murdered school girl Milly Dow…

Car bomb kills 6 after Obama leaves Afghan capital

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At least six people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, officials said, hours after U.S. President Barack Obama left Kabul following an unannounced visit during which he signed a strategic partnership agreement.

The Taliban, ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces for harbouring bin Laden and other militants, quickly claimed responsibility for what it said was a suicide car bomb attack. Wednesday's attack was the latest in a recent surge of violence after the Taliban announced they had begun their usual "spring offensive", and that they had suspended tentative steps towards peace talks with the United States. Kabul police chief Ayoub Salangi said six people, a Gurkha guard and five passers-by, were killed in the Kabul attack. Salangi told Reuters a car bomb exploded on Jalalabad road, the main road out of the capital heading east, where several U.S. military bases and compounds housing Westerners are located. He said one of those comp…