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Samsung Preparing Wristwatch as It Races Apple for Sales

Samsung Preparing Wristwatch as It Races Apple for Sales

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) is developing a wristwatch as Asia’s biggest technology company races against Apple Inc. (AAPL) to create a new industry of wearable devices that perform similar tasks as smartphones.

“We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, said during an interview in Seoul. “We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.” Read more of this post

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Earthquakes and the Mind-Bending Laws of Markets; Power laws are immensely important for proper risk management, for assessing the likelihood of large market upheavals

Earthquakes and the Mind-Bending Laws of Markets

Like the devastating Japanese earthquake of 2011, the stock market crash of Oct. 19, 1987, came as a total shock to most people. Yet the crash wasn’t entirely without warning. Five days before, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 95 points, which was then an all-time record. Two days later, it closed down another 108 points. Just like others crashes — 1929, for example — and all major earthquakes, the 1987 crash was preceded by significant rumblings.

The comparison of tectonic and market shocks goes far beyond metaphor and analogy. Consider, for example, how much the prices of stocks and other financial instruments change over a certain time interval — say a few minutes, a single day, or a week. In the early 1960s, French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot carried out a landmark study of such changes in the prices of cotton and found that the statistics of large market returns follow an inverse power law very much like the Gutenberg-Richter law for earthquakes. More than 30 years later, physicists found that this law-like pattern holds for intervals varying from a second up to a month and in different kinds of markets — stocks, foreign exchange, futures — as well as in many different countries. Read more of this post

China’s Tallest Tower Builder Assures Quality Amid Sand Scandal

China’s Tallest Tower Builder Assures Quality Amid Sand Scandal

China State Construction Engineering Corp. (601668), which is building the country’s tallest tower, said materials used in all its projects meet quality standard as the southern city of Shenzhen conducted inspections on builders.

Samples from buildings, including the 660-meter Ping An Finance Center due to be completed in 2015, were tested, according to Shenzhen’s Housing and Construction Bureau. The industrywide inspection in the city last week followed a China Central Television newscast on March 14 that investigated the use of substandard concrete by some developers in Shenzhen that used low-quality sea sand instead of river sand. Read more of this post

Singapore’s property trusts, the second-best performers in Asia in the past year, may have to diversify funding sources as they aren’t prepared for an “interest rate shock,” according to Fitch Ratings.

Singapore REITs to Vary Funds on Interest Rates: Southeast Asia

Singapore’s property trusts, the second-best performers in Asia in the past year, may have to diversify funding sources as they aren’t prepared for an “interest rate shock,” according to Fitch Ratings.

The city’s real estate investment trusts or REITs have been increasing short-term debt with record-low interest rates, according to Johann Kenny, director of corporates at Fitch. They face refinancing risks when borrowing costs rise, and may be pushed to sell assets or shares to boost their funding, he said.

“Singapore REITs are not really well equipped to withstand an interest rate shock,” Kenny said in a phone interview from Sydney yesterday. “When a rating agency looks at a company, we look at the long-run average through the cycle of the interest rate environment and we don’t see the current low interest rates as a sustainable model from a macro-economic perspective.”

Singapore REITs, the biggest fundraisers in the city’s initial public offering market in the past year, had relied on short-term debt to reflect the length of commercial leases, Kenny said. Their funding costs in the past six years don’t reflect the challenges in a “normalized” interest rate scenario, he said. Read more of this post

Indian gold funds are shrinking as investors in the biggest bullion- consuming nation follow billionaire George Soros in pulling money from products backed by the precious metal.

India Gold ETF Sales Mimic Soros as Goldman More Bearish

Indian gold funds are shrinking for the first time since June as investors in the biggest bullion- consuming nation follow billionaire George Soros in pulling money from products backed by the precious metal.

Exchange-traded funds in gold saw outflows of 80 million rupees ($1.5 million), data from the Association of Mutual Funds in India show. Investments in sovereign-debt funds rose by 4.46 billion rupees, the sixth straight month of inflows. Gold prices in India have slid 4.3 percent this year, while rupee bonds returned 2.7 percent, the second-highest gains in Asia.

“Globally we are seeing a decelerating gold trend, and overweight investors will be adjusting asset allocations,” Lakshmi Iyer, Mumbai-based head of fixed income and products at Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Co., which oversees about $6 billion of assets, said in a March 14 telephone interview. “We should see some interest-rate easing over the next two or three quarters,” encouraging people to seek capital gains in bonds, she added.

Soros cut his holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the largest exchange-traded gold product, by 55 percent last quarter, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts the metal’s 12-year rally will end as a U.S. economic recovery gathers momentum. The Reserve Bank of India will lower its benchmark repurchase rate to 7.50 percent from 7.75 percent today, according to 30 of 35 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Five predict no change. Read more of this post

Quest Diagnostics’ 5-in-1 Demential Test May Help Rule Out Alzheimer’s

Quest 5-in-1 Demential Test May Help Rule Out Alzheimer’s

As Baby Boomers age, those everyday questions of life — Where are the car keys? What was her name again? — are increasingly followed by another: Can this be Alzheimer’s disease?

Today, Quest Diagnostics Inc. (DGX), in the midst of a company reorganization that seeks to cut costs and boost revenue with improved service, will introduce a panel of tests at the American Academy of Neurology meeting that combines five screens into one to pinpoint potentially treatable conditions.

The concept is that, by simplifying the process and making it more accessible, an increasing number of family doctors will use the test and, in some rare cases, ease the mind of patients by ruling out Alzheimer’s.

“It’s sort of a simple idea, but dementia is a common presentation to primary-care doctors,” said Joseph Higgins, medical director for Quest’s neurology unit, in a telephone interview. “Sometimes they’re at a loss for what type of blood test to perform. This panel puts them all together in one place, with one report.”

Quest, the biggest U.S. operator of medical labs, could use a boost. Its sales have come under pressure as hospitals have sought fewer tests and reimbursement has become more stringent, said Frank Morgan, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. Read more of this post

Alzheimer’s Kills More in U.S. as Advocates Seek Funding

Alzheimer’s Kills More in U.S. as Advocates Seek Funding

Deaths linked to Alzheimer’s have increased in the last decade while those for stroke, breast cancer and HIV have dropped, said researchers calling for more funding for the memory-robbing disease.

Without treatment breakthroughs, the number of people in the U.S. ages 65 and older whose memories and personalities are claimed by the disease will more than double to 13.8 million in 2050, according to a report released today by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The U.S. in recent years has taken action to address a looming public health crisis tied to the aging of the Baby Boomers, the generation born from 1946 to 1964. While the National Alzheimer’s Project Act was signed into law in January 2011 to coordinate efforts to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s, funding hasn’t caught up, advocates and researchers said. Read more of this post

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