Month: July 2019

GM loses to Toyota as top global automaker

Reeling from plunging sales at home and abroad amid a widening recession, GM said it sold 8.

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35 million vehicles globally in 2008 compared with the Japanese rival\’s 8.97 million.

GM\’s total sales were down 11 percent from those in 2007, reflecting continuing global economic pressures that include tightening credit, falling commodity prices and lack of economic growth.

GM said its nearly three percent growth in both the Asia Pacific and Latin America, Africa and Middle East regions partially offset North America sales that declined 21 percent, and growing pressure in Europe that resulted in seven percent fewer sales. Sales for the fourth quarter were down by double digits in every region and 26 percent globally.

“The challenges in the global financial markets, including credit tightening, the drop in commodity prices, and economic uncertainty continue to negatively impact overall demand for new vehicles,” said Jonathan Browning, GM\’s vice president for global sales.

“For the total global industry, we saw about 3.5 million fewer vehicles sold in 2008 than the previous year.”

GM and Toyota ended 2007 neck-in-neck for the world crown, with Toyota selling about 3,500 fewer vehicles that year compared to its US rival.

But both are facing a bumpy ride amid the sharp global economic slowdown stemming from financial turmoil triggered by a US home mortgage crisis.

Toyota said Tuesday its global sales fell four percent in 2008 to 8.97 million vehicles, the first drop in a decade, as demand slumped in recession-hit markets such as Japan, Europe and the United States.

It was the first decline for the Japanese giant in a decade, with domestic sales slipping five percent to 2.15 million vehicles and overseas demand weakening four percent to 6.82 million vehicles.

The drop marked a dramatic turnaround from 2007, when Toyota\’s global sales had risen six percent to a record high 9.37 million vehicles.

The Japanese maker warned last month that it expected its first-ever annual operating loss as it moved to cut production, jobs and investment amid a slump in sales and a soaring yen.

GM meanwhile will run out of cash if it does not get the second part of the federal bridge loan next month.

GM president Fritz Henderson said the situation was dire for his company, which received a four-billion-dollar emergency loan last month and is due to collect another installment of the bridge loan in February.

“If we don\’t get our second installment of funding, we\’ll run out of cash.

It\’s just that simple,” Henderson said Tuesday.

He noted that GM would run out of cash well before March 31 when it is supposed to deliver the final draft of its plan outlining the steps it is taking to become financially viable.

But Henderson said he was not concerned about Toyota passing GM in unit sales.

“I actually noticed they passed us in market (capitalization), cash flow and profitability a long ago,” he said. “Honestly, this is not a measure I pay a lot of attention to. What\’s much more important to me is how we make GM successful,” he said.

Despite the sagging 2008 global sales, GM set record-setting sales performance in Latin America, Africa and Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.

GM also notched a third consecutive year of two million vehicles sold in Europe.

Sales outside the US now account for 64 percent of GM\’s sales, up from 59 percent in 2007.

GM sells and services vehicles in 140 countries under 13 brands including Chevrolet, Opel, Wuling, GMC, Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac and Saab.

Continue reading GM loses to Toyota as top global automaker

Murray no Open favourite, storms Djokovic

Murray no Open favourite, storms Djokovic

Defending champion Novak Djokovic angrily rejected suggestions Andy Murray had overtaken him in the pecking order after roaring into the Australian Open\’s third round on Wednesday.

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The world number three said Murray, some bookmakers\’ favourite for the Grand Slam title, had to wait in line behind himself, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“What\’s his ranking and my ranking?” he challenged.

“All respect to Andy, I like him as a person and as a player. He\’s done a lot in the last couple months, and he\’s a very talented player and we can expect him to win some Grand Slams in the future.

“But you cannot put him as the favourite next to Roger and Rafa and myself here at the Australian Open.”

Triple champion Federer also expressed surprise when told Murray was the favourite, while top-ranked Nadal believes Murray is ready to win a Slam.

Murray, who is seeking Britain\’s first Major win since 1936, is currently ranked fourth more than 3,000 points behind Djokovic. But he is already talking up his chances of becoming world number one this year.

However, Djokovic hit impressive form as he dismissed France\’s Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 to set up a third-round clash with American Amer Delic.

He toughed out a competitive first set before taking total control, dropping a trademark backhand on the tramline as he went a double break up in the third.

Djokovic was surprisingly broken as he served for the match but he hit back immediately on Chardy\’s serve, taking the win as the Frenchman netted.

“I feel very nice and comfortable on this court,” he said. “The first round was tricky, I didn\’t play such great tennis, but today was another story.

“Hopefully it can get better in the next match.”

The Serb warned he was improving match by match and felt in better condition than last year, when he won his only Grand Slam trophy.

“I think I\’m playing better and better every match, so this is really important. This is something that I planned to do,” he said.

“If I keep the high level of performance and a good game, I will hopefully get far in the tournament.”

Last year, as well as his victory here, Djokovic also claimed two Masters series titles as well as the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai.

But he was beaten by Latvian Ernests Gulbis in his first match of this season, afterwards blaming a change of racquet.

He also missed out on a chance to overtake Federer as world number two when he lost to Finland\’s Jarkko Nieminen in Sydney last week, and suffered occasional lapses in his first match here against Andrea Stoppini.

Djokovic beat Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in last year\’s final after ousting three-time champion Federer in the semis.

Chardy, the world number 68, was making his Australian Open debut and is still seeking his first professional title.

Continue reading Murray no Open favourite, storms Djokovic

Gaza pullout complete, says Israel

Israeli troops have completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip after a 22-day offensive against the Islamist Hamas movement, an army spokesman told AFP on Wednesday.

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“The last soldier left the Gaza Strip this morning,” the spokesman said.

“However the army remains deployed all around the Gaza Strip to meet any eventuality.”

Pullout ceasefire requirement

The pullout began Sunday after Israel declared a ceasefire and Palestinian militants matched it. Hamas gave Israel a week to remove all troops and open crossing points into Gaza or face renewed hostilities.

Israel launched its massive assault on December 27, bombarding the narrow coastal strip where 1.5 million Palestinians live from land, air and sea.

Palestinian health ministry figures list more than 1,300 people dead, including 410 children and about 100 women.

Another 5,300 people were wounded — 1,855 of them children and 795 women.

The Palestinian bureau of statistics reported 4,100 homes totally destroyed and 17,000 others damaged in the offensive.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon became Tuesday the first world leader to visit the enclave since Israel halted the deadliest offensive it has ever launched on the Palestinian territory, which has been ruled by Hamas since June 2007.

Israel \’ignored rules of war\’

He accused Israel of using “excessive force” in the conflict, but he also condemned Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel which sparked the invasion.

Eight Israeli human rights groups who accused the army of ignoring the rules of war.

They urged prosecutor general and government legal adviser Menachem Mazuz to act, describing the scale of casualties among women and children as “terrifying.”

The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama plans this week to name former Northern Ireland peacemaker George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy to deal immediately with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Continue reading Gaza pullout complete, says Israel

Saddam\’s luxury yacht heads home to Iraq

A luxury yacht kitted out for Saddam Hussein with swimming pools, a mosque and a missile launcher will return to Iraq because the global economic crisis has thwarted attempts to sell it.

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The 82-metre Ocean Breeze, which also sported a mini-submarine among its facilities, will be towed home from a Greek port, Iraq\’s government confirmed, saving it the cost of expensive berthing and maintenance fees.

The yacht was built for Saddam 28 years ago, but the Iran-Iraq war – which saw it moved from the southern port of Basra to Saudi Arabia – was among the factors that meant the dictator never savoured its ostentatious facilities.

The vessel became the subject of a legal wrangle when it appeared in the French Riviera city of Nice in autumn 2007, where a British boat dealer tried to sell it for 23.5 million euros ($A46.76 million).

The Iraqi government, which has a right to recover the late dictator\’s property, managed in January 2008 to have a French commercial court block the sale until its ownership was firmly established.

Cayman island-based Sudeley Limited, part-owned by King Abdullah of Jordan, claimed to own the floating palace, but later renounced its claim, paving the way for its return to Iraq.

“The Iraqi government has authorised the transportation ministry to bring the presidential yacht to Basra province\’s port,” an official government statement said, confirming the move from the Greek port of Piraeus.

Iraq will also pay costs to a Greek company as part of an agreement to maintain the yacht since July 2008, the statement added.

“The Iraqi government decision to bring the yacht home will spare Baghdad the possibility of facing other claims and saves it docking and crew costs, since the Iraqi government will not be able to sell the yacht in the current circumstances with the world dealing with the financial crisis,” the government statement said.

The vessel, which was built in Denmark in 1981, started life as the Basra Breeze. It was moved to Saudi Arabia for fear that the Iran-Iraq conflict would see it damaged.

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Sell the beach house: Antarctica is melting

Antarctica is melting – and that spells big trouble for Australia.

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Scientists used to think Antarctica was bucking the trend on global warming by getting cooler.

Now it seems they got it wrong.

US researchers have pored over data from satellites and weather stations in the biggest ever study of the frozen continent\’s climate – and found it\’s warming after all.

Barry Brook, director of the University of Adelaide\’s Research Institute for Climate Change and Sustainability, said the finding was alarming.

Scientists now estimate the melting of Antarctica\’s massive ice sheets will cause the world\’s sea levels to rise by one to two metres by the end of the century.

That\’s bad news if you live near the Australian coast,” Prof Brook told AAP.

“In some areas where you\’ve currently got housing, you\’d probably have to abandon those areas.”

He said the sea would penetrate up to 1km inland in flat areas like South Australia\’s lower lakes.

Large areas which don\’t see flooding now would get flooded by king tides.

House prices for coastal areas would probably drop, Prof Brook said.

Scientists already knew, he said, that the massive ice sheets of western Antarctica were melting, but the study showed they would melt more quickly.

The study, contained in Thursday\’s issue of Nature, was also bad news for climate change in general, Prof Brook said.

It had been thought Antarctica\’s cooling would help restrain global warming by acting as a “cool pack”, but this did not appear to be the case.

The US study found that eastern Antarctica – which includes the Australian zone – is getting cooler.

But this is outweighed by western Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula, which are warming. On average the continent is warming, the study found.

Over the past 50 years much of Antarctica has been warming at a rate comparable to the rest of the world.

Study co-author Eric Steig from the University of Washington said the satellite data was revealing.

“The thing you hear all the time is that Antarctica is cooling and that\’s not the case,” he told Nature.

Prof Brook said it had been thought Antarctica was cooling partly because of the hole in the ozone layer, which allowed the hot air out.

Continue reading Sell the beach house: Antarctica is melting