TofinoA beach near Tofino (REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly)
Net-A-Porter.com 2008 profits up 234 percent
Upmarket online fashion retailer Net-A-Porter.com reported a more than 230 percent rise in 2008 profit after developing strong relationships with luxury fashion houses and new and existing clients.
The company said it had benefited from exclusive collaborations with designers including Alexander McQueen and RM by Roland Mouret. It said much of the growth had also come from a strategic approach to buying.
Profits before tax for the year ending January 2009 rose 234 percent to 10.1 million pounds ($16.55 million), while turnover was up 47.8 percent to 81.5 million pounds.
The group said it was drawing on average 6,500 new customers to the site every month and had redesigned its website and back office to cope with the increased demand.
I am thrilled with this year's results which continue to show that people are turning to the Internet as a viable -- and in many cases, preferred -- shopping and media destination, founder and Chairman Natalie Massenet said in a statement.
Many UK retailers have struggled over the last year as consumers cut back on spending during the recession. But online retailers such as Net-A-Porter.com and the cheaper ASOS have bucked the trend.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
Technical Analysis Daily: USD/JPY
USD/JPY 98.00 - 26 February
USD/JPY Open 97.39 High 98.00 Low 96.36 Close 97.39
Yesterday Dollar/Yen continued the upward momentum. The currency couple hit the long target 97.54, reaching a peak at 97.79 and closing at 97.39. Signals remain rising for now with objectives towards 98.30 before reaching the key level 100.00. The CCI indicator broke down the 100 line on the 1 hour chart, so be careful for a potential descending impulse with testing of the support level 97.00.
Technical resistance levels: 98.30 99.10 100.00
Technical support levels: 97.00 95.80 94.20
Trading range: 98.10 - 97.50
Sell at 98.00 SL 98.30 TP 97.605
iFOREX.bg Forecasts and Trading Signals
U.S. and North Korea compete for same stage in Phuket
Thailand - The United States and North Korea became entangled in a brief diplomatic imbroglio on Thursday when they found themselves competing for the same stage for a news conference.
The two countries, which do not have diplomatic ties and are mired in a long-standing row over Pyongyang's nuclear programs, booked back-to-back news conferences in the same room at the ASEAN Regional Forum security gathering on the Thai island of Phuket.
Pyongyang's delegates turned up on time only to find U.S. officials and journalists waiting for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was running late.
According to the organizers, Clinton had booked the stage for 1 to 1:30 p.m. while the North Koreans had reserved it from 1:30 to 2 p.m.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said he asked how long the North Koreans needed the stage, and was told that it was for a few minutes. He then said for them to please go ahead. It was not clear whether he spoke directly to a North Korean official or whether he addressed one of the organizers.
The North Koreans retreated behind the stage for a brief huddle and a press stampede ensued as photographers and cameramen clambered toward the delegates, who ultimately walked off to hold their news conference next to a hotel concierge desk. Clinton's meetings ran so long that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had to cancel his news conference, EU officials said. She appeared for her news conference at 2:24 p.m. (Reporting by Jack Kim, Arshad Mohammed and Martin Petty; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
No. 6 United KingdomThe UK has a statutory minimum of 28 vacation days but just eight public holidays for a total of 36 days.
U.S. consumers' moods sour in early July
U.S. consumer sentiment wilted in early July to the weakest since March, when confidence in the financial sector and economy were at a low ebb, the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers showed on Friday.
Consumers' rising concerns about a protracted economic downturn, job security and erosion of wealth were the main factors depressing sentiment, the survey said.
Its preliminary index of confidence for July fell to a reading of 64.6 from the final reading for June of 70.8.
July's preliminary reading was well below economists' median forecast for 70.5 and the first fall in the index since February.
It underlines the ongoing gloom facing the U.S. consumer and further delays prospects for a near-term recovery. That will weigh heavily on risk sentiment, said Brian Dolan, senior currency strategist with Forex.com in Bedminster, New Jersey.
After the report, stocks lost ground and the dollar extended losses against the yen, while Treasury bond prices added to gains, retesting the session highs on a safe-haven bid.
The survey's index of consumer expectations fell to 60.9 from June's final reading of 69.2.
The index of current economic conditions slipped to 70.4 from June's final reading of 73.2.
Consumers concluded that the economic downturn would last longer and their personal finances would not recover as quickly as they had previously expected, the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said in a statement.
Recent income gains were reported by the fewest consumers in the more than fifty-year history of the survey, the statement said.
Stocks' recent pullback has put renewed pressure on household budgets. The S&P 500 index has fallen about 4 percent so far in July.
Consumers reported a larger negative shift in their longer term outlook for the economy. The majority of consumers thought that widespread unemployment would persist over the next five years, the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers statement said.
People are probably unhappy with the employment situation and the increase in energy prices we saw this spring, said Gary Thayer, senior economist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis, Missouri.
Consumers are concentrated heavily on reducing outstanding debts. Overextended finances and job and income uncertainty have made consumers much more saving minded, the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers statement said.
(Additional reporting by Steven C. Johnson and Ellen Freilich in New York)
(Reporting by John Parry; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)
Video Chatting: An Over-hyped Feature?
Video calling or chatting is what the denizens of the web world are all excited about. Google+ has come up with its video chatting circle and huddle features. Facebook soon followed through with their ‘something big” promise of a similar feature with Skype.
So what is the world so excited about that reams are being written on the relative merits of one over the other? Video chatting and conferencing has been around for a long time.
Maybe Tom Anderson of Myspace hit the right button when he says that NOW is the right time for the features. The popularity of the social media will see to video chatting gaining wide acceptance. As Mark Zuckerberg very proudly said, Faacebook has 750 million users who will be open to use this feature.
It is perfect business model: Build on your core capacity by giving value added features.
Time maybe Right or Is It?
The time may be right but how do you actually turn the fad factor into usage factor?.
Let us here get into some number crunching. A survey of 2,300 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by the VOIP service Rebtel found that Americans still overwhelmingly prefer to communicate by voice. 74% of respondents said that they kept in touch with friends through phone and 81% said it's their preferred method of communicating with family members.
Regarding the video calling that some VOIP services offer, however, the numbers still look quite low: 13% use video chat to talk to family, 9% use it to talk to friends and just 6% use it to talk to their partners or spouse.
At work, however, people prefer to send emails: 43% of respondents said they would choose email, 33% would choose voice/phone, 12% would text, and just 6% would use social networking sites to communicate with co-workers.
We at IBTimes did our own dipstick study about communication preferences amongst friends, colleagues and relatives numbering 50. The overwhelming vote went to phones for personal messages, then text. Email came in second. For business it was email and phones again. Video chatting was done by only 4 out of 50 people at work. That is 8 per cent.
An important part of a seamless experience in video calling is having the right technology at your disposal. Here bandwidth of an internet connection is important.
A highspeed dial up operates at a speed between 128 kbps and 8 megabits per second (mbps). Highspeed internet cable connection accessible to most digital cable television customers, offers 1.5 to 6 mbps of bandwidth.
A satellite connection provides residential internet service at up to 1.5 mbps speed.
T1 lines (widely used by businesses) operate at a high speed of 1.54 megabits per second (mbps). It is available in 328 kbps and 512 kbps also
For a clear definition video a dual core processor and a fast internet connection of 512 kbps or more is required.
Here is another calculation. Video streamed at 300kbps watched by 50 people for one hour each day, for an entire month would equal 202.5GB's of bandwidth.
Even if people have access to this kind of connectivity, is it affordable?
In most of the developing countries, access to uninterrupted power supply is another problem. Internet penetration and connectivity may be high but it all depends on the kind of services that are available to these people.
Skype has been charging $5 to 10 per month for multi-video chatting. Google plus, on the other hand, is ready to bear the cost of high-bandwidth multiperson video chat in order to get its foot in the market. It is believed that the Google hangout system is designed in such a way that it puts much of the technical burden on the client side, or the end user's computer.
A San Diego company in its bid to tap this bandwidth market has even announced support for the increased cost that companies will face with these new features. According to them, getting cost-effective bandwidth is expensive and is offering customers a solution for web filtering and management. All this to control overuse of internet in the work environment.
Video chatting, when it comes with so much of fanfare and media hype, is worth checking out for its fad value. But for it to become a part of our everyday social vocabulary will still take some time.
No. 9 VenezuelaVenezuela has a statutory minimum of 24 vacation days and 12 public holidays for a total of 36 days.
Michael Jackson's mother wins temporary control of estate
Michael Jackson's mother Katherine on Monday won temporary guardianship of the late singer's children and control of his estate as a legal battle over his kids, money and belongings began to take shape.
Katherine Jackson won the first round in what could become a protracted fight over an estate estimated to be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Attorney L. Londell McMillan, who said he was Katherine Jackson's legal counsel, issued a statement late on Monday saying the family was pleased with the judge's rulings. It is unclear if Jackson drew up a will before he died.
Questions about the singer's health prior to his death resurfaced Monday when Celebrity Website TMZ.com reported that Los Angeles County coroner officials returned to Jackson's rented home looking for more medication.
Four days after the singer's death from cardiac arrest, his father, Joe Jackson said the family was awaiting results of a second, private autopsy, and he expected to get details real soon. He said funeral arrangements had not been made.
We don't have a timeframe for that (the funeral) because I want to see how this autopsy is coming out, Jackson said after a family meeting at his home in suburban Los Angeles.
Two autopsies have been carried out on Jackson's body, one by the coroner's office and a second by a private pathologist. Speculation about what caused Jackson's heart to stop has centered on his prescription drug use, but toxicology tests are expected to take several more weeks.
The pop star died on Thursday at his rented Los Angeles home, days before kicking off a string of concerts in London that were designed to revive a career grounded by his 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges.
On Monday, promoters AEG Live released pictures from a dress rehearsal two days before Jackson's death. Jackson looks thin, but much like his typical singing and dancing self. AEG Live declined to comment on reports it had video footage of the rehearsals that could be released on DVD.
JACKSON'S MOM WINS TEMPORARY CONTROL
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Monday approved the appointment of Katherine Jackson as temporary guardian of Prince Michael, 12, Paris Katherine, 11, and Prince Michael II, 7, pending a hearing next week.
Katherine Jackson was also named special administrator of her son's estate until a July 6 hearing, but the court order stipulated that she was not to take possession of money or property, except as permitted by the court.
In her court filing, Katherine Jackson said she was seeking control of funds for the exclusive use of the decedent's children and was concerned about bank accounts controlled by unnamed third parties.
Jackson was reported to be as much as $500 million in debt when he died, but his estate has been estimated at $1 billion or more and is likely to rise following his death. Court papers list the value of the estate as unknown.
His two eldest children were from his marriage to Debbie Rowe and the third is from an unidentified surrogate mother. In court papers, Katherine Jackson said the children had no relationship with their biological mother, and it was unclear whether Rowe would also seek custody of the kids.
Whoever has ultimate custody of these children, who are probably going to be the beneficiaries of his estate, will get control of his money to care for the children. So to that extent, whoever the permanent guardian will be will have tremendous sums of money to take care of the children, entertainment attorney Jerry Reisman told Reuters.
Jackson's court filing indicated the Thriller singer died without a will, but media reports said a former Jackson lawyer, John Branca, possessed a will signed by the pop star. Branca did not return calls on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles coroner's office dismissed as inaccurate a Monday report in Britain's Sun newspaper that said Jackson was almost bald, emaciated and that his hips, thighs and shoulders were riddled with needle wounds when he died.
Assistant chief coroner Ed Winter said the details did not come from the private or county autopsies. I don't know where that information came from, or who that information came from. It is not accurate. Some of it is totally false, he said.
Canadian New Home Prices Have First Yearly Drop Since 1997
Release Explanation: Change in the selling price of new homes, a leading indicator of the housing market's health. Trade Desk Thoughts: According to Statistics Canada, contractors' selling prices for new homes decreased 0.6% between December and January, a slightly faster pace than the 0.1% decline observed the previous month. This resulted in a New Housing Price Index of 156.4. The New Housing Price Index decreased by 0.8% in January compared with the same month a year earlier, the first year-over-year decrease since January 1997. The largest decline was seen in Edmonton (-2.8%), followed by Calgary (-2.1%), Victoria (-1.1%) and Vancouver (-0.7%). Builders in all four cities report difficult market conditions. In both St. John's and Saskatoon, prices increased 0.8% from a month earlier while Québec posted a monthly increase of 0.6%. In the Prairie region, 12-month declines were recorded in Edmonton (-10.4%), Calgary (-6.5%) and Saskatoon (-2.7%). On the West Coast, Victoria (-4.2%) and Vancouver (-3.2%) each posted year-over-year declines. Forex Technical Reaction: Crude has declined about $1.10 in overnight trading but the cad (USD/CAD) has declined.
Do you look at a vacation as a guilty pleasure or a basic human right? The way you answer that question says a lot more about the country you come from than you may realize.
Based on Mercer's most recent Worldwide Benefit and Employment Guidelines survey, workers in Western Europe and Latin America get far more vacation days than their North American and Asian counterparts.
Surprised? Probably not. The United States has long been called the "no-vacation nation" -- and with good reason. The U.S. is the only developed country without a federal mandate for a minimum number of vacation days. It also honors only 10 public holidays a year, a number that's below the global average.
According to data out this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 39.7 percent of American workers (or about 55 million people) did not have access to paid vacation time in 2011. What's even more disconcerting is that about 57 percent of working Americans whose employers did offer paid time off had an average of 11 days left on the table at the end of 2011, according to a different study performed by Harris Interactive for low-cost carrier JetBlue.
The nation's neighbor to the north doesn't fare well either. Canada offers a statutory minimum of 10 vacation days and has just nine public holidays. Given that most U.S. companies offer around 15 days of paid holiday, this makes Canada even more of a "no-vacation nation" than the U.S. with an average of just 19 days off each year -- a figure worse than the least-generous Asian countries like Thailand (22), China (21) and the Philippines (20).
What's clear is that North Americans, in general, are far less likely to get paid time off than their counterparts in Europe and Latin America. In Europe, vacation time is considered a human right, so much so that earlier this year, the European Union's highest court ruled that workers who fall ill on vacation can take another one as compensation. Mind you, this provision is for people that already clock in about four weeks of vacation a year, a luxury most Americans, for instance, would only get if they stayed at the same job for 20 years, according to the BLS.
Wolfgang Seidl, head of Mercer's health care consulting business, said that, from an employee and company perspective, Europeans recognize that health creates wealth.
"Despite continued economic turmoil, interest in the issue of work-life balance continues to grow," he said. "Companies recognize that a healthy, happy workforce is a productive one and this feeds directly into the bottom line."
Across the Atlantic, organizations like Take Back Your Time have proposed bills in the U.S. congress mandating paid vacations for American workers and lobbied to improve benefits for Canadians, but so far, little has changed.
Click "Start" for a look at 10 countries that, unlike Canada or the U.S., offer over a month of time off each year.
** All figures are based on statutory minimum holidays and are calculated by the number of working days off based on a five-day work week.